The day I almost died.

One year ago today was the day I almost died.  I decided that I would rather celebrate this than my birthday.  When I was pregnant I had severe pain that would last for 30-60 minutes in a band right below my breasts.  When I spoke to my midwives about this pain they said it was Finn ripping my body in half.

After Finn was born I would still have this pain occasionally.  Josh continually told me that it wasn’t regular pregnancy pain and that I should go have it checked out (especially after it continued happening after Finn was born).  But I did not listen.  On the 29th of July 2008 I woke up in the middle of the night (3 AM) with the worst pain that I have ever had, vomiting.  Finn was 5 weeks old at the time, so I called my midwife because I was supposed to call them with any health concerns for 6 weeks postpartum.  She said that it sounded like it could potentially be that my gall bladder had become active (which often happens during pregnancy, I later learned) and that I should call my regular doctor in the morning to go in and get it checked out.

So when the pain subsided I fell back asleep.  When I woke up, the pain was a million times worse.  It felt like someone had stuck a metal pole all the way through me.  I continued vomiting from the pain as I called Josh and told him that he needed to get home now.  I then called my regular doctor to set up an appointment.  The nurse I talked to (bless her heart, she probably saved my life) told me that she was calling an ambulance to come and get me.  I got on the phone with the emergency services and they told me that I should put Tanner away and collect all my prescription medication for when the ambulance arrived.  I started crying because I couldn’t stand up, much less tackle the stairs.  I was worried about climbing half a flight of stairs to unlock the door for them.  And I also felt like the world’s worst mother because Finn was asleep upstairs and if he needed me there was nothing I could do for him.

I did manage to make it up the stairs but refused to go with them because Finn would be by himself.  They said a policeman would watch him until Josh got home, so I reluctantly went with them.  This started the longest day of my life.  I was in the worst pain I could ever imagine for over 10 hours and I had a horrible nurse that kept telling me that I was being a wimp.  She kept telling me that I just had a child for goodness sake, just suck it up.

During the next 12 days in the hospital (for many I was barely lucid) they informed that my gall bladder had become active during pregnancy and the night before I had a gall bladder attack and then a gall stone had traveled down my bile duct and got caught in my pancreas, blocking it up.  This caused 50% of my pancreas to die.  I had pancreatitis.

Over the next 7 months I endured 2 more hospitalizations, at least 5 procedures (including one surgery), complications such as a cyst forming intruding on my stomach space, needing a feeding tube (or nose hose I like to refer to it), blood clot, debilitating depression and anxiety, a narcotics addiction, and so many more.  I truly endured 7 months of pain and suffering and missed out so much on bonding and being with Finn for those first months of his life.  For the mothers and fathers out there, try to imagine being absent for your child’s life from 5 weeks to 7 months.  It was excruciating.

During this challenging time I gained many valuable lessons, which I will always remember and be grateful for.  My mom stayed with me every night while I was in the hospital (the total time being almost a month) except for 1 or 2.  She spent most of the days there to.  She was there to comfort me physically and emotionally.  Mom would talk me through painful procedures and breathe through the pain with me (no matter what time of night or day).  She was my advocate and made sure they didn’t make any mistakes, that she was able to prevent because I could not do it for myself.  After I was out of the hospital she attended every single doctor appointment with me.

If I had any doubt about the man I married before this, it laid it all to rest.  Josh was a hero.  His typical day for many months was to wake up early, get Finn ready, drop him off at daycare, work for 9 hours, pick Finn up from daycare and shuttle him to whatever family member was watching him that night, come to the hospital until about 10 and then go pick Finn up and take him home.  He did this day after day without complaint.  I knew he couldn’t be in the hospital with me but the fact that he took care of Finn and everything at home and visited as much as he possibly could made me know everything at home was okay.  When I came home from the hospital he was my nurse.  He gave me IV antibiotics, cleaned out my nose hose, prepared food for my nose hose, cleaned the house, took care of Finn, and so much more.  Never complained, not once.  He had 3 full time jobs, his job, Finn, and me.  Never complained, not once.  You want to know what kind of man Josh is, that’s who he is.

My family that took care of Finn when Josh and I weren’t able to be there.  Without complaint they would take him night after night, on the weekends and even overnight.  We never had to worry about where he was or what was happening with him because he was with the best people.  They also brought Finn into the hospital so I could visit with him and try to continue breastfeeding him.  Thank you Diana and Barry, Jen and Adam, and Jessica.  You’ll probably never know how much this meant to us, we are in your debt forever.

