Well. So much has happened, and so many thoughts have been going through my head, that I feel dizzy from all the possibilities. But I went to a church concert tonight, and it seemed that every word from every song went straight to my heart. I feel so much companionship from God, so much support from my loved ones, and so much love for my family.
So my cervical MRI showed cervical stenosis, with a trace of CSF, cerebrospinal fluid, around my spinal cord. A trace. Not good. Spinal cord has no room to move, and is being squeezed...kind of like carpal tunnel syndrome of the spinal cord in the neck, but more like a bent straw that is my kinked spinal cord. Seems I may need surgery.
Worried about my family, and how the household will sustain another time of recovery and rehabilitation.
Before, (30 times since April 2006, the time our daughter, puppy, and I were hit in a car accident) I always went to the hospital via ambulance, as an emergency. Now, it seems that I am very grateful that I have time to plan for a hospitalization. Figure out who will do what, who we can count on, who really loves us. I worry the most about our daughter....she is such a sweetie and a lovie, and God promised me that I would live long enough to watch her grow up.
Anterior approach, I know, would be used for easier access and faster procedure...as my main concern (being an anesthesiologist) is being under anesthesia. Will need a cardiac anesthesiologist, and if I become hypotensive in the OR, a split-second decision will have to be made by the anesthesiologist.
Blood pressure falls precipitously, and the anesthesiologist has to make my blood pressure go back up again...right away. So, he/she has two main choices: IV phenylephrine or IV ephedrine. Both drugs, when given IV, will raise the blood pressure. But here is the real kicker: phenylephrine should not increase my heart rate (in fact, it may decrease it); and ephedrine is known to increase not only the BP, but the HR heart rate as well. Increasing the HR in a patient with dysautonomia seems intrinsically undesirable, as this is the problem we have when we stand up: we faint.
Under general anesthesia, how will they know if my brain is 'alive'? How will they know if I will 'wake up', or as the Europeans so aptly put it: will I be 'reanimated'? Am thinking they should test my brain waves/depth of anesthesia to make sure they 1) keep me asleep, and 2) allow me to wake up without a brain injury.
Am making preparations for so many things, planning on being 'out of it' for a while...and knowing what kind of pain will be ahead of me postsurgically. And the physical therapy I will need, and the pain drugs I will not want to take, and...this....and .........that...and in the end, I slow down and pray.
Romans 8:28: All things work together for good, for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.
If I never got dysautonomia after the car accident, I would never have had the opportunity to get to know so many lovely, lovely people on YT. That means that the car accident was a blessing in disguise....that I was meant to be "the doctor" everyone wanted to curse with this disease...just so that the medical world could 'wake up' to dysautonomia and its insiduous form of psychopathophysiology that no one seems to know much about.
But that is okay. I don't mind being a guinea pig to further awareness or interest, and one day a cure. We each have our own missions in life. But how can I walk in to see a neurosurgeon without thinking that on the day of my surgery, he will be one of the last people I speak to? It is a conflicting feeling...love and hate at the same time. Raw love of life, raw hate of suffering.
It is not death that scares me. I have been to heaven once before, and I have felt the 'No More Tears' that envelopes you like a perfect envelope for a piece of folded paper. I looked back at planet earth and said, "Don't cry for me, because I will not be crying for you". Not in a mean way, but this knowledge made me want to go back to earth...just to tell people "DON'T cry for me. I have no more tears. I am happier than life, being with my Lord and Saviour." Instead, IF You Really Believe, you should be having a joyous party, knowing that I will be waiting for you in Heaven....and that I will never have pain, suffering, or cry tears again. Ever. For Eternity. Touch Heaven *** here...and let this 'No More Tears' hit you in the face like a cold winter day.
I know that I will be fine. It is the others, especially our daughter, that I worry about. As with any parent, I have hesitation about the effect it will have on her. Will she think that Mommy is going to die? Will she have to see me laying in bed for weeks or months, just to recuperate? Will she have to walk by me, and continue on to play somewhere else, with someone else...because Mommy is recuperating?
