Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Wedding Six Years in the Making

As I sat quietly on my couch the night before my wedding the earth seemed to stand still for a moment.  I contemplated all that had happened to bring us to this point and all that may or may not happen after that point.  Were the Dr.s right?  Was Mike going to die before we could finally get married? In my quiet contemplation I knew that I was in the middle of a grand miracle.

I don't know why it's so hard for some people to get married but it was definitely hard for me.  After many failed attempts at dating I often wondered if I would ever marry or if being a sassy single was my lot in life.  I remember one night in particular, when I was in my early thirties, that the question weighed on my mind and I had an overwhelming feeling that I indeed would find someone and marry. A year or two after that I started dating Mike and our slow march to marriage began. You would think that after waiting 35 years to meet your husband then enduring the aftermath of a tragic accident and waiting another six years to set a date, that preparing for the wedding would be the easy part. But like I said getting married is harder for some people than others and it would take a miracle or miracles.

The start of 2015 Mike and I had finally felt like it was time for us to be married and we decided on a new wedding date September 25th, we were excited to finally be moving forward with our lives and our plans and felt like this would give us enough time to prepare and plan for our wedding.  Immediately after we made our plans public (in april) our stroll to wedded bliss was abruptly interrupted.  The weekend I made our plans public I was attending my sisters bridal shower and I got a call from Lauri telling me that after more than a year of good health and great strides forward, Mike was sent to the ER.  I took this news hard I was not anticipating poor health being part of our wedding plans.  I did not want to go down this road for a hundred reasons but I also knew that I had no choice so after some tears, prayers and a blessing from my dad I pulled myself together and made the long drive home to go be with Mike.

Mike was still in the ER by the time I got to the hospital (several hour later).  He had thrown up earlier and had aspirated and was having problems breathing.  We were admitted to the hospital where they got his breathing/pneumonia under control quickly but there was a new problem that had emerged and was the reason Mike threw up in the first place, he wasn't digesting his food.  For a week they tried several things and finally Mike started to digest his food. He seemed to be doing well so they sent him back to the facility.  I was relieved and felt this was just a small speed bump and we would get back on track in no time.  This was not the case.  Mike was back in his room but he was not getting any better.  He could digest his food but only barely he had to be on half the amount as normal and he was just not feeling well at all. For weeks they ran several tests and he visited a few Dr.s but no one could figure out what was wrong and Mike couldn't tell us.  After seeing a GI Dr. that couldn't find the problem the Dr. decided to start over from scratch and ordered a bunch of blood work and xrays. The x-ray of his abdomen came back that afternoon and as soon as the Dr. saw it she informed the nurses to get Mike to the hospital asap.  She saw what she thought was a hole in his intestines and that is a BIG problem (miracle 1).

Mike was rushed to the hospital and I rushed to meet him.  Unlike most visits to the ER things happened fairly quickly. He got a new cat scan of his abdomen within the hour and the ER Dr. greeted us and said that he would look at the scan as soon they were processed. He was back within 15 mins. telling us that he thinks Mike will need emergency surgery he wanted to show the scans to the surgeon and they would get back to me.  Within five mins. the surgeon was in the room talking to Mike and me about the problem.  I knew things were serious because normally when you go to the ER you wait for hours to be seen and if they say a Dr. is going to talk to you it is at least an hour or more waiting.  How fast everything seemed to be happening showed to me that this was indeed an emergency.  The surgeon told us that Mike had a hole in his colon and it needed to be repaired now or he could die. I thought it was strange that a surgeon was available within 5 mins.  I have never seen this happen before but I learned that there was another patient there that needed an appendectomy so they called the surgeon in to evaluate him when Mike's test came in (miracle 2).

I was scared to have him in for surgery and with my history and now phobia of hospitals this news could have put me over the edged but I was given a gift before I went to the hospital that helped me stay calm and focussed.  As soon as I heard they were taking Mike to the ER (yet again), I got down on my knees and prayed  for Mike and myself.  I had this overwhelming feeling that things were going to work out fine and that Mike was going to need surgery but it would all work out to his benefit.  I was overcome with calm and peace so although there were life and death things going on around me I was able to remain calm and assure Mike he was going to be ok (miracle 3).

The surgeon bumped Mike ahead of his appendectomy patient because his was a more serious situation.  Mike's brother Jeff came to be with me as we sat in the waiting room waiting for Mike's surgery to be over. The surgery was a success and went a lot better than the surgeon expected (miracle 4).  Mike was sent to the ICU to recover where he stayed for 10 days a few more days on another floor and he was finally able to be sent home.  The good news was that Mike's surgery was a success the bad new was that his two back to back stays in the hospital had given him a bed sore that was made even worse with his second stay.  Despit this I was glad to have Mike back at the facility and I felt that now he could finally get better and with plenty of time before our wedding.

