Life or Death Choice

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6a

When I entered hospital three years ago in 2019 I had no idea of the struggle I was about to face. I had, at that time, an unknown illness that was eventually diagnosed as Guillain Barre Syndrome. I knew something was wrong but just didn’t know how much was wrong and the battle for my life I was about to face.

When I was admitted to hospital I was 55 years old and up until that time I had been relatively healthy. As I have stated previously I wasn’t a health nut and didn’t eat healthy, but I was pretty active and had no health issues and took no prescription medications. I hadn’t been in hospital since I had my tonsils out when I was about six years old.

My first few days in hospital were unusual and hard to adjust to. I was stuck in my bed with very little movement as my illness began to spread through my body. I had to be fed and bathed, something that a relatively modest person such as myself had a difficult time adjusting to. In fact the first time an aide offered to bathe me I refused because I felt it was unnecessary. After thinking about it for a while I apologized to him and allowed him to do his job. That was the first time of many, many bed baths that I received during my seven month stay in hospital.

Adjusting to this new routine was not easy and I certainly struggled with a lot of it. I had lost my independence. People came to test my blood on a regular basis, I began to call them vampires, and it got me over my absolute fear of needles. During my stay I lost count of how many times my blood was taken, but I remember early in my stay when they were trying to diagnose me that they took over 20 vials at one time. I really believe they were feeding a mosquito breeding farm!

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One of the things I was not prepared for was when a social worker came into my room and asked me questions. Most of the questions were pretty routine, but the one that got me was “Do you want heroic lifesaving measures taken if needed?” This caught me off guard because I had never considered this as a possibility. Going into hospital was enough of a life changing experience, but now I was being told I could need to have my life saved and was I okay with that!

If you have never gone through something like this, or had this question asked, it might be difficult to understand. When I didn’t respond immediately, she reminded me that I was only 55 years old and was in good health until then and that I would be foolish to not allow life saving techniques if necessary and so I agreed and that was added to my file.

As it turns out just a couple of weeks later that was almost needed as I was rushed to the ICU to be intubated and out in a ventilator and for the next couple of months I was hooked to machines that were keeping me alive. My lungs were no longer strong enough to allow me to breathe on my own as so 24 hours a day I had the machine breathing for me. Occasionally alarms would go off and someone would rush to my bedside and correct whatever was wrong. But I was still here.

The first time they removed the ventilator hose from my tracheotomy and allowed me to breathe on my own for an hour was incredible. And then they extended it to 4 hours and then 8 hours, 12 hours and finally 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours my lungs were tested and I was told my days on the ventilator were done and I was finally to breathe on my own again.

It was the real start of my healing. I was able to be moved around much easier and so I had much better access to physical therapy and to be moved out of bed and into a chair. But most important was being removed from the ventilator allowed me to speak again. My voice had been silenced for a couple of months and I had to find other ways to communicate. Being able to speak again gave me more freedom.

When I look back at those difficult days in hospital and that question asking about life saving measures, it seems so long ago. I made the right choice because God is not finished with me yet. He allowed me to get through my health challenges to hopefully spread hope through my miraculous survival. Getting back to writing my blog gives me that opportunity, as does standing in front of churches and sharing my testimony. Hopefully I will be doing both for a very long time.

God bless

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