It is hard to imagine being in the hospital (with brief time-outs) for five months. I will be honest, the longer I stayed in the system, the harder it was for me to see God at work. The lack of communication between my doctors and their team, was disheartening. I felt I was always scrambling for answers that no one was willing to own up to. I became so frustrated that I began to question if I had seen God at work or if my doctors had gotten lucky with their treatment plan.
Despite that, I have learned many things. I believe God is listening to every cry from our lips, and He is leaps and bounds ahead of us, putting everything together so that when we are in need, and we cry out to Him, the answers are already in place - they just have to unfold.
For example, I landed in the hospital originally because my health was getting worse. How I landed there surprised me more than I can say. Why I was there was an actual answer to prayer (to be able to share face to face with people about God). I stayed in the hospital from May 22nd to July 7th and was transferred from there to a rehab hospital so I could learn to walk again. While at rehab, God had plans to teach me patience. Not patience with others, but patience with myself. That was a hard one.
But, today I want to tell you about why it is so important to be patient with God and let Him complete His good work in you. Patience and waiting on God are vital in finding those "God Moments."
When I was re-admitted to the hospital on August 26th I was told that the same infection in my legs was in my lungs and that I had pneumonia. Doctors tend to either not tell you everything assuming you know what the lingo is, or they don't say anything so as not to alarm you. Whatever the case, my doctors assumed I knew what was happening when they kept telling me my heart couldn't pump away the water in my lungs fast enough and that was why I was having difficulty breathing. I assumed it was because of pneumonia. They assumed I knew they meant I was in heart failure. The edema in my legs combined with lymphatic fluid was too much for my heart. Their solution was for me to pee everything out. I lost ten pounds of water and was released September 4th. I was told I still had cellulitis and pneumonia but that it could be treated with IV antibiotics at home.
I was not told I had a new condition to live with called congestive heart failure.
As my week progressed at home I found it increasingly difficult to breathe. On September 9th a nurse was visiting me, and after checking my vitals realized my oxygen levels were way too low and an ambulance was called. The paramedics put me on oxygen and with sirens blazing I was once again taken back to the hospital, where I was officially admitted this time for congestive heart failure.
When I was released from the hospital on September 24th, I had no answers on how not to end up in the hospital again. No one told me how to live with CHF. I was only told to get a pulse oximeter and not to let my stats get below 90. I did not feel good about being sent home at all. My leg still looked the same as the picture above. My husband was furious, as we all knew where I would be in a week. The pressure on my family to take care of me when they had no idea what they were doing was enormous. The current nursing shortage, due to the pandemic, resulted in Jim (my husband) having to take care of my wounds and general healthcare. I decided not to unpack my bags as I knew in my heart that God was going to send me back.
During this time at home I was still on IV antibiotics that I administered myself. I was becoming increasingly suspicious that the antibiotics were giving me hives and voiced my concerns to my homecare nurses and my doctors. But, the antibiotic I was on was the only one that could deal with the infection in my leg and in my lungs, so I had to wait it out.
On October 6th I saw a wound specialist who also specialized in lymphedema. He debrided the skin on my leg and the change was remarkable. He also got me into a soft form of compression called Tubi-grip. It was vital for me to be in compression as it keeps the cellulitis from flaring up.
By October 8th, the skin on my fingers and the palms of my hands had peeled off from the hives. Fortunately, that day I had a visit to the cellulitis clinic. They took one look at my skin and immediately stopped the antibiotics and pulled my PICC line out. I felt that things were starting to look up.
But I was wrong.
On Thanksgiving Day weekend we had our dinner on October 9th. The next day, for reasons I still have received no answer to, my throat closed up, and I could not breathe at all. I was admitted to the hospital once again. I was exhausted, and because I couldn't breathe I thought I was going to die.
And here is where miracles begin to happen, and prayers are answered before they are uttered. I knew from previous trips that the wait in the ER could be long. When you go into the hospital by ambulance, paramedics and stretchers line the halls waiting for a room to open up. This is the norm. But not when I arrived. Not one paramedic or stretcher was in the hallway. We went immediately to the head of the line, and I was in a room within 20 minutes. I should point out that a paramedic was pumping something into me the whole time I was waiting, to help me breathe. No one left my side. Not once.
The next miracle happened when it was discovered my newly debrided leg had turned septic. I went in, unable to breathe, and the doctors found that I was once again dealing with cellulitis. With my breathing stabilized, I settled down for a few nights in the ER as my last trip had me there for three days. But on October 11th I was admitted to a private room. Thank you, Lord!
