Elizabeth Ann’s Story

Site created on January 14, 2019

We will use this website to update everyone to the best of our ability. 

They say angels are always surrounding us, but if you know my mom she’s a real life angel because on January 11 she saved her own life. The day started out as normal day our Mom, Gram, Liz, Sweets (as our dad calls her) was running around doing errands with her sister, Val, for their parents. They were getting ready to do a real scrub down at their parent's house which included cleaning the gutters out for the big rain that was coming. In seconds it all changed. Val dropped mom off at home so she could get some stuff together and meet her up at Marmee and Papas (her parents house). She called Val almost immediately after saying she was having the worst headache and for her to come. As Val was on her way back to mom's house, mom laid herself down in the bathroom and called 911. She was rushed to Torrance Memorial where they proceeded with labs and a CT scan. Mom's pain was a 10 and the doctors worked diligently to address what was happening. The doctors told us she had what is called a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm. You're probably thinking, "In english please". In short, it means blood was dispersed between the brain and the tissue covering the brain. We shortly and with lighting speed were transferred to Torrance Little Company where they could provide us with more resources for mom. She was surrounded by her husband, children, sisters, and her most loved Marmee. The minutes turned into what felt like days. We spoke with many different doctors as they tried to walk us through what had happened and what we were looking at in the upcoming hours. At 11:30pm they took mom into surgery. Our dad was right by her side as she frequently kept asking for him. The first part of the surgery was to place a drain to remove some of the fluid that was building up and the second part to clip the artery and the third part to get her all put back together. I think my siblings would agree waiting for her to get out of surgery was far worse than when we were kids and she made us sit at the top of the stairs waiting for Christmas morning to open gifts from Santa. The doctors let us know the surgery had gone well and that it was now our journey would really start to begin. She was facing at least a two week stay in the ICU- and in true Maltese Gardner fashion we made the waiting room our new home. Our mom's care team are always real life angels. They have given her the upmost respect, care, and always have held us up during these most difficult of times. Never batting an eye when the same question was asked multiple times and turning the other way when the rules were just one visitor at a time so my siblings and dad could be with my mom together. 

After the surgery our first battle was to wean her off the sedation medication and get her to start breathing on her own. Mom was deserving of a bit of a rest and they explained everyone’s body’s are on their own time. As the day began to turn into night we could tell she was becoming more active and moving her legs around and showing us little peaks of those beautiful blue eyes. Unfortunately they weren’t able to take the breathing tube out just  yet, but we are hopefull that tomorrow is a brand new day and our mom and your Liz is a fighter. 

At this time we are asking for no visitors and to be patient with us as we navigate this journey. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Caitlin Blaney

It’s been a difficult year. Our family was pushed to the edge, shown a little grace, than pushed a little further. When we felt like we were getting back on our feet with mom than we lost our papa. Loosing papa in the middle of the greatest crisis of our lives felt like what I imagine suffocating would feel like. I remember driving back and forth to the hospital screaming, crying, and singing at the top of my lungs the new hit Shallow by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. (Yikes if you were driving next to me) That’s what I felt like, we were so far from anything we knew to be safe and everything was unknown. We took one step in front of the other- having no idea where each turn would take us. The weeks passed and then months. How did we get here. We were so grateful for everyday and every accomplishment and felt so much sorrow all at the same time. The two emotions were enough to take out a small army.  If your reading this than you know mom, she’s one of the strongest women you have probably ever met. Super mom- who at one point had four different kids at four different schools. Mom who worked in each class and still found the time to make every Halloween costume or dress for the school dance. Mom who volunteered for eight years! for our preschool as the second Vice President! Mom who could pack and unpack your house in a matter of days. Mom who came in and helped you get organized. Mom who let us go so we could grow into the adults we are today. Mom who during this time last year was caring for her father, working full time, and still giving to all of us. Mom who taught us there’s nothing stronger than a family’s bond. Mom who still picked up the pieces when we came to her homesick, heartsick, lost and confused in this ever changing world. Mom who celebrated every accomplishment no matter how great or small. As a wife now myself I can’t leave out her incredible ability having four small children to have a full meal on the table every night and a clean house for her husband (even though she told me her secret of cleaning up 30minutes before they come home). It’s our turn to be strong for mom. She needs us more than ever now. My dad and each one of us siblings brings something to mom now that’s a reflection of what she’s given to us our whole lives. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you i close my eyes so tight in hopes to go back to a time before we lost papa; before my moms aneurysm. Life has changed. Roles have reversed. I don’t think any of us are who we used to be. My mom is a warrior. Every single day. With all that’s happened to her in the last year she continues to fight- it’s not always willingly and it’s not always how myself or someone would do things but I do know she has not given up.  Thank you to everyone who has been patient with her. Don’t give up on mom, remember who she used to be and what she’s given to you in the passed. Find the love in that to help see her through this new time of getting to know her new normal. January will be a hard month for our family as we get closer to January 12th and the day we lost our papa. Thank your for being patient, kind, respectful and helping us navigate our journey of the unknown. The love and prayer given to us in 2019 will never be forgotten. The food, the gifts, the calls, texts, visitors, the help at our homes and with our (my children), the guidance from those who’ve walked this path did not go unnoticed. Take time in 2020 to celebrate your loved ones, let go of their flaws and get to know what makes them who they are. Life is short and nothing is promised. Mom has started again with speech therapy twice a week and has Ben testing the waters with yoga and is enjoying it. She is driving again and back working at Rancho Del Mar part time for now as their office manager. She still is an ocd cleaner but these days takes more time out to relax and refuel her body. Looking forward to hope and healing for 2020. 

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