Sometimes life throws us into a spiraling winding cork screw drop just to get flipped upside down to the point where we begin to be unsure whats right side up and whats upside down. We often refer to this as the roller coaster of life, it’s a description to which everyone can relate to.
Roughly nine months ago everything was looking great. We were finally feeling comfortable and good about where we were. We were making good financial decisions and slowly but surely working our way out of debt. We had two children, and had no plans on adding anymore to our family at the time. We made a decision to buy a new (used) car. Our primary “family” car was a 2008 Ford Focus. I was driving to and from work in a 1988 Toyota Camry that was barely chugging along. I bought it about 2 years earlier when we lived about 5 miles from my office. Now I had a further commute and the Camry just wasn’t appreciating it at all. So instead of investing money into fixing the old thing, we decided to sell it. Heather wanted a bigger car, one that she could be able to fit larger objects that she might potentially find at a garage sale or Craigslist. So we settled on a 2005 Ford Explorer. We spent a little more than we were planning to, but still felt comfortable and confident in being able to financially handle it.
Roughly a week after purchasing the Explorer and 2-3 pregnancy tests later we found out Heather was pregnant. This through us into a downward spiral of hopeless confusion. After the birth of our second child Heather decided to take herself off of insurance to make room for our newborn baby. So now with pregnancy being considered a “preexisting condition” no insurance would accept her. She tried applying for both medicaid and CHIP to be denied both. We missed qualifying for CHIP by roughly $200.00. To add even more confusion at the first sonogram appointment they found TWO heartbeats. Then right when we finally started to wrap our minds around the idea of having TWINS, the next sonogram showed that one of the two babies had died leaving us with one healthy baby.
We went through the majority of the pregnancy trying to figure out how to afford to pay the $150.00 doctor visits. To add a bit more drama Heather began having high blood pressure causing her to be sent to specialists and more frequent visits costing more and more money. After conversing with a few different trusted sources we decided the best rout would be to ask my employer for a pay cut so that we would qualify for CHIP. We did it, and qualified, only we made the decision a bit too late and had already accrued over a thousand dollars of debt to the doctors.
New Life Brings New Hope
Finally right smack in the middle of SXSW Interactive on March 13, 2011 at 3:54am a beautiful squeaky little boy named Jackson David Guymon was born. I arrived home a little after 6:00pm on Saturday night from a busy day attending panels at SXSW when Heather’s water broke. Luckily Heather’s mom had made the 5 hour venture from the dreary woodlands of east Texas (Louisiana) to our home in beautiful Round Rock, Texas. So we left her home with our two kids and checked ourselves into the hospital. Soon after arriving Heather requested an epidural only to find that after 10 hours of labor she could still completely feel the baby coming. They tried upping the dose of medication 30 minutes or so before Jackson arrived, but it didn’t work. Heather completely felt the entire thing. Luckily she only had to push 3 times and our fresh new born was ready to be safely wrapped in our arms.
We arrived home on Monday evening and Heather was still experiencing a bit of pain, which is too be expected and so we didn’t really think much of it. As the week went on she started to experience some pain in her chest which began to cause her a bit of anxiety by the time Friday rolled around. She attempted to self diagnos herself through Google and ended up scaring herself a bit more. Her doctors office was closed and she was unable to get ahold of anyone. We said a prayer together and I personally felt that she was ok, and didn’t need to worry. She did a bit more research and started to think that perhaps some of the medication she was taking could possibly be the culprit. After discussing her fears and pains with her parents her Father contacted a friend/nurse who reassured Heather to the best of his knowledge that she was fine and had nothing to worry about. On Saturday her parents were on their way home. Sunday was spent relaxing at home with my Mom, brothers, and 3 of my nieces. Sunday night Heather began to have a pretty bad headache. She took some medication hoping it would go away. It continued through the night.
The Scariest Day of My 30 Years of Life
Monday she woke up still experiencing a headache. This wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. She had experienced headaches before. Also epidurals are known to cause headaches. She took some more medication and had me run to the store to buy her a Mountain Dew in hopes that a bit of caffeine might help her lose the headache. We made a small trip to Sams to pick up a few things. We got home and just relaxed out our home. While both my boys napped I took advantage and began working on a website for work. Once everyone was done napping I realized there was a few things I forgot to bring home with me from work that I needed to be able to get further along with the website I was working on. So I told Heather I needed to quickly run into work to get it. She was feeling a bit restless and also wanted to get out of the house so she asked if I would mind if we all went, that way we could also take advantage and show off Jackson to everyone at my office. It was a little after 3:00pm when we left my house which placed us in the “Happy Hour” time of Sonic. We were going to be driving right past a Sonic on the way to my office so we decided to stop and take advantage and get some drinks for half the price. Neither Heather or I had really eaten since breakfast, so we both decided to buy something to snack on at Sonic.
