My friend lost her husband on the weekend. She shared the journey through words and images. Theirs was a penultimate love story. At the end, only love remained. I know that it does. I almost died three and a half years ago. I was in hospital, after endometriosis surgery. I had awoken from the operation, and was back on the ward. Hubby and my daughter had just left to allow me rest. In a heartbeat, things changed. That is how everything changes. Suddenly, dramatically. I felt I was going to be sick, and the room spun as I stood. I collapsed onto the floor, and managed a weak call out for help. My nurse took my blood pressure, which was 55/30 and dropping. I had a temperature, and was shaking. She ran from the room, and I could hear her screaming for help. I was immediately started on blood plasma, and bloods were taken. Doctors ran in shortly after, saying I had very little haemoglobin left. My tummy was beet-red, and they could see my blood pooling. I felt I could easily slip away. I wasnt afraid. All the nonsense one worries about was discarded. I felt more “me” than I had felt in a long time. I felt sadness at what I would be leaving behind, my family, my friends, seeing my little girl grow up. All the things left unfinished. I vowed to refine my life, and all that I was called to do, if I survived. Let go of all the detritus. I was watching all the frantic activity, unconcerned. I focused on all I had been blessed with in this scenario. Staff who were on the ball, blood donors, and the Red Cross driver who came quickly, the fact my daughter wasnt here… My blood pressure went up a little with the transfusion, then dropped again. My heart beat was tachy, and my breathing very laboured.
The surgeon was called and he told me scar tissue and endo was found on the tubes to my kidneys, all along right side of pelvis, and had stuck my ureter to the front of my pelvis. Veins were covered too, and he had to do a lot of vascular work, severing two of the main nerves running into my pelvis from my lower back. It caused a lot of bleeding which they thought they had stemmed. The description of how I was ovulating healthily and the egg they found enthralled me, yet broke my heart. I have been focused on having my own family since I was eighteen. I wanted a sibling for my daughter. They had to stabilize me so I would have a chance at surviving more surgery. My focus had to swing from fertility to surviving. The surgeon’s registrar, an Irish lady, ran in after I took another turn for the worst, and warned me that they may need to do a hysterectomy to save my life. She held my hand as she said it. She said this could very well prove fatal. I prayed some more (husband and daughter had arrived, and it was now Thursday morning).
My daughter was allowed to cuddle me on the trolley on the way to theatre. My little three year old held her mummy tight, with the encouragement of the staff. I breathed in the vanilla of the soap we bathed her in, felt the softness of her hair against my face. She stroked my face and kept kissing my cheek. “I love you mummy, I love you.” I had birthed a numinous creature. If I did nothing else, I had done that. Staff were marvelling as to how I was coping with the pain and the severity of it all. “I have birthed a numinous creature,” I wanted to say in reply. When I woke, I was on a morphine pump in ICU. The surgeon told my husband I had haemorraged along the pelvic wall. I lost all my blood. I hadn’t needed a hysterectomy, which was a sure bet for the staff! After the first wave of pain- when I collapsed to the floor- there was just love. Love for the husband who had undiagnosed bipolar, and gratitude that I had survived what should have been a fatal fall at fifteen. Love for the little girl that stroked her dying mother’s hair, and held me all the way to surgery. It is good to remember this 48 hours. To appreciate life anew. Discard the nonsense once again. Seeing my friend carry herself and her husband to the threshold of death has been humbling. Such dignity and grace. At the end, only love remained. I am going to try and live that way each day.