Thriving while survivingI am a 73 year old retired clergywoman. At age 20 I crossed over from life to death and back to life on this earth when in labor giving birth to my 2nd child the main artery to the placenta ruptured and I bled out internally. I was told that my baby was dead because he had been with oxygen from the time the artery ruptured. At that point my blood pressure dropped to zero and I went to the most beautiful place I have ever been. Peace and beautiful music the like of which I cannot describe surrounded me. But I couldn't stay there. The first thing I heard was my baby's cry and I was back in the delivery room. Today that child holds a high level position in higher education and is completely healthy. Praise and thanks to God for this miracle.
My story continues with 2 strokes from the medication that was in the contraceptive pill I took for 3 years. I lost my short term memory, have neurological damage to my left side and had a generalized weakness for years. 5 years from the date of the second stroke I began having petit mal seizures and was on medicated for them for 8 years. In the midst of all of this I went back to school twice; once to earn a 2 year degree in business administration. This education gave me the credentials and skills I needed to become a public administrator, which position I held for 12 years in State Government. In the 8th year of my employment in this role, I again returned to the class room to earn a 4 year undergraduate degree as a precursor to entering the seminary. At age 51 I graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree from one of the most academically challenging seminaries in my denomination and was ordained a parish pastor. At age 64 I was diagnosed with sick sinus syndrome, a left branch bundle block and my LAD was 75% blocked requiring placement of a medicated stent and a 2-lead cardiac pacemaker. The pacemaker desynchronized my heart and I went into heart failure with an Ejection Fraction of 25%. Subsequently the LAD reoccluded and a second medicated stent was placed inside the first as well as a stent placed in another artery. The pacemaker was changed out and I have now had a biventricular pacer implanted for 5 years.
One year ago I was told by my cardiologist that my heart muscle was weakening. A new medication was given to me to try to help the heart muscle strengthen itself. This medication had serious adverse interaction with other medication I am on.
Today I cannot walk very far, I use a walker and am able to be active for 3-4 hours and then have to sleep for up to an hour. Still I continue to thrive in the sense that I still serve the pastoral care needs of an occasional older process in the dying process. Is life restricted and not all that easy? Of course it is. But I walk on one day at a time with joy in the moment.