I love this time of year. Our garden is looking great. Mystery flowers are emerging - perennials that we must have purchased last year that have taken root and returning four times as big. I have to trust that I made sure whatever it is was planted in the right place and that whatever it is will play well with the other flowers. My favorite plants are Hostas. I tend toward shade gardening, yet our house receives full sun in the two biggest beds. I have come to enjoy the robust perennials in these beds. It is a world of Sedums, Lilies, Weigela, and the Crocosmia called Lucifer with long bright red blossoms.
Our backyard is fenced so our two bunnies, Abby Blueberry and Honey Bun, can run around the yard. It is wonderful to watch them run around, whisky frisky. It is not so nice to see them eat my plants. And of course, they love Hostas and Sedums. The Autumn Joy Sedum has been eaten to the ground twice already this season. We are contemplating building rabbit proof fencing in front of the garden areas. Until then every plant has been pruned from below, all at the height that bunnies can reach on their hind legs. There is one plant they will not touch. Two years ago I purchased a 4 inch pot of Comfrey for my herbal first aid kit. The woman at the market looked me in the eye and said, “do you know what this is”? I explained I had grown Comfrey before. She did eventually sell it to me with the strict understanding that it takes over everything. She must have had a very bad Comfrey experience. We use enough of it to keep it at bay, but it apparently is not a delicious treat to our bunnies like the Heavenly Bamboo, which they love.
Our huge Double-Flower Cherry has already bloomed and lost all the flowers early this year due to inclement weather. Microbursts rolled through the neighborhood like a bad biker gang, pulling down powerlines, ripping huge trees up with the roots and damaging houses. What defense could our sweet Cherry offer? Thank goodness my weather intuition was correct so we planned the annual “Queen of the Fairies Tea Party” after school a few days before the storm. It was marvelous. Dress-up costumes, crowns, bear masks along with plenty of tea and goodies. The children drew with chalk all over the driveway, blew bubbles and took turns climbing the tree and shaking the loose blossoms down on the children below, who lifted their faces upward to catch the petals of pink that snowed down on them.
I suppose I am paying so much attention to all these things this year because I had such a horrible winter, a winter that had its origins back in 1988 with a car crash.
It was June of 1988. We were in our vintage 1969 Sports Fury, a boat of a car. The car only had lap belts, no shoulder harness and I had put my feet up on the dashboard. By the way, don’t ever do this.
The lap belt kept me from flying out through the windshield but ruptured my intestines. Because I was bleeding internally I was rushed into surgery soon after arriving at the hospital. When I finally woke up I was a mess. The doctors told my husband that I could die from the infection that was all through my abdominal cavity. We all prayed. I remember praying to please let me live to see my two daughters grow up. I wanted to go to their graduations, to their weddings and hold my grandchildren. A huge request given the extent of my injuries, but I have survived to see all of those things, and more. Forty seven years with the love of my life, who could ask for more?
The cost of my survival were frequent hospitalizations and surgeries, over 20 big deal surgeries with long hospital stays and transfusions as they replaced joints and removed portions of my intestines and scar tissue. I was always recovering from some thing or another, but I forged ahead. I can say with certainty that my life would have gone in a very different direction if we had not been hit, and that the lifehas been amazing and wonderful. I was opened to a Spirit-filled life with great friends and amazing travels.
So here I am, I just turned 64 in May. I have gray hair and laugh lines at the corners of my mouth and eyes. We have four amazing grandchildren who all live close by. I do have some sort of pesky neurodegenerative disease that is taking its toll. I have an amazing pink electric wheelchair that allows me to go to museums and parks. Chuck and I are planning several trips, which I could never do with my walker.
I am telling you about the crash and the procession of medical issues that followed because it is a prelude to the special weekend my husband Chuck and I had planned last October, the start of my newest journey and my horrible winter.
We had stopped at a grocery store in Hoodsport, Washington. I was standing in the deli choosing cheese when suddenly I felt like a knife had been stabbed through my lower abdomen. At that very second I knew I was in deep trouble. Something was terribly wrong and there was no getting out of it.
Of course, I did not want to ruin the trip so I down played the pain and we went on to the cabin. We left the cabin in the middle of the night and made an hour drive back into Olympia to the emergency room where I had an x-ray. The doctor came in with the results and said that I appeared to have bowel obstruction. He said to know for sure I would need an MRI and, if confirmed, I may need surgery right away. Saying it was a bowel obstruction was not exactly correct. Ten year before I had all of my large intestines, and more of my small intestine removed. The surgeon had hooked up the good end of my small intestines to act as my large intestines.
At the emergency room I said thanks, and yes, I’d be glad to have that big injection of pain medication before I left for another hospital. I talked Chuck into just taking me home to sleep and we left in the morning for Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. They found I did have an obstruction and admitted me.
In all I was hospitalized four times. The first two times they put a nasal-gastric tube in my nose to see if that would clear out the obstruction. The surgeon said he did not want to operate on me with my colorful past adventures in surgery. He said my abdomen was hostile. I could have told him that.
I began to hallucinate on day three of my first hospital stay. People singing in the hall, a harp, arguments in foreign languages which for some hallucination filled reason I could interpret. I could hear an older man playing the guitar and singing in Spanish. He sang of a lost love, and finding her at the end of his life. No regrets, just so happy to have a small bit of time together. I cried it was so beautiful. No one else could hear it.
One day I spent many hours explaining to my daughter how gravit affects hospitalized patients, then the next day I discussed the impact of electromagnetic energy. I do not remember any of that. Someone should have turned on a recorder. Most of my hallucinations were not so bad. I thought the blood pressure cuff was an elf hat and that the nurses had decorated my room with small twinkle lights and tinsel. This was actually the lights on all the machines at the head of the bed and the wires leading down to me.
