Friday, April 25, 2008

It was a year ago today that I almost died. It was a year ago today that but for DB glancing through a window and speaking out against the hospital personnel who were ignoring my cries for help I would have gone to be with my Savior in heaven. It was a year ago today that I my life changed once more.

March 3, 2001 was another day I almost died. It was that time that a guy popped over, something he had never done before, and found me laboring for breath. A doctor, he recognized what I had failed to see. I was in great distress. He scooped me up, rushed me to the hospital, and saved my life.

Struggling to breath is absolutely frightening. Total fear coupled with overwhelming helplessness.

Lying on the gurney in the wee hours of the morning, begging for help from medical personal who kept flipping through my chart and insisting that I did not have asthma and only needed to calm down was the most maddening experience of my life. I knew my time was slipping away. DB had been waiting a while and for some reason, set down his book, stood up from his chair, and looked through the window. If not but for the grace of God, go I.

I had a lawyer review my medical records. He agreed there was gross neglect, but you can really only sue for malpractice. And then you must show permanent harm. A second trip to the hospital and months of recovery are not permanent harm.

I sought help from a counselor to learn what I might have done differently to be treated for my health, not a label from my past. She didn't even understand my request for help, "Just tell the doctor before hand that you do not metabolize drugs very well and he or she will take care of you." A blithe, and somewhat callous response if you ask me. I did that. My own doctor backed up my warning that I would take longer to awake after surgery, but she was out of the country and the surgeon just didn't believe me. She took my earlier discomfort with being unclothed because of my past and subsequent request for unmentionables to wear into the operating room coupled with my slow regain of consciousness and lingering disorientation and leapt to the conclusion that I was having a phychotic break. All the medical sheep that followed never once considered the fact that I had little sleep, no liquids, and no food over the next three days might have been the reason for my deteriorating condition. I was just a crazy person broken by her past. A specious bit of folderol nearly cost me my life. And the truth of the matter is that a part of me feels as if I were raped all over again, first by those horrible hospital personnel and then by some of the people in my life who just couldn't fathom that I might not be safe in a hospital.

Days of no liquids, no food, and little rest did take a terrible toll that took months to recover from, but the minutes when I was being resuscitated, the minutes with horrible lucidity sprinkled between the darkness, is something that I still struggle to swallow from time to time.

A visit to a second lawyer has laid the ground work so that, legally, B can now step in and watch over my care, making decisions based on my condition, not perceptions of how well or not well I've dealt with my past.

I have done what I could to ensure a repeat does not take place. I certainly learned then and through the months that followed, who my friends were and who were really not interested in befriending a person whose life is not easy.

I have been on this incredible journey of learning patience at the feet of a sovereign God who knew what April 25, 2007 would bring. He knows about the turmoil that still lingers over that day and the words I feel have yet to be heard. He knows about the pain I have had of late and about the sweltering heat in my office and the burden that brings. He knows my heart and what I need better than do I.

My new friend L (she and S were the two friends I made at my last job) had lunch today. L was in a horrible car wreck a few years ago and understands me immediately when I say that what happened last year changed my life, even though it was belittled, dismissed, and even disbelieved by others, even those in my life I thought cared about me. Her life was changed in such a moment and the ripples from her accident wash over her in unexpected ways at unexpected times. I, too, understand what she means.

So, on this day, what a wonderful blessing it was to share her company over a rather tasty meal of queso and chicken fajitas and my beloved Dr Pepper!

I am thankful for the lessons of our Lord, even if they are not always ones I understand or ones that I would ever choose for myself. While I have been a bit too vocal of late about my growing weakness, the truth of the matter is that my faith is stronger today than it was a year ago.

After that not the only thing that truly matters?

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