I just turned 44 years old and celebrations were not as I had planned. A week and a half prior to my birthday, I found myself on the phone with 911 begging for help and terrified about what was happening. I didn’t know if it was a heart attack or something inside me was about to rupture; all I did know was something was seriously wrong and that I needed emergency medical assistance. Turns out I had pancreatitis from a gallstone which had caused a blockage. The severity of pain I was in cannot be described, only to say that I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy.
Being sick is bad enough but being sick in the middle of a global pandemic when no one can physically be present to provide support and caring is something entirely different. I was alone in a hospital, fighting to get through the pain of each moment, and all I wanted was for someone to just hold my hand and tell me it would all get better. I was thankful for technology such as cell phones and FaceTime so I could at least talk/see loved ones. I remember breaking down on one of those calls because I just felt so alone. The doctors knew about my PTSD as I had told them that all my triggers were going off because of the pain I was in. When asked what I normally do for it, I almost laughed! Manage the pain and let me see people was what I thought….but neither was able to happen at the time. Once surgery was done (I had to have my gallbladder removed to ensure this didn’t happen again), I was allowed to have a person visit and the next morning I woke to find my mom sitting beside my bed. I’ll never forget how amazing that felt. You’re never too old to need your momma.
There was a point during the worst of this nightmare where I told a nurse I was gonna throw myself off the roof….that I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I don’t know how serious I was, but I do recall that I felt I was at the end of what I could handle. Looking back now, I realize something important……I got through it. I was alone and afraid and in intense pain, but I made it to the other side. Its not lost on me how much love surrounded me and I’m in no way discounting that, its just that with the unique situation of COVID-19, I was forced to go at it alone.
That’s always been one of my biggest fears….being alone and sick. I didn’t think I could handle it. But the nightmare came true and I did it. I had more stamina than I ever thought possible. I breathed through each moment of pain. I soaked up every ounce of love and support that was sent my way. I found reserves of strength I didn’t know were there. I came through one of my worst fears and am still standing. So yes, I celebrated my birthday, a little slower and a lot sorer than usual, but with such gratitude and thankfulness that words cannot be found to adequately describe it. I am taking the time needed to heal and process all that has happened, which is not easy for a person like me who doesn’t enjoy a lot of down time. However, things happen for a reason and I embrace this time as a moment where calmness and clarity prevail. Most importantly, healing of mind and body continue with a renewed sense of optimism.