June 13, 2016

When Your Life Turns into an Episode of ER {Alternately Titled: Another Miracle to Add to the Books}

The following blog will be graphic, emotional (on all ends of the spectrum), and surprising.  It is entirely real-life with no exaggeration or fictitious parts.  It will be long, but I need to get it out. I need to inform so many of my family and friends that have been left in the dark, and writing is my therapy.  It's also my hope that somehow, somewhere in the world someone will benefit from my story. Someone will read this and be filled with hope, see Jesus, or just know they are not alone.

This is not intended for a young audience, parental preview strongly suggested. 

Let's start at the beginning.

{May 1st : Tanzania}
The little bean on the ultrasound machine is clear as day. Measurements match up with my dates - we're 8 weeks pregnant. After trying unsuccessfully for an entire year, then giving up, we are completely and utterly shocked at this happy surprise. Our heads spin as we consider the ramifications of the timing of everything. My heart beats fast but I push it back down in my chest, remembering the last pregnancy that didn't end so well.

We're leaving Tanzania in a few short weeks for our furlough, so we decide to keep things quiet for the joy of surprising all the friends and family we'll be reunited with in person.  We make the (very hard) decision to stay in America until after baby comes and everyone's healthy, probably early March. The timing of things according to our original furlough plans means we would need to return to the US in early October, after just having returned to Tanzania at the end of August. Too expensive, and too much travel for a heavily pregnant woman. With that decision, we also decide to take a leave of absence from Hope for the 2016-2017 school year. We would only be around for the fourth quarter so it just makes since to take the time to adjust to a family of four, even though that school is our heart and it won't be easy. Our directors completely agree and give us their blessing, with the plan to return to volunteering full time in August 2017.
I'm extremely sick. Working only one or two days a week at first, barely making it through the day due to the extreme exhaustion and nausea, eventually working solely from home because I can't even make it out of bed. Sickness means a healthy growing baby so I try to find joy through the illness.

{May 9th : Tanzania}
We can't hold our news back from Owen any longer, so we tell him the good news. His eyes grew wide with hope and expectation and he immediately began talking about how he'd care for the baby. Throughout the day he'd call out a mental list to me of his clothes and shoes and toys that he wanted to set aside for his little sibling. He also asked lots of questions about if the baby would die like the last one. We reassured him that we saw the baby at the doctor's and that Mama being sick was a good sign that the baby was growing healthy.  This helped, but he would still randomly say, "Mama, I hope this baby lives and doesn't die, I really want to be a big brother." I'm still astounded at how much he understood and internalized the miscarriage at only 3 years old.  Our little bear is just so grown up.

{May 21st : Tanzania}
One last check up before leaving for furlough in America. Owen gets to come along and we see our little bean flipping and rolling around like crazy on that black and white screen. We see the head and body, the little hands at feet that bean appeared to be clapping. Baby measures perfectly at 11.5 weeks and finally holds still enough to let us see the steady and strong heartbeat. My heartbeat matches bean's and I let it this time. This is good. Baby's measuring on target, flipping all over the place and we see that strong, tiny little heart. Something we never got to experience with the last little angel baby.
Owen is thrilled to see the baby and I think it helps his little heart too. He recognizes the parts and giggles when the doctor makes jokes about him not slowing down long enough to measure. (he also grabbed a healthy chunk of my belly and says, "hard to see baby with the fat in the way." That's a story for another time though. smh)
I'm still pretty sick from that squirmy little bean, and most of our friends in Tanzania have been told the news- and sworn to internet secrecy so we can still surprise everyone in America. It was getting hard to hide my quickly expanding tummy (3rd pregnancy will do that to ya apparently) and being seriously was starting to give it away.

{May 26th : Tanzania}
We take of for America! I'm 12.5 weeks and I survive the 36-odd hours of travel purely on adrenaline and God's grace, and by sniffing my lemon oil to help with all the nausea and block all the oh-so-lovely airplane smells.

