What do you do when you are told you may die within 24 hours?
Your mind races….
“What about my children?”
“I’m not ready to die”
“This can’t be happening”
This is what happened to me in the Fall of 1999. I was a single mom of three children under ten, and had finally begun to rebuild my life after a difficult divorce.
Here’s that part of the story: (excerpt from “27 Steps to Freedom”)
During the summer of 1999 my kids got a stomach bug, and then over the Labor Day weekend I got it too. But, as my children got well I got sicker. I couldn’t seem to feel well, I was struggling to keep food down, was having fevers of up to 103 degrees and then chills so hard that some of my teeth cracked and later broke off. This went on for weeks – I would go to the doctor and he kept saying come back tomorrow. He did blood tests, but didn’t find anything. I was losing 2-3 pounds a day and my friends started to think I had cancer I looked so bad. I was unable to work, and then couldn’t care for my children so they had to go live with their father and his new wife. Finally one night, when I felt like the bones in my back were breaking I phoned a friend and had her take me to the hospital. When I got there the doctor on call in the ER tried to get a blood pressure reading, but he couldn’t get one. I had been hemorrhaging for weeks. The doctor told me I needed immediate blood transfusions to save my life. Without a partner to consult, I wanted to talk to my parents before going ahead. But, my parents were out of the country until the next day, so I asked the doctor if I could wait until the next day. He told me, “we do this tonight or you’ll be dead by morning”. Decision made!
After numerous tests that first night and the next day, it was discovered that I had a massive e-coli bacterial infection throughout my body.
The bones in my spine felt like they were breaking because they were. The e-coli had eaten away portions of the lower three vertebrae and two discs. There was a mass of bacteria sitting on the base of my spine. The infection had also destroyed one kidney, scarred my corneas (which explained my blurry vision) and also gave me brain damage (which explained my inability to recognize even my own family). I spent one night in my local hospital where I was stabilized and then transferred into the main medical center in my area, Vancouver General Hospital.
The journey I was on had just begun. There were many lessons to be learned along the way.