A year ago today I had a life-changing experience. After Emma was born, I started having intense headaches and odd symptoms. I went to the hospital four times, with no answers. But on Dec. 29, 2016, I had the worst headache of my life, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open if there were lights on in the room. I went to the doctor, and he sent me over to the ER. After sitting in the waiting room for two hours, I was tempted to go back home, but I believe the Holy Spirit told me to stay a little longer. A nurse came out and told all of us that all 30 ER beds were full, that there were about 30 of us waiting, and that there were only three doctors on staff. I found out I was triaged at number 24. Yet I stayed. In minutes, the ER cleared out and I was called back.
I laid there for hours in a darkened room with not much in the way of treatment. My husband’s face began to look distorted. I had to reach out and touch him to be sure he was really there. I could almost see through him. I truly thought this was my last day on earth. I had a five-day-old baby, and a husband of less than two years. I prayed that God would spare me for their sakes.
I began seeing a pinwheel and some geometric solids in various colors. I told the nurse, who asked, “Have you ever had a seizure?” I hadn’t, and I was too tired and disoriented to worry much about what she said, but I still felt quite sure that my time on earth was short.
Eventually I was given a series of tests. The last thing I remember was being wheeled to an elevator after the tests were complete.
I woke up about four hours later to a bunch of people circled around my bed. A nurse started asking me strange questions, such as, “What year is it? What’s your name? Who is the president of the United States?” She informed me that I had had a seizure. I later learned that the seizure was triggered by a brain hemorrhage, which was the result of a rare condition called Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES). I truly could have died, and very well may have, had I not listened to the nudge of the Holy Spirit to stay and wait.
In the days and weeks that followed, it took awhile to recover. And just when I thought I was ready to go back to work, I broke my ankle. In August, I was hospitalized with sepsis, another life-threatening experience. I still haven’t recovered from all the things I’ve been faced with this year.
So what have I learned? For one thing, I know not to take life or health for granted. Though I’m ready for heaven, I’m grateful that God has allowed me to have this time to take care of my family and to serve Him on the earth. I also have learned empathy for people who have medical issues and physical limitations.
The most profound lesson has been that I indeed have limitations and that I must not burn the candle at both ends. I must make time to rest and to care for myself. Otherwise, I may not be here to see my children grow up.
As we get ready to enter the new year, I am working on taking better care of myself than I ever have, and I am cherishing the time I have to minister to my family and to others. A year ago, I was convinced I wouldn’t have another day to live, but God has graciously given me a whole year! What a blessing! There was a time when that didn’t mean much to me, but coming close to death changes one’s life profoundly. Though it seemed like a terrible thing at the time, my brush with death has blessed me beyond measure.