Mike was improving but not as much as I had hoped and by the end of July he was definitely not where I wanted him to be.  I had made an appointment for us to get engagement pictures taken the first part of August which was the latest we could do it if we wanted to have announcements.  As the appointment grew closer Mike seemed to grow sicker.  It may seem like a trivial thing but I wanted us to have engagement pictures and they could not be put off any longer.  I prayed hard that Mike and I could get pictures.  Two days before our appointment Mike had a fever and things did not look promising for our pictures but I couldn't cancel the appointment we needed those pictures. The next day Mike had made a huge turn and was doing great which continued on for picture day.  He was tired from all the medical issues he had dealt with but he was well enough for pictures.  I couldn't believe it, it was a miracle even the staff commented on what a miracle his quick turn around was (miracle 5).

The next day proved just how much of a miracle Mike being able to take pictures had been, Mike was sent to the hospital with respiratory failure. He was admitted to the ICU once again. This made three trips to the hospital in thre months and I couldn't believe it.  Mike and I were supposed to be married in less than two months and he was back to the ICU.  At this time I wondered if we should postpone the wedding but I always felt like we should move forward with the date we picked so I didn't back down from it.  The weight of what we were going through by now can not be described and this trip was especially hard because we had to make a decision we swore we would never make.  After being trach free for 5 years we decided to retrach Mike. It was such a hard and devastating decision because of all we had been through, the fights and struggles we endured to get the trach out in the first place, and the freedom it had given us without it.  We had to humble ourselves and accept what was best for Mike at this time.  Seeing Mike with a trache again shook me to my core we seemed to be moving backwards and not forward.  During this time at the hospital the Doctors realized that the bedsores Mike had developed from his earlier hospital stays had gotten so bad that there was no way for them to heal on their own.  So after the trache surgery Mike was sent back to the operating room for the first of two surgeries to repair the bedsores.

When all was said and done Mike had had 4 surgeries in 3 months. When the last one was finished there were 4 weeks and 1 day until the wedding and the Dr. told us Mike had to stay in this special bed to recover for 4 weeks which he could not leave for any reason.  This left us with just one day of leeway which seemed to be cutting it close but I felt that we needed to press forward so we did.  By this time the stress of the situation was almost unbearable. Not only did Mike have to stay in this funky bed, the hospital wanted to send him to the Specialty Hospital for recover. You may not know about this place but just know Lauri and I HATE it and we will under no circumstances sent Mike there ever again.  Even if it's the only place that has the special bed for Mike to recover on there was no way anyone was going to get us to go back to that place.  Lauri put up a fight and we annoyed several people who I'm sure said things under there breath that would make a sailor blush but in the end we got that special bed sent to Mike's facility for him to recover on. (Miracle 6).

Mike was back at the facility with two weeks to go before the wedding he just needed a little recovery time and we would be on our way (that is what I thought at least). I started telling people that we still planned on getting married in a couple of weeks and I could tell the news wasn't sitting very well with some of the nurses.  I didn't let this bother me we were going to get married and that was that.  After a couple of days later the wound nurse called Lauri and told here Mike's bedsore was compromised and that it was breaking down. She needed to send him back to the surgeon and see what could be done.  What a blow, we only had one day of leeway for anything to go wrong and now we stood face to face with weeks of setbacks. Devastation began to set in I could not see my way around this one so I prayed and prayed.  Mike was sent to the surgeon the next day who looked at it and said that there was some discoloration but Mike was healing fine and there wasn't anything to worry about (miracle 7).

With yet another crisis averted it was back to wedding planning. I decided to call the social worker at the facility to let her know about our plans and what I needed from the facility.  Mainly to remind them that I had reserved a room for the wedding dinner and to let them know what was happening.  This conversation opened up a can of worms that I could have never predicted.  The next day I got a call back from the social worker letting me know where I stood on my requests.  Then she told me that she had talked to the wound nurse and that Mike was not to be off his special bed for any reason so we could not get married. I reminded her that they took him off his special bed to see the Dr. and that the Dr, had said he only needed to be on the special bed for 4 weeks and that would be over the day before the wedding.  The social worker talked to the wound nurse about what I said then got back to me.  The wound nurse was going to talk to the Dr. who had done the surgery and get back to me.  I knew that this conversation was a make or break moment.  If the Dr. said yes then she couldn't go against his wishes (win for us) but if the Dr. said no then she couldn't go against his wish (win for heartless people),  I waited and prayed to hear the answer my whole wedding rested on the outcome. When I finally got the call I held my breath to hear the answer which was.............."Under no circumstances was Mike to leave his bed he can not get married period end of story"  I couldn't believe my ears a Dr. who just a few days ago said Mike was doing great was suddenly saying Mike was doing so horribly that if he left his bed his bedsores would burst open and they would never heal again (win heartless people).

