When you lose a sibling it’s like losing a body part you didn’t know you had but helped you through your life. Now that, that part is gone you have to find a new way to keep yourself going. Siblings are easily to most taken for granted family member, you assume they will always be there; you fear your parents death and know someday that your grandparents will go. However when you go through those times you picture your siblings by your side to help you and to be able to remind you of memories. The thought of losing one of my siblings has never entered my mind, both of my brothers have had things happen to them where they could have died but even at that point it still didn’t seem possible. The story below is long but try and read through it, it will help you understand more of my blog posts and it’s a story worth your time.
Well the unthinkable became a reality for me on October 8th, 2013, I was awaken from the vibration of my phone. I looked and seen my uncle calling me, I thought what in the world is he calling me for in the middle of the night. With those thoughts I had missed his call, the fact that he is an EMT and a firefighter entered my mind. I realized I needed to call him back, I went into my missed calls and also noticed two missed calls from my dad, at this point I knew something was wrong. I quickly called my uncle back and he said he was pulling in my driveway to talk to me. I can honestly say this was one of the scariest moments in my life I did not know what happened or who it happened to but I knew it was not good. He came inside and explained to me that Andy had collapsed at work and was being transported to the Bismarck, ND hospital. He didn’t really know anything else, at this moment survival mode had kicked in I thought I need to make a list, I need to find places for my kids to go and I need to leave. This went on for about an hour or so and then it hit me like a brick wall, that was my brother something was wrong with MY brother. My mother-in-law came over to help me get organized and stay with the kids so I could leave. As I was getting ready to head out the door I received a phone call from my mom saying that Bismarck was transferring him down to Sioux Falls, SD. So I began for 4 hour drive down to Sioux Falls, many prayers and conversations with God were had during this drive along with phone calls to friends and family.
When I arrived at the hospital my mom and my aunt had gotten there just as Andy had along with his girlfriend Chelsey, who was able to ride with Andy on both of his life flights. Hugs and tears were exchanged but most of all I just wanted to see my brother. I wanted to hold him and give him a big giant kiss and let him know I was there. Soon my brother, Josh, and his wife Jackie arrived; at this point we all caught a quick glimpse of Andy as he was being rolled back to his room after a test. Soon after that we were able to see Andy he was in a small room with a lot of machines and things hooked up to him which made something so scary seem even scarier. We were able to talk to the doctor and find out just what was going on.
This excerpt was written by my brother, Josh Hawkinson, on Andy’s CaringBridge page:
“On 10/08/2013, Andy was working at an oil rig site and collapsed. He was fortunate enough to be surrounded by caring and knowledgeable people that were able to act quickly and take the proper steps to get him where he needed to be to minimize the amount of time he was without care. He was transported to the nearest medical facility in Watford City, ND where he was then taken via medivac to a more equipped facility in Bismark, ND. He was stabilized and after reviewing the results of a CT Scan they realized he was suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage and quick action was taken, via medivac once again, to get him en route to a neurocritical care unit in Sioux Falls, SD. Upon arrival more scans were completed along with an evaluation and it was determined that Andy had suffered the cerebral hemorrhage due to an AVM. A Cerebral AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) is basically an abnormal connection between a vein and artery in the brain. The abnormal connection fails and blood is allowed to seep into the brain cavity putting pressure on the brain. This condition, according to his team of doctors, is something that usually is had since birth, and is generally undetectable without extensive testing. It is common in people with this condition to suffer it’s consequences in the 20-30 years of age range.
Andy is under direct supervision of some very good neurological and neurocritical doctors. While they can’t be sure of any effect this will have on Andy, we do know it will be a lengthy recovery. Andy, as we all know, is a strong young man and no doubt will get through this so he can get back to his family and friends.”
From the information the doctors had given us they had no doubt in their mind Andy would survive this. During the next few days Andy seemed to be improving and heading in the correct direction. They planned to go in on Friday and apply Onyx, a glue like substance, to cut the blood flow to the affected vessels within the AVM to lessen bleeding and the need to use a catheter on each individual vessel during the removal of the AVM. Then they would actually do surgery to remove the AVM on Monday. The Onyx application was delayed due to Andy’s oxygen levels dropping caused from pneumonia. They believe that is was developed during one of his life flights when he vomited, this would be called aspiration phenomia.
After the delay of this there were many options discussed on what the next step would be. During the past few days and thinking of the future I just still could not grasp reality, I still could not believe that I was at this hospital living out of a waiting room with my family and friend awaiting the fate of my brother.
We had one good scare with Andy, which I will share in a blog post, but at that was the first time the thought of losing Andy entered my mind. Since that day my family and others lived minute to minute when it came to Andy, we feared to get excited but had to try and stay positive when we were in with Andy.
As more days passed Andy kept fighting for his life with the support of his family and close friends by him. He encountered many other obstacles some of which he would overcome and others that ultimately took his life. The Saturday before Andy went home to Heaven my husband and I went home to spend some time with our kids. On Sunday at 8am I received a phone call from my mom an “informational call” she said. This call lead to me talking to my brother and him saying “If I wasn’t here I would want somebody to tell me to come”, well with him being the only person in the world that would know how I could possibly feel that is all I needed to hear. So I headed back to Sioux Falls, I stayed with Andy that night and in the morning (Monday) the doctors had their rounds. They didn’t seem overly worried they seemed to be still talking about the future which eased my mind. Soon that all changed, Andy’s oxygen level was dropping and they were having difficulties maintaining. My brother Josh and I called our parents, his wife and Chelsey back to the room. We sat, we prayed, we cried. In what seemed like just a few seconds Andy started telling us he was done with the fight. The nurses began to resuscitate him and were able to revive but that only lasted a few minutes. Andy again told us he was tired the nurses again tried resuscitating him but we knew that he was ready to go home with God, we stopped them and held Andy as the Lord took him home.
That day is both a day I fear to think of and a day I long to go back to. What I would not do or give to be with him just one more minute.
With this I hope that you continue to follow my blog to hear more about the amazing and life changing journey my family has gone through. I hope to reach out to people who have also lost siblings and I hope to get Andy’s story out there and to keep his memory alive.