Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Unearthly Visit

It’s difficult to believe that I have not blogged for two months.  I have had a few occasions in the past of illness or hectic scheduling that has prevented me from blogging, but nothing to this extent.  Not blogging has been very difficult for me; But not nearly as difficult as the situation that I experienced.  

My weak immune system has troubled me since birth.  As a middle aged woman, I battle issues with my thyroids, fibromyalgia, arthritis and degenerative disk disease, to name a few.  My most recent medical issue to surface had been a peptic ulcer.  

Honestly, I wasn’t too horribly concerned with my latest medical condition.  What’s two more small pills to add to my handful of medicines?  I quickly noticed improvement with the acid reflux and the pain in my upper abdomen.  I was pleased with the improvement and continued on with my life.

As the weeks went by, I took my medicine and lived my life as normally as I had before the ulcer.  I found the Zantac and the Aciphex to be incredibly helpful and effective.  I definitely noticed whenever I forgot to take it.  The pain in the abdomen was rather strong.  I was surprised that ulcers were as painful as they were. 

I awoke election day to a pain in my chest that was far worse than any of the pain that I had been experiencing.  I posted a casual comment on Facebook about the pain, and went about my routine, as best as possibly could.  I was a bit surprised at the reaction of my friends, begging me to go to the hospital, for fear that I was having a heart attack.  After many “reasons” as to why I could not go, I received a call from my mother in law.  She told me she would cover the kid’s schedule, but that she wanted me to go to the hospital. 

For thirty hours, I refused.  

Fear is an understatement of my feelings.  The last time someone went to the hospital with chest pain, was my dad.  He never left the hospital alive.  While I paced in the chapel like a wild animal in a small cage, I swore I’d never let myself feel that way again.  
My husband quickly reminded me that it was my dad’s refusal to go to the hospital during his second heart attack that caused his certain death.  Was I willing to put my children through the same loss?  

This is before I became ill.
Notice the facial color.

Most of my readers know that my family is the most important thing in my life.  There are no decisions I make, that I do so without my family being my first priority.  So, with that, I decided to go to the hospital.

What started Tuesday morning as extreme chest pain, was now being continued in a local Denver hospital.  
I almost immediately became concerned when I through triage at the emergency.  My diastolic was 42.                      

That seemed a little low to me; Particularly for someone who was in so much pain and so panicked.  I was taken to the back immediately.  This is not usually a good sign when you are in the medical condition that I knew I was in.  
Nurses came rather quickly, slapping sticky probes strategically on my chest and ankles.  As I watched the E.K.G. machine, the lines looked good to me; But what do I know?  I’m not a doctor.  As you can imagine, when I asked the nurse if everything was okay, she informed me that the doctor would need to read my results to me.  That is always the painful part, isn’t it?  We know the nurses know the results.  Why must we be tormented for an additional hour or two, while we wait for the doctor to come and reassure us?

I was moved to another, more permanent and private room.  I must say, this scared me even more.  New nurses came in, told me they had been assigned to care for me, and then advised me that they would be inserting an I.V..  Before I knew it, I had an I.V., multiple vials of blood drawn, monitors hooked everywhere, and an oxygen tube.  Now, If I weren’t scared before (and I was), the actions that were going along with those scurrying around me, definitely added to my anxiety.  

I began to notice that my oxygen was dropping into the mid seventies and low eighties.  My blood pressure was very low, hanging around 90/60.  I was rushed to the x-ray department, where multiple chest x-rays were taken.  At this point, I knew they were looking for pneumonia, or maybe even worse.  I was confident that I was not having a heart attack.  

Just before my mother-in-law arrived to keep me company, the doctor came in to tell me that I was suffering from Pancreatitis.  He explained that alcohol, gallstones, and sometimes medications were known to cause this painful disease.  I was sent to ultrasound, where measurements were taken of the Pancreatic fluid sac, and in search of gall stones.  

The doctor came back to tell me that either a virus or medication had caused my Pancreatitis.  I was monitored for my oxygen level, where, despite it being very low, I was released from the hospital.  

Because my story is not on the hospital, I will not get into any thoughts or feelings regarding my discharge in my condition.  

What happened next, is where the real story lies.  I came home, and our home was turned into a makeshift hospital.  My PulsOx, blood pressure, and pulse rate were being monitored every few hours.  I followed the doctors orders and drank water as if it were going out of style.  I also reframed from eating, as that is how you are treated in the hospital.  The only exception was my lacking of the nutrition through I.V. bag.  

The first day or so, I just seemed to be in the most intense pain I had ever experienced.  I was coherent, home-schooling my youngest son, and taking my oldest son to and from school.  Sometime around the third or fourth day, I noticed that my eye sight was blurry.  I could no longer think coherently and I was very weak, dizzy, lightheaded, and blurry in general.  My husband and doctor encouraged me to return to the hospital.  My husband would come home from work, and tell me how pale I was.  He sat next to me on the sofa, holding my hand, and I assume praying.  I remember looking up at him, and saying, “You know that I’m dying, don’t you?”  

I monitored my skin color.
Here, my skin was very pale.
I looked like death. 

At the same time, however, I told him that I was fighting as hard as I could, and that I would not give up that easy.  If the Grim Reaper thought he chose a weak soldier, ready to close their eyes and succumb to the dark or light that I would travel to, he was wrong.  The angel of death need not look in my direction.  He was in for a fight.

Day after day, I laid there, saying to myself:  “Okay, so the angel of death is at your door, but you have two children and a husband that you love, and you are not ready to leave.  I reached out to my Facebook friends.  I believe in the power of prayer.  

I asked them to pray for me, that my condition was serious.

I wish I could say what time or day it was,
Archangel Michael

but as my husband and I held each other and feared... there was a miracle.