I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas on liquids, but I was not happy about it. By March I was back in the hospital for the third time and this time the choice was clear, the surgeon was going to have to operate on my hostile abdomen. I was still hallucinating. I was sure the nurse put my pills up his nose instead of giving them to me, the nurses were trying to just let me die and the hallway outside my room was filled with ghosts of the dead including a young child who just stood at my door.
The 5 ½ hour surgery left me with a parting gift, an ileostomy. I now have a one inch bright red sea urchin sticking out of my belly. I thought the green liquid that filled the bag over my sea urchin looked like what I saw while snorkeling in Puget Sound. I decided I was a mermaid and I needed to always carry around a pouch that connected me to the salt water. I was released to home It was just a couple days before Chuck took me back to Seattle. My clearest memory was when my oldest daughter came to help me change my ileostomy bag. God bless her for trying to help me, but I totally lost it and tore the bag off until it was just me and my sea urchin. I decided that I needed to take a shower and stood under the water crying. I was pretty sure I’d never learn to put the bag on and would be squirting sea water out of my intestines for the rest of my life. I began to plan my impending death. I just needed to finish a couple things: kiss Chuck, hug the grandchildren and my daughters, and not be in pain. I was convinced that because it felt I was working so hard to stay in my body, if I just stopped trying I would simply die. Willing yourself to die is harder than you think. Bodies just have this way of wanting to keep going, no matter what.
I don’t remember the trip back to Seattle for hospitalization number four, or whatever tests they did after I arrived, but I was pretty sure they had put me on a floor for poor people because we had not paid my bill. I was sure there was a man in the other bed and that people were going room to room stealing drugs. I was sure that the hospital had made Chuck pay $300cash to buy a fan for the room. The results from the MRI showed a giant abscess in my abdomen, from hip to hip, about the size of a loaf of bread. They did not start any antibiotics until hours later and I just became more and more wacky. They had told Chuck they were taking me into surgery about 1 p.m. to drain the abscess. It was finally drained at about 7 p.m. I was in the basement and trolls were coming in and out of the old boiler room, which connected to a series of tunnels that ran all the way through the hill and came out by the University. (Who knew?) In my delirious state a huge troll came and stood by me, telling me I was about to have horrible things done to me. I was alone, except for the troll, because they had assured my family I was going right into surgery and they could wait in my room until I was out of recovery.
After recovery, was transferred into Progressive Care and had a whole team of nurses, including my daughter who is also a nurse, care for me. I was septic, really sick and scared. I was in Progressive Care for the next week. The hallucinations began to slow down, and as we left the hospital to come home I spent some time ritually removing all the darkness clinging to me and left it behind. I have only hallucinated a couple of times since leaving the hospital behind and I am pleased with my returning senses.
Now it is May. A journey that started in the Hoodsport deli has hopefully come to an end. For my birthday, Chuck and I went to our cabin and celebrated with four very special friends. I still have symptoms from the neurodegenerative disease that the doctors decided last summer I no longer had. Gone in name only, my weirdest symptom is that I act out my dreams. I lack the off switch to my muscles to enter REM sleep. That switch is what you feel when you wake up and can’t move. I can’t say for sure aliens are not involved, but there is an actual place in the brain that handles this function.
I am an avid dreamer to begin with, so adding movement to the mix can cause some problems. Four times I have woken up holding the end of my bag from the ileostomy, with it open, and I am sure by now you have caught on that is not sea water that is in that bag.
I started bleed badly from my suprapubic catheter that comes out of my abdomen. It is held in place by a balloon filled with water in my bladder. No way someone could actually pull it out, but apparently, I keep trying. I woke up pulling as hard as I could on the tube, blood gushing. Alas. My wonderful sister-in-law made me some “night mittens” that look like pot holders with Velcro straps. Someone has to help me into them. The idea is I could not get out of them to pull out tubes or do other things while asleep. I must be related to Houdini, because I can get them off in about an hour, then I am on the loose. Thank goodness I can’t walk very far, a few steps and I am down, so I don’t have to worry about cooking or taking a drive while asleep. I have pinched Chuck though.
The prayer I prayed in 1988 worked out very well, but like the comics my brother used to read, Tales from the Crypt, there is always a twist if you are given a wish. I decided to re-do my prayer to include no more hospitalizations, operations, no feeding tubes or other big interventions. I just want the rest of my life to be calm. I don’t want to be scared or in pain, and I want to make all my own choices from now on. I have written this all down with the help of a doctor from Palliative Care. Not Hospice, but for people like me, who are finished with climbing the big mountains, but small hills are still okay, I will decide as a I go along, I don’t want to be scared, no trolls, or more surgeries. I want to draw, paint, and love my family.
So now you are all caught up with my adventures. All the medical stuff aside, I know it was the support of my family and friends, and the huge amount of prayer support I was receiving that has once again helped me find my way to my healing path. I figure the doctors take care of the small bits that are actual, and all the immense amount of space between everything else is between me and Spirit and the flowers.
Manifestations of the Divine on May 28th, 2017 in Olympia, Washington: Hellebores, Hibiscus, climbing Hydrangea, Hosta, Lilac, Day Lily, Freesia, Beauty Bush, Sedums, Peonies, Dianthus, Butterfly Bush, Heavenly Bamboo, Rhododendron, White Willow, Spirea, Mock Orange, Clematis, Jasmine and Life.
Carry on Beloveds.
Welcome to my blog. Here I will write about all things Cathy.