When Fear Takes The Wheel...

The last 30 days have been some of the most difficult of my life.   

I have come to realize in my recovery, that when difficult things happen to me, it's usually more than one thing and it's always life-altering.  So just to refresh everyone on my recent life events: June 15th I was laid off from my job.  The following day I had a weird pain in the right side of my chest.  I continued to ignore it until the morning of June 18th when I couldn't even take a breathe.  I drove myself to the ER.  After a CT scan of the chest, the doctor came in to announce that I had pneumonia and possibly a pulmonary embolism in the right lower lobe of my lung.  I was being admitted to the hospital.   

Let me just interject a little background here.  I don't get sick.  I worked in the ER for so many years and my immune system is amaze balls.  So I was completely shocked that I had pneumonia and in disbelief that a pulmonary embolism was even possible.  Needless to say, they admitted me for a few days and gave me IV antibiotics and Lovenox injections to dissolve the blood clot.  I was discharged home with two kinds of oral antibiotics which I took exactly as directed.  The admitting doctor called me for several days after my discharge to check on me.  I was not feeling better.  I kept getting fevers and chills and I had zero energy.  The doctor told me that recovery from pneumonia takes a long time and I should be patient.  So I rested and completed the antibiotics and every day I felt weak and every day I had fevers. 

Finally on Thursday night July 5th, I was burning up with a fever of 104 and I had a feeling of impending doom.  I knew something was terribly wrong.  I went back to the ER and they ran blood tests and did another CT scan of my chest.  My WBC count was 28 (normal is 5-10).  I had pneumonia throughout my entire right lung and a huge infection outside my lung called an Pleural Empyema.  My poor immune system was fighting so hard.  I was transferred by ambulance to a bigger hospital where a pulmonologist was waiting for me to drain the infection with a chest tube. 

This is when fear took over.  I consider my spiritual connection to be extremely strong.  I have walked through many difficult times in recent years and I have never questioned my faith or my Higher Power's plan for my life.  But I will tell you that this situation made me question everything.  I had the "why me's?"  I had the dark and sad pity party.   I was angry.   I was terrified.   The doctor told me that if I had waited any longer to come in that I would have died.  My organs had already begun to shut down.  My family rushed to be with me.  My amazing boyfriend did not leave my side.  My close tribe of friends were walking through this with me, yet I was still questioning.  I was grateful for the small improvements each day but it wasn't easy.  I wanted to sit in the anger because it felt justified.  I was angry at my body for failing me.  Angry at God for making me go through this.  Even though I know with every fiber of my being that there is a lesson in everything!  I didn't want to accept this trial.  Haven't I been through enough? 

After 8 days in the hospital, a thorcentesis and chest tube, a VATS procedure and two large bore chest tubes placed to drain the infection, I was finally released back home on Saturday July 14th. I am on the mend.  No fevers for days now.  I have no energy and that is driving me crazy.  I realized today that I have been sick for an entire month.  My internal dialogue needs monitoring constantly so the negativity doesn't take over.  I'm so grateful for my love who has been by my side through all of this, for my close group of friends who check on me constantly, for my amazing parents who dropped what they were doing and came to stay at my house to take care of my boys and I'm endlessly grateful to have three wonderful young men that loved me though this very difficult time in my life.   My boys are truly amazing.  

I don't know what the lesson is in all of this because I'm still kinda in it.  I know what to do to move forward and not be stuck in self pity.  I have cycled through the stages of grief and finally arrived at acceptance.  This is a season that I must walk through.  So I will be present in it.  Slowing down from  a 100 miles per hour lifestyle to zero was a shock in and of itself.  Obviously I needed to slow down.   Maybe I wouldn't have slowed down if I hadn't become sick?  So I can be grateful for this weird illness that slowed me down.  

As for fear, well its a sneaky little fella.   I recognize it's presence but I won't give it the wheel again.  One of my favorite quotes about fear is by Elizabeth Gilbert.

FEAR "I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still, your suggestions will NEVER be followed.  You're allowed to have a seat and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are NOT allowed to have a vote.  You're not allowed to touch the road map.  You're not allowed to suggest detours.  You're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.  Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio!  But above all else my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive"