I was 53 when I was admitted to hospital to undergo a planned surgical procedure. At the time I was employed as a nurse by the same NHS Trust where I was to become a patient.
The role reversal didn’t concern me too much until I realised that by some strange quirk, the anaesthetist and ODT would be two of my colleagues. My procedure was to be one of those … erm, whispers ‘women’s things.’ Blushing at the memory I’ll skip the details.
I was a fit and healthy specimen, suitable for major surgery and the op went well. I was discharged on the 3rd day post op - but not before those two clowns promised me they would upload their pictures onto the hospital computer system.
My husband Jack, a bit of a ‘man’s man’ and not known for fluffing up cushions or wielding a feather duster, turned into an amazing maid servant and with a real penchant for hanging out the laundry.
Early one morning, a week from the day of the op, the dog found me prostrate on the bathroom floor. She snuggled beside me for a nap, while my feeble calls for help went unheard. Eventually husband awoke needing the smallest room.
The fun began. I was taken by ambulance to A&E and eventually readmitted to the ward. For three days I became increasingly weak and dehydrated until investigations suggested that further surgery was necessary. The on-call team performed an emergency operation to drain a nasty abscess that was poisoning my system.
My return to the ward from theatre certainly caused a stir. Clinical observations shot off the scale. IV fluids, portable x-ray, oxygen cylinders, people - lots and lots of people - crammed my room. And someone thoughtfully parked the crash trolley just outside the door!
Soon I was off again, but this time to the High Dependency Unit. My body was grossly swollen; my organs failing.
Then something remarkable happened! Jack, stoic and unnaturally calm in a crisis, asked: “What can I do?” And I replied, “Ring my friends and tell them to pray for me.” Perhaps more an order than a request, but he, who claims to be a non-believer, took my phone into the car park and messaged every one of my contacts.
He returned to hear that a decision to transfer me to Intensive Care Unit in the city hospital had been made. The plan was to put me on life support.
I was stretchered into the waiting ambulance. The sister from HDU clambered in along with an anaesthetist, Dr James. I had never met the doctor before, but the impact of the words he spoke to me remains.
“Sometimes, bad things happen to us and we don’t understand why. We question God – why would He allow such things? Then one day, possibly a lifetime later, all becomes clear.”
Between HDU and ICU the need for a third operation was being raised, but abandoned owing to disagreement between professionals as to the wisdom of this. Later Jack told me that he wouldn’t have consented to it. I had Septicaemia. My organs were failing and I was dying.
However, some-time between leaving HDU and whistling down the motorway in a ‘blue light’ to ICU, there was a change. My breathing became easier. I was in pain and dreadful discomfort, but I felt the struggle in my chest ease up. Dr James was studying me intently and with both hands was cupping mine.
Jack had returned home, as requested, to wait until I was sorted out. He sat alone in the garden through the night convinced I was gone.
But on arrival at ICU I wasn’t given mechanical ventilation. Other patients were on life support but I no longer needed it. I was improving, very slowly, but very surely, I was improving!
It transpired that the message Jack sent to friends to pray for me, was passed on to friends of friends, resulting in a network of people, many I’ve never met, praying for my recovery.
Ten years have passed. Doctor James’ words remain alive and kicking in my heart. I was off work for 12 months and didn’t see him again. Sceptics tell me it was the morphine deluding me. I don’t argue the case. I simply ‘tell it like it is,’ and pray that someday God may work a miracle in their lives too.
An unquestionable one. Like mine!
*A personal testimony.
NHS - National Health Service.
ODT - Operating Department Technician.
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