Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Life and Death Tug-of-War

In November 2009, six years ago this week, Life and Death played a tug-of-war with me. I stood half in the veil, half out. 

I had been sick for quite a while, but rather than go to the doctor, I took whatever pain medication I could get my hands on. I was taking a cocktail of ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol, Alka-Seltzer, Excedrine, Bayer, and any and everything else I could get my hands on to help deal with the pain. Even worse, I was taking no fewer than six pills at a time or I would take a dose of Alka-Seltzer and then turn around less than an hour later and take six Tylenol. I hurt on the lower right side of my belly and I was throwing up every day, sometimes several times a day. I was in a lot of pain, but I refused to heed the warning signals.

The week prior to my visit to the emergency room, I woke up on Sunday morning unable to breathe or move. I took some pain medication and forced myself to go to church. I continued to self-medicate over the course of that next week. Somehow I survived the week in spite of being in extreme, severe pain. 

Then, Sunday morning, November 22, 2009, the pain woke me up. I took something six or eight Ibuprofen and tried to go back to sleep for a little while. In only a few short minutes, the pain was so severe, I threw myself off the couch (the pain had been so bad that I had been sleeping on the couch for quite a while) and curled into a ball on the floor. I immediately knew I was in trouble, but I was unable to catch my breath enough to call out to my husband. All I could do was pound on the floor until he finally came in to see what in the world was going on.

I was able to breathe out that we had to go to the emergency room. Because of the late hour, or early rather--it was about 4:00 am--and the fact that I was in as much pain as I was, we had to leave immediately which meant that my son, who was 9 at the time had to go to the hospital with us. Every turn of the car around the curves along the road was pure agony. My husband tried to drive slow so it wasn't so bad on me, but I indicated that he needed to drive faster rather than slower.

Thankfully, there wasn't anyone at the emergency room ahead of us. I was taken through triage and put in a room almost immediately. 

I tried to smile and make light of the situation because I did not want to panic my son. To this day, I have never asked him what was going on with him during that horrible time. I'm honestly afraid to ask.

A nurse came in with two bottles of banana-flavored barium and told me that once I drank both bottles, I would be taken for a CT scan. Even now, six years later, I still can't eat or smell a banana without gagging.

The CT scan showed that I had an abscess in my colon. I was admitted to the hospital. Almost as soon as we got to my room, I told my nurse that I had to go to the bathroom. I did not make it. The barium came out of every orifice it could come out of. I was put on heavy drugs in an attempt to lessen the infection. From Sunday the 22 to Saturday morning the 28, I spent the vast majority of my time passed out. 

I remember my dad coming to visit and telling me that he was going to take Samuel back east with him for Thanksgiving. Samuel missed a few days of school, I think.

I remember some friends of mine coming in to visit. I know I talked to them and we laughed and that they combed my hair for me, but the only other thing I remember about the time they were with me were my hallucinations. I was in a beautiful meadow with butterflies, rainbows, clouds, and Gerard Butler. 

My boss came in with his wife, but all I was able to do was wave at them before I passed out--again.

I remember that my nurse asked if I would agree to move to a different room, one that put me across the hall from the nurse's station. 

My sister arrived at some point. As did my mom. 

On Saturday morning, November 28, I had to drink two more bottles of banana-flavored barium so my doctor could attempt to drain the infection while I was in the CT scanner. He was unable to perform the procedure, so I was immediately taken to the OR for emergency surgery where  my colon was rerouted so I had to wear an ostomy bag for the next several months. Several drains were put in as well. I had two separate incisions--one that ran up and down from my belly button to my hair line and the other on my left side which is where the hole was that I used for the next several months when "using" the bathroom.

I was, of course, put on even more extreme pain medication after my surgery. My hallucinations scared me as nothing else during that scary time had. I saw demons flying around my hospital room, attempting to attack me. To this day, I believe they were demons of death come for me.

But I made it. I stayed in the hospital for another week before I was allowed to go home. Three months later, my doctor reversed the surgery and removed all need for the ostomy bag, Praise the Lord. Even now, though, six years later, touching my belly hurts something awful. I cannot lie on my belly for longer than a few minutes and even at that, when I do roll over, my belly--the incisions--burn with pain. It typically takes a few minutes of breathlessness before I am able to move again. Needless to say, I avoid lying on my stomach as much as possible.

The beauty of this story, if you choose to see it that way with me, is that LIFE won the tug-of-war over DEATH for Polly Anna!  

I am Alive! I am here today, alive and full of the Joy of the Lord! Hallelujah!

Works Cited

Shen, Jean. "Series 1: Healing of Wounds of the Bride and Growing Intimacy with the Lord." Invitation to His Garden. Prophetic Art. Web. 6 Sept. 2014. <http://www.jbrushwork.com/html/paintings.html>.

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