When Faceless Rescues Count the Most

When Faceless Rescues Count the Most

June 5, 2017 | Posted in: Chronic Illness and Diagnosis, chronic illness; support, Chronic Life

At sixteen, I had a cyst that ruptured, causing me to lose over half the blood in my body. I was sweeping the hallway bathroom in preparation of my brother’s homecoming when a gush of blood flooded my legs and then the floor. “Concerning.” I thought. I’d already had my period that month, and I’d certainly never had a period like that… one that started with such, “panache” or intensity.

Since my family had only recently returned from a short but all inclusive visit to hell, I decided to keep this little bit about “bleeding all over the floor” to myself. I mean, my brother, Matt was finally out of a coma and coming home, and surely this odd, intense bleeding would show itself to the door, right? Our family had experienced enough excitement for a lifetime in the last month alone. In fact, the bathroom I was sweeping was the exact location where we’d discovered my brother in full seizures, where he’d stopped breathing and kicked me all the way into the hallway. This realization wasn’t creepy at all, and had nothing to do with my decision to leave my pile of dirt where it was and move on to sweeping the kitchen.

Naturally, the bleeding did not show itself to the door, but instead brought its favorite things along and decided to stay for a while. I hoped my mom wouldn’t notice I was now asking for a new package of pads a day and bleeding through my sheets each night. Would it raise suspicion if I asked her how you knew when you were bleeding to death? (This was before the days of Google and Siri. How well they could have served me.)

When I accidentally left a trail of blood on the carpet and persisted in asking my recently awoken from a coma sibling to fetch things from the fridge for me because I was unable to walk that far, eyebrows were raised. Exactly how many pads was I going through a day? How many was I using at once? Uh-hem, “I’m using about five at once. They last about an hour, unless I pass one of those big clot things?” Then the eyes in the room grew as large as the big clot things I’d been secretly passing.

An appointment was made for me to see the girly doctor, which I was terrified of. I’d never been to the girly doctor. No man had boldly gone below my waist before, and I wanted to keep it that way. The only silver lining in all of this was, the town my mom made the appointment in was also where my boyfriend lived. We rarely got to see one another, so if bleeding to death and having to get a pelvic also meant I got to see him then maybe it wasn’t so bad, right?

On New Year’s Eve, I noticed my heart was beating quite quickly. I took my pulse and noted it was in the one-seventies. This seemed troublesome. I begrudgingly reported this to my mom who said, “There’s no way that’s right. You’d be dead.”

The next day, I knew I was in trouble. I lacked the energy to make the slightest movements. I struggled with coherent thoughts. It took great effort to get to the bathroom where I turned on the water and sat on the toilet unsure I could get myself into the tub. When I looked down at the floor, I realized it was covered in blood. My Dad was knocking at the door, asking if I was okay. I didn’t want him to see the blood but also lacked the strength to clean it so I was stalling. Eventually, he told me to open the door or he’d break it. So there we were. My Dad, the blood, and me. He tossed me over his shoulder, shouted for my mom and literally opened the car door and tossed me in.

At the ER, he drove up as close to the front door as he could and asked me if I could walk myself in the front door. I said yes, but the truth was, I didn’t know. I made it about three feet into the automated doors before I started falling forward. Someone ran to me and a stretcher appeared. They cut my clothes off right there. My favorite pair of jeans. Teenage me was very saddened by this turn of events and by my naked, in the front of the hospital on a stretcher state. I’d missed seeing my boyfriend by one day.

Whoever was hooking everything in the world up to me told my mom my pulse was in the one-eighties and I was a “very sick girl.” They were amazed I was alert that I hadn’t passed out.

Ultimately, they told my mom and I I’d lost over half of the blood in my body and if they’d waited another forty-five minutes to bring me in, I would have stroked out and died. My heart was working so hard trying to push that little bit of blood through my body. I received six bags of blood as quickly as they could get them in me that evening. My life was saved by strangers, by people whose faces I’ve never seen, to this day. Rescued. The doctors and nurses who cut my favorite pair of jeans from my body and the people whose names I don’t know but whose blood flows through my veins rescued me.

As a grown-up English teacher, foreshadowing was one of my favorite literary elements to teach. If my life were an episode of Grey’s Anatomy it might begin with a flashback to this rescue in the ER, before fading into my life today where I’m rescued each month by the antibodies of strangers.

Rescue. Each month, I am rescued by the doctors and nurses who care for me and I’m also rescued by the people whose names I don’t know, whose faces I never see, but whose antibodies flow through my body.

Rescue. Each day, I am rescued in large and small ways by the people in my world, by the love of a friend, the offering of my spouse, the kindness of a stranger, the laugh of a child.

Rescue. Each day, we rescue one another in large and small, expected and unexpected ways. Click To Tweet

Who can you rescue today? In large ways and small ways? Expected and unexpected? We are all rescue workers, a network of healers, even if our names are never known or our faces are never seen.

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5 Comments

  1. Lauren
    June 6, 2017

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    It’s so incredibly hard for a teenager to know when something is worthy of medical attention or when it’s time to start advocating for herself. Your story made me reflect on important discussions I need to have with my daughter as she grows up, as well the gratitude we all should feel for those who rescue us and large and small ways. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Courtney B Ellis
    June 6, 2017

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    So beautifully written! Thankful for the strangers who continue to save you, and for the lesson about asking for help when it’s needed!

    I remember falling on a ski run as a kid, hitting my head, and passing out. It’s so disorienting to look up to a bunch of faces you don’t know who are helping you. Gratitude and disorientation at the same time!

  3. Sheryl
    June 7, 2017

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    What a tale, it had my gripping the edge of my seat! And I love your sense of humour 🙂 Keep writing, love your posts!

  4. Karen DeBonis
    June 13, 2017

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    Such a scary story! Thank God for caring strangers.

  5. Kali
    September 5, 2017

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    Wow. There are few people I know who have had so much wrong in their bodies like me. (And near death experience too). We are so similar in how we approach things. I love your writing, but hate that you’ve had to go through so much.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

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