Kevin Zwingle Is Worth Fighting For

Kevin Zwingle Is Worth Fighting For

“I had a little surprise,” the neurosurgeon said after the surgery.

Dr. Salim Rahman‘s words were a bit of a gut punch, but I listened. He explained upon performing the intended procedure, he noticed the covering of the brain did not appear a normal color. He opted to do a more extensive surgery (craniotomy) whereby he removed a portion of the plate covering the brain to gain a better view. He removed tissue samples to biopsy to have a better understanding of why the discoloration. Otherwise, he was able to successfully drain the blood, and Kevin was expected to do well. He would be in the Neuro Trauma ICU for a few days before moving to a regular room.

In hindsight, I wish I had been better prepared for his condition those first few days. The brain is an interesting organ. This recovery would be like no other we have done together. Each time after leaving my very limited daily visit, I would cry. I would cry and then pray. My prayers were to allow him to return to normal and for him to be calm and able to rest.

After two to three days in the Neuro Trauma ICU, Kevin began to return to a more normal state, talking more but still with a pretty flat effect. After five days, he moved to a room on the Neuro floor, where they specialize in stroke cases. I was happy he was on a specialized floor with a nursing team experienced in this type of care. After visiting him, I could sense things might still not be right. Frustrated, I continued my prayers for him to recover. I just wanted him to come home.

Sandi and Kevin Zwingle

Within a couple of days of being in a regular room, Kevin was released, and I was excited he would be home. I arrived to gather his items and help him change clothes. He was having trouble finding words. I stepped out to speak to the nurse who came to evaluate. Within three minutes, Kevin’s room was filled with a rapid response team of about 10 people. They determined Kevin was having another seizure. He would stay another night. As I left, I recall praying, nearly begging for God to heal Kevin. I just wanted all of this to be over.

Kevin was released the next day. Again, I picked him up. Again, we headed home. Peyton was there, waiting to see her dad. She was as excited as I was. On the drive to Nixa, Kevin was quiet, a little restless and didn’t seem to feel well. When I opened the car door, I told Peyton I felt something still wasn’t right. She agreed, and we worked to convince Kevin we needed to return – again – to the emergency room. He still wasn’t communicating well, but it was well enough to tell me he just wanted to rest a while. We were agreeable.

While every fiber of my being could not stand the thought of a trip back to the emergency room, I knew he didn’t need to be home. We called Zack, who was at work, so he could physically help us with getting Kevin back to the hospital. During check in, they allowed me to remain since Kevin was not fully communicating. The next 24 hours were very likely the worst time of my life.

Dr. Lisle came to examine Kevin.

As I write, I am physically sick recalling what I had to watch Kevin endure. A small part of me, while I wanted to and always have been with Kevin through it all, was relieved I would not be allowed to remain with him when they moved him back up to the Neuro floor. I was simply trying to make it outside without crying.

Zack quickly stepped up and took on all the duties at home Kevin would have handled. My baby – he was such a man. I was proud. Peyton was my optimist. The roles reversed, and she mothered me and helped me see the good in each and every day.

I waited outside for Peyton and Zack to pick me up. Sobbing. I remember just telling them I hope he didn’t remember what he went through: how he was confused, unable to talk or communicate, how he had trouble walking, how he was agitated. I hoped he didn’t remember being restrained for a few days. Or how unsettled he was. I wondered if he even recognized me during this time.

We all prayed for answers. The days ahead were dark and filled with uncertainty. Dr. Lisle was honest and told me he wasn’t certain the cause for his condition. They, including Dr. Robin Trottman, continued to look at samples from the brain, perform countless CT’s and MRI’s, etc. We even discussed if treatment elsewhere should be considered. With each phone call, the doctors reminded me they were looking at everything – and they did not want to find the things they were looking for – as it was all very severe, bad stuff.

I was desperate, scared and beginning to wonder if life would ever be normal again. Thoughts raced through my head. I had no idea what was happening, and I struggled to keep myself focused. I wasn’t eating; I spent my days crying, unable to work. I found myself relying on my children to get me through. Zack quickly stepped up and took on all the duties at home Kevin would have handled. My baby – he was such a man. I was proud. Peyton was my optimist. The roles reversed, and she mothered me and helped me see the good in each and every day.

Each night, after the one short visit I was allowed with Kevin, I would come home and Peyton, Zack and I would pray: out loud and through tears. I recall both kids saying, “Just put it in God’s hands, Mom.” I so desperately wanted to do that, but I was incredibly selfish. All I wanted was to have Kevin home, back to normal and to be done with all of this. My inherent nature is to be in control. This was a struggle and completely void of any control, but I tried with all my being to focus on what was positive in our situation and challenged myself each day to find those things to focus on versus being consumed with so many uncertain what ifs. That was something I could control – so I did.

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