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Archive for March, 2011

Glimpses of Grace

When I think about my hospitalization and recovery in December, it was and continues to be a place of deep spiritual struggle for me. There are moments that occurred during my hospitalization that were my “glimpses of grace” and I simply don’t want to forget them.

РUpon checking into the hospital and waiting for a period  of time, I was taken to radiology. The same radiologist was present who had been on call. He was able to immediately see that things had changed in my condition.

– I sent out a text to friends and family upon my admission and when I thought it was only going to be for 24 hours. I received countless good wishes, promises of prayers, encouragement.

– My mom and my sister were in town and taking care of my son. Enough said. He was in good hands.

– On Saturday morning, I was visited by a good friend & our preschool minister from church (also a good friend). They came bearing hot chocolate.

– Saturday night was the church choir’s practice for their outdoor nativity the next night. My good friend, Marsha (also mentioned above) called me and let me listen in on their singing of Christmas carols. I love Christmas carols and had not heard any sung live yet this season. I cried as they sang, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and prayed to have faith through all this.

– My best friend, Brittany, who at a moment’s notice came and gave relief to my mom and Barry’s mom for one day. She’ll never know how much I appreciated this.

– When I discovered I would be in the hospital longer, I wrote about it on facebook. I knew I needed my larger community to be cheering for me and praying for me. I may not “know” all my facebook friends or see them all the time but I felt their encouragement.

– A friend from seminary who saw my facebook message and wrote me privately. It turns out she had a very similar situation 3 weeks after her daughter was born. She became my cheerleader and coach. She knew what my road ahead might look like and provided wisdom through each step of the way.

– On Monday, they placed the picc line in my arm which I was most terrified of but knew I needed in order to get to go home. As I was waiting on the transport team to come, my phone rang and it was my friend Samuel from Ghana. I answered the phone and started crying. I attempted to tell him what was wrong and in his broken English he said, “Gathering the team now to pray” and he hung up. Moments later, the guy came to take me to radiology. As I lay on the table trying not to think about this line and how close it would be to my heart, I pictured Samuel and the other pastors I knew gathering together to pray for me.

– An email from my sister’s mother-in-law who read something that morning and thought it might be helpful. I think what was most helpful was to consider that she had thought about me and cared enough to send it along.

Even in the most trying of times, I am able to see how God used to people to bring encouragement to me. I simply hope that I can be a “glimpse of grace” for someone in the future.

 

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On Tuesday after getting the results from the tests on Sunday, I was released to go home. I had a PICC line placed in the back of my upper left arm and had to continue to receive medicine infusions 3 times a day. This lasted for almost a month. Home health nurses trained me and my family in how to administer the medication. Whew. I don’t know how folks do this kind of thing very often.

B administered the medicine at 7 am and 11 pm. My mom had to be here for the 3 pm dose. I was hooked up to the IV pole for an hour and a half. Most of the time, I’d ask for P to be with me but he didn’t like sitting with mom for that long so it usually meant having to have help with him.

Eventually, I did start feeling better after another trip to the surgeon’s office where a small procedure was completed. Mom and I would try to get out of the house to do something different but felt aggaravated because the 3 pm infusion always seemed to come too quickly. It felt horrible to be restricted each day by medicine you didn’t even want to take.

And through all of these infusions, I still had to deal with the process of my milk drying up, grieving the loss of breastfeeding, etc. It was a rough month to say the least.

And here I’d like to share with you all responses I received during this time which didn’t help my mental or emotional state. So, if you have a friend faced with a difficult situation, please think about what you are going to say. Should you really say anything or should you just listen? And this really applies if you don’t know the person at all (see the last story below):

1) Shortly after I was out of the hospital, a neighbor came over to check in and saw that my mom was holding P. She commented, “Wow. It must be so nice to have your mom here all this time.” (really? I love my mom and appreciate her help but I’m suppose to be caring for my son, not my mother)

2) My first Sunday back in church, I ran into someone I’ve known for a while. She and I had a mutual friend who experienced something similar a few months back. In the hallway on her way out the door she said, “Hope you are feeling better! You know so-and-so went through something similar but her situation was A LOT WORSE than yours.” (I’m sorry. I didn’t know we were having a competition. Last time I checked we were both young mothers hospitalized because we were very sick.)

