On November 24, 2003, three days before Thanksgiving, an ambulance rushed me to Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room with a 104.5 ° fever. I vaguely heard a whir of voices, and felt the ice cubes as they hit my body; but it was as if I was a spectator. Peace enveloped me as I drifted away from the scene, off to some place lovely, abiding there. I hung by a thread between life and death, ravaged with a bone infection known as Osteomyelitis and a Stage 4 pressure wound the size of a golf ball at the base of my spine.
After spending Christmas alone in the hospital, my doctor transferred me to Johns Hopkins Bayview Rehabilitation Center on New Year’s Day (my mother’s birthday). All the while, the uncontrollable infection and high fevers raged on. I received over 200 oral and IV antibiotics during my nine month stay.
I don’t remember much about that time because I was so ill, but to my surprise, I recently found some old journals that I kept while there. I discovered this entry written April 17, 2004. I’d like to share it with you.
“I have been in this nursing home and hospital for almost six months and before that I was home bound since September due to the chilly weather. Today my doctor allowed me out of bed for one hour. I went outside for the first time. The sun was shining brightly warming me as I rolled along. It was so wonderful to taste fresh air after being shut in for so long.
In a tree I saw the most beautiful mourning dove I have ever seen nesting with such care and protection in her eyes. There was a beautiful garden in my path and in the midst of it sat a sweet bunny rabbit munching on some grass. Children gathered around him giggling in sheer delight.
I watched in awe at a woman slipping her shoe on and off her foot and wondered if, she realized how blessed she was.”
“I cried out because I had no shoes, until I saw a man without any feet.” author unknown
End of entry – I penned this poem that day:
Rolling down the sidewalk in my wheelchair; O what sights to see! Had been months since I tasted fresh air, What a thrill to finally be free! Confined within four walls for so long makes heart, mind and soul forlorn. But even then, my spirit sings out a song, calling gently for me to be strong. And to my utter delight, my heart’s cry He heard, and allowed me this sweet day of bliss. Gazing in awe silently, no spoken word for there is just so much I want not to miss.
I have been the bedridden so often that I had forgotten how many times I have been bedridden. The strength that I have now to endure these new trials comes from the same strength I received back then. It comes from a God I cannot see, a God I cannot prove exists. But, how else does one explain the fact that I am not insane after all I have gone through and what I’m going through now or the inexplicable joy residing within me that keeps a smile on my face?
Categories: Dealing with Disability