I almost died.

There, I said it. So many people have told me since I started pouring my heart out in this blog that they didn’t realize how much I’d gone through or how bad it really was. It was really bad.

This was my doing, really. Whether it was the best way to go or not I’ll never know but, I always pushed myself to do, to go and to smile. To say “hanging in there” or “I’m ok” when I really felt like crying or screaming or hiding under my covers.

I remember being in so much pain that I really, for a very short time, thought that dying would have been a relief, a welcome respite.  I honestly can say that I’m not sure I would have fought as hard to get well if it hadn’t been for my kids. I just couldn’t imaging them motherless.

To add insult to injury, most people think that the cancer is what almost did me in and, actually, it was a terrible bacterial infection that I contracted after a surgery. It was not properly treated.  According to my doctor, I had about forty-eight hours, max, before I was really, really in trouble. At a point of no return.  Sure, if I hadn’t had the cancer, I would not have had the surgery and I guess you could reason that I wouldn’t have gotten the infection but, the direct cause of the infection was the reconstructive surgery.

By the time I switched doctors, go the correct diagnosis and was properly treated, I had suffered for weeks. The infection had gotten into my blood and I had terrible pain, nausea, headaches, high fever, chills, cramping, dizziness and weakness. I had a wound on my stomach that turned into a hole so large that you could drop four golf balls into it side by side and they would not stick out of the top of it. I also had a number of holes on my chest. They hurt so much that thinking about it now is making me cry. The wounds were red and hot to the touch. They were also “weepy” and had a bad odor. I would also get a rash that would move from one part of my body to another. It looked like an angry red splotch that was so large that it could cover my entire stomach, or side, or back.

My recovery included lots of antibiotics, a scalpel on my skin minus anesthesia, and much pain. A nurse came to the house every morning and evening to take my vitals and wash my wounds. After a while I might feel ok for a couple or a few months and then, suddenly, develop a high fever (103, 104), get the rash and be knocked on my ass, both emotionally and physically. Every time this happened, and there were quite a few times,  I’d have to have another scan of some sort (CT, MRI, Gallium) to locate where the infection was inside me (the wounds on the outside had healed). Once we found it, I had to undergo surgery to remove the infection from inside.  I also had to have a sonogram of my heart to make sure that the infection didn’t invade the heart lining. That is how sepsis kills many of it’s victims. Either that, or the infection travels to the brain.

It has been a pretty long time now since it has surfaced (knock on wood, please) but, I still try to be vigilant about keeping my immune system up and I’d be lying if I say I don’t often worry about it coming back.

And so, now you understand, I almost died.

I remember when I was really sick, that I was thinking about what color nail polish they would put on me before they laid me out in the funeral home. Isn’t that strange? I actually thought about my hands crossed, and holding the rosary. What color would it be? Is red to garish for a funeral? Then, what? Brown? Pink is too cheery. I can’t believe that I actually thought of these things. Perhaps the fever was making me delirious? I also was convinced that I contracted AIDS through the blood transfusion that I had gotten during the surgery and was blabbering on to my husband that I was a goner, I had AIDS and he shouldn’t touch me.

I read a report, sometime after I was feeling better  and the infection had been dormant for some months. It was the report from my general surgeon, who ultimately was the one who diagnosed me and treated me correctly. It said something like:

“…..patient responded to various treatments and survived…”

Wow.

I’m writing this tonight because I was talking about a beautiful woman who we lost this past summer. She also had kids, a mate, a job, friends, a beautiful home and a wonderful spirit. She was as tough as anyone I have ever known and yet, she died. For some big, cosmic reason that none of us can understand, it was just her time.

There but for the grace of God go I.

I almost died. Keyword=Almost.

Thank you God.

And thank you on behalf of my husband, my kids, my parents, my sisters, Jill and all of my other friends. We are all grateful beyond words.