After all we had been through and after all the times I felt like we should move forward with the date we had chosen we were stopped cold in our tracks.  With a heavy heart I went to bed and I prayed.  I had the most powerful peaceful feeling come over me that told me that I would be married on the date we had chosen the feeling was so powerful it wrapped me in a warm cocoon and I knew that I could not doubt or deny what I was feeling or what I was told.(miracle 8).

The next day I took the day off of work to sort out my troubles.  Just a few more days before I was to get married but I still had a marrage licence to get, a wedding to put together, and a groom that couldn't leave his bed for any circumstances. Despite my wonderful feelings the night before I had a heavy heart, I didn't know where to start but like I said I couldn't deny what I was told the night before.  So I decided to solve one problem at a time.  First I needed a marrage license and my fiance couldn't go with me to get one which was a problem because that is a requirement to obtain a marrage license.  I knew there had to be some county that would give a license if one of the parties couldn't be there, prisoners seemed to be getting married all the time and they couldn't be there. I started calling all the counties starting with the closest and working my way out.  Finally I found a county that you just needed a notarized signature to get the license.  Great, one problem down a million more to go.  Then I decided that Mike only needed to get married and that we could just have him skip the reception that would mean he was only out of his bed for 2 hours and this would limit his risk. I pitched my new plan to Lauri who then took it to the facility.  She played on their sympathies and emphasized he would only be out for 2 hours. It worked and they finally relented we needed to sign something saying we understood the risks but they would help us get Mike married (miracle 9).

Now it was time to put our plan into action.  I needed a notary to notarize Mike's signature and I had no idea how to find one.  I texted the most connected man I knew (Bro. Beesley) because surely he must know a notary.  Somehow he came up with one who would meet us at the facility so Mike could sign and I could get the marrage license.  This was the same day Lauri flew in for the wedding so I had her prep Mike for the signature.  With all the other devastating stuff going on the other thing that we were dealing with is that every day Mike was getting sicker and sicker.  He had no energy and was barely responsive if at all.  I kept thinking he would snap out of it but by the time the notary came he could barely hold the pen.  Lauri had to help him squeeze while he signed his M that he makes as his signature.  This was concerning but I could not deny that we would be getting married so I knew that somehow he was going to get through whatever was going on with him.  The next morning I got up early to drive to Ogden to get our marrage license.  It was the day before our wedding and I felt like once I had the marrage license there was no earthly thing that could stop us from getting married.  With license in hand I was headed back home I felt happy and relieved but I knew something horrible was going to come up that day that would try to stop the wedding. Everyday some horrible insurmountable obstacle would come up that would try to stop the wedding but somehow we would get past it only to encounter another.  So I wasn't surprised when Lauri called to tell me that Mike had thrown up that morning.  Ok I can handle that let's get him feeling better and we would be getting married in the morning were my thoughts.  I had no idea what was about to happen.

I got back to my house where wedding preparations were going on to turn my home into a reception center.  A couple of friends had shown up to help and we were working hard.  Soon we had tons of family at my home and things were really coming together.  Around 4 that afternoon as I was working away Lauri grabbed me and said I need to talk to you.  I followed her back to the spare room where she proceeded to tell me that she had just gotten a call from the facility and that the administrator, social worker, head of nursing, and whoever else was on the phone to tell her that Mike was actively dying that's right DYING.  Mike's kidneys were shutting down and his blood pressure was dangerously low and his other organs were shutting down too.  Lauri confessed to me that when she had seen Mike when she first arrived she knew he was dying but didn't want to tell me, he had the look of someone who was dying.  They also told Lauri that there was no way that Mike could leave the facility to get married that the wedding had to be canceled.  Taking Mike out would kill him and if it didn't kill him it would bring death sooner.  If we decided to go ahead with the wedding the facility took no responsibility and would not send anyone with us to help us, we would be on our own and the death of Mike would be on our heads. This news smacked me right in the face.  Mike was dying and the best I could hope for was that we could get married before he did.  Lauri and I broke the news to the family in the other room then we grabbed Mike's sister Katie and headed to the facility to say our goodbyes.  Before we left we knelt together as a giant family and my mother prayed a wonderful and powerful prayer for Mike.  On the way to the facility we all sat in stunned silence.  My mind went through all that the Drs. had told us and I visualized planning Mike's funeral and telling everyone that he was dead.  I also knew that I could not deny that Mike and I would be married in the morning so despite his impending death I knew we must get married first.  If he was going to die, and getting married would make him die faster, I would rather be married with a couple less days than unmarried with a couple more and I knew Michael would feel the same way.