For Jessica who not only took care of Finn when she was here on her vacation (I don’t know about you, but waking up at night with a hungry baby is not my idea of vacation).  She also took care of me when I was home from the hospital and took care of Finn when I was home but was unable to meet his needs.  She flew here from out east and extended her stay to help out.

For all my friends and family who heard about what had happened and sent me cards, flowers, gifts, and most importantly your thoughts and prayers.  Not just the first week, not just the first month, but until I was back on my feet.  I have all of those cards and will keep them forever.  You got me through days and weeks until I was back to myself.  If you ever need anything from me, I will be there for you in a moment.

To my saintly team at school who not only got my room ready when it was time for them to get their rooms ready but also for holding my sub’s hand and making sure my kids were in the best possible hands until I could get back to them.  And who helped me so I didn’t have to work extra hours when I did return to work.

For my nurses and doctors (except for 3) who were so compassionate and went above and beyond (as they do every day for all there patients) so I could heal and feel comfortable with my care.  Thank you for taking time each day to answer my mom and I’s gazillion questions.  Thank you for listening to me.  Thank you for your kindness, I felt that you really cared about me.  Thank you for your encouragement when I was able to take a small step in the right direction (even if it was just cheering the first time I was able to walk down to the end of the hallway and back).  Thank you for doing what you thought was best for me.  Most of the time it was what was best.  It was your dedication and knowledge that allowed me to live and recover fully with no side effects.  Thank you for taking away my pain.

The most important thing that I learned personally was not to sweat the small stuff.  I was obsessed with the small stuff.  I would make lists and more lists.  I would make lists for Josh and made sure he completed them.  I worried about how clean my house was.  I worried if someone didn’t like what I was wearing or my hair.  I worried and worried.  Then I got sick.  None of that was important.  My friends and family are important.  If I couldn’t make sure all the dishes were clean but I could spend time playing with Finn.  Finn was so much more important.

I also learned that when you are in the deepest, darkest hole and you think that you will never see sunlight again.  You will.  If you give it time and believe and work toward it, the light will come to you.

So today I give thanks.  I give thanks for my life, for my family, for my friends.  I give thanks that my body got me through the hardest time in my life (so far).  I give thanks that I am healthy and happy and so are my friends in my family.  I am thankful that I understand that just because you think you’re healthy, it can change in a moment for a million different reasons and so I live every day like its my last.  I give thanks for the greater understanding I came to from this.

**If you would like to read even more you click here.  It will give you all the posts I wrote while I was going through this.  If you just want to read a little bit I would recommend clicking here and here.**

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19 Responses to The day I almost died.

  1. Stimey says:

    Wow, I had no idea. I’m so sorry you went through that. I can’t imagine much worse than being in terrible, dire pain like that and being alone with your child. You’re a tough woman for getting through all that.

      Yea, it was really tough. But I believe I am stronger because of it as well as our family!
      :) Kate
  2. Mwa says:

    That is an awful thing to go to anytime, let alone with a small baby around. So glad you are feeling better.

      ME TOO!
      :) Kate
  3. Rebecca says:

    wowzers. not sure all what to say, but how great to have such a wonderful support around family and friends! glad you are still here for them. :)

      Thanks, I’m glad I’m still here for them to! I enjoy still being alive A LOT!!
      :) Kate
  4. OMG; I have tears in my eyes. I am a nurse and that never should have happened! I too had that band of pain with my 3rd pregnancy and they ran several tests over time to be sure it wasn’t my gall bladder. I can’t believe what you went thru! Thank God for your friends and family.

    I had a near-death experience after my last child was born (nothing as long lasting and horrific as yours!) and I understand what you mean about not sweating the small stuff. That was 15 years ago and I still look at life differently than before.
    Well, you found out one thing, how amazingly strong you are!

      Well I have so much respect for nurses after all my experiences. Almost all of them go above and beyond. It’s an occupation that’s made up of so much more than giving shots and taking temperatures. I bonded with my great nurses and they really helped me get through the really tough time in my life. Their compassion makes a world of difference in their patients lives. Thanks so much for choosing such a noble profession!
      :) Kate
  5. Candice says:

    wow, that’s quite the story. :-/ but amazing you pulled through, certainly puts a new perspective on life

      Fo shizzle!
      :) Kate
  6. OMG! I’m so glad you made it through! And you’re family sounds amazing.

      I can’t say enough times how amazing my family is. I’m so very lucky to have them!
      :) Kate
  7. Laoch says:

    Wow, ugh!

