Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Year Ago, Part One

A year ago today, I had a surgery that was going to open up my occluded esophagus that was causing me to aspirate food in my lungs. It was a serious surgery, but I came through it. I remember waking up in recovery just fine. And I recall getting up the next day and walking with a occupational therapist around the entire floor. I was feeling OK. My pain was controlled. I felt no need for concern.

Then I remember a weird feeling coming over me. From years of illness, I was (and still am) very in tune with my body. It was as though I was shutting down. The next thing I recall was talking to my mom on the phone. "Mom, something is really wrong."

My next memory was of the Medical ICU. The tiny room was filled with medical staff, and everyone was in charge of something different. I had one person taking my blood pressure over and over again. It was 50/25. My oxygen saturation was in the 80's and declining. I kept asking for my mom. I was in and out of consciousness.

I remember waking up on a ventilator. I've been on one several times, but it never makes it easy to wake up with a tube down your throat and taped around your mouth for stability. You learn very quickly to talk with your hands, with your eyes, with pen and paper if they bring it to you. I was still in an out of consciousness, and it felt like my body was failing me.

Next time I woke up, I remember seeing my mom and dad just outside the vestibule. My mom and I locked eyes, and the deep connection we've always had drew us close, and we began to cry. The timing may be off, as I was in and out of consciousness, but the next thing I knew, my surgeon was next to me saying they needed to go back in. I had become septic and my entire body was shutting down. The surgeons needed to see what was happening inside.

At about this time, I caught my mother's eye. We were twelve feet apart, but our eyes pulled us closer. The two of us locked eyes, tears streaming. The love communicated in that stare was so intense, it was an overwhelming comfort and a great sadness. I truly felt in my heart that it was the last time I would see her in this world, and our journey up to that moment had been so entwined, I could feel my heart start to break as I held her gaze.

In those moments, it was as if it was just she and I in the room, and all the precious memories we had shared for the past 36 years were suddenly on a little picture show in my head. Everything we'd ever shared was communicated through our eyes. It was precious and magnificent. I couldn't weep on the ventilator, but my body moved with my tears.

I remember feeling, as she and I kept staring at each other as I was rolled away to a second surgery, that I wouldn't be coming back. I wanted to freeze the moment, with all our shared memories. I didn't want to lose them. I grabbed her hand as I was wheeled away. We looked in each other's eye and it was as if each memory had been communicated. Then it was just the look of  goodbye. I only had my eyes. They gave Mom the overwhelming, unconditional love she was due.

Now it was time for a miracle. I fearfully let them cut me back open. Our bodies are amazing yet fragile when something is out of place. I prayed so hard that I would be healed and most of all that I would be back with my mom, alive and well and laughing. As I was wheeled into another operation room, I discovered my tears hadn't stopped. By the time they moved me to the surgical table, my anxiety was off the chart. I wanted surgery to be over, and me to be back at home.

I awoke in another world....