{May 27th : Arizona, USA}
We arrive safely and me and my kankles are thrilled to be able to stretch out flat, and my mom has stocked the house with delicious goodies like blueberries, strawberries and Kashi cereal with almond milk! My illness slowly but surely continues to wane, probably because I'm able to eat now that I have more variety and easy access to foods that sound good and actually get some nutrients in my body. And my kankles went away after a few days too :)

{June 6th : Arizona, USA}
After nine days in Arizona, relaxing in the pool, enjoying family time and adjusting our bodies to a new time, culture and cuisine, I notice a little tannish discharge when I use the toilet. It happens sometimes in pregnancy, it doesn't smell foul, so I figure it's no big deal. I'm also on day 3 of a pretty serious migraine that tylenol isn't touching. Later in the afternoon the discharge changes to a light pink color and I start feeling minor cramping. My heart starts racing again, remembering that moment at the Moshi Christmas Party back in 2014 that I felt the same feeling. I saw the same things. And I cried in the arms of my best friend in the back hallway while the rest of the ladies sang carols and started the gift exchange in the next room over, none the wiser to the hell I was entering.
Mom takes me to the ER around 4pm. The doctor is less than helpful and quite aloof, but the nursing staff were amazing. The ultrasound reveals a happy, 13.5 week baby bean moving and flipping and reppin' a nice strong heartbeat.  Unfortunately, it also revealed a small subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH). When the doctor told me what it was, my heart nearly stopped, but then he reassured me it was completely common and almost never affected the pregnancy in any way, even though it was a scary thing to see blood/spotting during pregnancy. It would eventually heal itself as baby grew bigger and the placenta was able to push up against the wall of the uterus (where the little tear was) and stop the bleeding.  I was released around 11pm, feeling only a tiny bit nervous.
After lots of researching and reading, I am fully reassured that everything will be fine. I can't get that image of that rolling baby bean out of my head and that makes my heart happy.

{June 7th : Arizona, USA}
Still cramping and spotting, but not worrying, just resting up as much as I can and taking it easy.

{June 8th : Arizona, USA}
Cramping has worsened. When I wake up around 5am to use the toilet I noticed a bit of a gush of brownish blood, but am not too concerned because I've read that some ladies pass huge clots of their SCH and everything is fine, even a personal friend reassured me the same happened with her and she has a happy elementary-aged little boy now.
I go back to sleep for a bit, and end up not waking until 12 noon! I feel extremely feverish and sure enough have a 101 fever. Fever + discharge is never a good thing so mom rushes home from work and takes me back to the ER.
After a thorough exam and chat about my history from a (much better) doctor, she suspects appendicitis. Just to cover her bases with the pregnancy she does a pelvic exam as well.
And this is when my life turned into a new form of hell.
She told me my cervix was covered in mucus, a sign of a pretty serious infection. She takes a few samples for the lab and is finishing up when my entire cavity fills with fluid and I hear the quiet and cautious words that shake me to the core, causing me to scream out in desperation: "I think you're having a miscarriage."
I can't control myself. My legs begin shaking uncontrollably, the tears fall to the tile floor and I can't stop crying out, "No, please no! Please NOOOO! I can't do this again, please God give me a miracle." Then the words fail me and I just start sobbing. My mom is my side stroking my head and falling apart herself.  Reassuring me, "Shhh, I'm here this time, I'm here." The doctor tells me she's pretty sure my water just broke, unless I just peed on her, but she was pretty sure that wasn't the case. The bottom of my cervix is open slightly and the smell from the waters breaking was so foul my mom could smell it from the head of the bed. I lay there stunned and motionless as she cleans me up.  Just TWO days ago we were here and everything was fine.  I saw the bean flipping around, heart beating strong. My urine culture came back normal. What in the world happened?! She asks me to get up so she can get a urine sample for more evidence of the type of infection but I won't move. I don't want to move a muscle, holding out hope that God will perform a miracle. I also don't want to sit on toilet. The same way I labored for hours with my last angel baby until the remains plunked into the water. With every splash my eyes filled with more tears. I could not go through with that again.
They give me a quick catheter to get the sample and see my urine is so dark I'm clearly extremely dehydrated. They IV me in two different places and hang 2L of fluids as I lay there, motionless, tears streaking my face. I'm no longer able to speak any words so I pray in the Spirit, the only thing I know to do.
They send me to ultrasound to confirm what they believe to be true. And miracle of miracles, baby's heart is still beating! Unfortunately, the waters are gone and bean is head-down in the birth canal.  I go to MRI next to see what's going on, but while I'm waiting my turn my body starts violently shaking all over. It's almost like a seizure it's shaking my body so strongly and I can't control it no matter how hard I try. I'm sure if there weren't bars up on the bed I would have bounced right off it. It was painful and super scary and my heart was racing. The MRI tech quickly wheels me back to my room where I'm given a dose and a half of Ativan to calm the shakes. "But the baby's still alive," I say in a quiet protest as soon as I'm calmed down, "everything was normal on Monday." She replies as kindly as she can with, "Yes honey, but this is what we call an 'inevitable miscarriage.' You're going to loose the baby, it's only a matter of time. The baby can live inside you several days with no fluids, but eventually it will come out, and at 14 weeks, it's lungs are not developed enough to live outside of you." The tears fall again as almost every shred of hope the ultrasound gave me is violently ripped away. She sends me to CT , rather than MRI, so she can get a better image of what's happening. When I return she tells me I am going septic and have a kidney infection, then asks if I know what it means. She explains sepsis is when an infection gets into your blood stream. It's very serious, happens very quickly, affects your whole body, causes organ failure and can be deadly. It's most likely what caused my violent shaking and fever that were untouched by the tylenol. She believes the infection originates in my vagina and traveled to the uterus, causing the miscarriage.
She goes on to explain that their hospital doesn't have any OB services, so they need to transfer me to a different hospital for treatment. They hang a bag of antibiotics and hook me up to a heart monitor while we wait to find a bed in another hospital. An hour or so later Bill joins my mom in the ER and we're in an ambulance heading downtown to a hospital better equipped to handle my case.
In the ambulance my vitals are taken and I'm aware enough to check them out of the corner of my eye. My blood pressure was low 80s over low 50s. My heart rate was off the charts. Not. Good.