This was the beginning of what has proven to be the scariest day of my 30 years of life. Heather was driving and we made it to Sonic and placed our order. While we were waiting for our food Heather was worried that Jackson’s head might of fallen over in his carseat, which it had been known to do. She was attempting to poke her head back to see. They arrived with our food but forgot the two drinks we had ordered for our kids. So she asked me if I could get out of the car and check on Jack’s head and perhaps use the his blanket to prop up his head in a way to hopefully prohibit his head from falling anymore. So I got out of the car and positioned the blanket in a way to help protect and support his little head.
When I got back into the passenger seat out of the corner of my eye I noticed that Heather was leaning towards me, but I thought she might be double checking my work to see if it met her approval of appropriate support for Jack’s little head. I can remember saying something like, "Jack’s head is good to go…" So at that point I turned to Heather quickly and at first I thought she was making some sort of a dramafied sarcastic facial expression in complaint of the Sonic employee forgetting the drinks and causing us to spend MORE time waiting at Sonic. So I said something to her like, "What happened?" She didn’t respond so I again turned to Heather and noticed she was making a very WIERD facial expression her eyes were closed or rolled back in her head and her mouth appeared a bit dead of expression. So I calmly said, "Heather." thinking she was perhaps “joking” or something…. Still no response at this point my brain began to process more of my enviornment I noticed her arms were both sticking straight out very stiff. So I began to repeatedly say, "HEATHER, HEATHER, HEATHER!!!!" getting louder and louder each time. At this point Hannah, who was sitting in the middle seat in the backseat (Heather since she was leaning to the side was directly infront of her), actually stood up and started joining me in yelling "HEATHER!!!" over and over again. At this point Heather appeared to not be moving AT ALL. My initial thought that entered my mind was that she was having a stroke or that she was DEAD. So I thought that if I were to YELL loud enough I would be able to snap her out of whatever was happening.
I instinctively grabbed her head with both of my hands and it was at that point that I noticed how stiff she really was. I also realized her entire body was rapidly shaking. So finally my brain communicated to the rest of me to grab my cell phone and call 911. So I called and began frantically trying to get EMS or some sort of help.
The 911 operator first asked, "Is she having a seizure?" I responded by saying, "I don’t know, I don’t know what is happening she isn’t responding and I’m not sure if she is breathing." I then described to him how she looked. I told him I was at a Sonic off of McNeil road. To the best of my knowledge that is the only Sonic on that road. Still the 911 operator asked me for the address. I frantically said, "I don’t know, it’s on McNeil road." Then he asked, "well can you find someone who knows the address." So I said, "No! I am sitting in my car, holding my wifes head, I have ALL my kids in the car, I’m not going to leave my car and try to figure out the address!" Right at that moment I noticed a Sonic employee by my car so I YELLED, "What’s the address?" He ran back inside and then returned and told me the address so I repeated it back to the 911 operator. At that moment Heather completely went limp, and didn’t seem to be breathing or moving at all. So then I began REALLY yelling, "HEATHER, HEATHER, HEATHER!!!!!" over and over again. Hannah was still standing and crying and yelling along with me. After awhile Heather coughed twice and that gave me a ray of hope that she was at least alive.
