Saturday, December 24, 2011

What I Should Have Said

It hit me early, early this morning.  I was driving home, smiling as I approached one of the small towns between here and The City.  Glowing snowflakes adorn each light post from one end of town to the other, and it is especially beautiful at midnight with real snow gently falling and the world silent and dark all around.

But it was there, in that moment, that words spoken earlier echoed in my head.  Eyes desperate for hope had looked into mine, and the words "I just struggle to believe I'm worth standing up for at all" stung my heart.  I answered honestly and quickly, saying "yes you are.  I would stand up for you."  Which is well and good, but woefully inadequate.

What should I have said?

I should  have said...

You are precious.  You are the only you that there has ever been and that ever will be.  The Creator of all that is, created you specifically and exactly for His purpose.  And He loved you so much, that He allowed His SON to come here to this earth as a baby.  A tiny, helpless child, utterly dependent on two flawed human beings.  God Himself, did that.

But it doesn't stop there.

He watched His Son grow and mature, becoming the greatest man the world has ever known.  He was, after all, fully man, but also fully God.  And do you know what this flawless, sinless God-man did for you?  He literally allowed his flesh to be ripped to shreds, giant spikes driven through His hands and feet, and a crown of thorns driven into his head before he died.  And He endured that death so that he could literally go to hell and stand up to the Devil himself on your behalf

And if the King of Kings, the One we are celebrating right now, did that for you... then any estimation I may have of your worth is trivial and certainly falls short.

That is what I should have said.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prayer Request

So, I have a prayer request for you... my faithful readers.

Can you pray for me?  For complete recovery, both physical and mental/emotional?

The physical recovery has slowed down considerably.  I am still moving the right direction, but there is also still a lot of pain each day, and not just in my leg.  I have a very sore back and ribs from the fall, and some internal pain, as well as feeling similar to having the flu (aches and pains randomly coming and going in various muscles and joints).  Also, the scar from my central line is still very sensitive.  As far as my leg, I had what I hope was my last silver-nitrate treatment yesterday.  The silver nitrate is used to "burn" away some of the granulation tissue, since it has been inflamed and tending to grow higher than the edges of the wound.  I believe things will be closed up in another two weeks or so, and then it's a waiting game to see if the scar will need surgical attention.  I am really trying to limit the amount of hydrocodone I take for pain, but it is hard right now.  Just the simple act of walking is painful enough to make me nauseous.  But after six weeks on crutches, I'm just thankful to be on my own two feet.

That brings me to the second half of my request.  When I was still in the hospital, there wasn't any room or time to be very upset about what was happening.  I was confused and a little angry and scared, but so much of the focus was on the moment to moment task of trying to recover.  As time has gone by though, and my body slowly rebuilds, I have been struggling emotionally.  I have tried not to make a big deal of it, but that Monday that I got very sick, I genuinely believed I was dying... and so did most of the medical professionals caring for me.  It was terrifying then, and now that my head is clear and I'm fully conscious, it's even more terrifying.  I don't have a solid answer, and never will, about what exactly caused the sepsis.  While my blood culture did reveal the same bacteria that was grown from each of the four abscesses they operated on, there was nothing about the day in question that should have sent things spiraling so out of control.  That's the scary part.  I keep saying it will never happen again... but how do I know?  If I don't know how or why it happened to start with, how do I prevent it in the future? 

I have actually been having nightmares and things that could almost be described as "flashbacks" about that day.  About laying there with my feet up in the air (I was tilted about 30-35 degrees, head down).  About the agony of the central line going in (no sedation, no local anesthetic because of being too unstable, and everything already really hurt), about the far more intense pain involved with opening up the abscess in ICU, where the lidocaine did nothing because the tissue was too inflamed.  About laying on the CT table and feeling sheer terror as my lungs felt like a hose was letting water fill them, and about the exhaustion that I felt by morning after struggling so hard to just breathe, for so long. 

About the looks on the faces of those I loved.  Especially about that.

So if you could pray that peace would replace the fear and that good memories would replace the bad, and if you could pray for continued healing and the restoration of sound health, I would be very, very thankful.

Thank you everyone.  May you have a very blessed and beautiful Christmas!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Precious Daughter

My dear Annaliah,
Today is your day.  The day you were predicted to be born.  The day, five years ago, when we expected your arrival.  I had picked out music for you to hear after you were born.  I had started your baby book, with a letter from me, and from your daddy, and from your grandparents.  I had felt you moving, felt the thrill of life that was separate and yet entirely dependent on me.

And then, you went to heaven.  You didn't wait until December 17th.  You met your Jesus months before that.  I know that you are safe, that you are warm and happy and not alone.  It isn't for you that I mourn... it is for the relationship I so desperately wish I had with you.

