My journey to rediscovering myself at age 31 started off very dark and disturbing. It was October 1999, when I was put into Intensive Care, in a drug-induced coma, and on a ventilator to help me breathe. I was diagnosed with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome in which the mortality rate is around 80%. I was not expected to live.
I was married and had a little boy that was around 15 months old at the time. He was my everything! He was so full of energy and joy, but at that time, I thought I would never see him again.
Before I was put into ICU, I told my husband that I did not want my baby to see me with all the machines and tubes and things that might scare him. I did not want him to remember me this way.
I was in the drug-induced coma and on the ventilator for 8 days. Eleven different antibiotics were being pumped through my veins in desperation to stop whatever infection had caused this deadly illness to overtake my life. My lungs were filling very quickly with fluid, and I was dying.
One of my lungs was completely full, and the other one was 80% full. During a risky procedure I needed to have done, they punctured my good lung and a chest tube was inserted into my side to drain the fluid.
During all this turmoil, I was at peace. The coma put me in a peaceful place and only rarely did I feel any pain. I remember the dreams I had during the coma, and I remember people, real people, visiting me at real times.
I remember seeing the brightest, most beautiful, warm light and then a beautiful, caring, kind face smiling down at me. I thought she was an angel and I was at Heaven’s Gate. It was actually during the insertion of the chest tube I saw this, and the angel was my nurse.
The joyful new beginning
After a dismal fight and my family’s preparation for my death, I made a turnaround that no one expected. Soon, I was able to breathe on my own and was taken off the life support and out of the coma.
A couple days later, I was dismissed from ICU and into a regular room of the hospital to continue recovering. I remember seeing my boy for the first time after being in the coma. It was the joy I could not explain and tears of happiness and thankfulness. I was alive!
This is when I rediscovered who I was. I came to realize my life had a purpose, and that purpose involved my son and his future brother. I realized I had been lost, needed to return back home, and stay close to God.
Never before had I thought my life had any meaning whatsoever. Now, I knew it was full of meaning. I needed to focus my life on my children and raise them into who they would become. What an amazing journey to rediscovery!