As someone with chronic illness, I have been in the hospital more times than I can count on both of my hands but this last visit was life changing.
It was scary.
Life changing scary.
It all started very early on a Saturday morning. Like many other nights over the past year, I spent the night up sick and vomiting. I have continued to have issues sleeping (which only adds to the ever-present crushing fatigue of chronic illness), my GI system was definitely not a happy camper and I had one heck of a migraine. I was up for hours vomiting. Every time I would take a Zofran, it would immediately be back up along with anything else I tried to put in my body. John would come in routinely to check on me. I was growing weak and I knew I was becoming dehydrated.
I don’t remember anything else until the paramedics were trying to get me out of the bathroom floor.
Apparently, there was a point where I made it back to the bedroom and passed out. John was sleeping in the other room since I was sick so he could get some sleep and for some unknown reason to him at the time, he came into our room to check on me. He walked in to me projectile vomiting while passed out on my back in bed. He rolled me on my side and I continued to throw up but struggled to come to. He managed to get me to the bathroom and called 911. He worked on getting me cleaned up and somewhat alert while waiting on the EMTs to arrive.
The first thing I remember is being over the toilet crying and completely confused by what was happening. I struggled to comprehend the paramedics instructions and had no idea of what had just happened. The next thing I knew, I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
We got to the hospital and after what seemed like an eternity, they got an IV going and fluids and meds on board. It took John awhile to arrive as he had to get Abby situated and clean up the mess I had created. Most of that day was a haze with the exception of feeling like a pin cushion from what seemed like a constant stream of lab techs and nurses trying to draw blood (the initial IV would flush and give fluids but would not give blood). I have the crappiest veins on the planet on a normal day. Add in the dehydration and my veins are practically non-existent. Its not a great feature to have when you live with chronic illness. I would estimate that it took about ten tries before they were able to successfully draw initial labs.
In addition to the dehydration from the incessant vomiting, they were worried about my kidneys as my labs showed abnormalities so they were going to keep me at least overnight.
I was admitted on Saturday and was discharged on Monday (we spent Valentine’s Day in the hospital – how romantic). In that time, I blew through two IVs and became known throughout the hospital as the impossible stick. My arms were bruised badly from hands to shoulders. They were worried I may have aspirated vomit while I was passed out so I was on antibiotics the course of my stay and given nebulizer treatments (thankfully, my lungs stayed clear and there were no signs of infection). they were able to rule out a possible obstruction early on but wanted to do a CT Enterography to check for other issues.
When they sunk the last IV, it was a major struggle and the only way they were able to secure a line was by using a small gauge IV. I wasn’t on constant fluids at that point so it was able to get the job done until they decided to do the CT. They needed a larger gauge in the bend of my arm to run the IV contrast. This was the start of a quest and finding a vein proved as difficult a search as finding the holy grail. I saw I don’t know how many charge nurses followed by ICU nurses before the finally called in two anesthesiologists. Room 443 was hoppin’ place to be.
After the anesthesiologists couldn’t find a vein, it was decided that we needed to give my veins a break and we would just do the CT on an outpatient basis. It was very unlikely it would reveal anything that would need to lengthen my stay and at this point, I was completely on board. I was exhausted and ready to go home. They discharged me at the absolute worse time weather-wise as an ice storm was rolling in but after an icy and heart pounding drive home, I was so beyond glad to be back with my family. Chloe didn’t leave my side for hours. Just like Charlie would have done.
The hospital visit itself wasn’t anything extraordinary but it was what lead up to it that has left a heavy mark not only on my life but on John’s as well.
I think it was God that woke John up and had him check on me at just the right moment but we are both plagued with the thoughts of “what if?” What if he hadn’t walked in when he did? Would I have eventually woke myself up or would I have aspirated and choked and the outcome have gone another way? Would I still be here?
I cannot even begin to imagine what John had to see when he came in the room to find me passed out and vomiting. I cannot imagine the fear that had to be running rampant through his veins. Getting me to a safe place. The 911 call. The clean up. Trying to figure out what to tell Abby. I know that the fear and the nightmares are still there and probably will be for some time. I wish there was something I could say to make it all go away but I know there isn’t.
My fears rest in the unknown. All the things that happened that I have absolutely no memory of. How could I have been so sick but be too weak to know it? To know that there was a great possibility that had John not walked in when he did, he could have found me dead instead of throwing up. Or worse, Abby could have found me. Those are the thoughts that haunt me. I still hold my breath at the sound of a siren. My life is forever changed knowing how quickly things could have gone in a different direction.
As scary as this whole experience was and how much the thoughts still plague my mind, I cannot help but praise God. Praise God for waking John up in time. Praise God that I didn’t end up sicker than I did. Praise God for another day, another minute, another second of life. Praise God for the reminder that life is so, so precious and nothing, absolutely nothing, should be taken for granted. Praise God for another day to share my story and hope that it can touch someone else’s heart and help them know that they are not alone. And praise God that He can continue to make broken moments beautiful, the weak made strong, and scary situations an opportunity to share His grace, love, and mercy.
[bctt tweet=”Praise God that He can continue to make broken moments beautiful, the weak strong & scary situations an opportunity to share His grace”]
It has taken me so long to write this post for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t ready to relive it, and 2) how do you find the words? I wanted to share initially just as an update but it turned into something more. Something much deeper than I had anticipated. This was hard. Really hard. But it helped knowing that you guys are out there supporting me and praying for me. There are no words to describe my gratitude. My cup runneth over.
I want to find a way to mark this moment in my life for the good, not for the scary. I’ve thought that a new tattoo may be the way to go but I’m stuck on what to get. I’ve got so many ideas rolling around in my head. What would you suggest?