Til Death do us Part…or not

Out of all the adventures and difficulties I have had throughout my life, nothing prepared me for what I was about to endure.

The morning started great; did my school run, had my coffee, and played with the dogs in the yard…all was normal.  But in the afternoon I felt so sleepy, and decided to take a nap before picking up the kids, and I didn’t get back up.  My friend Dee had picked up the kids for me, and tried to get me up upon returning, but I was delirious.  She called 999 (UK 911) and spoke to a nurse who tried to talk to me on the phone where I was confused, dizzy, and wasn’t making any sense.   When I responded the way I did, she sent an ambulance to me and they took me inside to try to understand what was going on.  I don’t remember a lot of this time, although I do remember Devon (eldest son) knocking on the ambulance door to tell them that he found a Mentos rapper near the couch where I had been sleeping, and that he knew I never ate them before.  I guess the paramedics asked if there was something unusual in my system, Bless him.

I ended up in the MAU (medical assessment unit) and the Royal Derby hospital for a few days where I was getting worse, a lot worse.  I remember the “fight or flight” response was enormously strong and I was fighting.  I could still walk myself to the bathroom with help, and I remember looking into the mirror and seeing my mom’s face before she died.  I was so blown up that I could hardly recognize it was me in the mirror, I broke down and totally thought I was fighting for my life.  After trying to get a line in my artery for what seemed like hours, I crashed. They called my husband in at 2:38 in the morning as they weren’t sure if I would make it through the night.   A few hours later, a doctor whom I recognized from her increasing visits to my room came in and wanted to talk.

She told me I was going to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or CC (Critical Care) where she would do her best to help me, but she couldn’t even reassure us that I would leave the unit.  Remember, my mother died in ICU.

The entire time I was fighting for my life, I was praying, hard.  As they rolled me up to the ICU I remember praying for God to help me…and as we passed the corridor with the name printed across the top of the automatic doors, my prayers changed.  My prayers changed from “God, please help me, please save me and make me better…I can’t leave my kids, my husband, my family, I’m not ready” to “God, I am willing to go with you, please allow me to say “Goodbye” to them so they can have some closure with me before I go with you to Heaven”.  It was the most surreal moment of my life.   And I was ready to die and go to Heaven, God gave me peace.

During the transition to the unit, they had to put an artery line in my wrist, the same one they tried nights before and couldn’t do, but this time it went in like butter…and I was quiet and content.  I had ventilators, oxygen, fluids pumping through my body, but I was content.  The doctor told me in thirty minutes she would be back to put a line into my heart for adrenaline or whatever, but that didn’t happen.  When she returned, she noticed a large rash forming from the chest up to my neck:  a nasty red, violent, spotty rash had spread rapidly and she was very shocked and decided it was too risky to put the line in as the infection would spread inside my body and that it was too risky.  She seemed concerned about not getting the line in, but again, I was content and calm.  You see, in my head I was already dead, and had the “Peace of the Lord” with me.  I can’t explain it any other way, but I never felt so peaceful, and I was in the ICU dying of something they hadn’t figured out yet!  After all the testing, prodding, poking, swabbing, and scans came back, my body was full on poison through my blood, I was in Septic Shock.

I don’t really remember much for the next few days, except a couple from the Elders of CCD (Community Church Derby) came in to pray with me, and I could see by the looks on their faces how sick I really was.  I found out later that some of the leaders of the church were outside my room praying for me, and it felt like my last rites were given with love and commitment, and I was peaceful.  Rick and I also had the difficult conversation of how to bring the children in to say “Good Bye”, and we decided at the advice of the doctors that the next day would be the day.  How???  How can I be fighting for my life, leaving this beautiful life we had created…leaving my Devon, Trevor, Preston and Morgan without their mom, and my husband of 20+ years alone to raise them without me?  How can my sisters lose their sibling?  Somehow I was ready to have the conversation, and somehow I had peace…

I had a true angel in the ICU with me, and she was a Christian woman who noticed my small mp3 player that was reciting the bible, and asked me if she could pray for me.  She laid hands on me, and I felt a surge of love and peace…the final bits of panic and despair disappeared and my body slowly calmed down and I was not alone.  You never know where you will find angels, but she was right there, and I saw her in a different light than the other nurses in the ward.  Don’t get me wrong, all the nurses and doctors were wonderful, but she was magnificent.

That night I prayed with a thankful heart, I thanked God for allowing me to live the life I had, and thanked him for my children, who would live on without me…I knew I wouldn’t be there for graduations, weddings, grandchildren…and I would leave my daughter in the same position I grew up in, without her mom.  As I sit now, pondering what that meant, my eyes well up with gratitude.

That night I slept, and the doctors were unsure if I would wake back up, but I did…18+ hours later.  I woke up with a new hope, and when my husband brought my children in (except my daughter, whom I didn’t want her to see my like that) he was amazed at how well I was doing.  We all prayed together, and hugged each other, and I whispered in my husband’s ear “I’m going to get out of here soon”.  He was crying as he thought I was going to Heaven, but my heard said that it wasn’t my time, and I reassured him that I was  coming back home with our family, and he felt the same overwhelming feeling of joy that my heart was full of.

Believe it or not, I live with that same reassurance of  peace, and I try very hard not to dwell on the fact that I survived death, but that everyday is not promised, it’s a gift. Nothing in my life is as pressing, horrible, or sad than that time at the Royal.  The residual effects stayed with me for a long time, but that will come in a follow-up post,
I’ve said enough for today…

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