Once the hospital alerted my doctor to my fever, things started happening.
First, they moved me into a semi-private room, which made little sense. They denied me access to my baby until they could determine whether I was contagious, yet they put me in a room with a nursing mother. My husband and I kept pointing out this inconsistency, and finally, they moved me into a private room.
After several tests, the doctors determined, on my third day in the hospital, that I had a kidney infection. They began treatments, and I improved. That night, my husband settled in to sleep in the chair in my room, but a nurse discovering him there said, “She’s better, now. You should go home and rest.” Her voice held a strong note of authority, and he listened.
My fever returned by the next morning. The nurses asked after my husband. They needed to move me to ICU, and none of my personal articles could go with me. I called and called and called and called. He never answered the phone. This was before answering machines, so I had no way of alerting him. The morning dragged by as they waited for him to arrive and take my things. Sometime after lunch, my parents arrived.
They gathered my things and promised to try and find my husband.
The hospital sent me to ICU to be treated for septicemia.
I spent three days in ICU. I recall very little of the time. I do remember waking and praying to God. I was terrified I might die and leave my baby without a mother. I’d seen enough to know her father wouldn’t be able to raise her alone.
My parents visited me, and I learned later that they spoke with the doctors, not my husband. He never saw the doctors. He eventually showed up that day. Later I learned he read me a poem written for us by my sister. I have no recollection of this.
The staff in ICU spent a good bit of time in my room. At eighteen, I was the youngest person in ICU. Unlike their other patients, I occasionally woke and talked to them, so they sought me out.
One week from the day of my daughter’s birth, they put me back in a regular room. Well, not exactly. First, the hospital left me in the hallway while they argued with the billing office. I didn’t have insurance, and the billing office didn’t want to keep me in the hospital. I do remember telling my doctor’s nurse I had the money to pay the bills. I don’t know who finally straightened this out, but eventually, I was back in a private room. It was Easter Sunday.
They brought Heidi to me and I held her for the first time in a week. I was in a chair, bound up by IV tubes, holding this small baby, and we both started to cry. A nurse showed up in the room. I know she thought I was crying because Heidi was, but my tears flowed because I finally was holding my baby. Yes, she was crying. No, I couldn’t calm her or hold her well. But I was glad to have her in my arms. I tear up now just thinking about it.
Several doctors came in later to talk to me. They had treated me while in ICU. I didn’t recognize any of them.
A student nurse took care of me on my last day in the hospital. She had been with me the day I went to ICU. I didn’t remember her at all.
When the doctor who delivered my daughter came to see me, he told me, “Twenty years earlier, you would have died.”
I remember the shock of his statement. I was lucky to be alive.
One other point stands out in my memory: a nurse, or maybe CNA, who took care of me before and after my time in ICU. She gave me a book by Billy Graham and told me she’d been praying for me. I overheard her in the hallway tell someone, I was one of her favorites.
Others prayed for me, but to know a stranger chose to do this really touched me. I’ve never forgotten her and the seeds she planted that day did take root. Others contributed water and fertilizer, but the journey started with a stranger.