The Last Few Months
As you can see, my last blog post was in mid-November. Earlier that month, I had posted about my recent hospitalization and rehabilitation. The blog post was titled “I’m Back…And Hope to Stay.”
Alas, that hope was futile. It wasn’t long before I was back in the hospital with another bout of sepsis. After only three days at home, I fell again and was hospitalized again with a bladder infection followed by another two weeks in rehab.
Since mid-December, I have been out of the hospital, except for one night of observation in the ER after I hit my head in a fall. Now I’m having home visits from a wound care doctor with nurses three times a week to change the dressing and medicate an infected gash in my leg. But I did not go to the hospital for that, and I am so happy that I’ve been home for over a month–the longest time I’ve been out of the hospital in five months.
You will see that there have been no posts in all the time I’ve been home. Going through snail mail and email, paying bills, catching up on laundry and grocery shopping and housekeeping and more have been higher priorities.
That Title Should Really Read More Miracles
I do have a reason for choosing today to be my first post since I’ve recovered. Today is the thirty-second anniversary of my stroke at the hands of a chiropractor and a reminder of all the miracles I’ve experienced in my life.
God has been extremely active in my life, as I believe He is in all our lives if we only pay attention. My husband always said, “I don’t regret anything that happened in my life up until I met you, because if things had happened differently we would not have met. Our meeting, falling in love, and marrying all came from divine intervention in our lives.”
In the last few years of his life, Jack had Alzheimer’s and sometimes got words confused. He started calling it divine interference, but he always remembered it was brought about by the hand of God.
Trying to list all God’s miracles in my life would take much more than one post. Since I’ve just experienced several medical miracles, I will focus on the medical miracles in my life.
Some of the Many Medical Miracles in My Life
I was attacked by a Doberman when I gave him a very small kick to try to keep him from mounting the female in heat. He had been tied up with a heavy chain but had escaped. It took him a few seconds to disconnect, and I had taken a few steps away before he attacked. The doctor later told me that if I had been facing him, he would have gotten my carotid artery, and I would not have survived – the first miracle of this episode.
After what seemed like forever, I thought I would surely die. I prayed, Lord, it looks like I’m about to meet You. I don’t want to be fighting when I enter Heaven. Forgive my sins and take me into Your Kingdom. Then I went limp, at peace and ready to die. As soon as I went limp, the dog let me go – the second miracle of this episode.
I had many bites on my head and arms, including one place where my scalp was exposed about the size of a quarter. The doctor told me, after conferring with a plastic surgeon, that he was just going to stitch me up as best he could for a temporary fix. Severe dog bites almost always get infected, and the surgeon didn’t want to do a skin graft only to have it get infected. The doctor put 53 stitches in my head and 20 stitches on my arm, treated the wounds with antibiotic ointment and gave me oral antibiotics. I went every day for dressing changes and more topical antibiotic. Although I had about two weeks of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced, the wounds healed up completely without either infection or surgery – the third miracle of this episode.
I experienced a stroke at the hands of a chiropractor. The stroke was the rare Wallenberg stroke, in which both sides of the body are affected. All the time I was in rehab, the Director of Medicine brought students over from the medical school and showed them my symptoms. He always said, “You’d better watch now because you’ll probably never see this in your practice.”
Before I entered rehab, though, I woke up in the hospital with a neurologist standing at the foot of my bed. He said, “If we don’t see significant improvement in three days, you can be this way the rest of your life.” This way was lying flat on my back, unable to lift my head off the pillow or move any part of my body. Although I thought I was talking, I was only making garbled sounds. My vision was distorted – more than double vision, I would see as many as eight images of everything around me, each image just a few inches above and to the right of the previous one. The one thing I could do was vomit, and I was doing that repeatedly.
I prayed and vowed there would be improvement in three days. I decided that if I could lift my left shoulder off the bed and grasp the bed rail and at the same time move the fingers of my right hand, I would be okay. I prayed and tried to move and in the wee hours of the third morning, I was able to do those things. I wanted to share my exciting news, but I couldn’t reach the phone and couldn’t talk even if I got the phone.
It took months of rehab, but I progressed from a manual wheelchair pushed by someone else to a motorized scooter to a walker and finally, for at time, to walking unaided. The chiropractor had told my husband that I had the flu and couldn’t walk because of the balance in my inner ear. They carried me to the car, and all the way home, between throwing up in the towel the chiropractor gave me, I kept telling my husband, “I think I’m dying! Help me!” I couldn’t understand why he was ignoring me. Later he told me that he thought I moaning from being so sick because nothing intelligible came out of my mouth. It was only when he tried to get me out of the car at home that he discovered I was paralyzed.
There were so many miracles in my stroke journey, beginning with surviving the first few hours while the chiropractor hid what happened, that I can’t list them all. But coming from being told I could be totally helpless for the rest of my life to returning to a functioning, successful person is a huge miracle.
Yes, I still have some “deficits” as the doctors call them. My balance is very bad, vision is still distorted so I have to have prisms in my glasses to avoid most of the double vision, fine motor skills are lacking, and I have to use a stylus on a touch screen on a phone or computer. But there is life after stroke.
All things considered my recovery has been a series of miracles. And my husband experienced a miracle in complete recovery from a stroke after getting immediate treatment.
