DO NOT BE AFRAID
DO NOT BE AFRAID
Even though I’m still a work in progress, my message today is just to share an area in my spiritual life that is strong. Do not be afraid or be dismayed. God has a purpose for your life, and only He can tell you it’s over. Let no man, no disease or trial scare you. God is with you. Someone is reading this today who wants to give up. God wants me to tell you He still has work for you to do. So get up, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get to work. He will get you through.
Continuation of Part I
....It’s Friday, June 5. The mind games and the personal battles with myself are over at this point. It’s almost midnight, and after a horrible experience and over 3 hours in the emergency room, I was finally in room 704 at the OU Medical Center laying on the dreaded, uncomfortable hospital bed with an iv in one of my many web-like veins networked between the knuckles and the wrist of my left arm.
The nurse on duty was Joyce. I liked Joyce. She was passionate about her job. At one point, I could hear her commanding voice on the phone with the doctor speaking rather sternly. You would’ve thought she was the one with 7-years of medical school experience. Doc had ordered morphine for my pain after I had repeatedly told the entire medical staff morphine has no effect on me. For certain individuals like myself with various types of intractable pain, morphine doesn’t always work. Morphine sometimes triggers a cascade of events that ultimately increase, rather than decrease pain. (That was me dropping knowledge)
As the new prescribed pain medication began to have an effect on me, I was sure I was going to be out of the hospital in a day or two. I even had my love Kristina take a picture of me for Facebook (pictured in Part I). Even though privacy is important, I shared that picture of me in the hospital on Facebook because I knew I had many family and friends who would lift me up in prayer. 2 Corinthians 1:11 says: "Join me in praying so that, when God answers, He will be glorified in answering many prayers.” I was certain God would be glorified because when it was all said and done, He would have answered the prayers of many, and that is why I shared that moment of vulnerability.
So how did something that was suppose to keep me in the hospital for a few days turn into a month-long battle?
Saturday, June 6: A day into my hospitalization and hoping to be going home soon, I was on my second unit of blood transfusion because my hemoglobin had dropped significantly. What was supposed to be a routine check of my vitals raised eyebrows because my temperature was over 100 degrees. The blood transfusion was stopped immediately because there was concern the blood was causing the unusual spike in temperature. The blood was checked and came back clean. My temperature went back to normal and the transfusion was continued. Hoping the incident was just a fluke, treatment of my pain continued. But this was just the beginning.
My temperature kept spiking. Tests eventually confirmed that I had an infection. An infection? How do I come to the hospital with Sickle Cell pain and then get an infection? I still think I got the infection at the hospital, but that's a discussion for another day.
The infection was supposedly somewhere in my stomach and was common in cases where the gall bladder has been removed. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the first week because I was always sedated. My dad did a fantastic job asking the right questions and educating himself on the procedures the doctors were describing.
I needed an endoscopic procedure to release what ever was causing the infection in my stomach. Before Thursday came, nurses had to do every thing possible to keep my temperature down when it spiked. I had cold towels on me and even had to sleep on an iced cold mattress. The first night I slept on the cold mattress, I woke up and couldn’t feel my skin. Trust me, it was the last time I slept on that evil thing.
Thursday came and even though I was nervous, I was happy to get the infection over with. I remember laughing hysterically when the gas mask was placed over my mouth and nose, but like magic, I was in the waiting area ready to jump out of my bed and go home. It was the best I had felt since I was admitted. Better yet, the surgery was minimal. The doctors did nothing they talked about. They went in, and everything was better than they expected. It was as if I hadn’t been in surgery, except I felt awesome. I was 100 percent confident I was going home.
SIKE! The next day, the fever was back. What now? You know the worst part about running a temperature? Each time is spiked above normal, the nurses had to immediately dial the doctor, and most often he/she would order a culture. This meant, the nurse had to come draw blood from both arms. It was assumed that the infection would be caught if a blood test was done when my temperature was high. So imagine having a spike in temperature at least once a day. This meant you would be getting stuck in both arms at least once a day. Not including all the other needles I had to endure in a day. At a point, my left arm was out of commission. There were no unbruised veins left.
So with my hopes of going home cut short, doctors got back to trying to figure out why my temperature wouldn’t stop spiking. They ordered X-rays, MRI’s, CAT scans, you name it.
My shoulder had been hurting for a few days, so a week later, they called for another MRI, which showed some fluid in my shoulder. Next thing I know, there was an orthopedic nurse in my room with a huge needle, which he stuck into my shoulder until he almost hit bone. He sucked out some of the nasty fluid and took it for testing. It revealed the fluid in my shoulder was infected. The next day, I was in surgery… AGAIN. There was a possibility I was going to get my shoulder cut open, but God worked in my favor. It was just another endoscopic procedure. The infection was washed out and my arm was in a sling for two days. I haven’t regained full motion yet, but I’m working towards it.
