People always ask me if I remember anything from being in a coma.
I wish had gone to heaven and back. I didn’t.
The only memory I have from being in a coma was a dream happening while I was starting to wake up. I was in dumpster outside my aunt’s church and I couldn’t get out.
I started waking up two days after my transplant. Waking up took awhile. I have a few vague memories. I remember my youth pastor sitting by the side of my bed singing me worship songs. I remember my Dad sitting on the left side of my bed trying to sooth me. I remember Kris, Laura and mom standing at the end of my bed wide eyed in anticipation.
During the process my sister kept a diary of sorts. As I have begun to write down the details of my journey, the diary has become one of my most prized possessions. Here is an excerpt from my sister’s diary during the first few days of when I was waking up.
“In the last few hours you’ve been stirring some. You’ve open your eyes a few times, yawned, moved your head, but haven’t stayed awake really. You have responded to commands. Mom and I played peek-a-boo with you a little while ago. I had a washcloth near your face, pulled it away and then mom said ‘Peek-a-boo’, you didn’t really play much though. We’ve been singing and dancing around too. The nurses are turning you to your side now to make you a little more comfortable. Everyone says you are doing really well and coming along very nicely. You’re skin isn’t yellow anymore. You used to cry yellow tears but they are clear now. The yellow was pretty cool though.”
“You’ve been awake since 5:15, your eyes are open-you’re responding to some commands and questions. Sometimes when we ask you if things are ‘okay’, you say ‘yes’. Earlier I asked you if you were scared and you shook your head “no” and the same thing when I asked you if you were uncomfortable. You’ve looked at me when I’ve said your name and ask you to look at me. We’ve had some toe movement when asked….Right now, you’re being kind of funny. You started to throw your legs off the side of the bed like you’re trying to get out of bed. You’re squirming around a lot which doesn’t seem to hurt you. You’ve been squeezing our hands some which is a good sign. When you started to try to get out of bed, I went to get mom. She came in the room and asked you if you were being naughty. You shook your head ‘no’. Earlier the nurses set you up in a chair for a while which you seemed to like. Mom asked you if you were trying to smile and you said ‘yes’, I mean you nodded your head indicating ‘yes’.”
I actually tried to escape the hospital a few times. I didn’t get very far. Probably because I woke up with the brain of a 5 year old.
[Did you know your liver purifies your blood? When they took my liver out it had zero function. This had caused toxins to build up in my body resulting basically in me poisoning myself. The toxins caused my brain to swell while I was in a coma.]
I knew what a fork was, but didn’t know what is was called.
I had to be reminded to eat.
I often would ask when I got dressed if I used to like the outfit that I had picked out that day.
Most basic things came back to me fairly quickly, but it took me a long time to grasp the gravity of what had happened.
Not much made sense. But I was sure of a few things….
- I loved Jesus. As soon as I was able to speak again, I asked EVERYONE if they knew Jesus. If they didn’t I would innocently ask “Why?” I think it was the one time that they allowed proselytizing in the hospital. I often go back to that truth and find comfort. Soon after my transplant God became more complicated and confusing to me. But, when I have felt distant from God, I have found rest in the fact that even though nothing in my world at the time made sense, Jesus did.
- I was a miracle. I felt like a modern day Lazarus. I loved being a miracle. I felt like a local celebrity. I kept hearing story after story of people all over the world praying for me. People prayed for me all night long. I heard stories of people praying for the first time. A month after I was released from the hospital I went to church where they actually had me stand up to give me a round of applause. People looked at me differently.
- Community is everything. Like I have stated, the time that I was in a coma really wasn’t my story. It’s my mom’s story, a story of surrender. It’s my dad’s story, a story of sorrow. It’s my sister’s story, a story of hope. It’s Brian’s (not husband) story, who prayed for the first time and said that he would trust God with his life if God saved me. It’s my aunt Patti’s story who was on vacation and turned around the moment she heard to be there for my parents. It’s our friend Greg’s story who offered to donate half of his liver. It’s Jan’s story as she stood by my bed, rubbing my feet, praying, believing for a breakthrough. It’s Brenda’s story as she made hundreds of phone calls to people wanting updates. It’s the story of the men of our church literally surrounding my dad as he helplessly watch me fade away. It’s a story of the women in my mom’s life, whom I call my aunt’s, from whom she drew strength. It’s the story of our church coming together like they have never done before. They prayed, they called, they gave, they cried and of course they brought food.
We wouldn’t have made it without them.
- Prayer matters. There are so many questions around how prayer really works. Does it really matter how long we pray or how many times we pray for something? How can God really hear all of us praying at the same time? Does prayer even matter if He already knows what He is going to do? Why does He answer some prayers and not others? I don’t know the answers to all of those questions. But I do know that, especially during this time, prayer brought a lot of comfort to my family. Prayer opened people up to the idea of God. Prayer brought people together. Prayer brought people hope. And in my case, God answered the prayers of His people. For me, those are good enough reasons to keep praying.
Things got more complicated for me fairly quickly. God became confusing and my life completely changed. It got messy. So much of my life no longer made sense. Very few things felt sure.
Through out the years I have felt confused, lost and insecure. Every once in awhile when I feel that way, I stop and allow myself to peak through the mess. And when I do, I remember those things. I remember the things in which I am sure of.
And when I do that, things make at least a little more sense….