Arriving at the facility we made our way to Mike's room where we spent time with him and contemplated our options.  It was a somber time but one thing I knew was that the Lord would spare Mike's life long enough for us to get married.  The decision was made that whatever the cost Mike and I were going to go to the temple and be married in the morning.  Lauri and I had to talk to the social worker about our decision. She was not happy and wanted to talk us out of our decision or at least to just have someone come in and marry us at the facility.  I was undaunted, this was so important to Mike and I. I felt so strongly we were making the right decision and that Mike would be spared long enough to be married. I told her that being married in the facility was not an option, that going to the temple to be married was so important to us that it was worth the risk.  She reiterated what could happen if we took Mike out to get married.  It was scary but I felt so strongly about our decision that it did not sway me.  Because no one from the facility was allowed to help us we had to be trained on how to use special equipment Mike might need when he was taken out to be married. It felt lonely but I knew we were doing the right thing.

I decided I needed tell our sealer what was going on so I gave him a call.  A couple of months earlier a family friend had asked Elder Coleman, an emeritus general authority, if he would seal Mike and I.  He had agreed and we had been in touch on occasions to talk about how things were going and about the wedding.  It was so nice that I had this connection with our sealer so I could call and talk through what we were dealing with.  Elder Coleman was very supportive and encouraging about what we were dealing with.  We made a plan for the morning and everything was set.  I let everyone know that the wedding was on and now we just had to get married.

I went home where I sat on my couch and contemplated everything.  I went to bed nervous yet excited.  In the morning my parents and sister were there to help me get ready for my wedding.  Lauri and Mike's brother were helping Mike get ready.  I didn't want to hear how things were going for Mike I just wanted to assume they were fine and I didn't want my assumption not to be true.  Just as I was leaving my house to go to the temple I got a simple text from Lauri that said "Mike looks so good today". The words were simple but they brought tears to my eyes I then knew that my assumptions were right Mike was doing well and relief flooded over me. Once at the temple I walked in with my mother as my dad parked the car.  There was a line of people waiting for me and Mike and there in the middle was the smiling face of Elder Coleman. Soon Mike arrived and my heart sored we had both made it and he looked so good. Our ceremony was short but beautiful surrounded by people who loved us. As I kissed Mike after we were sealed he have the biggest smile on his face (I can't vouch for how big the smile was because I actually didn't see it but it was reported to me my several witnesses). Mike did so well he didn't need any of the special equipment that they sent us with.

We walked out of the temple overcome with joy and gratitude Mike had been brought from the brink of death and now we were sealed for time and all eternity (GRAND MIRACLE 10).

Back in my single days I'm sure many people thought it would take a miracle for me to marry.  How right they were but it didn't take one miracle but several miracles. Getting married was the hardest thing I have ever done, it stretched my patients, and faith to the breaking point.  I have learned so much through all of this but the main thing I have learned is that God lives and he still produces mighty miracles,  love is important and does not revolve around what another person can do for you, and that faith is an action word and can only grow as it is used.  For me the amount of faith it took to move forward to marrage no matter what barrier was placed in front of us was extreme but I found it somewhere and I am eternally grateful that when all I had was faith to move us forward it was there and I was able to pull from it. One day because of our Savior my husband will be made whole and I will be able to run and jump into his arms but I will not love him any more then than I do now.

I would like those who were a witness to any part of this miracle to leave a comment about your experience.  I would love to hear about it and it will add to this wonderful story.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Ring and a Date

(June 2015)

I used to listen to Dr. Laura, for some reason I liked listening to her yell at people for the way they lived their lives and telling them how they should live.  Funny thing is most of the time she was actually right.  One thing she would say is "you're not engaged unless you have a ring and a date".

I don't think Mike listens to Dr. Laura but for my birthday last year he was finally able to get me a real ring (you know the kind that sparkles and lets everyone know you are taken).  Michael is a true romantic and what could be more romantic than a homemade engagement ring made by the man you love?  Well I will tell you.... Mike gave me the engagement ring that his dad gave to his mom when they got married.  When I opened the gift I couldn't believe it, it made me cry and I couldn't even read the card that Lauri wrote for Mike. The ring was way too small and delicate for my beefy hands so we had it sized larger and added an extra band and larger diamond and I love it! I love it because I think it is beautiful, I love it because it belonged to Mike's parents, I love it because it's both the past and the present, and I love it because Mike gave it to me.

