Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One thing nice about being sick in a town, where generations of your family have lived, is that you have a lot of cousins. Since some of them worked at the hospital, I was given great care. My boyfriend Danny's mother was the head nurse so I was nicely spoiled .That was fortunate for I really needed it,I felt like crap.

I over heard the doctor tell my parents that I had a 50/50 chance of survival. That didn't upset me for it meant I had just as good a chance of making it as not. Always been an optimist and kids never think they can die. That is for old people.

I had a tube up my nose that went into my stomach, an IV in my arm, and my behind was a virtual pincushion with the penicillin shots but other than that, there was little they could do without bending a knee. This was 60 years ago.

One day I heard something that stayed with me for most of my life. The nurse was telling the doctor that the suction for my nose/stomach tube was not working. The rationale for using the nasograstic tube was that keeping the digestive tract empty would help it get back to normal more quickly and that the tube would reduce the likelihood of vomiting and related aspiration pneumonia,

The doctor ordered her to replace it. The nurse replied there was only one other and it was being used by a 72 year old woman. With out a moments hesitation the doctor ordered her to take the one from the old woman and give it to me.

I couldn't believe what he had said and when the nurse came in my room, I told her I didn't want to take anything from that poor woman. Surely there was another way.The nurse was a bit shocked when she realized I had over heard her and the doctor talking.

Smoothly, I am pretty sure she lied to me saying,"Oh, it's OK. She doesn't need it any more and you do."

I made her respond to "Are you sure?" three times before I let her do her job.

I would never find out what happened to that lady. I carried this guilt with me for many years. It is only recently that it has been discussed in the medical community, that the nose/stomach tube probably slows recovery after surgery so perhaps my robbing her did not hurt her too much. Of course the older I get, I can see that I would give something helpful in keeping me alive to a child in a heart beat.

At one point, I seemed to not be getting better but was getting worse. Again I overheard that my chances had now slipped to 40/60. I don't know why the doctors seemed to think my hearing was faulty or perhaps I was too dumb to understand, but they openly discussed my prognosis within ear shot. That was when my mother asked our priest to visit me.

I had recently been the youngest person to ever be confirmed in St. Paul's Episcopal church. Our priest was young, red haired and quite good looking. I was so excited that he actually came to see me. All he did was chat a while, said a brief prayer and blessed me. He did not take long but the effect was instantaneous. I felt better, and I mean a lot better as he walked out the door.

Was there a divine intervention, placebo effect, or just coincidence? I can not prove any. All I can say is that my recovery turned around that afternoon and I was very soon a troublesome 10 year old again.

While I do not belong to any organized religion today, I am spiritual, and totally believe in the power of prayer.


  1. I had to go back and read yesterday's post, since I missed it. My daughter had to have her appendix out when she was 10, but her's didn't rupture. I am so glad you lived to tell us about it.

    Ether is sinful stuff. I left my body when I was 4 and having a tonsillectomy. I remember that feeling all too well. Ether made my ears ring - it was awful!

  2. You really stayed in hospital a long time.

    I had Ether more than once. The retching afterward wasn't helpful for abdominal surgery.

    Don't you wonder how we survived in those days?

    I hope they sterilized the naso-gastric tube between patients! But then you quizzed the nurse long enought, it probably lost its sterilized state.

    Today they are tossed after one use, yet for all our new found sterilization techniques we have MRSA, etc.

    My episode came when Doctors made housecalls. He came by our house after a nightlong session of N&V.

    He took a little blood to his office and called back I needed to go to hospital. Daddy carried me and stayed till the surgery was over, while Mother stayed with my siblings.

  3. Amen to that, Patti... Being spiritual sometimes is more important than being religious. Prayer can do wonders!!!

    Glad things worked out for you.. I'm sure it was scary. I cannot believe that they were talking about you so that you could hear... GADS!!!!

    Hope the older woman was okay..

    Glad you made it through that ordeal!!!

  4. kenju
    I am not glad you had to suffer but I am glad someone besides me had an out of body experience. People do tend to skoff when you tell them. Glad we both made it.

    The only thing they replaced was the suction machine. They just hooked my tube up to it. Those were pretty hefty operations for both of is. I was in the hospital for about a week.

    I sometimes wish I knew how that lady turned out but maybe it is best I don't . It was a decision the Dr. had to make, I just wish I hadn't known about it.

  5. What a fantastic story this is. It is scary how everything was so different 60 years ago---and having had my own brush with death 69 years ago, they didn't even have Penecillin then....And they spoke about very scary things in front of me, too...! Not too smart of them, was it?
    I do think there are things like the visit from your Priest that can turn aituation around...The Power of Prayer and the Power of a visit from a figure who represented great help and comfort cannot be minimized. I'm so glsd you lived to tell this tale, my dear.