Well, that's why they created Daddies, no? They will be thrust together as A Team in this time of Life, and great good will come from this. I pray that the social structure of love maintains itself, especially when I will be unable to perform simple tasks, like going on a field trip....or making a lunch. Ah. But all is not lost. There are reasons for everything, and some good...some particular good that never, ever would have otherwise happened....this 'good' is where my faith lies...that all things will work together for good. God has His Path, His Plans.....and I died to myself and became alive to Christ many, many times over.
My suffering will go on a post, just as Christ's suffering went on His final post. My suffering will be given up to God in sacrifice for His Plans, for His Will to be done. I know our lives ... each one... has its own path. I no longer wish to 'test' the waters and randomly go through life. I want God to slam the ugly doors in my face, so that I may rejoice in knowing that He is keeping me on His straight and narrow path. I surrender.
I know I will be fine. It is for others, for my children, that I pray. For my loved ones that watch me suffer with dysautonomia....for our daughter who is tender in age but learned as an adult. She is seven years old, but has the mind of an adult. One who has much knowledge about life, about morals, about human dignity, about helping others. I know she will become as God molds her life. I worry she will suffer at the hands of a lover or husband when she is a woman....and when she runs away, I just want her to call me to let me know that she is alive. My father had to check the morgue for my sister, and this would be an awful nightmare.
I ran away when I was 16, little mommy Martha Stewart to my siblings. It just became too much. Our biologic mother left us, and Dad stepped in and got full custody of 7 children in 1973....the Judge told my Dad not to keep us, but to adopt us out to different families. My father refused. He prayed for his children every day. He did the best that he could do, especially because he was raised in a Boarding School and therefore had no real knowledge or experience with, say, spending one Christmas with his siblings.
How much life I have lived, how much love I have loved, and by God's mercy and the Power of Prayer.....how lucky and blessed I have been, to become a doctor and to help to heal the sick, or aid the dying.
On one On Call night in the ICU, I was constantly paged to go to the bedside of a little, elderly man, whose heart repeatedly went into various arrhythmias...causing low blood pressure and forcing me to put him on a continuous infusion of vasopressors that would help keep his blood pressure up enough to sustain life. The family was large, and ever present in their concern that he could die. They were Praising God for a miracle, praying and believing in true healing....and I had to tell them that I did not think he would make it through this bout of illness.
Immediately defensive, the family seemed to look at me as if I was from Mars, speaking another language and filled with innumerable contaminations around my being. As if they just wanted me to shut up and get away from me as fast as possible, so they would not have to hear words from me that they did not want to hear. I sensed this immediately, and gently planted a seed that perhaps he would not last through the next few days. That I thought death was imminent... and they could begin mental preparations.
The family seemed to toss me aside, refuse to listen to my words, and moreso....they seemed to view me as the Enemy. But God had His Plan and it was more glorious than any of us could have imagined.
It was the third time, around 4 am....the quietest time in a hospital or an ICU, it seems. It was the third time I was called to his bedside to evaluate the low blood pressure. I touched his face gently, leaning over to call his name. To my surprise, his eyes opened immediately, and he began to make gestures with his hands, and verbalize unintelligible vowels and consonants....but I had to get through to him. Patiently, I turned into an Investigator, and put my ear to his lips...only in this way was I able to hear the words he had to say.
"I saw Jesus at the foot of my bed! I saw Jesus with His hands stretched out to me!" Total relief enveloped my being, as this was the answer to my prayer that the family would accept his dying process and make the best of the remaining hours and minutes of his life.
The next morning, as soon as I saw the family at her bedside, I called them away from the bed. Softly, I spoke the story of what had happened the night before. Slowly, ever so slowly, the eyes of the family members began to change. Instead of a deep well, I felt they were seeing that they had to 'let go' and become 'part' of his life, not 'in charge' of his life.
