Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Awake. Alive. Blessed.

After my first hospital experience, God continued to flood me with His peace.  The very world I knew seemed to be falling apart but I had a blessed assurance that I was not alone and that everything would be okay.  No relief came from my symptoms but I headed back to my apartment at school.  Looking back I know the only reason my mom let me go back to school was because she was scheduled to fly to Holland with my dad for his aunt and uncle's wedding anniversary and therefore I would have been at home alone.  So I went back to school, studied and took a midterm I had missed the week before (not sure how I managed that!), and tried to recover in my little apartment with fabulous roommates by my side trying to nurse me back to health.  God definitely divinely orchestrated us being roommates as my three roommates were also in nursing and were able to provide me great care, including a lot of tea, listening to my chest with their stethoscopes to see if they could hear anything, and even looking up in their drug book if it would be okay for me to use our other friend's asthma puffer to see if that would bring some relief (it didn't help!).

Sometime in the few days after going to Richmond ER, I stumbled upon this photo and made it my phone lock screen.  
Awake. Alive. Blessed.  
Although I had no answers to what was happening to me, I knew I was blessed.  I had so much to be thankful for including the most amazing friends.  I was looking back to a message I had sent to a friend saying I did not realize how scary it actually was on that Remembrance Day for my family to see me in the Emergency.  I also noted but that may have been because I was kind of out of it...! Regardless of that I remember thinking at least I am out of the hospital and with people I love.  Sure, having a hard time breathing and walking wasn't fun but I had a peace that it was all going to be okay.  I would get better and be back to my life soon - or so I hoped and expected.
November 15 came with a new, unpleasant and concerning symptom: chest pain.  You do not have to be a nurse to know that isn't good or normal - especially in a 21 year old.  I tried to hold it together and appear as if it were all okay.  Pride has a way of making you think irrationally - why was I so afraid of appearing weak?  (And why do I continue to struggle with that?) I was already so weak I don't know why I should seem to care!  But fortunately for me, two of my great friends were visiting and read through my "pretend you are okay" face.  My nursing roommates were out with class and studying, so Chels and Dave, my education buddies took me to Langley Emergency.  And what an adventure that was!  I could barely walk, was having difficulty breathing, and could not concentrate.  I remember talking with the triage nurse and she asked me how long I had lived in my house... really?! I couldn't figure it out but do remember be shocked at her question and laissez faire attitude about my situation.  So like any good ER visit we were told to sit in the waiting room and just wait.  I reassured myself that they would get me in right away as the nurse in me knew chest pain got people's attention and was supposed to mean quick care and treatment.  But no... we waited, and waited.  I slept for a while but ended up freezing so I got some more of my favourite warm blankets, and waited some more.  Dave wanted to get me some tea as I was still freezing but he was quickly scolded by a volunteer - "She can't eat or drink anything!  That might delay surgery if she needs it!"  That was encouraging... but still we continued to wait.  Thankfully we met a nice older couple, the Fishers, who brought us some entertainment as we waited.  Finally I was brought back to a small curtained room that looked as if it were once a closet.  I continued to wait but at least it was in a bed.  That was a blessing.  After nothing really happening, I got a phone call from my mother.  She was in the Houston (or some American airport) on a layover before flying to Amsterdam.  I almost did not answer because I knew she would want to come back right away and cancel the trip.  But I answered and somehow convinced her I was in great hands and would be okay.  
Waiting was the theme of this ER visit with little to show for it.  But Mr. Fisher and his wife ended up across the hall so that cheered my friends and I up a bit.  My faithful friends and our newly met friends were definitely a huge blessing in the little ER room.  I was given an ibuprofen (yep, a normal Advil), a prescription for a medication for heartburn (which I never filled), a referral for an echocardiogram to see if there was fluid around my heart, and the lovely saying, "If it gets worse, come back" because he had no other answers.  Thankfully one good thing came of this 8 or 10 hr visit.  Okay, I should not just say one thing because I was blessed in other ways... but one good medical thing (at least in my humble opinion).  
So I was back in my apartment, my parents were flying across the world, and I had no idea what was happening to me.  But I was awake and alive, so yes, I was blessed.  I still had this peace that was definitely from God because on my own I would have been freaking out.  Although that night in bed I cried the first of many tears to come in regards to the unknown of my health.  My blessed sister who lives in California called me to see if I needed her.  I said I was fine.  It was when she hung up the phone that I started to cry.  There is something about family that is truly a blessing and without them by my side I felt like I was missing a part of me.  But my sister Monica called me a minute after hanging up the first time and said she was coming.  She dropped everything and flew back to Canada the next morning to bring me home and care for me in the absence of my parents.  She is a true blessing.  
The next evening my chest pain got worse.  I was stubborn and did not want to go back to a hospital and wait anymore.  But I lost the battle.  I guess that is what happens when you are so weak you can't even try to hold your own.  You cannot through any punches but rather hold onto an arm and walk together.  So together we went back to Richmond Emergency.  I was seen immediately and had tests started within fifteen minutes of being there.  It was there I held on - I held on to God, my family, and my friends.  My friend Esther was my texting prayer warrior.  It was not long before many were informed and praying for answers at this third visit to the ER in a week.  Although they tried and tried, the doctor remained uncertain what was going on as all the tests were normal but guessed it was probably just a viral chest wall infection that would clear within the week.  Thankfully with a normal test result, he did say nothing was wrong with my heart.  So we left the hospital grateful.  Grateful as I was indeed blessed.  I was blessed to be alive.  Visiting the ER reminds you of the frailty of life.  A guy was rushed into the hospital that night and placed in the bed beside me where he ended up breathing his last breath.  Esther was able to comfort and pray with the family during the last hour of his life.  I believe that is the reason we went to the ER that night.  Not for me at all but for them.
I kept that photo as my lock screen for a long time.  It was a powerful reminder indeed.  A reminder that I continue to look to.  A reminder that brings me back to truth.  A reminder that I have much to be grateful for as I am so blessed.  A reminder that God is holding me and has given me life.


  1. Each breath is a blessing. A gift of grace.

  2. <3 Tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this. Praying for you.

  3. Thank-you for sharing, Rebecca. You have a way of expressing yourself that truly touches others. Your body may be weak, but through Christ, you are exceptionally strong.


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