Well Michael got the ring but we are only half way there for Dr. Laura to be satisfied.  I guess the date thing is up to me.  Deciding when is it time to marry a man in a nursing home is not as easy as you may think.  There are so many things to consider, questions to be asked and answered, and on top of that you need to feel that it is the right time for you, your fiance, and the Lord.  I will not go into all the specifics of this difficult decision because they are personal but I will tell you that if you are patient and open your heart and mind even a decision this complex can be made.

After five years Michael and I are pleased to announce that we are officially engaged again (according to Dr. Laura) we finally feel like it is time for us to get married and have chosen September 25th as our wedding date.

The Future New Benson Family(Harley featured bellow)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Big Bertha and Other Blessings


It all started several months ago with a dream about being in a small boat with Michael and Lauri and seeking shelter in a cove after a huge storm made the seas to wild.  After the storm died down I knew it was time to leave the cove but there was a huge wall of water blocking us from leaving the cove and getting back to the ocean. As I moved the boat towards the wall of water I didn't know how we were going to make it past the wall I just new we needed to so I pressed forward.  Then I woke up.

This may be just a crazy dream but to me it definitely had meaning and there are probably multiple analogies you could pull from this dream.  At the time the dream represented how we kind of hunkered down after Mikes accident and lived a simplified life in the hospital and that now that things weren't so crazy it was time to get back to a more normal life.  The problem in both the dream and in real life is that there is a giant obstacle in the way of this transition and just like in the dream I don't know how to get past this obstacle but I have decided to move forward.

The first thing this dream lead me to do was to buy a house.  I don't think many people know that it was a crazy dream about a boat that got me thinking about buying a house. I realized that living on a third floor condo was not going to be very conducive to having a fiance in a wheelchair.  Although at the time it wasn't very plausible from him to visit me anyways because we had no way to transport him, if things were going to change we would need a place to be.  So after much prayer and thought and promptings and a few tears I found a perfect home in Lehi.  It is all one story with not a lot of stairs leading up to it, it is halfway between my work and where Mike stays, it's close to my brother and his family, and it has great walking paths all around it.  Mike's aunt Julie and uncle Grant's family even made us a moveable wheelchair ramp for Mike for Christmas.  Mike was able to come check it out before we closed on it and he loved it.

So now I had a house, which was great, but Mike couldn't get to it without extreme difficulty and getting lots of people involved.  If fact after his first visit we hadn't been able to get him back to the house.  This needed to change but how..... I contemplated our dilemma many times over and over no solution seemed plausible or even remotely doable but I soon settled on a solution well actually I felt very inspired about the solution.  We needed to buy Mike a wheelchair van.  There were many problems with this solution, I will list them out for you.

1. Mike is so large he doesn't fit in a conventional wheelchair van.
2. We could not afford a wheelchair van they are very expensive.
3.  Where on earth do you find a giant wheelchair van/bus that could hold Mike?
4.  Could I drive it (well I know I could drive it, would I want to drive it was the problem)?
5.  Was it even possible to load Mike in a van without a lot of help?
6.  Would Medicare even let Mike have a van?

Of all these problems the greatest problem was the money for a wheelchair van .  I didn't know how this was going to be possible but I decided not to let that stop me.  If the Lord wanted Mike to have transportation he would have transportation.  I started looking, I paid attention to vans to see what would or would not work for Mike, I told everyone that I was looking for a van and to keep their eyes open for one, I started searching KSL for used wheelchair vans, I got input from other van owners, and I strategized about how we could come up with enough money to buy one.  This process didn't yield a van but it did help me know more of what I was looking for.  We needed a van that had rear entry wheelchair lift instead of the standard side entry, It needed the roof to be heightened, and it needed to be full sized van not a minivan.

Then all at once everything changed Mike got some unexpected money from the insurance company that Lauri had been fighting to get for 4 years and was told she would never get it.  We had completely given up on the money and were not expecting to see a dime of it.  Then one day Lauri was informed the they were giving Mike $10,000 of that money, not a lot but better than nothing.  Soon after this I found a van on KSL that had a rear entry wheelchair lift, heightened roof, and was a full sized van for only $9,000.  I took a test drive and also tested transporting Mike in it and it all worked better than expected.  We had just enough money to buy the van, pay for taxes, and pay the licence/registration coisodence? It all happened so fast we didn't even realize what a miracle/blessing it was until later.

So here she is, we call her Big Bertha

Now Michael comes to my house almost every weekend and we can go out and visit people or have adventures.  What a blessing in our lives and we are thankful everyday for these wonderful gifts. We haven't made it past the huge wall of water to get back to the ocean of life yet but this has been a giant step forward. We are still moving toward through the wall not knowing for sure how to get past it but knowing that the Lord is mindful and is helping us get there one step at a time. We don't have to know how it's going to happen we just need to know that it will happen.

