Monday, October 22, 2012

A Personal Note

Many of you may not know that I have not been on-line much in over a month, because of a very frightening personal health crisis. Unbeknownst to me or any of my doctors, my bike accident and concussion on August 21 resulted in a small subdural hematoma (bleeding in my brain).  The hematoma did not show up in the CT scan performed on me in the immediate aftermath of my bike accident.  So even though I appeared to be recovering well in the three weeks or so immediately after the accident, by early September I was beginning to experience increasingly frequent and severe headaches, and brief episodes of numbness in my left arm, my left leg, and in the left side of my face.  My doctor was baffled by the intermittancy of these symptoms, and did not recommend a course of action other than to just monitor it and let him know if it got worse.  Then, Sunday, September 30, while I was attending Fast and Testimony Meeting in my ward, the entire left side of my body went numb for about 20 minutes.  I was planning to call my doctor the next day.  But a brother in my ward who is a former EMT insisted I go immediately to the E.R.  As it turns out, this brother's advice literally saved my life.  I will always be grateful to my brother Matthew.

A new CT scan revealed a hematoma that had progressed to the point where only immediate brain surgery could relieve building pressure that would likely have killed me within the next twenty-four hours. After signing a waiver acknowledging the risks of 1) infection in the brain, 2) permanent neurological damage caused by drilling two nickel-sized holes into my skull, or 3) the possible need to remove as much as one third of my cranium, I submitted to this emergency procedure the following day, exactly one week short of my 49th birthday.  Göran took the day off work to be with me in the hospital.  I have been so grateful for my loving husband's presence and support through all of this.

After my doctors had revealed to me the nature of my condition, I called the brother who -- I now realized -- had saved my life.  I asked him to minister to me again, this time by coming to the hospital and giving me a priesthood blessing.  He arrived with a friend and former home teacher.  They laid their hands on my head and promised me, in the name of Jesus Christ, successful surgery and a speedy recovery.  I felt the Holy Spirit present, confirming that the blessing was true.

Throughout this frightening time, I experienced the presence of God in a way that I know he is real, and that he loves me deeply.  He was present with me as I was being rolled into the operating room.  As I slipped away into the darkness of anesthetic sleep, I felt his loving embrace, and his assurance that he would keep me safe.  Not safe in a merely proximal sense, but safe in the ultimate sense.  Safe in the sense that even if I died, I would be eternally cared for.  I was not afraid to die.  It was a remarkable experience.

I learned that I may not take my life or my intellectual capacities for granted.  God could take both these things away from me in an instant.  I belong to God, and if my life or my intellect are worth anything, it is because I have dedicated them to his service.

I learned that the Lord has yet a work for me to do, but that I can only accomplish it if I acknowledge his hand in everything.

Thank you to all you who have comforted and helped care for me through this ordeal.  The blessing I received through Brother Matthew has all come true.  It was a model surgery, and my doctors were surprised to observe that within four days of the surgery I had recovered sufficiently to be released from the hospital, with tests showing I had sustained zero to minimal neurological damage.  For a long time now, I have felt like the luckiest, most blessed person on the planet.


Neal said...

So glad you're OK! We are blessed to have you among us once more!

J G-W said...

Thank you, Neal. I guess I came very close to not being among you any more. I am so grateful!

Duck said...

I am so glad, and grateful, that things have gone well for you and that you are alright. I have been worried about you and hoped things were OK. Thanking Heaven for your safety and for the power of the priesthood that comforted and revealed health and healing to you.

Happy day. Duck

Matthew said...

Oh wow, I had been wondering about the long time with no posts. I am so glad that you are still with us, John. It was a good thing that you were at church and that this brother happened to be there. Probably not a coincidence.

May God continue to bless and watch over you and your family.

J G-W said...

Duck - thank you. I have felt the power of others' prayers in my behalf. I am so grateful.

Matthew - I am certain it was no coincidence that I was where I was, with the people I was with when all of this went down. Thank you for your blessing words!