How do you celebrate life? In light of the craziness and business of our lives, I would like to take a pause and let you know why I am grateful to be alive today. It was just another routine day and my life changed dramatically in an instant. I woke up with pain at 2:00 am on Halloween Eve, October 30, 2009. We were going to have a redesign that day for one of our client’s family room and we had just finished our third paint and redesign for the WCA (Women’s and Children’s Alliance.)
Instead, I ended up with extreme pain in the emergency room at the downtown St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, ID. After hours of tests, it was determined I would be having an emergency appendectomy, my eighth surgery. I remember casually telling my husband, “If anything happens to make sure you keep me alive, I still have lots to do.” I thought that was out of character for me to say that. I had had seven previous surgeries and I was not afraid to go through that experience with all the practice I had in my life. Do you ever say things before thinking? That was how that was for me that day. Since, Fridays are a busy day in surgery, I had to wait in line and finally at 5:30 pm I went into surgery. The doctor said it would be a routine surgery in and out in 45 minutes to an hour top. I asked how long would the recovery time be? They said in a few days I would be ready to go again. I thought that was good since I had some color students coming in from across the country the following week and I did not have any time to be sick. Does anyone ever have time to be sick?
At any rate, I did not come out as soon as previously predicted. It wasn’t until hours later that the doctor came out with a chaplain to see my husband and son that had been waiting patiently in the waiting room. He looked pretty pale and informed my family that I had experienced the worst reaction to anesthesia called “Malignant Hyperthermia.” In layman’s terms, it is fast moving heat stroke and your muscles usually explode. This was a very rare case and few people ever survive this reaction. If they do they usually have some type of brain/body damage. He said my body went through as much trauma as a marathon runner experiences running 26 miles in just a few minutes without practicing. He told them that they finally stabilized me about five and a half hours later. They had to put my blood and body on ice to cool me down. There were several surgeons that worked on various parts of my body to keep me alive with other procedures and medicine.
I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit with a breathing tube down my throat, my arms were restrained to the bed and I was unable to move my legs. All along I thought I was paralyzed and they had accidentally severed a nerve since I was unable to move for days. My husband said when they were finally was able to see me in the recovery room about 11:00 pm that I was double my body size, I had bruises all over my body and my eyes were taped shut. He thought I looked like I had gone through a boxing match with a champion and lost severely. I was in and out of consciousness. I do remember hearing the doctor tell my family that my body went through so much they were going to have a pulmonary doctor spend the night on monitoring my lungs and breathing. It was a minute by minute process. No one had ever survived this in the over 100 + year hospital’s history. I am so very thankful my family immediately got the word out about my severe medical condition. My son got on Facebook to send a high alert to our friends and family around the world asking for prayers and positive thoughts sent my way. My friends across the country were also informed via email, some by phone calls. It was a minute by minute process. The medical staff had to monitor me continually, giving me meds and doing various procedures on me throughout my six days in ICU. My visitors were restricted to only close family. Since my body had already gone through so many traumas, I could not risk any visitors that were ill and comprise my weakened condition.
I have been a very passionate person about life and being grateful. However, this experience changed me on many levels. There is so much to my story; I will need to share more in future posts. For now, I felt I had to share how precious life is and how we need to value it. I am so grateful for many things. When you go through a near-death, out of body experience, it changes you, it changed me. You could say that you can color me GRATEFUL! How about you? How do you celebrate your life?