It is for sticky fingers and maple syrup kisses and sandy hugs.  If you had been granted an earthly life, you'd be around five years old now.  Do you know that at this age, I could start teaching you martial arts?  You'd still be too young for class, but on our own, I could show you things.  You could start learning the lessons that could shape your entire life.

If you were here, you would never lack for hugs and kisses.  Not from me, and certainly not from your daddy.  He would have delighted in you the way that only fathers can, and you would have grown up knowing that you were truly cherished.  If you wanted to marry, you'd have met a good young man, because you would already know what love and respect and honor looked like.

Sweet Anna, on your day this year, I am grieving more than in years past.  I used to think that maybe some day, you'd have a little brother or sister that could live with me here.  Someone who could absorb the love that is burning inside me, breaking my heart.  But I know now, that is not to be.  My body just isn't capable of doing that.  I know you've got your brothers and sisters there in heaven, though.  For that, I'm thankful.  I am glad there is such a place, for you and for them.  I am glad there is a Savior who loves you.

This year, you got to meet one of the Better Men.  You see, Anna, there are regular men.  And then there are good men.  And then there are Better Men.  Jim is a lot like your great-grandma Eileen.  Passionate for his God, gentle and generous in spirit, a person of integrity... and someone who had an unusual love for children.  Saying goodbye to Jim has been a little easier, because even though it hurts me to live here without him, I know that now, you get to be with him.  He isn't family biologically, not here on earth.  But your old enough now to start understanding that sometimes, families aren't made of biology... they are made of faith.  They are made of trust and love and loyalty.  I like to think that you know your family there... and that you know Jim and Roy, and have played with Natalie, and with Judith's babies.  I wonder if you've met my brother?

This year, I am sad as I think of all that I have lost.  All that I have missed.  But that sadness, dear child, is not all consuming.  There is also joy.  How well do you know Billy?  Has he told you how his cousin and her parents pulled me back from the destructive path I was on, and into their own family despite their horrible grief?  Do you and him share a bond - children whose mothers question their own responsibility for the end of your time on earth?  I am joyful, Anna, that you know this young man who changed my life.  Because I do not know him.

I wonder if you've met Grandpa Jean yet.  I remember sitting on his lap, as he gently traced my face with his fingers.  His eyes were unseeing, and yet he said I was truly beautiful.  I asked how he could know, and he said he could see me in his heart.  Anna, that's what I do.  I see you in my heart, and I know you are beautiful.

I'm not coming Home yet, my child.  I thought I was, several weeks ago - and the doctors did too.  But God spared my life, and I am still here on earth.  I have so many things to finish, so much work to do, so many people to love.  I long for heaven, though.  I long to hold you, to see you, to hear your voice.  I long to bow before our King beside you.  You may be physically unreachable, but you are always close to me.  And like Grandpa Jean... I know you are beautiful, because I can see you in my heart.

And I know heaven... heaven is for real.  I'll be there when it's time.  Maybe you can come with Great Gramma and meet me at the Eastern Gate.  When I get there, after Jesus, you are the first person I want to see.

I love you for always.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm Alive

Alrighty then.  Sunday, November 27th, I felt FINE.  My leg was sore and looking icky, but the surgeon had SEEN it looking icky and didn't seem worried.  My husband and I spent the night talking and watching a few episodes online and then did some snuggling.  About four thirty, I went to sleep out on the couch, because it hurts my leg like crazy to be touched.  At six AM, I woke up and started throwing up more violently, and with more... substance... than I thought a person possibly could.  It lasted about ten minutes.  Derek helped me get cleaned up and then I went back to sleep, for about fifteen minutes.  I woke up again, feeling like I needed the bathroom - I knew things were going to come out both ends.  I stood up, and could hear blood rushing in my ears and feel my heart pounding.  I took about eight steps - enough to get me into the bedroom, next to the night stand.  Everything went black with sparkling lights, and I felt my body crumple, bouncing off the nightstand.  I heard myself vomiting... and then it was blissful, black, silence.

This part, is just what I've been told.  The ambulance was called, and I was loaded up into their stair-chair. 

Halfway down our stairs, I woke to someone digging their knuckle into my ribs and saying "Jenn, look at me.  Look me in the eyes."  I wanted to do so, wanted to be the obedient patient... but I could not see a thing.  Nothing.  Just blackness.  Then, silence. 