One day I experienced chills and fever, and fever is a rarity for me. My husband came home and found me huddled under the covers in bed complaining of abdominal pain. He took me to our doctor’s office. We had been his patients for many years and knew his family as well. One of his sons had just completed his residency and come to work for his father as a full-fledged doctor. I arrived at the office with high fever and pain and was told that Dr. B was with another patient. Would I see David instead? I agreed, and I got on the exam table, and David palpated my abdomen. When he touched one spot I rose up and cried out in pain. David ran to the door of the exam room and called, “Dad! Dad! Come quick!”
Dr. B said he thought my appendix would burst any minute. He called the surgeon who had removed my gallbladder the year before and found out he had just finished his surgeries and was preparing to leave the hospital. He agreed to wait for me, and the doctor told Jack to drive me to the hospital. He said that would be faster than an ambulance. Jack was not a timid, slow driver. When we arrived at the hospital, they took me in immediately, changed me into a hospital gown, and started to take me for an X-ray. The surgeon came in, took one look at me, and said, “I’ve heard of people being green around the gills, but I’ve never seen anyone blue before. We don’t have time for an X-ray.’
I was rushed into surgery and didn’t know anything until I woke up in the recovery room. The surgeon came by and asked, “Haven’t you been in excruciating pain for at least a week?” I told him I had been perfectly fine until that day. Then I remembered something. “Well, about a week ago,” I said, “I stopped for a fast food sandwich and ate it in the car on the way back to my office from an appointment. Fortunately we had a gravel parking lot, because as soon as I stepped out of the car, I had an episode of terrible projectile vomiting. But after it was over, I felt okay and went back to work for the rest of the day.” I thought I had eaten some bad food from the fast food restaurant.
The surgeon said, “That’s when your appendix burst. It’s a shriveled up black clump. But it was totally encased in a sac and the infection didn’t get into your bloodstream. I’ve never seen anything like that before,” he said.
Another miracle in my life.
About ten years after the stroke, I started what my husband called “jumping.” My left arm and leg flailed out, and I made a sound that people heard as “oh” or “no,” even though I was not intentionally saying anything. The first few weeks after it started, it was constant, over and over and over again. It wasn’t extremely painful, but it was uncomfortable – feeling like a mild electric shock on the left side of my body, and it was exhausting.
Then it became less frequent but more severe. I started showing symptoms of stroke and actually went to the ER several times. I visited different neurologists, who gave me different diagnosis, but no one really knew what it was or what to do about it.
One Sunday, a stranger in church said to me that God had told her to tell me that I have been healed, but the healing wasn’t manifested yet. I clung to that as I sought intercessory prayer from my priest and the intercessory prayer team at church.
Today, I count myself healed. Occasionally, if I am very tired or stressed or cold, I will have a short jumping spell. However, I can bring them to a stop with a CBD roll-on and medicine to help me sleep. No more stroke symptoms or jumping for hours or days on end – another miracle.
In the last six months, I have survived two bouts of sepsis. My mother died of sepsis, and when I tell people I had sepsis, most can relate a story of a friend or relative who died of it. I didn’t realize how sick I was, but so many people were praying for me that the phrase “storming Heaven with prayer” was apropos.
I had no idea I was sick. I had been feeling exceptionally well, and my doctor said I was looking better than she had ever seen me. When I woke up, I felt weak and I was confused, although I didn’t realize it. The first two things I do each morning is to take my emergency alert button out of the charger and put it around my neck and take my phone out of its charger and put it on a small rolling cart with other necessities like water and a notepad and pen. It’s hard for me to carry anything in my power chair, so I push this little cart around to have what I need.
That morning when the alarm went off at 8:30, I took both the alert button and phone out of their chargers, but instead of putting them where they belonged, I held them in my hands. When I tried to stand up to transfer from the lift chair I sleep in to the power wheelchair, I just collapsed. The phone and the button went flying across the room, and I fell face down on the floor. I had a nosebleed and hit my mouth so hard my teeth cut into the inside of mouth and caused bleeding. In the fall, I had knocked a bottle of water off the cart, and it split open and spilled. So I was lying in a puddle of blood and water, and I was so weak I couldn’t even lift my head up enough to look around the room for the phone or alert button.
My phone started ringing at 9:00, my neighbor checking on me. Unfortunately, we had not yet exchanged keys, so she couldn’t come in my apartment when I didn’t answer. (That has been corrected now; we have each other’s keys and both of us have used them for emergencies.) The phone kept ringing, praise God, so I could get an idea of where it was.
I managed to wriggle like a snake for a little bit, then rest, then move a little more. I continued to do this – very slowly – following the sound of the phone. Finally, I got to the area where the ringing came from, and reached around on the floor until I found the phone underneath the wheelchair. I pulled the phone out, turned it over to call 9-1-1, and saw the time: 11:30. I had been crawling around on the floor for three hours!
Help arrived quickly after I made the call, and thus began my hospital/rehab adventure. It’s been a long journey, but I feel great now and praise God for the healing from sepsis twice and urinary tract infections four times since the last week of August.
I have caught up on all the things that were neglected. Today, I started back studying the course I’m taking online in Biblical counseling as research for my novel. I’m getting to the writing phase very soon!
My goal is to post to the blog about once a week. See you soon!
And I will keep my eyes open for the miracles that happen all around me – large and small.