I thought, ok, maybe now I can wake her up. So I continued to yell. The 911 operator continually told me to STOP. and wanted me instead to answer his STUPID questions. After she coughed twice a lot of drool came out of her mouth and her lower jaw pushed forward like a bull dog with her lower teeth sticking out of her mouth and lightly biting on her tongue, but she went completely limp again and didn’t seem to be breathing. All hope was completely ripped from me, at this moment until she began to appear to be in a deep sleep and began taking quick deep breaths. It didn’t last that long though and she returned to not show any signs of actually breathing. The 911 operator wanted me to then turn her onto her side and lay her down. I again explained that we were inside of a car. She was in the driver seat and I had 3 kids in the back seat. So there was no way I could lay her down and turn her to her side. He then wanted me to tell him each time she took a breath. So I started to try, but each time I saw or noticed any sign of life I would start yelling, "HEATHER!!!!" again. The 911 operator continued to try and stop me from doing this and instead wanted me to focus on saying, "NOW" each and every time she breathed. I tried explaining to him that I couldn’t really tell if she was breathing or how often she was breathing. At some point we were disconnected from my phone. Around this time I noticed Heather opened her eyes and so I started yelling to her, but she wasn’t responding. Then she opened her eyes again and tried sitting up, but I told her to stay still. Then my phone rang and it was the 911 operator again, I told him her eyes were open now. Then Heather started just staring at me. It was an empty stair though. She looked at me the same way a baby would look at you. I could tell that she wasn’t completely there. So I began asking her if she knew who I was. At first she shook her head no. I kept asking over and over again. Finally she shook her head yes and was slowly able to say, "Shane." After that response I began asking if she knew who she was. She then began to look really scared and worried and tried sitting up again, and I told her to stay still. I continued to hold her face with my hands and tried to keep eye contact with her. I kept asking, "What’s your name?" over and over again. She finally responded by saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom." Only she was saying it in a way that sounded like she was calling out for her own Mom. Her voice almost sounded like she was crying on the inside with fear. At this time the ambulance had arrived and a guy was standing outside of her door. Another guy reached through my door and pulled the keys out of the ignition and set them on the dashboard. The guy standing outside of Heather’s door asked me what happened. Heather was sitting up and looking around scared and worried. She looked like a lost child. The guy asked her if she knew her name and she shook her head no. Then he asked her again and she muttered "Heather" in way that her tongue wasn’t quite working. So then he asked, "Do you know where you are?" She said, "No." Then he said, "OK, can you step outside of the car for me?" Then Heather said, "yes" and began to step out of the car. I quickly looked at the guy like he was a complete idiot and reminded him that she isn’t completely aware of what is happening and I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to ask her to try and stand up on her own. He was just standing there watching her place her feet onto the ground and start to stand up. I looked at him and asked, "Aren’t you going to help her of something?" Then in a very rude tone he looked at me and said, "What do you want me to do sir?" So I responded and said, "I want you to put your arm around her or something!" Then he said, "I’m working on it." Then I responded, "Well it doesn’t look like you are doing anything."
I got out of the car, and followed Heather to the ambulance. She walked herself over to the ambulance and climbed up into it. She sat down and looked over at me. I’m sure she saw my face was completely filled with fear. So she got a REALLY scared and worried/lost look on her face, and started to stand back up and said, "What? What is wrong?" So I said, "You just had a seizure!" She sat back down and looked towards the two men and said, "WHAT? REALL?" and began to cry. One of the men quickly stuck his head out and said, "You need to get out of here and go back to your vehicle." Then he shut the door.
I walked back to the car. Hannah was frantically crying and wracked with fear, Connor was completely oblivious to anything happening, and Jackson was quietly sleeping through it all. I talked to Hannah and told her that Mom was safe and that they were going to help her. So she sat back down in her seat and I told her to buckle her seat belt and that everything would be ok. I asked her to say a prayer to Heavenly Father to watch over and protect Mommy.
One of the men came over to me and explained to me that having a seizure is basically like restarting a computer but it is restarting the human brain. So when they first start to “turn back on” they aren’t completely aware of everything but have a heightened state of anxiety. So that is why they told me to get away because she wasn’t prepared to hear that she had a seizure, she wasn’t ready to process that information yet. So he said that she is becoming more stabilized and that she was fine. He looked in my car and saw all my kids and said, "look, don’t worry about her, just focus on your kids. Get them taken care of, then take care of yourself. After that just meet us at the hospital." Then somehow in our conversation I explained to him that she just had a baby a week ago, and that she had been dealing with high blood pressure the entire pregnancy. So he quickly said, "Well that explains it, she has eclampsia." I told him that she was actually tested for it and it came back negative. Then he replied, "Well this seizure just confirmed it."