Surely, I should be going home now right? NOPE! You guessed wrong. The temperature still would not go down. I felt fine the entire last two and a half weeks of my stay in the hospital, I just couldn't go home because my temperature kept going up above 100 degrees.
I had fights with the doctors because they said I couldn’t go home but couldn’t tell me what was wrong. I could only go home if my temperature didn't spike within a 48 hour period, but it spiked every single day. THEN FIGURE OUT WHAT'S WRONG SO I CAN GO HOME! It was infuriating.
Days passed, and each day, the story was the same. At this point, I even knew the schedules of most of the nurses. I hated it when I had seen my favorite nurses four days straight because I knew I was going to get a new nurse the next day. Why can't Shelby just be my nurse every day? She doesn't need a day off work.
The doctors finally decided to order a full body PET scan. That’s how bad it got. They had no clue what was going on, they ordered a scan that is primarily reserved to check for cancerous cells. The scan revealed some infection in my back, but the doctors said the infection was already being treated with the antibiotic I was getting through my iv. So essentially, they found nothing.
It then clicked! What if the antibiotic was causing my temperatures? The next day I told the doctor that I could almost guarantee the antibiotic was causing the temperature.
As soon as the antibiotic was changed, the random spikes in temperature stopped. IT STOPPED! You would think doctors would have figured this out about a week ago.
Well, time to go home right? Not so fast. The new antibiotic was only administered intravenously. Which meant, I needed a PICC line in my arm and needed to have a home health service come check it once a week if I were to go home. It meant I also had to administer the antibiotic through my PICC line every day for six weeks. (which I'm still doing)
It was another three days before I could go home. July 1 was only three days away and leaving the hospital before then would mean I pay a hefty fee for my home health service. But if I stayed another three days in the hospital and got my antibiotic through the hospital, my insurance would take over the billing for home health once it kicked in on July 1. Finally, July 1 was here and I got to go home.
Why did I make you read this entire four-week experience?
I had been praying for direction for this second part of the blog series, and God answered my prayer. A lady recently asked me if this was the most traumatic experience of my life. I thought about it for about 15 seconds and this was my answer:
“This was definitely one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, but there was never a day during those four weeks I was afraid. To me, it was just a matter of time and prayer till I was out”
She was surprised at my answer. Let me explain:
When it comes to my life and the purpose God has for me on earth, I have so much trust in God that even when doctors are telling me the infections I have can kill me, I’m not fazed. Yes, you learned in medical school that the infections I had could end my life if not treated carefully, but what you don't know is that I still have work to do for HIS KINGDOM, and just for that reason, He's going to get me through.
No human, no disease, no infection or anything else for that matter can ever make me afraid of losing my life. There’s one thing I know for sure. I’m not done fulfilling the purpose God put me on earth for, and there’s a reason He has kept me strong and healthy to keep pushing on. As long as I have work to do for His kingdom (which I’m doing), I know I will be here. So whenever I’m sick, it’s just a matter of time and prayer. When I face trials, it’s just a matter of time and prayer. God will get me through. If I've been completely poured out like a drink offering and the time of my departure comes (2 Timothy 4:6-8) I'll be ready to go. But until then, that disease, that trial, that obstacle is just a bump in the road. I’m not saying I won’t doubt or get frustrated through the process, but fear is never in the equation. Why be afraid when I know God is with me? I may not like the process, but I always know God is with me because He promised it in His word.
Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you may go.”
Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I encourage you to hope in the Lord and remember that He is with you. Only He will decide when your time on this earth is up. Only He will decide if your situation is hopeless.
I will be the first to tell you there were many times in the hospital I broke down and cried, but it was never because I was afraid. It was because I was frustrated at the doctors not having answers and keeping me in the hospital when I could be at work.
I was itching to get out of the hospital because I wanted to go to work so I could pay my bills. I’m still writing this blog worried about how I’m ever going to pay a bill for a four-week stay in the hospital with two surgeries and no insurance. If only I had the same faith in God when it comes to finances like I do when it comes to my life in His hands and my purpose.
I hope this message is meant for you. If you struggle with fear, remember that God has a purpose for your life, and He will keep you safe and protected because you still have work to do for His kingdom. No one is just here on earth by mistake. You will walk and not be faint. You will never walk alone. Get up and keep pushing. I love you, and God loves you.
Next week, I'll post part III of this series: MY NEW FAMILY!