This post is a little late this evening as I have felt so hot and bothered and was also gripped by my book and didn’t want to leave it until I had finished! I will write my usual Reading Roundup post tomorrow.
I was thinking earlier today about some of the things that have made me the person that I am now. One major “incident” which had a profound impact on me both physically and mentally was the life-threatening illness I suffered back in 1996. I was in my 40th year, a SAHM, Lovely Husband and I were still fit and well, and the boys were six and three. One day in February the family were shopping in a supermarket after LH’s work when I started to feel a bit strange. Once home, my symptoms began to get worse: hot and cold shivers, nausea, swollen glands in my neck etc. An out of hours doctor came and diagnosed me with mumps (which, as it turned out, was wrong). I went to bed and ended up staying there for about a week…
…after a week of agonising swelling in my face and even more horrible symptoms, I was eventually taken into hospital by ambulance. Without making this a full-length novel, things really went downhill fast and I was diagnosed, correctly this time, with septicaemia, pneumonia and organ failure. This took quite a long time and many, many tests, some of which were excruciatingly painful. I was moved from a tiny isolation room, via ICU (very scary but with brilliant staff) to a quarantine ward, as the medics were at first unsure if I was infectious.
LH was told to prepare for my death. I was not aware of this until well afterwards.
I was saved by an amazing consultant who mixed an incredible cocktail of antibiotics and the love and devotion of LH and my family.
By the time I began to recover the following had happened to me:
- Hair had mostly fallen out and when it grew back it was very thin and sparse.
- Nails had broken off.
- Face had swollen to such a degree that my eyelids had burst.
- Face was covered in bruises so that people thought someone had beaten me up!
- I couldn’t see out of my swollen eyelids.
- I could barely walk.
- Jaw had seized almost shut so that I couldn’t eat solid food.
After I returned home, it took months to recover fully, although I was well enough to return to full-time work by June 1997.
During my time in ICU I had a very strange near-death experience. I was hooked up to loads of machines in a small room and had the idea that there were French windows behind me, opening on to a beautiful garden. I could hear a party going on in a marquee with music, champagne corks popping and the sound of laughter from a large crowd. People began to come through the window, pass by my bed and leave the room by the door. One such visitor was Elvis, who smiled at me as he walked by. Another was my Father-in-Law (who had died in 1989). He stopped next to my bed and said, “Don’t worry. It’s not your turn yet!”
Many weeks later, when I still had appointments at the hospital but was much better, I visited ICU to thank the staff. They asked if I wanted to see where I had been, so was shown the room. There were no French windows and no garden. In fact, there was only a blank wall behind the bed with the usual medical paraphernalia that you see in every hospital!
As you can tell, this whole event has had a profound effect on my life ever since. Now that it is 21 years on, I can also see how it has impacted on my husband and family as a whole. Even though I am now chronically ill, I will always try to seek that one tiny good thing in an otherwise horrible day: a sunset, a little snowdrop bud, a happy child, a daffodil, a silk scarf. I am here to notice and enjoy them. I am here to see the best in my sons and see them grow up into wonderful (most of the time) young men. I am here with Lovely Husband.
I am still here.