Day +56: Caray on

Another day, another Atlanta Braves surprise! Tonight we received this message from announcer Chip Caray aka Harry Caray III. I am so grateful for all the people that have stepped up to help make us smile. For now, I'm smiling solo, but I remain hopeful that I'll relive all of this with Ramón when he awakens from his very lengthy slumber.

Sunday will mark seven weeks since his cardiac arrest; that's seven weeks without one of his hugs, laughs, or awful jokes that he repeats because he thinks I didn't hear him when I certainly did. Ugh, I miss it all. Thank you to Chip and my friend, Uren, for making hospital day 63 a hit! ("Do you get it? A hit?" -Something Ramón would say)

Day +55: Holy Snit

Alright, folks. Things are escalating! Today we got this incredibly kind video from Atlanta Braves Manager Brian Snitker. I'll admit this week has been a tough one; we're working to determine where Ramón will go next to give him the best chance for neuro recovery, and we've run into many obstacles.

Though I've shed countless tears of sadness this week, my hope was to regroup and shift back into a perspective of gratitude. Last night's email from Hank Aaron (so fun to say) helped get me started, and Snit's video has given me the momentum to keep going. Gratitude, I'm home and hope to stay for a while!

Day +54: Keep swinging

You know when you’re just staring at the computer screen, deciding what to say to Hank Aaron? Do you not know that feeling? Because I do! Tonight, Hammerin’ Hank took the time to email us after becoming aware of our story. I was born a Braves fan, and Ramón grew up watching the games on TBS, despite living nowhere near Atlanta. Together we’ve gone to many games, made trips to Florida for spring training, and spent a good portion of last season cheering from the hospital following Ramón’s leukemia diagnosis.
After receiving Hank’s email, I read it multiple times to make sure I was seeing correctly. “You are not going to believe who emailed us,” I excitedly told Ramón tonight – day 61 of his current hospitalization and day 89 this year. Though he’s still unresponsive, I read him Hank’s words of encouragement, hoping they’ll find the sweet spot that leads to progress.
I love this quote from Hank: "My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly o…

Day +46: Life is hard.

The past several weeks have been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life. Each day, I have been hopeful that Ramón’s status would change enough to dramatically alter the nature of my update. But it hasn’t, so here goes. On April 19, nine days after his stem cell transplant, an infection caused Ramón’s throat to close, which thrust him into cardiac arrest. He turned to me and – barely audible – said, “I’m choking,” before going down. What happened next was a blur. “We’re losing him,” someone shouted. “Somebody start compressions,” another voice demanded while I was escorted out of the room.

As I took the longest walk of my life, though just down the hall, I heard over the intercom, “Code blue. Hospital tower south. Ninth floor. Room 903.” Code blue always makes me pause and close my eyes, mustering up every ounce of energy I have, knowing that it’s the most serious of codes: a resuscitative effort. With each repetition of Ramón’s room number over the intercom, I became mo…

Day +37: Developing

I love this picture from a friend's wedding in Charleston in 2014. It looks so effortless and obnoxiously lovey-dovey. In reality, though, I kept demanding that Ramón look at me like he was in love because I saw the photographer lurking. You can't conclude that from the final product alone, but that's how we got there.

Right now I'd give anything to know the final product that will result from the challenge we're facing, but unfortunately I don't. I do know Ramón needs your thoughts, prayers, and positivity. Although some photos can be staged (calculated, even), this one is developing at its own pace.  As always, I appreciate you and will update as things come into focus. 💙

Raise a ____ for Ramón

Happy almost birthday to this guy! It's the night before Ramón's birthday, which means it's also the eve of his leukemia diagnosis. Ramón remains in the ICU, but he should be coming off all sedation in the very near future.

Ramón's newly acquired immune system is working well so far, and his white blood cell count increased exponentially last week. Thank you for all the moves you busted for Ramón!

I want to honor Ramón's birthday by toasting to him tomorrow. My first thought was to suggest coffee so he can get all the wake-up vibes possible. However, I won't stop you from getting rowdy for Ramón, either. We certainly weren't expecting another hospital birthday (and definitely not like this), so it's our duty to celebrate for him.

Though there is still a lot of uncertainty ahead, we can put our own spin on tomorrow. Let's make it special by raising a _____ for Ramón!

Day +18: Still dancing

Thank you all for helping make my birthday special. Though a big part of my heart was missing, my heart was warmed every time I received a birthday wish, a candle photo, or a donation to the CFF. The greatest gift of all … drumroll … was that I got to go see Ramón in the hospital. He was sedated, but I got some solid hand squeezes at the best possible times. I also left a playlist of his favorite songs, and I heard his music in the background when the doctor Facetimed me yesterday.

It was a sad, beautiful, difficult, and amazing day, but it was also a hope-y birthday. As of yesterday, we still hadn’t seen any change in his white blood cell count, so turn up the music and dance like you’ve got nothing to lose. When I was with him in-person on Sunday, I told him he simply wouldn’t believe the amount of support he has. I’m holding on to my rope of hope, understanding that each day brings Ramón closer to healing. And, in moments when I feel like a candle in the wind, I know I’m surrounded…

Day +15: Light and love

I’m updating to let you know that there’s not much of an update. The doctors think Ramón’s airway closed due to an infection just above his voice box, combined with throat inflammation caused by the radiation he received before transplant (a common side effect). Because his immune system was intentionally wiped out for transplant, the swelling can’t resolve until his white blood cells start regenerating. And, without addressing the swelling, the doctors don’t feel comfortable removing the ventilator and therefore can’t turn down the sedation much more. This is about the time the doctors expect to see Ramón’s counts coming up, so do your white blood cell dance for encouragement.

We also know that, during any cardiac arrest, the brain often goes without its full supply of oxygen for a time. The neurologist says it’s too early to hypothesize what this might mean for Ramón specifically since he’s still sedated. Though they can do some basic imaging while under sedation, there’s not much v…

Day +12: A turtle's pace

Though time has been moving at the speed of molasses, it’s moving, and that’s the most important part of this process. The testing they’ve been able to do while Ramón is sedated and intubated all looks quite positive. Until they can fully wake him, though, there will be some unknowns. Yesterday around noon they started the awakening process, but it will happen gradually and safely, so it could be a number of days. 

Around this time last year, Ramón and I were hiking at Turtletown Falls in Tennessee, and cancer was nowhere in the mix. Yesterday I found myself Facetiming with my sedated husband. I reminded him how many people love him and are pulling for him, and I let him know that we’re not stopping. 
Although we’re in a holding pattern now, we should know more in the coming days. So, let’s keep rooting while Ramón is rebooting. 

Day +9: Cloud not-so-nine

Today has been, by far, the scariest day of my life. This morning, at about 5:25, Ramón lost his airway, most likely due to swelling caused by an infection or allergic reaction. He went into cardiac arrest and ultimately had to be resuscitated. During the process, Ramón had to be intubated. He is now sedated and on a ventilator in the ICU. I was required to leave due to the ICU’s no visitor policy, but I was able to hold his hand before I left, and I am grasping onto that memory until I’m able to return.

As traumatic as the day has been, the updates I’ve received have been encouraging thus far. Though Ramón is expected to remain on the ventilator for several days, they’ve gradually (and successfully) moved him down to the lowest setting throughout the day. He is requiring very little heart support at this time, which is a drastic improvement from this morning. The doctors are very encouraged that the first 12 hours have gone as smoothly as they have.

They’ve cooled his body down (ther…