Some of our Big Bertha outings

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mike and Lisa, A Love Story

February is the month of love for Michael and I.  Not just because of Valentines Day but we got engaged February 7th 2010, and February is the month that we were able to bask in the ignorant bliss of love and engagement before our lives were torn apart. I wish February had more days than 28 so we could have lived in our ignorance a little longer.  To commemorate this month of love I thought I would share our love story.

We met online, after seeing that I liked the movie "Vanilla Ice Cool as Ice" on my profile Mike sent me a message about how he just went to a Vanilla Ice concert.  We wrote a few messages back and forth, it wasn't love a first write but he seemed like a good guy so I was interested in getting to know him.  After basically forcing him to ask me out and waiting a couple of weeks (it wasn't love at first write for him either), we finally went on our first date. After our first date I realized I had no interest in Mike, he wasn't really my type and I didn't feel any sparks.  Near the end of the date I was ready for it to be over but I had an experience that showed me I should at least give him a chance so I did.  Our second date went much better and by the end of it I realized I did like this goofy, nerdy, manly man. 

It took us two months of almost constant dating to realize we should become boyfriend and girlfriend.  It only took us four more months to realize we should become engaged.  When we first started dating we both agreed that couples should date for a year before deciding if they should make things more serious. But what you think should happen and what should really happen aren't always the same thing.....

At five months we both realized that we did love each other and that our relationship was definitely headed towards marriage but we both weren't ready for the next step. We were comfortable in our dating and wanted to really get to know each other before moving to the next step.  Then the antsiness set in, things just weren't going right something seemed really off (not in our relationship but with things around us).  After a particularly frustrating event of Mike not being able to fix his car yet again because of mysterious circumstances, I told him that something was off and that he needed to figure out what he needed to do to fix it.  I realized this wasn't just a Mike problem so I told him I would pray too and hopefully we could figure out what was going on.  To my surprise during my prayer I had the distinct impression that I "should not doddle in getting engaged" I found myself saying I wasn't ready to be engage and I was told "then get ready".  How a prayer about a frustrating car problem turned into me not waiting to get engage I'm not sure.  Maybe the Lord had to use a back door problem so he could sneak up on me without scaring me away.  I was scared because I wasn't ready to make the next step but I knew what the Lord had told me and I knew I had to go on faith.

I feel that popping the question is definitely the boys responsibility (call me old fashioned) so I didn't know how I was supposed to tell the boy I was dating that we should not doddle in getting engaged.  I was busy that weekend and would only see him for a short time so I decided I didn't need to figure that out just yet, I would wait until we would have more time together to figure out how to bring this up.  Just as I arrived for my short visit with Mike I realized my rationalization to wait to tell him was not valid and that I needed to talk to him about my feelings as I prayed.  If you can't talk about personal things with the man you are thinking of marrying someday you probably shouldn't marry him.  I got up my courage and told him my experience he looked at me funny and said "I know I have felt that for awhile I was just waiting for you."  I realized that I had let fear close me off from what the Lord was trying to tell me and that lucky for me he didn't give up on me, just like Mike he patiently waited for me to finally hear.

Following my promptings did not take my fears away or make me instantly ready to get engaged but I knew that it was important not to wait any longer so we moved forward with our plans.  Mike didn't have money for a ring yet so he decided to make me one in the mean time.  With ring in hand we made a very quick trip to Idaho so that Mike could ask my dad for his blessing.  Mikes plan was for us to go to Idaho to talk to my dad then the next day he was going to take me snowshoeing and pop the question.  Mike informed me of his whole plan, he was so excited he couldn't keep it to himself.  I made fun of him for telling me how and when we were going to get engaged but that is just how Mike rolls.  After talking to my dad, we headed back to Utah. On our way out of town Mike asked if we could stop at the Rexburg Temple so that he could get some of his nervous energy out before heading home.  The request didn't seem that strange because we had stopped off at the temple last time we were headed out of town.  Once there despite my protests we got out of the car on a frigid Idaho evening and walked around the temple.  I did have a thought that maybe Mike had changed his mind and was going to ask me right then and there to marry him.  I dismissed this because Mike did not vary from his plans once he made them so to my surprise he did vary from his original plan and stopped, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.  I said yes and he slipped the home made ring on my finger and just like that we were engaged.  Luckily my family talked us into coming back to the house so they could see the ring so we were able to get pictures of that night.

