Some moments of my life will never be forgotten. The day Ken and I went to see Debbie in the hospital is one of them – well, not the hospital visit, but the drive home.
Let me start from the beginning. Debbie was a young mom in our church. She and her husband had two girls and then and a few months before everything happened, they had a baby boy.
But Debbie didn’t recover from the birth as she should of. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Her symptoms were leukemia-like, but she didn’t have leukemia. A doctor told Ken that they wished she DID have leukemia, because then they would know what to do. They didn’t know how to attack this unknown disease she had.
She would be in the hospital and then home for a few weeks. Often, that summer, Ken and I would ride our bikes over to their house and visit. Then she’d have a relapse and be back in the hospital. They took her to a hospital in Milwaukee, so trips to see her would take several hours – trips Ken made many times.
Everyone was concerned about her, of course. A young mom with a new baby (who had been diagnosed with diabetes, so his blood sugar level had to be watched at all times). Yet, the family bravely took one day at a time.
Still, Debbie seemed to be getting worse instead of better.
One day (during a lengthy hospital stay) Ken and I headed up to see her, but when we reached the room, we found her dressed and sitting on her bed.
They’ve discharged me, she said. “I’m doing better. They did a spinal tap this morning and they said I could go home.”
Her husband came in the room from signing papers. He was in a festive mood. “She’s coming home,” he announced. “Finally.”
“And I want to go to BAKERS SQUARE,” she said. “Some good food. I need some good food.”
“Hey,” suggested her husband, “why don’t you come with us?”
We agreed to meet at the BAKERS SQUARE that was about halfway home.
We got to the restaurant, went in and were waiting for the hostess to seat us when Debbie said she needed to use the ladies room. Her husband asked if I would go with her since she was still very weak.
I agreed. The ladies room was tiny – two stalls and a sink and no place to stand and wait. She went into a stall and then immediately came out again. “Linda, I’m I bleeding”
She lifted her shirt and I saw the puncture where they had done the spinal tap earlier in the morning. It was pouring blood. Now, let me say here, there’s a real, good reason I’m not a nurse. I react to blood simply by listening to people talk about\ their wounds.
But I had no choice. I grabbed a handful of paper towels, held them on the wound and attempted to stop the rush of blood. But the blood kept coming. Soon my hands and clothes were soaked with blood. (Because of her illness, her blood was thin and wouldn’t clot.)
I used up all the paper towels and grabbed toilet paper … blood was everywhere. Ladies walked in and immediately walked out again. Then two rather loud ladies walked in, took one look at it all and decided they were going to “lay hands on her and cast out the demons.”
Debbie panicked. “Get away from me. This is my pastor’s wife and she can do all the praying I need.”
“If you want to do something,” I said to them, blocking Debbie from their aggressiveness, ask in the kitchen if they have some rags or something I can use.”
One of the ladies listened to me. Finally, I got the blood stopped, at least tentatively stopped. I walked Debbie out to her husband who immediately headed back to the hospital. I washed my hands and cleaned up as best as I could and Ken and I followed them. By that time she was readmitted.
Only later, as we were driving home, did I start shaking and burst into tears. What had happened overwhelmed and frightened me. At the same time, I was thankful that the Lord got me by my usual aversion to blood to be calm enough to help her.
Sadly, Debbie died about a month after this happened.
I’ve always been thankful to the Lord for giving me the peace and confidence to handle the situation, because I was completely out of my comfort zone for sure. Only He provided the strength do to deal with that day.