I do not know how close you must be to death for the archangel Michael, or the Lord, or God to come to you. However ill that is, I was there.  I felt a warmth!  I felt a comfort!  I felt as if I were being held by someone or something.  I did not hear or see a physical presence.  I only felt as if there was something so loving.  Loving beyond the love I have ever received, near me.  I heard words in my head; As if someone were speaking to me telepathically.  

Do not be afraid.  I am here.  I am with you and I have you.  Yes, you are ill, but you are not going to die.  I have done everything that I can do to make sure that you live, but now you must do your part.  You must put up the toughest fight you ever have, and you will be okay.  I will be with you.  

I do not know how long my visit with God was.  I think he held me for a long time.  I know that for the first time in days, my fear was gone.  I knew that I had to keep fighting, but that I would live.  God had told me so.  I was willing to fight.  

When my husband came home, I waited for him to go into the kitchen, away from the kids.  I told him about my visit from an angel, or God.  I told him that he should not be afraid anymore.  I told him that I was going to live.  I broke into tears and was barely strong enough to stand for him to hug me.  I almost collapsed from the pain his hug caused in my chest.  For the first time in a week or more, my husband and I could go to sleep knowing that I would wake.  

I wasn’t going to tell anyone about my visit.  Even though I knew it was real.  I knew it was not a dream or delusion.  I knew it was real because I felt the warmth and comfort.  I knew it was real, because my fear had been erased.  This is not something I could have ever done on my own.  I have struggled with fear and anxiety for decades.  Nothing has ever made me feel so loved.  Nothing has ever made me feel so warm.

So why am I talking about it now?  A friend gave me information on Acute Pancreatitis about two weeks after its onset.  A friend in the medical field.  Right there in black and white, I read the signs of shock.  Those signs, indicated I had gone into a severe stage of Pancreatitis.  I was in life threatening shock.  The last sentence... “Severe Pancreatitis, however, can be life threatening.”  

Her visit made me think that maybe I should be talking about it.  There’s a story here.  Not just a story of survival.  A story about a woman who has spent over twenty years searching for answers when it came to God and the afterlife.  Years of anger that God took my father when I was so young.  The man that nurtured and loved me.  The man that taught me compassion.  The man I wanted to be like.

I am a woman who spent over a decade, claiming her “religion” to be Atheism.  Who better to spread the word than a women who has worked for so long to find faith.  Who better, than the woman that refused to talk religion with anyone?  I believe God came to me because I needed him.  He needed to tell me to not give up.  I believe that with the love and comfort he gave me, the least I can do is tell my story.  His story!  If only one person reads this and feels something, then I have given a sliver back to God.  Only a sliver though, of what he gave me that day.


  1. This post made me cry. I am experiencing pancreatitis at this time. I am not sure why the insurance companies feel compelled to tell the doctors when you should be released. The first night I was in the ER I was misdiagnosed and then sent home. The second trip to the ER was by ambulance. I truly thought I was dying. I prayed out loud so hard for God to help me. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced.

    The EMT's were so rude to my husband and son and no very helpful or comforting. In fact, they told my husband if I weighed any more than he wouldn't have been able to lift me onto the stretcher. I am not proud of my weight but I am not grossly over weight either. I weigh 148 lbs.

    The ride to the hospital was terrible. The EMT asked me to sit still so he could give me an IV. I wasn't moving, I was paralyzed and in shock. Maybe he forgot that the ambulance was moving. Who knows. But right after his snarky comment, I was able to lean my head to the left and vomit at his feet.

    When I arrived at the hospital I begged every nurse that was attending to me to help me with the pain. But was told that I had to wait for the doctor and that would be about 45 minutes to an hour. I didn't think I would last an hour. I knew I was losing my fight with whatever was attacking my body. First vomiting uncontrollably and then losing control of my bowels. Normally, I would have been embarrassed but I couldn't think of anything but the pain.

    Once the doctor came in with the lab report and announced that I was suffering with pancreatitis, they finally gave me pain medication. I kept praying that God would send the right doctors and nurses to help me. From that point on we were good to go. I stayed in the hospital for 4 days on a clear diet and pain medication.

    Then the night of the 4th day, they unplugged the IV and stopped the pain medication and sent me home with a list of doctors to call and a list of a no fat diet. I am ok with the no fat diet, it is the pain that I can't handle. Even though they released me from the hospital, the pain is still there. My enzyme levels went from 9600 to normal while in the hospital, so why does the pain still linger? For that question I get no answer.

    Trying to make appointments for specialist has been a horrible task. They can't get you in for months and they need all of my medical records first from the attending doctor. Well since it is New Years Eve, I am having no luck at all. Not even my doctor has called me back even though I left an emergency message. It is weird that stop the pain medicine in the hospital and don't write any prescriptions for you to take home.

    The only relief I am going to get is the comfort that God will be by my side. I mentioned to my son today, " How do you think that people in 3rd world countries manage such illnesses"? He replied, " We are very fortunate".

  2. Tracy, your story is also very touching and made me sad and I cried. Why the hospitals treat us as if we were a nuisance is beyond me. I am so sorry you had to go through such horrible pain. God was with you, and he will stay by your side. For this I am sure. Please try calling the hospital and tell them you are not getting a response from your primary care physician and tell them you need a doctor at the hospital to write you a prescription for pain.
    If you must, go back to the ER and insist that they keep you until someone can help you with pain maintenance at home. I will be praying for you.
    As for the third world countries, I cannot imagine the horror. How horrible and helpless they must feel. We are very fortunate, even with the struggles we have had with our system. We are also very lucky to have each other. Support groups that include people who know what you are going through are a Godsend. If there is anything I can do for you... please let me know.
    Best of luck and get well soon!