One month later Mike was in his accident and everything changed for us.  I can never describe or explain what it was like to have this happen, it is not an easy thing.  There are so many scenarios and questions running through your head, you are thrust into making decisions that are way above your pay grade. Luckily I was not alone Mikes family and I joined in a team effort of care and decision making and with the help of the Lord we were able to decide what needed to happen and what we should be doing.  I am so thankful that Mike and I listened to the Lord and got engaged before this happened. If we were not engaged I would have been an outsider through all of this and it would have definitely altered some of our decisions.

Mike and my love story did not end with the accident that is where it truly began.  We were in the beginning stages of love when we decided to get married, we were no more in love than your average engaged couple. We did not possess the kind of love it required to get us through all that we have been through but lucky for us, love grows if you let it.  At times the love I have for Mike floods over me like a mighty title wave at others it's more like a decision I make "I choose to love Mike". But through time our love has been forged into a beautiful seemingly unbreakable bond.  Our love has been fortified through the deepest despairs, through murky black trials, through endless patients, through hope, through faith, through laughter, through tears, through understanding, through disappointments, through triumphs, through acceptance, through service, through dance parties, through hard work, through opposition, through support, and through the Lord.

Some people feel that I am wasting my life on Mike that I need to move on and leave him behind.  All I can say is, how is walking beside the man you love more than anything through the darkest, hardest trial of his life wasting your life? What is life for but to love and be loved. And what is love if it is not sacrificing for the other person. I know for some the decisions I have made would not be right but for Michael and I we are on the path we need to be on.  I would love it if our path were a different one but it is not so we will make the most of it together.

To Mikes friends and family I want you to know that Mike is loved more deeply than you can imagine.  He does not walk alone through this trial.  He may have lost a lot of things but he has not lost me, his love.

To my friends and family I want you to know that I am loved more deeply than you can imagine.  I do not walk alone through this trial.  I may not have the perfect life but I have my love Michael.

I love Michael Benson!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Deja vu all over again

July 2013

When if comes to news I usually like to get the bad news first so I'm going to talk about the bad things that have been going on lately, then if you're lucky my next post will be a little more uplifting.  Michael has been in the ICU for the past 2 weeks.  If you have read my earlier post you know how much I HATE the hospital, needless to say it's been a long hard stay.

A couple of weeks a go Michael had a seizure which happens now and then because of his injuries but this time it wouldn't stop.  They has to call the paramedics and he was sent to the ER.  They did get it to stop but by the time they did he has aspirated (breathed in foreign particles) which is very bad for you.  He was having a tough time breathing and by the time I got there he was on a machine that was trying to push air into his lungs.  He did not look well but there was a brief moment when he came to and looked at me with questioning scared eyes.  I told him where he was and why he was there and he drifted back into unawareness.

Given my fear of hospitals and Mike it takes me a lot of courage to go walking into the ER and ask for him but I love Mike more than I fear hospitals so I have been able to concur some of this fear.  Up until this point I have never had to face one of  my ultimate fear which is Mike going back to the ICU.  You can't imagine my terror when they told me Mike was going to be admitted into the ICU.  I wish that my fear was more for Mike than myself but I can't say that it was at that point.  After a few tears and a deep breaths I was prepared to put my big girl pants on and meet my ultimate fear head on.  By this time my concern for Mike outweighed my fear for myself so it seemed doable. We spent the day watching the monitors and Mike wasn't improving, he was going down hill.  Then that evening I had to face an even scarier fear than the ICU which is Mike having to be intubated again (put a tube down you throat so you can breath).  Once intubated Michael's stats improved and he stabilized.  Looking at Michael intubated and hooked up to all those monitors brought back so many memories. I couldn't believe we were back in the ICU while Mike fought for his life.

Needless to say it was a hard couple of weeks.  After nine days they were able to extubate him, he didn't do as well as we all thought he would without the tub.  Probably due to swelling caused by the tub in his throat for nine days but he made steady improvements. Lauri was on summer break so she was able to come and stay for a week and a half (what a great mom).  Not a very fun vacation if you ask me but it was nice to have someone with him while I was a work.  

Being in the hospital was rough for all of us and no one like to see there loved one struggling.  It's especially hard because the people caring for Mike treated him like a second class citizen because he has head trauma.  It's hard to watch people treat someone you love so much like he has no value or worth.  Not everyone is like that but there is enough to make it the overall feeling.  I won't go into specifics as to avoid becoming hurt and angry again but it does make me wonder how I treat other people.  Do I ever dismiss someone because I don't see their worth?  It's a hard question to ask yourself but knowing how it feels to be on the other side makes me want to always answer this question with a NO.  