3) And I really don’t think my friends who are nursing say this with any malice in their heart but still. I have heard multiple times from them. Oh, you just have so much freedom now that you are not breastfeeding.

4) The real kicker was a few weeks ago when P and I met a friend of mine at my favorite Thai restaurant in Atlanta. We arrived early and I knew P would need to eat soon so I requested a table in the back, away from the other patrons. Shortly after we sat down, he became fussy, and I mixed his formula. He was drinking his bottle when our male waiter approached me and began the following conversation:

Waiter: Um, what are you feeding him?

Me: Formula

Waiter: Oh, not breastmilk

Me: (stunned) No, not breastmilk. I was really sick when he was a month old and I had to stop breastfeeding.

Waiter: Are you better now?

Me: Yes

Waiter: Then why couldn’t you start breastfeeding again?

Me: (really agitated) Well, it was a really difficult decision for me. I was sick with an infection related to breastfeeding. Not only could he had not handled the strong medicine I was on but in order to get better, I had to stop. I figured having a healthy mom was important so I could better care for my son.

He proceeded to come and ask questions related to my son’s weight, how much I was feeding him, when I was going to eat (because I was feeding him first). It was a horrifying experience and I’m so glad my friend was there to be with me. I’m not really sure I’ll ever go back there but especially not any time soon!

Seriously folks, think before you speak. And, if you don’t know someone…. you really have no business talking to them about their personal business, especially in regards to pregnant women, new mothers, etc.

 

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On Sunday, while visiting with a friend from seminary, the nurse walked in with a different kind of look on her face. My friend politely excused herself and B offered the words none of us wanted to hear. “It’s MRSA, isn’t it?” The nurse nodded and added, “But the good thing is that we have you on the right medicine and have since your admission. You are ahead of it.” Boo. MRSA.

You can look it up but I wouldn’t google “long term effects of MRSA” as I did when I was bored in the surgeon’s office a few weeks later. The first search result was how MRSA is more deadly than HIV-AIDS. I had heard of MRSA before from my work at the VA hospital in California. The patients with MRSA were typically always in the ICU and were in isolation. Thankfully, I wasn’t in ICU but I knew that folks who came to see me would have to wear protection from this point forward. My nurse also informed me that there was a discussion taking place at the nurse’s station about whether or not I’d have to be moved to a different floor. Never mind that I had been there since Friday. Oh, guess they didn’t take into account that I probably GOT IT FROM THEIR HOSPITAL the first time. Whatever. She advocated for me to stay in my room. She won…..

Until 7 pm when she left. At 8 pm, (yes at night) I was told to gather my stuff and was taken covered by another gown to a different floor. It was probably the closest thing I’ll ever know to relate to the folks in the Bible who had leprosy. Remember that they sat at the gates to the city because no one wanted them around? They were cast out of their societies? Well, I couldn’t leave my hospital room unless it was for a test when I would have an escort. No walking the halls with my IV pole. Stuck in my room.

And remember in my first post about this ordeal when I said there are levels of care…. General surgery floor with a diagnosis of MRSA= bottom of the list. No juice or snacks, I was lucky if I got my meal on time. The good thing was that they put me in a room with 2 beds but wouldn’t put a roommate in with me (you know ’cause I was infected) and so Barry got to sleep in a bed! We laughed and said it was just a preview of what life in the nursing home would be for us!

We also got to hear our next door neighbor as he called out for help all night long. The tech coming on shift at 7 am heard him as she was taking my vitals and said, “Lord Jesus, we’re the ones who are going to need help with him today. Amen.”

If you are going to be stuck in the hospital, in isolation, away from your baby, you might as well have a little humor about it.

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