{June 9th : Arizona, USA}
We arrive at the hospital downtown and I'm rushed to the ICU. Nurses immediately hang another bag of fluids and antibiotics, the lab techs come take a couple vials of blood for a sample and the attending doctor and resident are by my side within minutes.
The attending explains that he'd like to do a pelvic exam and ultrasound himself so he can be sure he's assessing the situation correctly, rather than going off another doctor's notes.  I appreciate his diligence. After the exam and scan he confirms the horrible news. The infection is originating from the uterus. I have two choices: Wait or receive meds to start labor, push the baby out naturally and give bean a chance to live and be held for a couple of minutes, or he could perform a DNC and remove the contents of my uterus. I ask details about both, risks, etc.

The risks of letting baby come out naturally include scarring of my uterus (affecting our ability to carry a future pregnancy), the chance of organ failure, my lungs detaching, and well, I won't say the other word but it wouldn't end well, depending on how long the laboring took. BUT, this option (in my head) is the one I want so badly. I want to give bean a chance, a chance for a miracle. A chance to hold bean and say goodbye.

The DNC is a surgical procedure where they dilate me slowly, then take a suction device and clean out my uterus. This kills baby instantly. The risks would be me hemorrhaging, needing a blood transfusion, and possibly (but low possibility) needing to scrape out my uterus to get any remains that weren't suctioned out. I hate, hate this option. In my mind, this is me consenting to killing my bean. It is me consenting to killing my bean. This terrifies me. The doctor reassures me this is the best option for my life. To save me, to keep me for Owen and for Bill and for everyone else that cares about me. We need to decide quickly because my condition is worsening. He reminds me that if we want to try and conceive again, this is also our best option. It will not hinder our ability to carry another baby at all, whereas waiting to labor would greatly increase that risk.

As tears slid down my face I nodded yes. I signed a release form agreeing to kill my little bean so I could save my own life. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and I hate myself for it. A mother is supposed to sacrifice for her children, not the other way around. At this point I don't realize just how in danger my life is, and I'm positive I'm not thinking rationally. I just know that I don't want to do what I'm about to do.

After my antibiotics finish up, they take me to the OR. The anesthesiologist introduces himself and I see the mask coming over my face. I take one breath and I'm gone.

