Net Abbey

Living on the Edge - January 23, 2011

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Melanie Pritchard was a typical young woman, pregnant with her second child.  The pregnancy had gone well and she was in the hospital, in labor and expecting a normal delivery.  Then, the unexpected happened.  She told her husband she didn't feel well and quickly following that, she went into cardiac arrest.  She remembers nothing else until she woke up, 3 heart attacks later, after an emergency C-section and some other type of heart surgery (she doesn't say what type of heart surgery they did) and a long surgery to remove the blood in her stomach after they apparently nicked an artery during the emergency C-section.  She went home with a portable de-fibillator which she hoped would be removed three months after recovering.  Her last entry in her blog was in Oct 2010 when she was due for an echo cardiogram to see if they had to insert a defib in her more permanently.  One would have thought that if she had gotten a "clean bill of health" she would have written another triumphant entry about this but she did not do this.

She wrote in her last entry: I have always been a strong and independent woman, but this whole thing has left me weak and vulnerable in ways that I have had to let down my guard and allow others to serve me and take care of me. Itís been extremely humbling. 

Although she promised to blog again soon, to date (Jan 2011) she has not written another blog.

What had happened to her was a small piece of hair or whatever from her uterus which held the baby, had somehow escaped into her bloodstream, circulated to her heart and caused heart attacks.  She had been dead basically for 10 minutes and was not expected to live or if she did, she would have severe damage to her brain etc.

Somehow, with 2 or 3 surgeries and much hospital time, she survived and with little to no brain damage.  This complication of pregnancy is extremely rare because the uterus is a closed system.

Lately she showed up on the EWTN show "Life on the Rock".  She said, that she lived was a miracle but was not forthcoming on any repercussions from her catastrophic event. People (and perhaps Melanie) would like to believe she just "went back to normal" and occasionally that happens but usually, you do not suffer such an event without severe repercussions, repercussions which might shorten lifespan, cause disability or whatever. We were not given any facts of what were the repercussions.

And I asked myself, why not.  Why not, was perhaps that Melanie herself, wants to believe that everything has gone back to normal.  No one wants to live on the edge of life and death, not knowing when or not they will succumb and how.  Cannot blame her.

We also had a similar sudden catastrophe happen to us. My husband, then of 42 years, and I came back from an early bicycle ride (we liked riding in the early morning when there was very little traffic) and I was on my computer and he had gotten off his and went to sit in his favorite chair in the attached living room (we have a small home).  I wanted him to check if a date I had put into our mutual calendar had appeared on his computer but he didn't answer me.  I found him sitting in his chair, his head in his hands, saying his vision and hearing had gotten strange and he had a killer headache.  A few hours later, he was in the ER and they diagnosed a brain bleed, something from which there is a 20% survival rate.

He came home with a shunt, several days later (13 days in intensive care), but our lives had changed forever. The brain bleed was likely a rare complication from taking a daily aspirin (1 in 5000, the Bayer company tells us).  A future which had once looked to stretch out a long way in the distance was suddenly totally uncertain and the rather horrifying idea of widowhood for me, became a possibility.  Like Melanie, we became aware of "living on the edge" of life and death, a realization that we were attached to our lives by a slender thread - one which had almost been broken.

We all live on the edge of life and death of course.  But the matrix world in which we live, gives us the false impression that we are in control, a feeling we all like to have.  And a catastrophic occurrence breaks us out of the matrix and into reality which (like the movie, "The Matrix") is not quite so pretty.

None of us wants to live on the edge because us Christian types haven't a clue of what lies beyond life. This world is all we've known. The next life, we are told will be so nice beyond our wildest hopes but most of us don't like the idea of the unknown.  I have wondered, will I be able to play the violin in Heaven or ride a bicycle?  Is there anything which will be that nice?

In the end, the answer is "Faith".  I have (as I'm sure Melanie has) asked many times, "Why did God allow that terrible thing to happen?"  Like all suffering it has made me aware that each moment of life, I am allowed, is because God has allowed it and that I have no control over things, an awareness I'm not sure I'm so happy to have. Living in a matrix world where I thought I had a lot of control was easier.  But I guess living this way is a better preparation for what God has planned for me.