    My brother had pancreatitus a couple of years ago and ended up unconscious and in an hospital for three months and then needing surgery to remove most of his pancreas, so I know something of what you went through and it is just a truly ghastly illness.

    Sending you some healthy Karma for the next year.

      I had never heard of this until I experienced. The doctor’s say that it is the most painful thing that can happen to you, and I surely believe them. Especially when it’s necrotizing pancreatitis (which is what I had and sounds like what your brother had as well). They weren’t sure if I would have to have the surgery, and I was lucky enough not to need it. However, 50% of my pancreas is dead and will always be. I hope your brother is doing well?
      :) Kate
  8. Jo says:

    Wow what a story! Your husband is a keeper for sure.
    Your relationship with Finn may be a little different than it would have been without your trauma but sounds like you are able to make up for it now, it seems to have shaped your mothering in a positive way.

      I do worry about my relationship with Finn, but it is what it is and we don’t know any different. Seems like we are plodding along all right anyways!
      :) Kate
  9. nashe says:

    I can’t imagine myself going thru all that! Just glad you’re alive and well :))

      That I am…whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?
      :) Kate
  10. lesley says:

    Kate, you are amazing!
    Your story reminds me of mine…17 yrs old, excruciating stomach pain, vomiting etc,my mum rang the doctor 3 times before he would visit, by then it was 3am (didn’t want to come out at that time of night), called an ambulance, got into the hospital…more examinations!! I was moaning with the pain,the nurse told me to be quiet as I was waking up other patients in the ward GRRRwhat was it? Peritonitis..nealy died.
    What’s wrong with people, you expect the professionals to look after you & they let you down..thank goodness for Josh & your family. But most of all to you for being strong! x

      Wow, that’s quite a story you have as well! It’s amazing how many people have these stories. I have learned that doctors are people and make mistakes (along with the rest of us). I was very frustrated with some of my care, but for the most part modern medicine is amazing and has saved countless lives…yours and I’s included!
      :) Kate
  11. Jen says:

    Kate, so proud to be your sister-in-law!!!

      Ditto…you are totally my role-model!!
      Love,
      Kate
  12. C. Princess says:

    The nurse who told you to suck it up deserves a slap in the face. Come on, seriously where was her compassion?! So many guardian angels were with you that day. You are/were very blessed.

      Yes I was, truly blessed!
      :) Kate
  13. I started to read this the day you posted it…

    Kept it until I could devote my full attention to it…

    All I can say is WOW!

    Thanks for sharing that!

    You certainly have some awesome folks in your life!

    H&K,
    Khyra and Her Mom

      Thanks!
      :) Kate
  14. elizabethm says:

    Hi Kate, this speaks to me very strongly! I was ill too and took six months or so to come back to life. Thought I might die and wasn’t ready. It is very hard but going through something like this teaches us things. I cannot believe I am saying this but I would not wish the experience away. Hope you can say the same. Your family and husband sound just wonderful.

      I don’t think I’m to the place where I can honestly say I would take it back if I could, maybe someday I will get there, maybe not. It’s amazing that you did, so kudos to you!
      :) Kate
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  16. sir rob says:

    I think the greatest nurse you have had is Josh and believe that he is more than just a hero. I don’t know if I could endure what he have done to your family.

    I found your blog through Nelson’s post of digital catharsis.

  17. Kate says:

    Sir Rob-
    I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband and my son were the most powerful healing powers I had. We don’t think we can survive it until we are walking through it. If you had asked me before that if I could survive, I would have told you there was no way. I’m pretty sure looking back at your own life you can point to some times that were so difficult, you just walked through minute by minute.
    Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed what you read and you’re welcome back anytime, just please turn off the light when you’re done!
    😉 Kate

  18. sir rob says:

    I am very much fascinated with your story and your encounter with nurses for we seldom get those. It’s what make us survive and do what we love the most.
    sir rob recently posted..The Dash Diet PlanMy Profile

  19. Kate says:

    Sir Rob-

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate nurses and all people who work in health care. I have had so many experiences where nurses went above and beyond to make sure that I was taken care of and also became my advocate and cheerleader. I also tell Nelson often that I have even more respect (if possible) for male nurses, because I feel that there must be some stigma attached to that. In my experience, male nurses are some of the best that I’ve met. I was in the ICU and had the best male nurse, he was joking around with me and that was the first time in weeks that my mom heard me laugh, and she said at that moment she knew I was going to make it. I figure, if I was going to die, the best way to go was with a smile on my face. It’s a great service to not only care for patients, but also cheer them up!

    :) Kate

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