As I slowly wake up and blink through the fog, I see I'm back in the ICU room. The nurses are surrounding me, hooking me up to all the machines and all the IVs. They ask if I know where I am and I say, the hospital. They look at me like they want more details and I reply that I don't know exactly where because it was dark when we were in the ambulance but I think it's downtown Phoenix. They ask if I know what day it was and I say no.  They ask if I know what just happened. I answer in my head, "I just killed my baby," then realize I have to say it aloud. "I just had my baby taken out of me" I reply, because I can't say those other words aloud.  I ask for my family as I try to hold back the tears, and someone goes to find them. My nurse explains to me what they're doing, hooking me up to antibiotics, heart monitor and more fluids because of my dehydration. She explains I'll probably be in the ICU for at least 24 hours, but likely 48 hours before moving downstairs to a regular room.
It's early morning now, around 8am. My poor family has been with me through this for 20 hours already. I become more aware of my surroundings and then start shaking violently again, just like before when I was waiting for the MRI. Only this time it's worse and it hurts SO bad because of the pain remaining from the surgery. I plead for Ativan to stop the shaking and explain the ER had to use a dose and a half before it stopped. The ICU would only give me half a dose and it wasn't working. They told me it would work and just give it time. I didn't want to give it time! It hurt SO bad and it was freaking me out to still be going through this! About 15 minutes later it finally starting waning and I could relax.
After a couple of hours I'm starting to feel a little more human. I notice my legs are feeling hot and look down to find a fancy pair of anti-clot leggings adorning my calves.
I look up and see a sign like this, warning me not to get out of bed without my nurse. I notice a sting in my arm and see I've got two IV's going strong and an oxygen meter permanently taped to my finger. I feel a twinge in my lower belly and realize I've got to pee. I call the nurse and tell her and she says, "Okay, I'll grab a bedpan."
She comes back and I ask if there's any other option. "Sorry, you can't get up yet, you're still too weak from the surgery."  "But I don't know how to use a bedpan," I reply, "Give me a squatty any day and I'll be fine, but I can't use a bedpan!" She laughs, "Don't worry, I'll help you," she says.  She did just that and it was a success! After she was finished taking care of things she says, "So, what's a squatty?" I chuckle and explain it to her. She asks why in the world I would use one of those and I tell her about our life in Tanzania. She's genuinely interested and asks lots of questions. It's refreshing to have 'normal' conversation for once. A few hours later I'm well enough to use a little porta-chair-potty thing that's right next to my bed. As she helps me out of bed and to take the two steps to the chair and alarm starts going off. My eyes grow wide like something I'm plugged into is causing alarm and I'm going to die or something. She shouts "Toilet!" and tells me it's the bed alarm.  I guess I literally am not allowed out of bed without my nurse! After the amazing feeling of peeing on a (somewhat) normal toilet, she cleans me up and helps me back to bed. I apologize profusely for the grossness she's had to deal with between the bedpan and now the toilet. Jaimie the nursing assistant in the ICU at Banner University Medical Center. She taught me how to use a bedpan without peeing all over myself. She cleaned my nether parts when I couldn't move. She even combed and put my nasty, greasy hair up in a top knot to get it out of my face for me. And she had real conversation with me. And I will never forget her for that.

A few hours later, around 5pm the lead nurse comes in and says, "Hey! You're movin' out!" "What?" I ask, in shock. "Yep, your stats are up, your fever's stayed down and we don't need to monitor you as closely anymore, you get a regular room.  As soon as one is ready I'll let you know and Jaimie will take you down."
Wow. I'm blown away. God is seriously working some miracles after I nearly didn't live, here I am moving out of the ICU less than 12 hours after my surgery! I took a quick pic out my window because I just thought the view was so neat, and the window reminded me of being in a giant airplane or something. :)

Shortly after that I'm wheeled down to the Womens' Specialty Unit by Jaimie. It's a smaller room, but Bill immediately notices a nice comfy chair that reclines and is excited at the prospect of a better night's sleep. I don't blame him! It's nearly shift change time for the nurses, but Rosie gets me set up, then introduces me to Gabby, who will be my night nurse. She sees the BP cuff already on my arm and hooks me up to take vitals. Then notices the permanent sticky oxygen meter on my finger and hooks that one up too. I open the top of my gown to give her access to the heart monitor sticker things and she says, "Oh, we don't need those down here, you can take them off." Then she sees how bad of shape my IV is in my left vein on the inside of my arm.  I tell her it's sore and that the RN in the ER kind of rushed through it. She tells me she'll take it out and put a different one in above it then use that one for the antibiotics. The one in my hand is left alone for now, just there in case of emergency. She takes my temp then takes off my BP cuff and oxygen meter. I look at her curiously and she says, "We only monitor you every four hours here, you don't have to keep those things on, this will be more comfortable for you." Sweet. It feels amazing to have my right arm completely free! Gabby took out the bad IV, revealing a bruise, then put another one in midway up my arm. The antibiotic stung a little going in, but it wasn't unbearable.  By the early morning when it was time for my next round of antibiotics I asked her to put it in my hand instead, because the one on my arm was so sore from all the meds. She did and then took the other one out, noting that it was probably not necessary to have two anymore that I was doing so well. We noticed when she took it out that there was redness going down in a line were it had been, but it wasn't hot to the touch so she said she'd just keep an eye on it.
I got a few hours of sleep that night, but was woken up quite a bit by the stinging of the magnesium and antibiotics I was getting. Between that and the vital checks I only managed about two hours of solid sleep, but it was the first time I'd slept since Wednesday, so I wasn't complaining.

