Real 65 : A Never-ending Love
Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis.
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories.
It is a great honor to share today's Real 65 with each of you. It is an honest portrayal of the heartbreaking impact of cystic fibrosis while a beautiful reflection of a person who touched so many lives and continues to. Jessica was an incredible woman with a special zest for life. Her husband, Heybo, reminds us all how precious time is with those we love, how quickly life can change, and the merciless truths of CF. Here is Jessica's story told through the life-changing words of her husband, Heybo:
"Cystic Fibrosis is the illness that took the life of my wife, Jessica. I was married to a wonderful women for 16 years and we were together for 19. I don’t know everything about CF, but I have a good idea about what it is and how it affects the lives of those who love someone with CF. I feel sadness now that “Jay” is gone. I think back to when we met, the times we had together full of smiles and laughter.
When I met Jessica she was lively and outgoing. I knew I had to get to know her. I thought to myself, “here is a woman who stands 5ft 4inches tall full of energy. It is going to be tough keeping up with her.” As the years passed, the more I fell in love with her. Man I miss her.
Jessica shared stories with me about her years growing up. Stories about her surgeries to have some of her intestines removed as a baby because of digestive problems and her parents being told she would be lucky to see the age of 2. I wanted to know everything about her. Through everything she went though the only thing that came to my mind was wondering how she does it- the IVs, portacaths, and surgeries. I thought, “how does someone go through getting poked with needles and being in the hospital so much and still have a bubbly attitude?” One thing I learned is if you tell her she can’t, she will to prove you wrong. A lesson I learned through the years. I came to see what she went through.
We were married in 1999. I began to learn everything I could about her CF, the medications she was taking, the treatments, how often she needed to do treatments, everything I needed to know to be her spokesperson. My knowledge became critical during her final weeks. She shared with me her desires about her health care, what and how she wanted to be cared for while in the hospital if she wasn’t able to speak for herself. We made the best partners.
I will never meet anyone so loving and willing again. For the last 15 years or so of her life we traveled a lot. She loved to live life and not being cooped up. One thing she always said was, “I’m not going to let CF ruin my life.” And she didn’t. I think we both knew that she was slowing down a bit, but she would never tell you. She taught me a lot in our 19years together. So much I couldn’t begin to explain. She loved to go to Arizona and visit family. She always dreamed of the day she could go without her treatments, or at least a weekend without doing them. This dream was never realized.
We would go to Arizona for the winter, for a couple of weeks or even a month. She was very tired of the cold, so we went for the whole winter this year with a trip back home only for Christmas. In February things started to take a turn for the worse. Jay was getting more short of breath. One Saturday morning she woke up with a fever. We waited till Monday to see if she could kick it. She was even worse on Monday so we went to a walk in clinic and she was told she had the flu.
As the days went on she could hardly walk without stopping to catch her breath. We went to the emergency room in Arizona. “Jay” was hurting badly. We decided to leave and head back home where she could see her doctor. I packed as she sat and watched, every breath she took hurt. I drove and she would try to sleep, not with any success. Every rest stop we stopped at I would carry her to the door of the restroom and then back to the pickup. The pain I felt, not from carrying her, but the sadness I felt from helplessness. Watching her tore me apart. We made it passed Denver and she looked at me and said “I can’t breathe!” We came upon Ft. Morgan, CO and an exit for a hospital. I immediately stopped. She was scared, and so was I. They put her out, the last she was able to talk with me for a couple of weeks. After consulting with a doctor, he said she needed to be flown to Sioux Falls. She was taken to the airport and flown to Sioux Falls. I had to drive the 12 hours with our baby, Sedona, a 15-month-old MaltiPoo. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t show a lot of emotion, but when I got in my pickup I cried. It was the longest and saddest drive I have ever done and when I finally arrived to Sioux Falls and saw all the tubes coming out of her I lost it. There was my best friend, lying there and I couldn’t do a damn thing. I couldn’t protect her anymore and it tore me apart. Jay was in the critical care unit.
The first week went by, everyday was tough, touch and go. Her mom and I had to sit down and talk about everything. One thing I should say is Jay was very close to her mom and I would of never make decisions without her. That first week was really tough. Jay was heavily sedated and her kidneys were not working. She was hooked up to a dialysis machine. All I could do was watch. After getting through some terrifying moments, in the middle of week two she made a comeback. They slowly took her off of sedation and she was awake! She couldn’t talk but if she mouthed slowly you could catch most of what she was saying. The end of week two they moved her to acute care. We were even allowed to bring her baby, Sedona, to see her. They started physical therapy and it wore her out but she kept going because that is who she was. She hated defeat. She was smiling, laughing and asking all kinds of questions – her typical self. She was doing great. She still had ups and downs but we all believed she was doing great and making progress.
Then just like that, my whole world fell apart. The doctor told me her blood pressure and heart- rate were dropping. If she crashed they could bring her back but there was nothing more they could do for her. I had to decide if it was time to let her go in peace. I cried. And cried. And cried. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There was nothing more that could be done for Jay. I did what I never wanted to do: I took her off of the crash list. Which meant if she crashed they would not revive her. By this time I was so numb I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just walking around in a daze. Her body was shutting down and they couldn’t stop it. The decision was made to stop the ventilator.
So on March 18, 2016 my wife of 16 years passed away. There are days I feel lost, but I dig deep to find strength. And what I find is her.
Jay was one of the most fearless people, someone who loved to smile and laugh, who lived her life everyday like it was the last. She taught me a lot. She is the one who she saved me. She taught me how to love, how to have fun, and how to listen to what she had to say (of course, she was always right). That’s the type of women I married. I love you Jay. Always have and always will. "
Please keep Heybo, Jessica's family, and all those who loved her in your continued thoughts. The beauty of Jessica's life will continue to live on through all those she touched.
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