Copyright © 2019 by Kathryn Mora
The Day My Life Changed Forever
To Live or Die
“Need my shot,” I yell to the nurse walking past my door.
“You had a shot two hours ago. Your next one isn’t for two more hours. Doctor’s orders,” said the nurse.
“But, I need it now,” I said. She’s already gone.
All day, I lie flat in darkness on my bed waiting for my next shot to stop the jackhammering in my head. Even with Morphine, the aching and thumping never stop.
The pain consumes me. All I think about is my next shot. It’s never soon enough, never strong enough and never lasts long enough. My hips are sore from the needles jabbing me. But I don’t care. I need my shot now.
Always feel nauseated, like vomiting. Can’t eat anything. My doctor tells me, “If you don’t eat anything, you’ll look like Twiggy.” I already do and I don’t care.
A nurse feeds me water from a straw. A drop spills on my neck. “AARRGH!!!” I scream. Pain! Agony! Every inch of my is a pile of nerves and misery.
Two nurses change the sheets on my bed with me in it. They yank and pull and prod at the bedding underneath me. I’m in the middle of a tornado, a cyclone and a twister all at the same time. One nurse turns me over like I’m a rag-doll. The other nurse tugs at the sheet under me, pulls it out. She flips me over and shoves in a new sheet and flips me back. She never speaks to me, not once, only to the other nurse. What do you think I am, a sack of potatoes with no feelings? I’m hurting, living in hell every minute of the day. Stop touching me. Stop throwing me around like I’m already dead.
Don’t you read the charts? The person in this bed cracked her skull open and lives in agony every minute of the day. Maybe you think I don’t know how you’re treating me because I’m too sick to notice and don’t talk. But, I know.
Look at my face, into my eyes just once. Say “Hello, how are you today? We know you’re hurting and want to help you feel better by changing your sheets. I promise, we’ll be gentle with you.”
Instead, they say nothing and treat me like I don’t exist! I don’t care if my sheets are yesterdays. Go away. Leave me alone. Get out of here and never come back. I hate you both.
Today, my husband brings an autographed photo of Sammy Davis, Jr. and the cover of his new book, “Yes I Can.” I read it not long ago and loved it. Didn’t even know you knew I loved this book. He hangs the book cover and photo on the wall across from me at my eye level. I can barely see the book cover or the photo in my darkness. My eyes hurt and I can’t focus very well, But, I see the determined look in your eyes Sammy and remember no matter, no what you never gave up.
Seeing you helps Sammy because it’s hard for me right now. The pain never lets up–my head aches and throbs. Always feel sick to my stomach. I can’t move and lie flat in darkness all day long.
Today I dream I’m in a casket with flowers surrounding me. I smell their sweet fragrance. My family and friends stand over me and look down at my lifeless body and cry. I wake up crying scared I’m dead.
My husband brings our two sons to visit me today. They give me a miniature white wicker basket filled with tiny pink flowers, the deep pink color I love and a robe with the same dainty deep pink flowers. Deep pink makes me feel good. Thank you so much!!! The colors soothe me. So sweet of you!
I miss my babies. Love seeing your sweet faces . But, your little high voices hurt my head. Everything hurts my head.
I worry about my babies. Are they okay?
“Who takes care of the boys without me?” I ask my husband.
“They’re taken care of, don’t worry,” he speaks with a loud voice that hurts my head.
Why is he so angry?
“Don’t yell. It hurts my head,” I said. “I worry about my boys. Who takes care of them? I need to know they’re okay. We’ve never been apart before.”
“They’re fine. Don’t worry,” he yells and abruptly takes the boys by their hands and they leave.
My head feels like it’s breaking apart–exploding. The pain is unbearable. I can’t stand it.
“Need my shot.” I mumble to the nurse standing next to me. My words slur. She doesn’t understand me. I can’t move my arms or my legs or any part of my body. The pain consumes me. It’s excruciating. I can’t think of anything else.
“Want my mother. Call my mother,” I tell the nurse next to me. Not sure she understands.
I start counting and can’t stop—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight… With each number I go deeper and deeper into blackness until I see a brilliant glowing white iridescent cord that sits deep inside the darkness in the front part of my head.
My head doesn’t hurt anymore. No more pain. Nothing hurts. Quietness and serenity surround me. I feel at peace. I can think and concentrate. The luminous cord that stretches from one side of my head to the other has slack in the middle. With each passing moment the cord becomes more and more taut. I know when the cord stretches to its limit it’ll snap and I’ll die.
Not sure how I know this, but I do. And I know I have the choice to live or die, but I must decide soon. There’s not much time left before the glowing cord snaps and I’ll die.
I must decide whether I want to live or die. It’s the most important decision I’ve ever made in my life and must give it my full attention.
I feel calm and relaxed–not scared, but I know I must decide quickly. The cord continues to get tighter and tighter. Soon it will snap.
Without drama or emotion and a matter-of-fact logical attitude, I think if I want to live or die. Must decide quickly because the cord is getting tighter and tighter.
First, I think about my sons. They need me and I love my boys and want to be with them. Second, I’m only twenty-eight, years old. Too young to die. And third, I still have something important to do in my life. Not sure what it is, but it’s significant.
I decide to live!
In an instant, the moment I decide to live, I see an image of a man in hovering over my head. His body fades away below his knees and he looks like a genie coming out of a lamp. But there’s no lamp. His spirit is gentle and kind and loving. His handsome face has chiseled features and straight short brown baby fine hair neatly parted and combed to his left side. Dressed in a brown tailored suit reveals his slim fit body. He wears a light blue pin striped shirt with a brown textured tie.
“Kathryn,” he said.
He doesn’t call me, “Kitty” the knick name everyone calls me, but “Kathryn.” I love hearing Kathryn, but rarely do. Sounds beautiful to me!