{June 10 : Arizona, USA}
Friday morning Gabby came in for vitals and noticed that red line on my arm had grown significantly overnight. It had gone from about the middle of my inner arm, nearly to the inside of my elbow. She marked it with a marker so the next nurse would now where it'd left off.
Shift change came around and Gabby did her report with Aubrie. They asked how I was doing and I mentioned that my headache was still hanging on, despite the tylenol they'd been giving me for it. Aubrie immediately started brainstorming and came up with a new drug to try that had caffeine in it (I'm super sensitive to heavy pain meds so we were trying to stay away from those).  They also discussed my veins and the redness from the one IV and said they'd let the doctor know to look at it during rounds.
Aubrie came and gave me the headache meds and told me she'd looked at my chart and couldn't believe how quickly my white blood cell count had gone down overnight. It was in the high 20's before I went to bed, and by morning it was down to 6 ('normal' is considered 11 or lower)! She said she had never seen a jump like that and thought someone had messed up the records! Another miracle to add to the books. She started chatting about my history a little more and was so sweet and really interested in our lives in Tanzania. She was so diligent in taking care of me all day long, making sure I was as comfortable as possible and staying to chat whenever she could. Later in the afternoon when it was time for my next round of antibiotics, she told me she'd set it up differently to dilute it more so it didn't sting so bad going in. But it still hurt really bad. I have a high pain tolerance, and it was almost putting me in tears. She apologized and said she hated to do it, but that she'd try a new line in my other hand. I was fine with that if it meant the burning wouldn't be killing me! She found a good vein and got the line in... and then my vein blew when she tried to flush it with fluids. My veins were just shot. The acidity of the antibiotics that I'd been on every 6 hours for the past three days had taken it's toll.  I literally had no other viable access points. My mid-arm and inside my elbow on the right had been used to the max and were now bruised from all the blood draws so there were no other places to even try an IV.  Aubrie said she'd get the doctor in to see me and plea for me to switch to oral antibiotics because none of my veins were viable anymore. Plus I was doing really well with my stats so she thought he'd agree.
After the doc came in and looked at the bruising and redness on my right arm, he ordered an ultrasound to check for blood clots. He wasn't thinking there'd be any, but the signs were there and he had to be sure it wasn't that, but was just the irritation from the strong meds. He also agreed to let me go on oral meds.
During the ultrasound the tech checked the redness on my arm, my sore hand area, and then went up on my neck and in my armpit. That was a weird sensation. I had no idea why she went all the way up there but I guessed it was maybe to follow the flow of the veins and figured she knew what she was doing.
Back in my room I took some time to enjoy the view of downtown Phoenix out my (airplane) window. It looked like a gorgeous day outside and I was kind of getting tired of being stuck in this hospital. But I also knew I wasn't ready to leave yet because I couldn't do my own hair or use the toilet without Bill helping me.
When the doctor came back to report the results of the ultrasound he said there was a small artificial thrombosis where that red line had been, but that it would be fine and resolve on it's own and feel better with some heat packs applied to it. That was good news, because if it had been a blood clot it would have meant being on blood thinners for several months, and no flying for several weeks, and probably not leaving the hospital for a while either. He also said that, for some reason, the tech went all the way up to my neck, which revealed nodules on my thyroids. Nodules are typical for women 'my age' (gosh I'm not that old, people!), but that they had to do a blood draw and a dedicated ultrasound to rule out cancer. Good grief. Honestly, I wasn't worried. I knew there was no way God would bring me through all this other hell so miraculously just to have to add that to the list, so I just waited patiently for the tests.
The blood tests came back pretty quickly and Aubrie cheerfully told me they were normal. We were still waiting on the ultrasound, but there was no rush, it was just a formality to have on record and double-check the blood results.
By Friday evening I was well enough to use the toilet that was about 6 steps away from my bed completely alone! Shift change came around and I was truly so sad to say goodbye to Aubrie. She had been my favorite by far and I would definitely miss her. She introduced me to Martha and gave her my history, including a bit about our Tanzania story and our family as well. Martha was also very sweet and had a relative leaving for Peace Corps in Tanzania so was also intrigued by our story. I hugged Aubrie goodbye and we promised to try and find each other online and keep up.
After dinner I was able to take a shower - the first one in 5 days (granted, I sat on a little chair the whole time, but still)! You can imagine my state after 4 of those 5 days had been spent in hospitals having fevers and breaking fevers and... well, yea. Gross. I felt like a new woman after that shower! Martha came in around 11pm with my dose of meds and gave me the good news that she didn't need to bother me again for vitals until the morning, around 4. That meant I had a chance at a decent night's sleep! I kicked the bed back, covered up and got as comfy as I could still having sore muscles and joints. Now that I wasn't focused on not dying, all the 'feels' starting coming back and all I could do was think that I wanted my bean back. I shoved those aside because I knew if I started crying it'd only hurt my head and my muscles, so I quickly fell asleep.

