My sister Katherine had gone back to Winston-Salem the night before so she could spend the morning making sure that everything was ready for Corrie's return to my parents' house. Although it was much needed, it seemed weird not having all six of us together in the hospital on the final day, especially considering that we'd been through everything together up to that point. As Zach and I got ready to make our final trip to the hospital in Chapel Hill on Monday morning, I asked him if he still had his little digital camera that he took to Afghanistan. Since it has video-recording capabilities (and my DSLR does not), I figured I'd take a few short clips as Corrie's hospital journey came to an end so Katherine wouldn't miss out on anything.
My "few short clips" for Katherine's benefit turned into a little YouTube video that's been viewed nearly 1,600 times and counting:
*The music in the video is composed and performed by Jon Wilson, an incredibly talented musician with a huge heart for God and others. My family has come to know Jon through Camp Bethel and the Virlina District over the years, and we were so touched when Jon wrote this song for Corrie while she was in ICU.
**You can hear me burst into sobs at the 1:59 mark. If the audio was included at the 0:55 mark instead of just music, you could hear me burst into sobs again as well. While we're making disclaimers, I'm sorry for having a dirty car windshield.
I can't tell you how glad I am that my family now has this video to chronicle one of the happiest days of our lives. Corrie's story could have ended so differently, and being able to bring her home and watch her walk up our sidewalk was a dream come true and an answer to so many prayers.
We knew going into the weekend that Corrie would most likely be discharged from the hospital on Monday, but after encountering five billion setbacks and complications, my family decided not to tell anyone until the news was absolutely certain. Our extended family and neighbors only had a few hours' notice, but they managed to change the church sign in Corrie' honor, have balloons tied to every mailbox lining the street, and have all sorts of "Praise God" and "Almost There" and "Welcome Home, Corrie" signs posted all the way down the road.
It was so important to Corrie to walk up the sidewalk into my parents' house, and with the help of a walker and my parents by her side (and a tiara, of course), the princess did just that.
Let it be known that although Corrie was never the biggest fan of the family cat, her true feelings came out while she was heavily medicated in the hospital... and she apparently loves the furball. Callie apparently loves her right back, since the only night she didn't eat her dinner while my family was in Chapel Hill was the night that Corrie coded and was rushed to ICU. Purrface knows what's up.
Since coming home from the hospital, Corrie has continued to amaze us each day with her strength and positive attitude. Less than four weeks ago, she was able to walk ~350 feet while using a walker. Now she's able to walk ten times further (2/3 of a mile) with no walker at all. In fact, the walker has been banished to the basement as of this past weekend! Corrie has physical therapy every day as she continues to get her strength back and works out with my dad throughout the day as well. (He's been able to use his stored-up vacation days to stay at home with Corrie during the past month, which has been such a blessing.)
In addition to rebuilding her strength after nearly three months of being sick, Corrie is also learning to navigate life without a colon. We've learned that there are some foods which are supposedly off-limits for anyone without a colon (ie: nuts, seeds, carbonation, raw vegetables, skins/peels of fruits, etc.), but a lot of other foods vary from person to person. It's a little bit of trial and error learning what works best and managing the pain that comes along with it.
Corrie continues to take a blood thinner medication (no more blood clots, ever, please!) and frequently has her INR levels tested. She has follow-up appointments next month with both the cardiologist and the surgeon at the hospital in Chapel Hill. The second surgery will probably take place next spring/summer, but for now, we're all just taking things one day at a time.
Life most certainly isn't back to normal in the Haynes house and more than likely won't be back to normal for quite a while. However, the entire family – Corrie especially – is embracing our "new normal." Shopping trips and restaurant outings look a little different these days, but what a blessing that we're still able to enjoy all of it as a family!
Lastly, I couldn't possibly share this post without thanking everyone who has loved and supported my family during the past few months through their prayers, phone calls, emails, texts, food, gifts, Lovenox-shot-giving capabilities, and more. Corrie still has a ways to go, but goodness, how far she has come! To those of you who mailed cards after reading this post while Corrie was in ICU, this is just a fraction of your labor of love (I ran out of room to keep displaying them, obviously):
Cards poured in from all over the globe. There were so many cards from family, friends, co-workers, and former classmates... as well as SO many cards that started off with, "You don't know me, but..." There were cards from elementary school classes, cards from churches we don't attend, cards from people we've never met. Funny cards, encouraging cards, sentimental cards, handmade cards. There aren't words to thank you for the amount of smiles you brought to Corrie's face as well as the amount of love you brought to ICU, ISCU, and 6 East.
Each of you made this journey a little brighter. We are so grateful for your love and support that helped get our family to where we are today, and we appreciate your prayers as Corrie continues to get stronger.
Corrie: it may have taken eighteen years, but the whole world finally knows how to spell your name.
You are so loved, baby girl!