My big family crisis occurred in January 2001. The children were 8, 6, 4 and 6 months. My husband went in hospital for what should have been a minor operation, but it turned out to be life threatening. Having left all our family behind in England, we had moved to California a couple of years previously. My husband had a hiatus hernia and the doctor assured him it could be fixed with a small operation, but as it turned out, he was far wrong. The operation was scheduled for a Tuesday and it was also our 13th wedding anniversary, but we’re not superstitious.
Life for me was busy, homeschooling 4 children was no easy thing. I remember my husband making a comment about driving himself to the hospital as I was almost too busy to take him. We were told he would go in on the Tuesday and come out Wednesday or Thursday. I had arranged babysitting to visit him for two days and thought that would be all. On Wednesday it was clear he wasn’t coming out, and by Thursday he looked really sick to me. I got home and emailed many Christians and asked for prayer. As days went by I was constantly sending out email updates and requests for prayer.
It seemed to me that half the church had gone down with a very bad flu virus, including my pastor’s family. My pastor couldn’t come to the hospital because he was so sick and asked the elders to pray with my husband instead. By Friday the doctors couldn’t work out what was wrong and didn’t know what to do. The elders arrived and prayed and the doctor decided on an exploratory operation, which was performed that evening. Had he waited until Saturday morning it would have been too late.
The doctor found that during the first laparoscopic operation a piece of small intestine had been cut. The contents of the bowel were leaking into the blood stream and my husband was being poisoned. He performed a repair operation, but then my husband didn’t want to wake up. Slowly his major organs shut down, including his lungs. His heart rate was over 250 (normal is between 80 and 100) and his blood pressure was not high enough to be recorded.
When my husband woke up he was on a breathing machine. In the next week his body was totally out of balance and it took a week to get him functioning on his own again and then another week before he was dismissed from hospital.
Right from the start the people from my church were a total blessing. One lady volunteered to field phone calls and organize anything I wanted. I had constant babysitters and meals in my house. Many people phoned up to ask what they could do. Frequently my request was to just listen to me offload what had happened.
I had a huge problem with too many people from church wanting to go to the hospital and pray. People were getting up from their own sick beds to go to the hospital and pray. I was scared. Flu at that time could have finished him off. I checked myself daily for flu symptoms praying that God would not let me get it and I would still be able to visit so much.
The whole thing was just a blurr. It happened and I coped. Everyone made comments about how well I was coping, people said my faith was so strong. But what else could I do? I just had to cope. All my family was in England, but church family surrounded me. I lived on a spiritual high, totally relying on God for his support through the crisis. I just wish I could have the spiritual high without the tragedy.
As to homeschooling, the children watched a lot of TV and played on the computers a lot.
When people came to look after them I showed them the schoolbooks and said looking after them was a priority and if schoolwork got done, it was a bonus. Some schoolwork was done, but not much.
After two weeks in hospital the nightmare wasn’t over. My husband was still very sick from all the toxins in his body. It was two months before he returned to work, even then not at full health. It was two years before some semblance of health returned. He still suffers today from the consequences of what happened.
When he came home from hospital all my help disappeared and I think this was the worst part. I was now alone with a sick husband and 4 children. People seemed to think he was better because he wasn’t in hospital but I needed their prayers and support just as much.
As soon as he returned to work we resumed house hunting and a month later we found the house we decided to buy. I organized the move, he just went to work from one house in the morning and returned to another in the evening, collapsing in his chair from exhaustion in the evening as he usually did.
The following week (mid April) he came home with the news that his division at work was closing at the end of June and he didn’t know if he would be employed or not after then. We were nervous that he would lose his job and not have the energy to search for another one. Also we couldn’t do any improvements on the house as we had planned.
For the whole month of May I found myself in deep depression. I’m the sort of person who hides it, so no one knew for a long time. Suddenly I realized that my husband had nearly lost his life and I was nearly a widow. That was when it hit me and I went into depression. It took about a month before I told a friend and got some help. Another friend from church made me promise to tell her if I’m ever depressed again.
My husband didn’t lose his job. 85% of his department went, but he kept his job. There were more lay offs, but he is still there. I just say that 2001 was our nightmare year.