“Do you deal with anxiety?” The nurse asked me sharply. Did I hear a hint of judgement in her voice?
I looked at her through half closed drugged eyes. “Yes.” was all I could say.
I turned and looked out the window. My blood pressure was rapidly climbing a steep and dangerous hill, my heart rate was going through the roof, they were talking about an emergency hysterectomy - all of which was totally unrelated to the illness of MENINGITIS that brought me to the hospital in the first place.
I guess that that was not enough to feel anxious, I thought sarcastically as I looked at her. I was too weak to say it to her.
“Just try to relax.” She said as she hooked me up to some more antibiotics. “Oh, " I thought, "Yes, I could do that. Completely forgot about THAT option.” The thought danced through my head as I smiled weakly.
She wasn’t being mean. She was a woman who had never experienced anything that I was experiencing at that moment. That’s all.
I had been at home and trying to push thoughts of meningitis out of my head as my neck began its incline - pounding and pounding more furiously. Surely I wouldn’t have meningitis again. I just had it three years ago. I shook my head. NO, I was just nervous about it. I asked Jeremy for a Tylenol 3 and kept doodling in my notebook as a way to distract my run away terrifying thoughts.
It was a beautiful day. Warm, no wind. Simply lovely outside as we sat on our deck. The Tylenol with codeine took the edge off of my headache. Slightly at least. We set up a table and started to play a game we like to play - Settlers of Catan.
The pain came back with more intensity than before and it was only an hour after I had had my medicine. I couldn’t take any more medicine at this point.
I kept playing the game. I tried to convince myself that there was nothing to worry about - it would blow over. Tomorrow would be a better day. I was fast losing my argument.
I went inside to lay on the couch. I put something under my neck as I laid my head on the arm of the cool couch, pressing hard to take the pressure off just above the neck. I hated laying like this because it reminded me of the last time I had meningitis. Such awful memories. I tried laying another way but this was the best way. It took a little bit of the pressure pressure pressure that I was feeling. Oh so much PRESSURE and pain.
The next time I had Tylenol, it didn’t touch the pain that was escalating. It didn’t even take the edge off. I was concerned. Jeremy asked if he should plan to take me in to the hospital. I didn’t know. Darn, I hate this. The wondering, the fear, the complete and overwhelming pain. I didn’t want to revisit this season of my life EVER. EVER.
Surely surely if I just laid down again, if I just calmed myself down.
Then it happened.
The sick sick feeling in my stomach -the knowing that I was going to throw up. I grabbed a bucket. Yes, I needed to go in. NOW. It would only get worse and when you know you have meningitis then you know you only have a short window before this horrible disease could become your worst nightmare. My son and his girlfriend were there so they could watch my youngest son, as Jer brought me to the ER.
Because this wasn’t the first time I had meningitis, they took me right in. They wheeled me to a tiny room. As I lay there in the hospital bed with people working around me, I couldn't stop the spinning of the room. It spun faster and faster and faster until I threw up -again and again and again. I couldn't stop throwing up and I felt like I was dying. I wondered if I had gotten there too late. They couldn’t give me anything for nausea or pain until the doctor saw me about four hours later. Four hours later I was hooked up to pain medicines and nausea and a bunch of things for my heart and blood pressure. I had nurses around me constantly attending to me. They were as concerned about my heart as they were about my meningitis. They seemed to be focusing on both - equally.
After a couple of days of being in the hospital, there was an issue with my uterus doing some crazy things and I was losing a lot of blood. The doctor came in and told me she was considering a blood transfusion because my iron was so low and I was very critically anemic. One morning, I was visited by the on call doctor several times. I was visited by my heart doc, my neurologist and they wanted to hook me up with a gynecologist.
I was petrified. It felt like I was stuck in a hopeless situation - like I was swimming with hungry sharks and at any second one was going to devour me for his snack. There was nowhere to turn that was safe. I sat there on my bed and thought ironically that my life’s message was hope and here I found myself in this dark hole of endless hopelessness. Nothing at that moment felt like it was going right.
Then the Lord very clearly spoke to my spirit. He said, “Do you trust me?” I answered honestly. I answer the Lord honestly because he knows my thoughts anyways. I simply said, “I really really don’t know. I don’t know if I can trust you. And I am really scared.” I didn’t feel his anger. I didn’t feel his indignation. I just felt honestly scared.
As I sat there to process it all my chest started hurting. Not a lot but just a little. I rubbed my back and chest a little. I tried to forget about it. Really I had pain everywhere. Meningitis kicks you in the butt without all the other stuff that was happening in my body. But the pain wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t sharp - it was more like pressure pain. I called the nurse and casually told her. When you are in the hospital and they are worried about your heart, there is no CASUALLY telling ANYONE that your heart is hurting. I was briskly wheeled down to the Cat Scan room where they did a Cat Scan of my lungs. I was sure everything was okay. I even felt a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing - I was just being silly and over aware of everything that was happening in my body. As soon as I got wheeled back to the room a nurse rushed in and said that I had to have an emergency ultrasound on my legs. She seemed nervous - this wasn’t routine. Something about blood clots and where did they come from? Panic gripped me with a strong and cruel grasp. Things were spinning out of control.
It felt like the world was closing in on me. I was terrified. More terrified than I have ever been. It felt like the life was being choked out of me. Everywhere I turned there was something to be afraid of. And it wasn’t just little things - each one was life threatening. Each thing could claim my life. When the nurse left me alone, I wasn’t sure if I could make it another minute. I looked up to the sky and said, “yes, I trust you God because I just need to right now. I trust you. ” I said that physically, but spiritually and emotionally it felt like I fell into his arms. I needed Him more than anything.
Immediately, when I said that I felt my world expanding, My breaths came in big refreshing gulps and it was as if a warm blanket of peace settled over me. Nothing had changed. Everything was still critical, but I had decided to trust Jesus through it all.
In that very moment, I realized something. Trust is not putting your hand in God’s and believing that everything will turn out all right. Trust is not KNOWING that you are going to be successful and free of pain and sickness. Because in reality there is pain and sickness; and Jesus never promised that we would be exempt from these things. Trust is putting your tiny hand in God’s strong, mighty one and saying, “I know that you can walk me through whatever lies before me in the big black hole of unknowing.” Trust is a decision and trust is completely spiritual and utterly supernatural.
That day, I was changed.