You think it will never happen to you. All the terrible things you hear about.. cancer, tragic sudden accidents, natural disasters. You feel bad for those who experience it, but you think to yourself, gosh, that stinks for them, but it will never happen to me. That’s what I thought, too, but then something DID happen.
After a few days of feeling like he had a cold, my husband, Ian, woke up and saw blood in his urine in the middle of the night. Too tired and disoriented, thinking he was probably just seeing things, he went back to bed and decided to go to the doctor in the morning. That morning when he woke up, he was sick to his stomach and there was blood in his vomit, too. Oh, snap! This can’t be good.
Panicked, I got everyone in our car that morning. Our two boys had preschool luckily, but our daughter had been sick so she came with Ian and me to the ER. The hours that followed were like a nightmare. Ian looked like death, pale skin and distant, weary eyes. His shaking body was visibly not okay. After numerous tests, we were told he had pneumonia and was in septic shock. We knew what pneumonia was, but had never heard of septic shock. By the looks of faces on the doctors and nurses, it couldn’t be good.
In fact, it was so NOT good that Ian had to be transferred to a larger hospital that was better equipped to care for him. The ER doctor put in a central line (a catheter type of line to administer fluids and medicines) in his groin and said he was ready to be transferred. Ian told me later he thought he passed out because it hurt so much when they put that in. I was unaware that central lines were used with critically ill patients at the time. I didn’t know how sick Ian really was.
He was transferred, and let’s just say that, twelve hours later, he was sedated and on a ventilator fighting for his life. It was that fast. He had extremely low blood pressure and even worse oxygenation. He was also in multi-organ failure. Every single system in his body was shutting down. His heart, kidneys, liver, everything… Darn that septic shock. We didn’t know what it was capable of doing.
I found myself at the foot of my dying husband’s hospital bed, begging God for his life. Begging God for a father for my three children, for a husband for me.. “I’m not ready to be a single mom!” I cried aloud on his sickest night. God gave me strength and courage beyond what I’d ever known. He was preparing me for the couple of years that would follow.
To make a very long story short, and to spare you the heartbreaking details, I will tell you what ultimately happened. Ian remained intubated and sedated for eight days. EIGHT days. I stayed with him in the ICU each of those days, while my three young children who were five, two, and 10 months were taken care of by others. It was the hardest eight days of my life. Yet, somehow, we made it.
Ian survived! The medications and procedures worked. My fear that his brain had been affected was proved otherwise when he woke up and acted just like his funny old self. I mistakenly thought we’d be able to go home and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen as soon as he woke up. The truth is, he COULD NOT MOVE when he woke up. He was like a newborn unable to lift his head, move his neck from side to side, or move any other part of his body for that matter. That, the “not being able to move” part, however, paled in comparison to our more urgent problem now. Ian had black fingers and feet. And when I say black, I mean BLACK. Like the color of the tires on your car. Or the sky at night. That black. His blood pressure had been terrible. It required him to be given medications to help keep blood to his vital organs, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc, the organs that really mattered. The result: no blood to his extremities, and thus, black fingers and feet.
We were so grateful Ian was alive and well. God saved his life. Our kids would have a daddy to see them grow up after all. I’d have a husband to grow old with. All was well in the world again. But, was it? What would we do about the black fingers and feet? It turns out that the black fingers and feet would be the biggest challenge of our lives. God would teach us more than we ever thought we’d know through those fingers and feet.
Since this post is getting quite long, I’ll share the rest of what happened tomorrow. Stay tuned.