They WON!

Sean & Lauren
Copyright © 2011, KDAF-TV

Our story is one that almost did not happen.

Lauren and I met in March of 2007.  It didn't take long for me to know that she was "the one".  I am absolutely crazy about her.  By the summer of 2010, I knew that it was time to "pop the question".  I saved and saved trying to find the perfect ring for my perfect bride.  I found the ring, but cannot afford to put a diamond in the center.  So, the jeweler has placed a temporary cubic zirconia stone.  I rushed to meet with Lauren's father and was excited to receive his blessing.  I could not have been more ecstatic!  I mean, I was about to ask my true love to spend the rest of our lives together.

However, Lauren was pretty sick all summer long.  She got a really bad ear infection and sinus infection that just would not go away even after several attempts at antibiotics and doctor's visits.  Lauren went back to school in the fall, and her health continued to decline… RAPIDLY!  I so badly wanted for Lauren to be healthy and in good spirits when I got down on my knee.  I had always envisioned a romantic dinner or something like that, a joyous occasion.

After two surgeries, we thought things would get better, but things only got worse.  On September 16th, I rushed Lauren to the emergency room.  A CT scan revealed strange spots on her lungs, and she was directly admitted to Denton Regional Medical Center.  She just kept complaining about the pain in her ears and her chest.  She was so short of breath.  Within the week of being in the hospital, the doctors had turned up with no answers.  By this time, Lauren was literally blue.  She could barely breathe and her head was packed with ice as an attempt to alleviate the pain.

They transferred Lauren to UTSouthwestern St. Paul Hospital in Dallas on September 20th in the hopes of finding a diagnosis.  That night in the ICU, Lauren was put on life support because she could no longer breathe on her own and placed under a medically induced coma.

I was completely beside myself.  I waited and waited along with all of Lauren's family and many of her friends in hopes that the doctors would have answers.  However, the only thing they could tell us was that it was time for goodbyes.  They determined that she had less than a 10 percent chance of surviving.  Every moment was touch and go, and after days of research, the doctors continued to come up empty handed.  We were hanging on to each minute as her vitals jumped all over the place, not knowing if she would even make it through the hour.  

The doctors pulled us into the small consultation room and informed us that they would be running one more test and that this was their final option.  There was nothing else they could do.  But to our relief, this test finally got us a diagnosis.  Lauren has a rare form of vasculitis called Wegener's Granulomatosis.  This auto-immune disease has no known cause or cure.  They immediately began chemotherapy and steroid treatments and we waited patiently as the smallest signs of life came back to her.  I never left the hospital, curling up on the floor of the waiting room each night.  When would my princess wake up?  The ring was in my pocket and ready for the moment that she would open her eyes.

After over three weeks, Lauren woke from her coma almost completely paralyzed.  She could slightly nod her head and move her lips.  However, she could not speak at all because of the tube in her throat which was keeping her alive.

I was not going to waste any time!  On October 11th, I went into her ICU room as Lauren's nurse stepped out giving us a few quiet moments together.  I knelt down beside Lauren's bed and told her I had a surprise for her.  She smiled at me and I had to read her lips as she asked, "can I have it?"  I pulled out the box and placed it where she could see.  "Lauren, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  I want it to begin right now, I don't want to wait any longer."  I opened the box to reveal the ring.  "I love you.  Will you marry me?"  As Lauren cried, she mouthed a silent "yes" and I slipped the ring onto her finger.  Though it was not the proposal I had always envisioned, it was perfect in every way.  

Since then, Lauren has had her ups and downs as her health progresses forward.  She has built back so much of her strength and is at home with her family.  She works hard every day trying to get back to her normal self while planning our special day.  I want her to have every bit of magic that she deserves on our wedding day, but she worries because the medical bills continue to pile up.  Her parents are struggling to get back on their feet, as they gave up everything to stay by Lauren's side for the entire four months that she was in the hospital.  Winning this contest would make this wedding possible, though I know I have already won so much in finding Lauren.  Her life has been such a blessing to me and I am grateful for every second with her, knowing our lives together almost did not happen.