Regular readers will remember Shelley (mother of Holly, the girl who asked Santa to autograph her copy of “Night Before Christmas”). Here’s her guest blog on what life-and-death means when it’s real.
As many of Wendy’s readers know, I suffered a major health scare a few months ago. After facing death, Wendy blogged about my recovery and now you’re getting the rest of the story.
It’s funny how the universe is always conspiring to bring the right people and circumstances into our lives. The GGGs all came to me serendipitously. One I met through our local paper, one through our passion for school consolidation, one works with my brother, and another’s husband coached baseball with mine. Since becoming part of this “secret society,” I always have someone that lets me know when to hunker down. One member also needs to quit her medical practice and be my private physician. And then there’s Wendy and the bookstore……She’s the glue that keeps us together. Always planning a new adventure or just giving us a place to chat about life, politics, or small town drama. The friendship, support, and encouragement from this group have given me great joy and hope during the worst time of my life.
Before the great liver explosion of 2012, I had a storybook life-a loving husband, beautiful, healthy children, a successful business, and more sparkle than a Porter Wagner suit. Everything always seemed to work out in my favor. I never questioned why or how, I just rambled through life without a care. I became accustomed to a relatively worry free existence.
Then it happened. I decided to have liver surgery to correct a genetic condition. I did my homework and found the best liver surgeon in America at the Mayo Clinic.
Ahead of surgery, I saw everyone I wanted to see and said everything I wanted to say, except for one certain GGG. I had lingering worries about what would happen if things went sour. There were so many things I needed to tell her, but I never got the chance. I tried to pass it off as unnecessary concern, but thoughts of her haunted me.
As usual, everything was going smoothly. Pre-op appointment- GREAT. Date night before hospital check in-GREAT. Surgery-GREAT. Discharge from recovery-GREAT. Suddenly, out of nowhere, everything wasn’t great. As a matter of fact, things were bad. VERY, VERY BAD.
My ammonia level skyrocketed. This is an indicator of liver failure and it also makes one delirious, confused, and not of sound mind. Next, I developed a blood clot in my liver followed by the explosion of a spontaneously formed bleeding ulcer. Back to surgery I went.
Since I can’t remember any of this, I have to say my surgeon has the hands of God. He repaired everything inside of me and left me with an almost unnoticeable scar.
Eleven days after this dramatic turn of events, I began to wake up and take in what had transpired. I had been on every form of life support available, received enough blood to satisfy a village of vampires, and more IV’s than any human should have to ever receive.
My tiny body was desperately trying to heal, but I couldn’t walk and speaking was not going so well either. For a moment, I imagined my children with no mother, my husband with no life & business partner, my mother losing her firstborn so soon after losing my dad. Then I did the only thing I knew how to do. I put on my big girl panties and I got over it.
After a few days, I could stand. After standing, I was able to walk a few steps. Within a week, I could walk down my hallway with a walker. My speech slowly came back. I started to believe I would taste food again. I dreamed of eating a Popsicle and oatmeal.
It took several long, scary months to regain my strength and some semblance of normalcy. When I finally felt like things were going to be okay, I realized the biggest healing hadn’t been my liver or my mind; it was my heart. This ordeal taught me to love bigger and deeper and to actually mean it.
During my recovery, my GGs gave me love, brought me food, lit candles for my healing, prayed, begged, pleaded, and did everything possible to make sure I could return to the ranks. One in particular sacrificed her scare and precious free time to keep me company and bring me homemade food and even a rescue puppy to snuggle.
As for my certain GGG, I will be in her wedding one year to the day of my life saving surgery. Ironic? No. It’s exactly as it should be. That day will be a sweet reminder of the blessing of friendship and second chances to say what needs to be said
Paul Simon has some very appropriate lyrics for my new lease on life.
“I’ve been working on my rewrite, that’s right. I’m gonna change the ending, gonna throw away the title, and toss it in the trash.”
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m working on my rewrite. I guarantee my storybook will end with, “She lived happily ever after.”