I woke up to a lovely thunderstorm this morning. I love thunderstorms. I will sit out and watch them until I get wet. Then I will find a dry perch somewhere and gaze at the sky. I have enjoyed storms since I was a little girl. I am one of those who get excited when they get a storm warning on their computer. I am a geek and have about three weather services on my computer and two on my phone. The anticipation of an approaching storm has always enticed me to stop what I am doing and turn towards the sky.
One of the most powerful storms happened to me ten years ago. I was newly divorced after 27 years of marriage and living in my own home and loving it. My left hand had been feeling weird for a while. It would get cold when the rest of me was warm. If I went outside, the middle finger would get so numb it hurt. I never said anything to anyone because I smoked at the time and thought it was from that. I ended up having other symptoms one day and called my doctor who told me to go to the hospital. I remember not being too worried as I sat in ED waiting to be seen. They slapped an oximeter on my finger and it barely registered. They told my friend who came with me to go home because they were going to keep me over night. She left me and went and took care of my two dogs for eleven days. I am completely grateful for her and a few others I will mention.
I do not remember all the details of the first couple of days in the hospital. It was the end of a time period that was pretty bad for me. I remember thinking I was at my lowest in many ways. Now that I look back, this all had to happen and it was what spurred me on my journey. It was the turnaround point. They tested me and found that I had a 98% blockage in my arm. The middle finger was actually starting to die and the skin had been crumbling. They operated on my arm and I remember they pulled out a long worm like clot from my wrist. I was sedated but not so much that I could not see what they did at the end. I always blow through anesthesia. I remember the nurse showing me this thing in a jar and thought it looked like tequila. I was sent up to a room to recoup.
The room was a double and the woman who was next to me was in active dying. I was not as accepting of death at that point and was upset about it. She had family in with her and I was a quiet as I could be. She did pass the next day and I did not have a roommate for the rest of that night. The doctor came in and was a grim as could be. Seems when they did their testing they found a series of clots in my body, five in total. One was dangerously located close to my heart and he described it as a jelly bean waiting to drop. He then said that I needed to prepare for heart surgery and to get my things in order. Being pretty naïve, I did not have a sense of what getting things in order really meant.
My dear friend came and helped me prepare the paperwork. I will always be grateful for her because she was the main one who stepped up to the plate to help me. She has always been there and is a very special lady. My family was non-existent and my one brother who was aware of my situation lived out of town. The doctors had told me what was involved in the surgery and the aftermath. They were going to splay me like a fish and remove the clot. The surgery was bad but the recovery was worse. Because of the other clots, and other comorbidities, I was a certain high risk. I had told my brother all this; they decided not to come. A couple of other friends stopped by and I found out that my ex knew and decided not to come too. All these things were pretty painful at the time and I had a great sense of really being alone for the first time in my life.
The night before the surgery, I had the room to myself and I could not sleep. The large window faced north and towards the large lake we live near. I was up in one of the higher floors of the hospital. The view overlooked the city and residential area and was open all the way north. I asked if I could turn the chair and sit in it a just look out. A storm had been brewing and I wanted to watch as it passed over.
I do not remember many details from that time as I was on medication for my arm. But I do have some details from that night that I can still close my eyes and see and remember clearly. Nurses popped in and out doing their jobs. There was a male nurse who came in late at one point and he just sat with me for a while. His presence was immensely calming and I remember he made me feel not alone. He said little, but he sat with me for quite a while…just sat there. I cannot put into words how much better I felt with him near me. I do not remember his face, but I can still recall his presence. After a while, he got up and kissed me on my forehead and I never saw him again. I know now he was a messenger. I sat and watched the lightening which was quite spectacular. It arched across the sky in jagged swords. It seemed like I could reach out and touch it. The thunder was muted by the depth of the glass and the protection of the hospital walls. With each flash of brilliance, each electric streak of power, I gained strength. I had no fear. The panic anticipation of the surgery vanished. I knew I would be fine.
The next morning, my dear friend arrived to collect my things. She was pretty worried and I was calm as could be. I have told this story many times. This large Jamaican showed up with the gurney to take me to surgery. Again, he was a calming presence. I hopped up and he asked if I want to lie down and needed a sheet. I asked instead, and I still do not know why this happened, if I could sit up and wrap the sheet around me instead. He said sure. I asked if my friend could come with us as being the saint she is was going to stay through the surgery. Again, he said sure. She gathered my small amount of belongings as I had come into the hospital not anticipating having to stay. I had a large vase of flowers which she carried.
We proceeded through the halls and we looked like a parade or a pilgrimage. Being who I am I started to laugh at the stares we were getting. I pulled the sheet up over my head so now I looked like a Goddess being transported on a float. My friend with the flowers was next to me and we all got the joke. She started to hum and the Jamaican, who was the most excellent soul, did not skip a beat and started to chant. As we proceeded towards the OR and he took the long way there, people starred and pointed. A family looked up as we went by and one woman crossed herself. I was delivered to the OR laughing and not an ounce of fear. The put me on the table and knocked me out.
I woke up in ICU. I had no pain. I patted my chest and there was nothing. I had expected heavy bandages and there was supposed to be this huge incision with staples. I was expecting Frankenstein to be jealous. Nothing. They had scoped me one more time before cutting and they could not find the clot. They could not find any clots. All gone. I remained in the hospital for nine more days as they expected that I would either stroke out or have a heart attack. Nothing. I actually had my friend come get me before they wanted to release me, but I knew I was not sick.
They finally figured out that I have a hereditary disease known as Factor V Leiden. It is a blood disease that makes your blood clot. My father had it and died from it. His clotting issues caused him to lose a leg and he had many by-passes. But he never took care of himself. We think his mother had it as she had phlebitis for years. Because they finally diagnosed it, I warned my family and one brother has it. Early detection is the key. Keeping your cholesterol in check is imperative and mine is amazingly below normal and healthy and with no drugs. I am on Coumadin for life and that is ok because I have a life. I do have a high chance of either heart attack or stroke or now, bleeding out. Life is a gamble and I am going to certainly die of something.
Every time we have a storm now, I am transported back to that night. It is for me a moment of power and spiritual awareness. As I was typing the post this morning, I realized for the first time who the male nurse was. I did not before and actually had forgotten how wonderful and connecting his presence was for me back then. This is very serendipitous because I am asking a mentor friend tonight to help me work on figuring out spirit guides and angels. For now, the morning storm outside has passed. The rain has stopped and left the air heavy with moisture. I can smell the wood from my deck and the fragrance of the neighbor’s pines. All is at peace which is what I wish for all of you.