How I Learned to Wake Up With Gratitude
We are living through one of the most difficult global crises in our lifetime. Every day we are seeing reminders to be grateful in the face of adversity. Several years ago, I went through a life-threatening infection that changed the way I look at every day. I choose to wake up with gratitude, as I know first-hand that tomorrow is not promised. Here is the story of how I survived my second miscarriage:
My daughter was born in September of 2010 and today she is a beautiful, healthy nine-year-old girl. After she was born, I got pregnant for a second time in January of 2013. That pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage at home, at 15 weeks gestation. At the time, that was truly the worst thing that had ever happened to me. When I got pregnant for a third time in September of 2014, I was a bit more cautious and concerned about whether I would carry to term. You see, I have endometriosis. We knew with endometriosis that I may not be able to have another child. My husband Dan and I had decided that we were happy to be blessed with one child. And then, I accidentally got pregnant. I totally blanked on where I was in my cycle, and the next day, I knew that I was pregnant. I was right, and a test confirmed that I was pregnant a few weeks later.
This time, at 12 weeks gestation, I started bleeding. And I just knew. I didn’t even need to go to see my midwives. They sent me directly to an OB/GYN. He told me “You’re having a miscarriage, and we’ll probably need to do a D & C again.” I had been through it once before, so I agreed without hesitation. The thought of miscarrying at home again was terrifying.
Within a few hours of the miscarriage starting, the surgery was performed. I was discharged less than an hour later, and when I came back home, I felt so much worse than the first time. The next morning, we went back to the hospital. I spent the day in the ER. I was spiking a fever and had terrible cramping. I knew that something wasn’t right.
They sent me home again. The next day, I still wasn’t well, and my pulse was really low. We called our friend Paul who is an ER physician. He told us to get to the hospital immediately because something was really wrong. We rushed back for a third time. I could no longer stand up because my blood pressure had dropped so much. I was finally admitted and they did tests and took swabs to find out what had happened.
I ended up being diagnosed with an exceedingly rare bacterial infection called Invasive Group A Strep. This rare infection causes either flesh-eating disease or sepsis (blood poisoning). I had the kind that causes sepsis. I was so sick that I told my husband, “Please. You need to have me put into a medically induced coma because I’m so sick.” I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Here’s the funny part of the story: I’m a fairly organized person. I wrote my husband a list of things he had to do before I went into a medically induced coma. My friend Paul (the ER doctor) was with me when they intubated me, so he gave my husband the list. On the list included calling the church and asking the priest to say a prayer for me and spoiling our daughter.
I was placed in a medically induced coma in order to heal. I was within 24 hours of losing my life.
The coma lasted for a week. I was on a ventilator and was cared for by an amazing team of nurses, respiratory therapists, and physicians. When I woke up, things were not the same as before. I couldn’t see properly, all colours were muted. I had no strength whatsoever and it was a Herculean effort to bring a Styrofoam cup to my lips to drink.
This is what it feels like to wake up with gratitude. I knew I had survived and was grateful to be alive!
And then, I set my intention of getting out of the hospital in two days. Paul (the ER doctor friend) reminded me that I had completed three full Ironman triathlons. He said, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I set my mind on my intention, and I went home in two days. I was still very weak and needed a lot of help from my family. It was much nicer to be recovering at home.
My gratitude practices played a role in this story. I wrote in my gratitude journal on the night of the miscarriage. When I packed my bag to go to the hospital, I took my gratitude journal. That was the last time I wrote in it for two weeks. On the day I woke up, there is this little scribble on this page. I was trying to write something because I couldn’t speak after being intubated, nor could I hold a pen.
Once I was home, here are some of the things I wrote in my journal: “I’m truly grateful for the outpouring of love and support I have received. I’m truly grateful for amazing ICU nurses. I’m truly grateful for antibiotics. I’m truly grateful to be loved and supported by hundreds, and I’m truly grateful that Jesus heard all of our prayers.”
Surviving a life-threatening bacterial infection is what inspires me to lead with gratitude every day. I want to inspire others to do the same. As we live through the current pandemic, this is the number one lesson I can share with you. There is always something to be grateful for, even in the darkest of times. I leave you with my mantra that I repeat when I wake up in the morning:
“Thank you for this gift of another day
For the opportunity to be of service to others
And to make a difference in our world.”