May 29, 2012

3 Years to the Day....

 As I sit here this morning reflecting on the last 3 years of my life, I stand in awe of my family, friends, doctor, and nurses.  3 Years ago today I became deathly ill to the point where I was unable to swallow even saliva without throwing it up.  I would never have made it through those times in my life without you.  

To all of the people who visited me in the hospital when I was there for 45 days and slowly starving to death, the days when I finally came home because my doctor said that there was nothing more they could do for me, and I had ladies from my ward there to spend the day with me while my husband was in school.  To all of you who made meals for my sweet Dave to eat because I was too sick to hold myself up to a stove.

To the nurses who spent hours upon hours in the middle of the night talking to me in my room, Patrick, Nate, Paul, and so many others.  To my mom who would come and relieve Dave every other night so he could get to sleep in our bed at home instead of on a couch in the hospital room.  To my sister who flew in and slept on an air mattress in my hospital room because she thought it would be our last moments together.  To my brother Paul who brought my husband a meal at 12:30 in the morning one Tuesday night which I was so thankful for because he hadn't eaten in days.

Thank you to Sherri for teaching me to never stop learning, and even helping me finish my first quilt. To my sweet sister in law Melissa for teaching me how to crochet so I had something to do as I laid on the couch day in and day out. (I don't think that football size quilt will ever be finished.)  To all the ladies in the ward who signed up to come and visit me a few times a week so I wouldn't be alone (and do the death check), standing and knocking at the door until I answered.  To my amazing home healthcare nurse who came 4 times a week and hooked up my IV to give me my 4 hours and 2 bags of liquid meals just to keep me alive.
To my Mom and Dad who after a year of watching me go through 12 surgeries with no answers and not knowing why I couldn't eat, having faith enough to take out of their retirement for a surgery that had never been done before, by a doctor that had never heard of anything like this being done, and to a 10% chance that I would actually live through it, thank you for having that faith and hope that it would save my life.
To my amazing Dr. McKinlay for sticking with me even when I had no insurance to pay him, and needed more surgeries to just live.  I remember crying to him in his office because I knew I needed another surgery and couldn't pay, and his sweet words to me were, "Jill, I'm with you until the end whenever that may be."

To Roz, my doctor's amazing head nurse who took my phone calls day and night.  Who watched me slowly lose more and more weight.  Who wheeled me around in a wheel chair because my 25 year old body was too weak to walk.

To all the people from every country, every state in America, every news anchor, and every friend, who donated their time, talents, or money, in some way shape or form to make it possible for me to get the surgery that saved my life.  I truly couldn't have survived this without you.

So on my 3rd annual "Live Day" I want to thank each of you for being part in saving my life and walking this journey with me.  I couldn't have done it alone.  I still have trials due to this health problem, but I can face anything with all the people I have on my side. To you I say Thank you, and I love you.  I am truly humbled by your compassion and grace.

Last but not least, to my amazing husband.  I can't imagine what you went through.  I wouldn't have traded places with you if I had the chance.  I can't imagine what it was like for you to watch your new bride sit and die.  I don't know what it was like for you to go through surgery after surgery sitting by the phone in that waiting room hoping that the doctor would call with some good news that rarely came.  I don't know what it was like for you when the doctor told us that there was nothing more that we could do so to go home and live like it was the last day we were going to get.  
I don't know how you got up and went to school every day and continued to be a 4.0 student.  I don't know how you functioned when you were thinking that you were going to have to plan your wife's funeral very soon.  I don't know what I would do if I had to walk in every night and see you getting thinner, and weaker, and so very frail.  I don't know how I would have given you baths, washed your hair, brushed your teeth, painted your toes, or held your hand and just sat next to you watching TV laughing, while the entire time in the back of your brain you were thinking that this might be the last night I get to spend with the love of my life.  

Thank you to you my sweet David, for loving me even though you knew it wasn't going to be for very much longer.  Thank you for spending each day with me like it was the last one we were going to have together.  Thank you for being my greatest support, my best friend, and the love of my life.  I don't know how you did it.  I don't ever want to have to go through what you did, but I will forever be grateful for what you went through.  You are my hero, and I'm so thankful that I got to share the hardest time in my life with my best friend.  God couldn't have given a greater challenge to a greater man.  He knew you were strong enough to go through it, and come out better than when you started.

Dave, I know we did so much of those years alone and all by ourselves, but I will never regret any of them.  It taught us to lean on each other.  It taught us that we can get through even the hardest things in this life as long as we have one another to lean on.  I know I can do anything if I have you by my side, so thank you for loving me, caring for me, working for me, spending hours at hospitals with me, going through surgery after endless surgery with me, and still taking care of me to this day with all the health problems I still have and most likely always will.  Our life was never meant to be easy.  I don't think either one of us could have ever imagined how hard it would really be, but I know that we can truly make it through anything as long as we have each other.  So to you and everyone else, Thank you for helping me get to my 3rd year "Live Day".

Eternally Grateful,
Jilly Strasburg