I could hear the nurse talking; I tried to focus my mind on her words. My heart was breaking. The domino effect of medical issues I had faced since March was unbelievable, and I began to wonder when I would actually be on the road to recovery, rather than just the path to the next serious complication. This was incredulous!
It was June. I had been home from the rehab center for 12 weeks. I had learned how to manage ostomy changes. The treatment for the blood clot was underway. I thought I was on a clear path, the detours completed. I was wrong.
I had been diagnosed with a UTI ten days earlier and given a course of antibiotics to treat it; I thought it was just a little bump in the road. A few days into the treatment, I began experiencing some symptoms that could be associated with liver decline. I sent my doctor a message, and she squeezed me into her schedule.
In addition to checking liver function, she wanted to rule out an infection that can happen to patients who have recently been hospitalized, stayed in long-term care facilities, had an autoimmune disorder, or had recently been on antibiotics. I scored four out of four on that check list!
The test came back positive. I had the vicious C-Diff infection.
C-Diff is a bacteria that attacks the small and large intestines, destroying all of the good bacteria in the gut until only the C-Diff bacteria remains. It causes extensive inflammation throughout the intestines, and symptoms are similar to what one experiences with the flu.
As we sat around the dinner table with our boys the night after learning about the infection, my husband soldiered on bravely. He had tried to keep family routines consistent throughout the long weeks of my illness and recovery. Just like every other night, he picked up the study Bible to read the next chapter. He began reading where he had left off the night before, Romans 5:
“…we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
By the time my husband finished our reading and lead us in the Lord’s prayer, we were both crying. He squeezed my hand as his tear-filled eyes met mine. We clung to the promise that there is meaning to be found in what we were enduring. There is a redemptive purpose in our suffering. We were discovering this truth anew.
As the days passed, I continued to decline despite the treatment I was receiving. I had daily calls with Mayo Clinic; I learned that if I did not call to check in by mid-morning, a nurse would call me. There were days we talked three and four times. My illness progressed despite all the best efforts. The doctors doubled my dose of medication. Then I developed a rare complication to the infection. The doctors added a new medication to the cocktail and gave me 24 hours to see improvement, before the decision to hospitalize me.
The days were dark, but my hope remained in the peace that this life is not the end. The illness only made the longing in my heart that much more earnest for my eternal home.
My only option was to persevere. I trusted that whatever the outcome, it would be for my best and for His glory.
My daily prayer became, “Lord, empty me of me so that I can be filled with You. You are my hope.”