I sat down in my car and Hannah was still crying so I looked at her and I said, "Hey, Hannah Mommy is ok, the man just told me that Mommy is ok. She’s alive, and she is going to be ok. They were going to take her to the hospital." That calmed her down, but she said she didn’t want to leave me. So I told her that she didn’t have to leave me, and that she could stay with me. I sat in the car and my mind was completely blank. I sat and tried to think of what the next step was. The only thing that came to my mind as I stared into my phone was that I should call Lyndsee Bates and ask her if she would watch my kids for me while I went to the hospital. So I called her and got her voicemail. So I hung up and tried to think of someone else but my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anyone. The only person I could think to call was Lyndsee Bates. So I decided to call her again. This time she answered. I first asked if she was home, and she said no, but asked why. I explained to her what happened and asked her if she could watch my kids while I went to the emergency room to meet Heather. She graciously agreed to help. I hung up the phone with her, but felt like I couldn’t leave Heather. So I walked back over to the ambulance and tried to look into the tinted windows, but I couldn’t really see anything. So I thought, "well maybe they will see me standing here staring into the window and come talk to me." Well it didn’t work. So I walked over to the door and knocked. They didn’t answer so I knocked louder. One of the men came to the door, and I asked, "Will it be ok if I left, will she be alright." He reassured me that she was doing great. He said they were going to take their time. They were giving her some medication, and would slowly drive to the hospital.
So I got into the car and slowly started it. But then realized that we were at Sonic and had ordered food. I had no clue if we paid for it. So I got out and walked towards the door. A Sonic employee came out and I asked him, "Did we pay for everything!" and he said, "Yes, the receipt and your card are all in the bag." It was sitting on my hood so I grabbed it through it in the passenger seat and drove away. The only thing I could think to do at that point was call my Mom. So I called my Mom and just simply said, "Heather had a seizure…" There was a bit of silence and then my Mom asked, "Shane, do you want me to come up there?" So I then started to cry and said, "Yes." Then my Mom said, "Are you ok?" and I said, "Well… I’m scared." So then she said, "Ok, I’m on my way."
The Real Hero
As I drove to Lyndsee’s house I called her and told her I was on my way, and I told her I was only going to leave her with Connor and Jackson because Hannah didn’t want to leave me. Then Hannah said, “Dad… Dad… I want to stay with Connor and Jackson.” So I hung up the phone with Lyndsee and looked at Hannah in my rear view mirror and I said, “What?” Then she repeated, “I want to stay with Connor and Jackson. I can’t leave them alone, I need to take care of them.” It was at this moment that I realized who the REAL hero in our family REALLY is. Hannah is the real hero. She is the true source of peace and strength in our family. She further expounded by saying, “I thought Mommy died.” I said, “I know, I thought Mommy died also, but she didn’t… She is alive, and she is going to get better. We just need to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help her.” Then Hannah said, “Hey, this must be why Mommy’s head was hurting and why she was in so much pain.” I looked up at her in the rear view mirror again and said, “You’re right Hannah, your’re exactly right.”
I dropped off the kids and got back in the car and made my way to the hospital. At this point I realized I needed to call Heather’s Dad and inform him of what happened. So I contacted him and updated him on everything. Then I realized, “Well I also need to inform Angie/work what happened.” So I called Angie and explained what happened and everything I knew. By the time I ended my conversation with Angie I was pretty lcose to the hospital. Right as I walked through the door of the hospital my phone rang. I answered and it was a doctor in the ER. I told him I was at the hospital right now. So I walked to the front desk and they directed me to the room where Heather was.
It was a HUGE relief to see Heather and look into her eyes and actually see Heather. I told her that I loved her and gave her a big hug. I then explained to her what happened and helped her piece together all the gaps in her memory.
Count Your Many Blessings
This could of been so much worse. Heather could of been home alone with the kids (I should of been at work). She could of been holding Jackson and ended up dropping him. Heather was driving, and less than a minute up the road we would of been on a highway traveling 70 mph. It appears as though things worked out in perfect harmony to create a safe atmosphere for all of this to take place. Our car was stopped, our children were all safe, Heather was sitting down and in a position to where she was unable to fall and become further injured. When I think back it is almost a symphony of seemingly unrelated decisions that miraculously intertwined to weave a web of beautiful blessings turning what appeared to be chaotic madness into an infinite abyss of blessings.
"And you must bear your neighbor’s burden within reason
And your labors will be born when all is done
And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,
Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all!”
There are plenty of people in this world who deal with things far worse and more tramatic than this. So this is not an attempt at gaining some amount of “pitty” points. Rather just a documentation of my life, and the beautiful struggle that it is. I think their is ample amounts of potential for everything we endure through our lives to be for our greater good. With every choice we make there is another choice that we need to make inside ourselves. Do we allow these experiences to destroy us, or do we allow them to teach us valuable lessons that we can take with us through the eternities of our existence. I chose to allow this experience to bring my closer together with my wonderful wife and mother of my children. I chose to allow this experience to help me be more grateful for the 3 beautiful children that Heavenly Father has given to me and trusted me to lead them, and guide them through this life.