Monday, November 2, 2009

An Anniversary - Part 1

This week is an anniversary of sorts. For me. And for my family.

Two years ago we all went through something that was hard. Really hard. And I’ve never written about it on my blog yet, so I thought this week might be a good time to do that.

Both to reflect and to celebrate.

Two years ago I went into the hospital and didn’t leave until 12 days later. Twelve days. Nobody stays in the hospital that long these days, so you have to know I wasn’t making it up, how sick I was. I mean, just this weekend I heard about a college football player who had his appendix removed ten days prior to the game he was playing in. Appendix out, now get back in the game! That’s the attitude these days. So to be in the hospital that long was significant. A significant illness and a significant disruption of all of our lives.

Now, let me just say that if you’re squeamish or easily bored by sick-talk, just leave me alone for a couple of days. Check back around Thursday. I won’t be offended.

Here’s what I thought I’d do: give you some background, tell you what I learned back then, and tell you how this has all impacted me still today. Three days. Can you handle it?

Some background.
About four years ago I got sick with flu-like symptoms (aren’t they always flu-like symptoms?). But I had pain in my abdomen that moved back and forth, back and forth. I ignored it for a few days until a friend said, “Shelly, that doesn’t sound like the flu. I think you should go to the doctor.”

Which I finally did and found out I had diverticulitis. Pretty common illness of the colon, but pretty uncomfortable if it becomes aggravated or infected, which it did in late October of 2007.

That fall, I knew things were bad so I finally went to the doctor in early November. From my doctor’s office I was ordered to the hospital for an MRI. “Head straight to the hospital. Do not stop at home. Do not pass Go!”

To make a long waiting room story short, my infection was so bad that I needed i.v. antibiotics. I figured they would give me antibiotics for a day and then send me home. All better. No big deal.

No such luck. I was admitted to the medical/oncology wing of the hospital where I shared a room with a desperately ill cancer patient (more on her tomorrow). I spent much of the first couple of days wavering between fear and despair, crying a lot, and praying like crazy. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me, but I knew that my roommate situation was not going to help me get better.

On my second day, I noticed a friend from church working at the nurse’s station just outside of my room. I caught her attention, and she came in to visit with me. My friend is a physical therapist at the hospital and was assigned to care for the woman in my room. She knew how bad the situation was there and encouraged me to seek a private room. This dear friend was such a breath of fresh air to me, she truly was an angel sent from God because, quite honestly, I was very na├»ve about the ways of the hospital. I had no idea I could ask to get moved into a private room. I had no idea that I would have to be so proactive about my own care.

Thankfully, on the third day, a room opened up for me, and that’s where I spent the rest of my time. Except for that one day, around day five, when they took me to surgery, made five pretty significant incisions (well, two were significant, three were small), and removed 18 inches of my colon. Other than that, I spent nine days in that bed, slipping in and out of consciousness and in intense pain. I don’t remember much about the days after the surgery, to be honest.

So that’s pretty much the background. Yes, this was hard on me, of course, but it was also very hard on my family. Imagine if the Mom in your house gets sick with the flu for a day or two. Things are disrupted. Meals don’t get cooked. The house kind of turns sour. People might miss appointments or music lessons.

This was the flu on steroids. Our entire family scrambled to keep things running at home. To get little girls to school. To get homework done.

And all the while, B had to keep going to work. Sometimes. And to make dinner. And to make sure the girls were doing O.K. I still don’t know all the details of what happened during those days while I was gone, but I know it was hard. On all of them.

Every morning, on his way to work, B would come visit me. And every evening, after dinner, all four of them would wander into my room, brightening up my otherwise dreary day. I could see the fear in their eyes, but I couldn’t do anything to alleviate that fear. All I could do was to hug them and tell them that I loved them and that I would be home as soon as I could.

Twelve days. A long time to be without a mom. A long time to be gone from my family. A long time to think and to learn big lessons.

Tomorrow I’ll share just a couple of the many lessons I learned through my experience, but for today I just want to rejoice in my healing and in the many ways God provided for our family during that time.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1


  1. I spent 10 days in the hospital when I was 8. My arm was broken so badly that I had to lay perfectly flat for 10 whole days with no pillow. It was sort of your situation, but in reverse. No mom or dad for 10 whole days except a hello and goodbye in the morning and evening.

    No fun at all.

    So sorry your family had to go through that. I am sure it is still a painful memory for all, but one they will all grow from.

  2. Wow, Shelly! My aunt has diverticulitis, but I don’t really know much about it. And 12 days?! That is a LONG time. When I delivered my daughter (and was sick), I was in the hospital for 8 days and thought THAT was forever. I’m intrigued to hear more of your story…and glad to know that you are okay!!

  3. I may have to skip the details - I am so squeamish - but you did great on this one.I got the picture without getting dizzy. If this had happened while you were blogging we would have been calling the CPD to report you missing. I'm glad you're writing about this.

  4. "The house kind of turns sour." Truer words could not be said!

  5. Thanks for starting to share your story. My husband has diverticulitis as well. I know what it can do to you. I'm so glad you are doing better and can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

  6. Oh, Shelly... I'm so sorry you went through all that. I remember at that time hearing something about you being in the hospital, but never knowing why. I'm thankful God has brought healing! I'll look forward to tomorrow's post, too... isn't He faithful to take our suffering to teach us more about Him, and that's the wonderful part we wouldn't trade -- knowing Him more. Blessings, C

  7. Oh my goodness; what a scary experience! But I get the feeling God showed up in big ways...can't wait to read more!