On seeing The Important

Billy is seven. And I’m here to enjoy that.

That is a lot to be thankful for.

Seven years ago today, a sweet baby boy reluctantly left his warm home to come into this world. He was due on my birthday (Jan 25th) but decided to hang out an extra week in his cozy bubble. Who could blame him? No sub-zero wind chill blasts, all-you-can eat liquid buffet, the soft thumping of mama’s heart to keep you calm. I can understand Billy’s desire to stay inside – it’s a tough world. He found that out right away, because he wasn’t breathing well when he got scooped out via-c-section, and his heart rate was slow.  From behind the blue drape I could hear a soft 1-2-3-4-5 and whoosh of air as they got him revved up. Through my tired haze a cold feeling washed over me. Is he…? But after a long minute or two, his cry became strong, and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. We had a son.

Brian had a tired but happy glow – he looked handsome in his scrubs. We got moved to the recovery area and we snuggled our soft bundle. He even nursed a little and we just held him some more. Then things started to blur – I felt faint – handed Billy to Pat (which is how Pat knew something must be wrong because I don’t give up my babies) – they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop – I was whisked to surgery. The last thing I remember is the OR nurse leaning over me, whispering you’ll be ok.

The next thing I know was waking up in an ambulance, bumping down the Thruway.

Intubated.

So I did what any logical physician-assistant-turned-patient would do: gestured to the paramedic for something to write on. Poor guy was probably a little freaked out. I wasn’t just eye-fluttering awake; I went from no interaction to wide awake in a single pothole. I wrote “tube out?” He bit his lip – um, no. Then I wrote “hysterectomy?” (I knew it had been a likely possibility). Reluctantly he checked my chart and nodded yes. Fact-finding accomplished and trying not to gag with a plastic hose in my bronchus, I wrote as any patient would “more diprivan please?” He called med control and helped me drift back to sleep.

From when I first went to surgery until waking, there was a 15-hour gap in my memory.  It’s strange to have to rely on others to give you back pieces of your life. Once in surgery, the bleeding didn’t stop despite many efforts to control it while saving our ability to have more children. The doctor broke scrub and went and found my poor husband, who was in the ER with his worst Meniere’s attack yet. (Think room-spinning vertigo, pin-you-to-the-floor balance problems, and blood-vessel popping vomiting).  In the midst of that, they quickly came to the gut-wrenching conclusion that a hysterectomy would be needed to save my life.

Meanwhile, Pat was rocking Billy in the nursery, whispering, “you are closer than any of us to the angels – talk to them and ask them to heal your mommy. Help her get better so she can be here with you.”

But even the hysterectomy didn’t stop the bleeding.

God hears our prayers, because so many people – around the globe – wound up praying for us that day. The interventional radiologist was able to inject dye, find a branch of the iliac artery that was bleeding, and able to clot it off that way. Having delivered at a smaller hospital on a Friday, they sent me to University Hospital in Syracuse in case of… well… just in case.

That’s why I woke up in an ambulance. Apart from my little guy (he stayed at the smaller hospital for 2 days and was sent home healthy.) So the next five days were about getting better and reuniting with Billy. It was a series of small victories. Trying to convince the ICU attendings that I could be extubated on arrival to the department (they wisely didn’t go for that), but joyfully getting the breathing tube out the next day. Getting rid of all the extra fluids. (Receiving 15 units of blood and 16 units of IV fluids the day I was bleeding had puffed me up like the Michelin man.)  Having the femoral sheaths removed and watching the SuperBowl with my sister and with sandbags on my legs. Trying to pump and dump using a 1940s-looking green steel contraption.  Finally moving to a regular floor and little Karen coming to visit (she was ready to push me down the hall and out the door).  Being discharged (amen!) and stopping to buy a recliner for me on the way home.

But God was with me. And with Billy. He was with the whole family as they came together to help Billy and Brian and little Karen and me.  We knew that – even during the agonizing moments – He was holding us close.  Brian remembers feeling the peace that passes understanding during a time that was anything but peaceful.

I am so grateful for a second chance to embrace and love this life. So many days, we get caught up in the busy that we forget the important.

Now that Brian and I are headed into full-time missions, my eyes are better focused on God.  With my eyes on Him, I can better see The Important over the urgent. The urgent, endless tasks that drain our energy and soak up our time but in the end add up to nothing. Our relationship with God and relationships with each other are what count. We were put here on earth to glorify and honor God, to love one another sacrificially, and to be good stewards of the blessings in our lives.

And He is with us all the time, because:

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

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