“I want you to relax and take deep breaths,” he tells me.
I know exactly what he means. Abdominal breathing, the same kind my husband and I learned in our childbirth classes when I was pregnant with John, our second son. The same kind of breathing I teach the couples in the childbirth classes I teach.
“Take another deep breath, Kathryn. You’re doing very well,” he said. “Now relax. Good. Now take another deep breath.”
“Let your whole body go limp. Fill your body with oxygen and feel it move from the top of your head to the tip of your toes and relax.”
I’m impressed. When I need help at the Cottage Hospital, instructions come from my coach with his deep gentle melodic voice through the large round speaker above my head.
I continue to take deep breaths, one after the other with the same intensity and force as when I pushed my son John out into the world, not even three years ago. I continue to take deep breaths until I know I am sure I will live.
I take another deep breath and relax my whole body as my coach guides to do. I open my eyes. My mother is sitting in a chair to the right of me near the head. I’m amazed because my mother lives over 100 mile from the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.
The nurse understood me and called my mother. She’s my angel. It’s a miracle my mother is sitting next to me. Thank you for calling her. Thank you. I needed you with me mother and you’re here. Thank you!
The next day I sit up in my bed for the first time since I was brought to the Cottage Hospital. I see the blue sky out my window on the other side of the room and trees with big white flowers.
It seems so long ago that I was lying under bright lights that hurt my eyes and heard scissors sniping the back of my hair. Stop cutting my hair. I don’t want you to cut my hair. Where am I? How did I get here?
This man with glasses and a serious face and short brown hair wearing a white jacket stands next to my husband and tells him, “You can take her home now.”
No. No. I need help. Don’t send me away.
The next thing I remember I’m in a bed in a dark room and a woman is holding my eye open shining a bright light in my eye. Don’t do that. Stop. The light hurts my eyes. Get out of here.
But today, I sit in my bed. Light and sunshine fill my hospital room and I see the baby blue sky with little puffs of white clouds outside my window.
Didn’t even know there was a courtyard with trees that had large white flowers. I’m alive.
“When were the trees brought there?” I ask the nurse as I look out through the big bay window over the two empty beds to the left of me as I point to the courtyard?
“They’ve been in the courtyard for years, as long as I’ve been here,” she tells me.
I’m surprised. I didn’t see the trees. But then, I didn’t see much for a long time. I think to myself, I would have liked deep pink flowers on the trees better. But it’s okay; I’m happy to have the big white flowers, too. I’m alive.
“And the blue sky, when did that happen?” I asked. “It’s been so dark and gloomy.”
“The weather has been beautiful for the last month, since you arrived,” the nurse said.
That’s amazing, I think to myself! “Can I go outside right now?” I beg the nurse.”
“I think that can be arranged,” she said. “But, I’ll have to get your doctor’s okay first and we’ll find you a wheelchair.”
“I’m impressed with this hospital,” I said to Janet, the woman in the bed to the right of me. I didn’t even know she existed before yesterday.
“When I needed help yesterday, I didn’t even have to press the button. A man appeared above my head and told me everything I needed to do through that speaker,” I said, pointing to the large round speaker above my head.”
“There was no voice,” Janet said, the woman in the next bed to the right of me.
“You didn’t hear a voice telling me to breathe deep, Kathryn?” I said.
“No, I didn’t. But you did the right thing when you took deep breaths over and over and over again. You probably saved your life,” Janet said. “The seizure depleted your brain of the much needed oxygen and the deep breathing replenished the oxygen you needed.”
Janet didn’t hear the voice? I’m a little surprised, but I’m just happy I heard the voice and I’m alive!
Janet and I become good friends in the next few weeks. I learn my roommate is a Psychiatric R.N. I notice she always has bananas on her tray. Why I wonder? She tells me she has bone cancer and the bananas provide the potassium she needs for her bones to help her heal.
I learned I had Post Traumatic Seizure after a neurologist is assigned to me. He never smiles and is a man of few words with big needles.
“Do you feel that?”
“Ouch, “ I yell every time he pokes my feet with one of his big needles. Doesn’t seem to matter to him that he’s hurting me because he continues to jab me as if I’m a pincushion. It seems to me it gives him pleasure that his big needles hurt me.
My neurologist has the face of a gray rat and the personality of a wet noodle. He isn’t my favorite doctor and I don’t suppose I’m his favorite patient, either. He puts me on a drug called Dilantin. For me, it had more side effects than what it was supposed to help—to prevent and control seizures. The drug makes me feel like I’m a zombie, operating in slow motion and feel numbed out all the time.
Fortunately, after I take Dilantin for a week or maybe less, my whole body breaks out in hives. Soon I’m taken off of Dilantin and prescribed a milder drug.
Each day I improve a little more. And the very best thing for me is, I’m alive.
I got to go outside today in a wheelchair. The orderly parked me at the top of the stairs for a moment. I panicked. Felt like I was falling down the stairs in the wheelchair.
When he returned moments later I asked him to move me away from the stairs. He did immediately. My heart stopped racing and I wasn’t scared anymore.
Deep pink makes me feel good and I want more in my life, all the time. I ask the nurse to order me a bottle of deep pink nail polish from the gift shop so I can paint my fingernails and toenails. My fingernails come out a little messy, but my toenails not good at all.
My brain isn’t working great yet and I sometimes I forget words in the middle of a sentence–or the whole sentence and my coordination isn’t very good. That’s why the bottle of nail polish ends up sideways. Some spills on my robe, the one my husband and sons gave me. The good news, the deep-pink nail polish matches the flowers on the robe.
I fix the polish on my toes as best I can and I’m happy. When I fan out my fingernails and look at my toenails on top of my covers, I get a deep-pink high. It’s Heavenly for me!