{June 11th : Arizona, USA}
I woke up around 5am, having not been bothered yet for vitals and said a little thank you to Martha in my head for letting me sleep.  I dozed back off for a bit before she came in at 5:30, probably the latest she could wait to get my vitals. She told me the ultrasound people had called at 1:30am and said they were ready but she told them to try again at a normal hour. I thanked her profusely for not interrupting my sleep, I was able to get about 6 hours straight and it was so good. Very refreshing. One of the OB's from the practice that operated on me came in next and told me she didn't see any reason I couldn't go home today. I asked about any restrictions and instructions. She told me I'd need to be on pelvic rest, and no pools/hot tubs/baths for at least a few weeks. Other than that, I could do whatever my body felt like I could. I needed to just listen to my body, take it easy, and not overdo it, but there were no restrictions at all. I asked about our plans to fly to Charlotte on Tuesday and she said I should be fine, just make sure I got up to walk around a lot and consider getting some compression socks. She said the hospital attending doctor had to give me official clearance, because she was just a resident from the OB office, but that the other doctor should be on the same page about things too.
Saturday shift change came around and Martha gave her report to Stephanie and said goodbye. After Stephanie had a chance to check my chart she came in to check on me and said the doctors were all shocked by my extremely fast recovery. They still wanted to see the ultrasound of my thyroid, but she didn't see any reason why I couldn't go home. Wahoo! I called mom to have her gather some fresh clothes and get ready to come!
I dozed back off to sleep after breakfast and was woken around 9:30 to go down to ultrasound. Having your neck scanned via ultrasound is such a weird sensation.
Back in the room, my headache started coming back - probably from sleeping on my neck a little funny then having to position it so weird during the ultrasound. Got some tylenol in hopes of it working rather than going with the caffeine stuff and then Mom got there around 11. Discharge was supposed to be at 1pm so we just hung out and chatted while we waited for the doctor to come, give us the ultrasound report and officially discharge me.  Unfortunately, they were short staffed, so we ended up waiting to see the doctor until about 2pm. She said the ultrasound revealed the nodules were benign and that I was free to go.
Stephanie started on the paperwork, called my prescription down to the pharmacy and we were out by about 4:00pm.

In the span of 3.5 days I went from being a healthy, 14-week-pregnant mama, to loosing my amniotic fluid, surgically removing my little baby while it's heart was still beating, becoming extremely sick from sepsis, leaving the ICU more than 24 hours before they expected, living in a room with a rose attached to the door post warning anyone that entered to tread lightly, then being completely discharged from the hospital more than 24 hours before expected.

I'm not gonna lie, it was my own personal version of Hell, probably worse than. But God brought me through, because of the prayers and support of people from across the world, I survived, and I survived in a miraculous way. I couldn't have made it through this physical battle without the support I received from so many people. But that's a blog for another time...

Discharge day, waiting patiently for the doctor. 

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