Anniversary of Our One-Month Hospital Stay

It’s quiet here this morning at 6am.  The humidifier, which makes the air in our Chicago apartment breathable, hums trying to keep up with the intense dry air.  I pull one of my shades to find the sun rising outside my east window.  It has not broken the horizon yet, but its light sprays layers of dark purple to salmon-y pink atop the grey of the lake.  Only a few windows in the 40-story highrise across the street are lit.

It’s Sunday.

It was a year ago today, November 23rd, that a friend, Nikki Zabriske, and I took Margo to the emergency room.  We were in Michigan celebrating Thanksgiving.  Margo had felt ill for 3 days.  With intense headaches, persistent nausea, and other odd symptoms, we finally took her to the ER after she had collapsed.  While in the ER at admittance, her neurological symptoms first manifest.  Suddenly she began speaking in a pronounced lisp.  About the same time, dysphasia and disorientation mildly set in.

margo-2008Within three hours, the doctors accurately diagnosed her with a rare blood disorder we couldn’t pronounce and never heard of before:  TTP, (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) It affects only about 4-6 million. There was little to any available prognosis.  TTP was a roller-coaster ride.  Everyone manifests the disease differently.  For some, it’s an annoyance.  For others, they lose organs…or, due to the complications of the global clotting caused by TTP, die.

Some of the things I witnessed during those first three hours were enough to change my life.  But, I had no idea what awaited me the next thirty days. Margo would have one of the most severe episodes of TTP I’d read or talked to others about about.  Margo was unconsious about two-thirds of that month.  She had seizures, dark and terrifying delerium, countless CT’s to search for bleeding, and was in and out of ICU twice.   Her episode ended only after two visions Margo had about choosing to live or die…and rounds of chemo.  I didn’t learn about these visions until after she awoke out of almost three weeks unconsciousness.

If anyone wants to read or revisit those days, click here or go to  If you still want to make a difference, give blood this week.   Margo went through dozens of packs of red blood cells and 200-300+ units of plasma.

So many things happened to us that month, I cannot begin to tell you.  Margo and I had parallel journeys.  Margo’s mother and I witnessed everything together: the daily blood draws, the paralysis, the fingerprints left on her body when we had to move her, and the sobriety of the doctors’ and nurse’s faces.

A year later, Margo and I still think about how our lives have changed.  I realize how much I’ve mellowed.  We don’t know if Margo will ever relapse, or if so, how that relapse will go.   We talk about how some things just don’t matter anymore.  Margo expresses how a cloud of depression over her life is gone.

Something like this puts life in a different perspective.  Margo talks about how real the words of the 23rd Psalm are for her now.  Especially, the fourth verse:  “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me…”

My prayers go out to everyone who walked with me on this journey, especially my friends who reached out and encouraged me at the TTP/thrombocytopenia Yahoo group.  Prayer and community sustained us and kept me together.


5 responses to “Anniversary of Our One-Month Hospital Stay

  1. Matt, what a journey you and your family have been on this past year! Our prayers were with you then and with you now. God Bless! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. Hi Matt, Patti and I are an hour away from our Thanksgiving gathering. Wish you were here too. Moments ago we stated that we wish to begin our meal with a toast of thankfulness and prayer. I decided to read your blog just now. My toast of thanks is going to state for Patti and I also, our gratitude for you, Margo and the girls and the blessing you all have recieved and for the blessing you are to all of us. “Life change,” is a blessing we celebrate it with you.

  3. I’ve got to tell you….I saw this on my blogroll the hour after you posted it, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it until just now.

    Today, although not the actual calendar date, is the day that I will always remember. The day after Thanksgiving….your phone calls into Margo to see if she was okay, and then the one that she didn’t answer, and then she answered a while later. We all knew things were not okay, but we had no idea just how not okay they were.

    This journey has a huge grip on my heart that will never be released. It’s been a year, but the emotions feel like just yesterday.

    couldn’t imagine any of our lives without Margo. Today, Let that beautiful wife of yours know how absolutely loved she is by so many people.

    Matt…you and Margo are tied around my neck. 😉

  4. Margo and I are new people from our time in the valley. It’s hard to describe, unless somehow you’ve been there. Yet, I know people go into the valley in different ways. Part of the experience is so intensely person, vulnerable, and alone, even then it seems difficult to ever know someone really understands your experience.

    Tom, dad, Jami….how do you say what you want to say when you know, words cannot say it?

    One word, maybe.

    We love you.

  5. Dear Momma Margo,

    I pray for your immediate and future health needs. Knowing what you and Matt stand for as parents and community leaders, I can only devise that our Maker has brought you, Margo singularly through that challenge just to bring your Husband and daughters along with you blessing everyone with your emergence. Bonding everyone in an ever closer embrace.

    It was sickening to imagine Matt and the girls losing you. There are no words to state simple truths about you being here, I rather join the afterglow and say, “my sentiments exactly”.

    I remember the day you and my spirit brother Matt were brought together in your Holy Union. It was a fantastic day that gains more and more love and life each and every day.

    God Bless The Frizzell Family ❤

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