Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful . . .

I wrote this on Thanksgiving 2005, but I felt it was worthy of a "re-post."

I am thankful for so many things--I could write a book! Today I will write about one thing for which I am thankful--life itself.

I always took life for granted. After all, I couldn't really imagine not living. "To be, or not to be," wasn't my question. That being said, I wasn't really worried [in 2003] when I was scheduled for a hysterectomy. Of course it was major surgery, and I knew the risks. But people have surgery every day, and this is a fairly common surgery. Who would have guessed my surgeon would nick my uterine artery?

I remember waking up in the recovery room and having my nurse ask some simple questions. She told me that I would be transported to my room shortly. Then I started feeling faint--my blood pressure was dropping rapidly. At this point I still wasn't truly worried. My doctor checked to see what was wrong and explained that I was bleeding internally. He wanted to see if the blood would clot and the bleeding would stop. When this didn't immediately happen, he talked to me about having a blood transfusion. I had checked the box indicating "only in life threatening emergency" in the paperwork I completed before the surgery. He made me sign a new form before giving me blood. After the first unit of blood, I still wasn't worried. As time wore on, and they continued giving me blood, I wondered if I would live. My doctor continued to check on me, but he would say "I still think it may clot--I'm going to catch a baby, then I'll be back to check on you." To this day, the words "I'm going to catch a baby" echo in my mind when I think back on the recovery room.

As they continued to give me blood, and I continued to bleed internally, my abdomen distended and my skin felt like it was going to tear. As this occurred, it became increasingly harder for me to breathe. My nurse brought me the phone and said, "we want you to talk to your children." My children were in the waiting area with their nanny and my family. I don't remember what I said, or what they said, but by this time I was convinced that I was going to die, and I think I would have. Instead of giving up, I started praying. I don't remember everything that I said to God, but I do remember telling him that I wasn't ready to die and that my children needed me here. God answered my prayers.

Finally, I couldn't feel my feet and I could barely breathe. I was able to tell the nurse and things moved quickly as they paged my doctor and rushed me back to surgery. I had been in the recovery room for about eight hours by this time.

I spent that night in the ICU under a bair hugger. I was told that I received a total of 6 units of blood. I received so many flowers, I almost thought I had died! My coworkers donated enough sick time that I could have taken up to four months of paid time off. The typical recovery time for a hysterectomy is one month. With my complications, I was told to expect a longer recovery period. I was back to work in three weeks.

I am thankful for this brief glimpse with death because it made me realize just how precious my own life is, and just how many things, people, and circumstances for which I am truly thankful.

Life is an incredible blessing; for this I am thankful.

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