Michael is doing better everyday he is still not 100% yet but I think he will get there soon.  He is now out of the "real" hospital and back at the care center.  He still needs a little oxygen and is being monitored more closely for the next little while. He has this funny oxygen mask that looks like a white mustache, it has inspired Lauri and I to have Mike grow a real mustache.  It's cool because it's a secret mustache, when he has his oxygen on you can't see it but take it off and ta-da mustache Mike.  What do you think?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Joy Riding

(May 2013)

Being trapped in a care facility is no fun.  There are fun things you can do but sometimes you just get cabin fever and you need to go out into the world.  Leaving the facility is always a big deal and a major undertaking.  We have to pay a transport company big bucks plus we are on their schedule which is mon. - fri. 8 to 5.  What kind of fun can you have during those hours?  Given these restrictions, outings are few and far between.  But they do happen here is a list of all the non-medical related outings.

1. BYU Art Museum (Carl Bloch)

2. Movie (Source Code)

3. Baptism (my nephew Owen)

4. Movie (The Muppet Movie)

5. Bridal Veil Falls

6. Thanks Giving Point (the gardens)

Good times, but this is not true freedom just planned outings. 

Sometimes the simplest thing can change your life ...... 
The other day I invited my sister and her husband over for a double date to add some interest into our mundane lives.  My sister is always up for a good time and always brings the fun even if you are limited to a nursing home.  We found a day that worked and then she said.  "I think we should see if we can get Mike into your car I think with Stevens help (her husband) we could do it".  This simple phrase got me thinking and imagining. I never thought of putting Mike into my car mainly because Mike is so big I didn't think he could squeeze in there with his limited movement, plus he is so big it would take a large person to try to maneuver him.  I didn't dare imagine it could work but I was definitely up for trying it. 

Soon the day arrived and I tried to contain my excitement for what we were about to try.  I let Mike know what we were thinking of doing and he seemed a little apprehensive (I don't blame him).  We practiced by moving him from his bed to his wheel chair with just man power.  It worked smoothly and we decided not to waste our energy with more practicing and went straight for the car.  It wasn't hard getting his bottom from his wheelchair to the car seat but my fears where confirmed when we tried to maneuver his legs into the car they were too long and unbendy.  For a nano-second we thought of giving up but we had come too far we had to make this work.  We did some more maneuvering (more explanation can be given upon request) and soon Michael was sitting in the passenger seat of my car.  We had to leave his seat reclined a bit because it put strain on his long legs with it up right but he could see just fine. 

Then we did something we hadn't done in more than three years, we went for a simple joy ride.  We held hands as I drove up Provo canyon, we just drove and looked at the scenery.  It seems so simple but it wasn't monumental for Michael and I.  To be honest it made me cry.  Michael was so happy and so was I we were on a high for the next three days.

Here we are on our joy ride, believe me it won't be our last.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Three Years

(March 2013)

Today is an anniversary and not the kind you want to think about or celebrate.  Three years ago my life change forever when Michael was in his motorcycle accident.  Thinking back to that day floods me with emotions and horrible memories but with time those emotions and memories are dulled more and more.  It's amazing what a person can endure and overcome. If I had my choice I would go back to that day and change what happened but I can't so I try to appreciate what going through this has done for me and for Mike.

One of the major blessing of all of this has been the Love that Michael and I have developed for one another.  I cannot begin to express how much I love that guy and I know he loves me too (especially after Valentine's Day).  What a gift to be able to love and to be loved so much.

Another blessing is gratitude, in life we don't know that we should be grateful for something until we don't have it anymore then we realize what a gift so many things are.  I guess it's called taking things for granted.  I'm not saying I don't take many of my blessings for granted but my eyes have been opened to how many things there are to be grateful for.  I appreciate simple things so much more than I did before and it's amazing how much joy simple things can bring you.

Some other blessing I have received through all of this are: Eternal perspective, tragedies force you to look at the bigger picture of what this life is all about. Family bonds, I have seen first hand how supported and loved I am by my family both immediate and extended, also I have gained the support and love of Michael's family as well and I love them all. Empathy, there is a difference between feeling bad for someone and having empathy for them, without our own tragedies it is hard to truly feel empathy for others tragedies.  Strong testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel, I have always had a testimony but it has grown immensely as I not only turn to the Lord but also trust in him. You cannot put a price on having a relationship with the Lord.  These are not the only blessings I have received but they are all I will mention at this time.

Today as I laid next to Mike in the hospital I looked over at this cute picture of when Michael and I were dating I couldn't believe how young and full of life we looked.  Then I turned and looked at my drooling fiance with his slightly crazy eye and his crooked smile, I couldn't see me but I'm sure I didn't look as sassy as I did in the picture.  I realized how different we were from that couple in the picture not just physically but spiritually as well.  This journey has not been easy and I don't want to pretend that I have not been devastated at times.  It's just that with all the bad, there has been good. We may be different than we were 3 years ago but most of the differences are good ones.