The next thing I remember is waking up with a paramedic on each side of me stabbing my arms.  They wanted to get an IV started, desperately, and so both were trying.  After many, many tries, Grumpy Lady finally got one in.  Nice Man retreated to the front to take me to the Little City hospital because I was so unstable.  Blood pressure was 48/25.  They put my feet way above my head and started pouring in fluids - heated fluids.  My temperature was 102.  Half way to the Little City Hospital, my vision cleared and I was able to start speaking.  When we got there, they had to put the stretcher flat to move me, and everything went black and quiet again.

By the time we left Little City Hospital to go to the Bigger City Hospital, my temperature was 104.8, my BP was only up to 60/30, and I'd had three liters of fluid.  As soon as they put me back in the ambulance, they angled my feet way up and I was awake again.  Each trip to flatness knocked me out as effectively as a hammer to the head would have.  On the way to the Bigger City, I started realizing just how sick I was.  I could feel different organs beginning to hurt - really hurt, like they were caught in clamps.  First was up under my ribs on the right.  Then it was all up and down my left side, too.  Then it was as if I'd been punched in the right kidney... the left followed a few minutes later.  I threw up again, and I could feel the sore spot on my ribs where I'd hit the nightstand.  I could also feel the scuff on the end of my chin where I'd hit... something.  My head started to pound loudly with every heart beat and was throbbing with pain.  My vision was coming and going.

I faded into nothingness again when they put the stretcher flat to wheel me into the emergency room.  I woke up on their bed with my feet way higher than my head was.  I had an IV in each arm and I was mumbling to Derek about who he should call.  Then they kicked him out, and drew blood cultures and ran two and a half more liters of fluid - putting my total up to 6 in 2 hours.  My BP stubbornly stayed down at 60/30, and my heart rate was steadily climbing.  My temperature was 105.  Blood work showed kidney and liver problems as well as the presence of extra-large platelets, which were clotting off and getting in the way of things.

Someone said "We need to get a central line in her."  Someone else said "We can't.  She can't be sedated right now.  Not at all.  And she's so feverish that lidocaine wouldn't be terribly effective."  "Well, we'll just do it right here.  Clear everyone else out."

And they did.  Not fun.  Not fun at ALL.  I get why people get sedated for it... I'd have given anything for some nitrous or even just some pain relief.  Halfway through, I hollered that they were hurting my neck, and the assured me that wasn't possible.  They got the line in, did a chest x-ray which showed fluid on my lungs and a central line that had flipped and gone up into my neck.  They needed to start the medications for my heart though, so they let it slide momentarily.  They came in and did an ultrasound to check blood flow in my major organs, and then I got an injection of something to break up clots.  Then things got quiet for a while, while they waited for the heart and blood pressure meds to start working.  My husband and my best friend both came in and were there.

I was so convinced that I was dying, that it took everything I had to resist the urge to say "Goodbye" to them.  Alarms were constantly going off.  We were just waiting around to get me down for a CT of my leg.

My friend came in, and held my hand and offered comfort and kept me from killing the surgeon, as the surgeon operated on my leg right there in my room.  There was no option for sedation, as I was far too sick and my lungs, especially, would have failed under anesthesia.  Because of how sick I was and how infected my leg was, the lidocaine was... useless.  Hurt like crazy going in, and offered no numbing effect at all.  He finished and packed a bunch of gauze into my leg, and then a different surgeon came in.  My friend left, and the new surgeon said "I'm here to re-do your central line" and I LOST.IT.  I was DONE.  I psyched myself up for this horrible repeat of earlier... instead, she put a wire through one of the catheters to hold her place in the artery, pulled the old line, threaded the new one over the wire, I felt a bunch of pressure, and then this crazy tickling sensation by my heart.  The next chest xray showed lungs even more filled with fluid, but the central line was in the right place.  It felt good to not get a burning, full feeling in my neck every time they gave an IV injection.

Respiratory therapy came up and did a breathing treatment to help get rid of the fluid...

and that's how I spent the night.  Nurses constantly doing things, monitors beeping and alarms grating and beginning to wonder if I had enough drugs in me to compensate for embalming procedures.  Yes, I still thought I was probably going to die.  My feet were still over my head and I still felt absolutely horrible.

About 24 hours after being admitted though, things started turning around... faster and faster and faster.  I even got a PCA for the leg pain (couldn't have it before because I was too sick).  I was getting a lot of heparin shots, and there were never fewer than five IV bags hanging and dripping various things into my central line.  And every 30 minutes someone would come in with yet another syringe full of medication for me.

By Thursday afternoon, I was well enough that the doctor said "Okay, you may as well go home."

That kind of recovery, after that kind of sick, is nothing short of miraculous in my book.  I have found out since then, that the doctors were quite certain I would not make it through the first night. 

To GOD be the glory - I want to go to heaven, but I don't want to go so soon that it tears at the hearts of those I love.

Stumble Upon Toolbar