They listened to every word I said with great anticipation and surprise as I explained what he had told me. "Last night, he saw Jesus standing at the foot of his bed." Repeat this 10 times. See and feel the reality. Let it sink in.
I then took them to his bedside and (thank God), leaned over once again to gently speak in his ear to see if he could Tell Them of the Vision....Tell Them! Please Tell Them! .....and slowly, ever so slowly, he began to tell them the tale. As he spoke, the air in the room turned from stale urine smell, to a surprise of life. There was electricity in the air as reality sunk in. In frantic anticipation, they asked him, "Did you really see Jesus at the foot of your bed?" Thank God, he was able to say, "Yes." The family reworded the same question, with different members of the family asking him one by one, as if each separate person had to hear his/her own question being answered with his own words.
Then, all of a sudden, this family of believers...they 'got it'. He saw Jesus at the foot of his bed. He was ready to go home to Jesus. They raised their hands in the air as their prayer for a miracle was answered in God's own Way, in God's own Time.
I sensed they needed privacy and room for the dying process to take place, and that the ICU bed was not in his best interests. I arranged for him to move to a private room on another floor, so that the family could occupy all the square footage around his bed with love and lovingkindness. Then I plodded along and answered many more pages from my beeper, wrote many more orders for blood transfusions, IV drug adjustments, ventilator changes in PEEP, and doing procedures like placing an arterial line (radial artery at the wrist), or a central line (jugular vein in the neck).
Never had I done this before, but I just HAD to go see this family one more time...to see how they were rejoicing at Heaven, to see how they 'Really Believed'.
The most beautiful sight I ever saw then occurred just before my own weary eyes. Down the hallway, I could see a girl walking ever so beautifully. She was adorned in a Wedding Dress, and the train of her veil picked up dust and dried blood spots that were inevitably on the floor of any hospital. I watched as she entered her Grandpa's room.....and the Groom was waiting for his Bride.
A huge, festive wedding ceremony then took place. There was music in the air, and dancing on the floor. Happiness and joy filled the room with the new love of a marriage ceremony that came to Grandpa.....because the family wanted him to be at their wedding. What sweetness captured my heart at this true miracle: the acceptance of a wedding invitation and the answer to prayer.
I watched as the ceremony came to a close..the marriage was official...and then I watched as Grandpa's eyes came to a close. He then took his last breath. The bride and groom beamed as their wedding plans were exceedingly joyful and emotional......the family heaved a great sigh of relief, knowing that he was going home to Heaven, to be with his Jesus.
It was the most beautiful death, the most beautiful family gathering, the most beautiful wedding that there ever was on planet earth. All the scenes, all the faces, all the voices....they are etched in my On-Call brain forever.
And I learned that God's miracles are just that: God's.
If you pray for a miracle, expect one. But it will be on God's terms, and in His time.
He is faithful and Mighty.
Thank you, dear Lord, for allowing me to witness this joyous event. Every time I think of this story, it brings grand tears to my eyes. What if he had never told me he saw Jesus? What if he couldn't verify it that next morning to the family? What if he believed, but could not convey it to us at all? No. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place on their own, seamless and unrestrained.
That is what I want when I die. I want every one to 'really believe' that I'm going to be with the Lord, and I will be in Heaven with no more tears. Ever. If you 'really believe', you may cry because you miss me. But don't wail in desperation, desolation, or agony. I will be fine. I know that whether I live or I die, either way I am with the Lord and I will be fine.
I'm not going any where, and I do not plan to die. But neither do you, and one never knows when your time will come. It is my wish that you see Jesus before you die. That you have the time to see a vision, and are not taken from earth in the splat of one blink of the eyes.
May your deathbed be surrounded by a Wedding. May the Bride of Jesus, His church, be celebrating life and newness, love and respect. What a miracle, a miracle that no one could have requested.....a miracle of God's kind, not man's kind.
Forever etched in my On-Call mind.