During this time one thing after another started happening to me in the space of a day. Lymph fluid started leaking in two different places on my other leg, that was not infected. I started throwing up and had diarrhea. Breathing continued to be difficult. I was lightheaded and I was still dealing with full body hives.
After informing my doctors that I wanted to be told everything so I knew what was going on, I got my wish. That same day a doctor came into my room and said she had some bad news. I had staph epidermis, a blood infection, and they believed the source had been a dirty PICC line that was removed a few days before at the cellulitis clinic. She informed me that this infection can settle in the heart, brain and joints, which was quite dangerous. But, she said, they were treating it with antibiotics.
Months of being in the hospital led me to say, "So what's the bad news?" Her eyebrows shot up, and her eyes widened. "I don't think you understand, it's quite serious."
"I understand. But, I'm already on antibiotics for the cellulitis and you said you were treating it already so..." The doctor mentioned that she had never met a patient so calm about a bad diagnosis before. Was I getting too used to being sick? Too jaded by doctors I didn't trust? Or was I trusting God more? Honestly, I couldn't tell.
During my stay, I continued to cough from the pneumonia I had. I was asked to spit into a cup so they could check to see what bug was continuing to haunt me. Because my PICC line had been removed and it was too dangerous to insert another one, the I.V. team was called to insert an IV or take blood. I am a very bad poke and my veins often go interstitial after a few hours. They came to take blood about three times a day. On October 13th after an echo of my heart, more blood tests, urine tests, etc., a team of doctors came into my room.
"We have some bad news."
My weary soul almost fell into a coma at this news. Honestly, I was so tired I didn't even react.
"You have C-DIFF." (C-DIFF is a bacteria that causes severe diarrhea and colitis. If not treated it can get very serious).
"How did I get that?"
"From being on antibiotics for too long."
"And how is it treated?"
"We are going to take you off all antibiotics that are specifically treating your blood infection, pneumonia and cellulitis."
"Wait. What? But how will I get better?"
"Oh! Your blood infection is gone and so is your cellulitis."
"What about my pneumonia?"
"Oh, that's gone too."
Believe it or not, I almost missed this miracle from God because I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. And I almost missed the big picture. In only one day, everything had left my system! This is unheard of for cellulitis, but I no longer had a severe blood infection or pneumonia. God had cleared them out of my body! While I still had C-DIFF to deal with, it was a very mild case and could be treated at home.
And that is where I am right now. Home. At last! For how long? I am hoping it is for good. But, I still have lymphedema, an incurable disease, and that disease will always put me at risk for cellulitis. God has his reasons, and at this time, He has chosen not to heal me of this disease. However, this whole journey has taught me more about myself, my walk with God, and how I need to improve in my witness to my family. They often heard my complaints and fears and not enough about my witness to those at the hospital. They needed to hear the good stuff instead of being my place to "vent."
I also learned to see things in a more significant way. My perception of how God works changed from not only trying to find those "God moments" but to seeing the "bigger picture." For example, God had to make sure the right people were in place, for me to witness to (one roommate had the same disease as me). God also placed the right nurses on duty who became my advocates when (at one point) I was kept in pain because of a doctor's refusal to give me pain meds (another story). The point is my anxiety levels actually decreased when I consciously decided to see the big picture.
Waiting on God is hard, but He has already seen the final outcome. He's been busy getting things arranged for me to get from point A to point B. And if point B is going to meet Him in my forever home then why worry? If He has something more for me to do here on earth, why should I fret? All will be revealed in time and everything will be provided.
I want to say I am walking a worry-free life now, but I know me and that would be a huge lie. Stuff happens that knocks me off course and I panic. I know I will still have those days, but as the song says, "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." You are either going to stand firm and trust in God, or give into your fears and slip into sinking sand.
All that to say this...
Is life more than you can bear right now? If you believe in God, know this - God has got you! He has had you in His eye since before you were born. Yes, life might be hard. It may even be horrible. God did not promise us a care-free life (Acts 14:22). But, He promised us eternal life if we believe in His Son and trust in Him. And that's the big picture! That is what He is preparing us for. So that we will finish this life perfect and complete in Him. So, find those God moments. Look for the bigger picture when all seems impossible, and know that God has not forgotten about you.
You are and forever will be His child. Trust Him because He has you in the palm of His hand.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10