Stop the World

There have been times when I have gone around singing the song that goes, “Stop the world; I want to get off of it.”  On October 26 of this year (2012) it actually happened to me.

On October 25, I finally received approval for the last of some advertising articles I had contracted to do. I had been working for weeks on the project, a series of 30 unique articles to be posted on the internet for someone who lives a state away and whom I have never met. He proved to be an exacting taskmaster with strict rules regarding the titles, information in the first couple of lines of each article and general formatting.  My source material for quotes and for accuracy was a 10,000 word booklet written by the client, far too little information for thirty articles. The project ended up taking more than a hundred hours worked in over several weeks time during evenings and weekends as I continued my full time job and other responsibilities.

During that time, I also formatted and edited a book for another client and continued to keep up daily entries to my website, and to the website where I began my internet career, The website entries included my daily columns in “Through the Bible with Betty” and an article and/or a poem daily.

So there I was almost at the end of a hard couple of months, during which I ignored a number of signs that I was not well, when I awoke on October 26.  I washed my hair, and then went down the hall for breakfast.  I had eaten half an English muffin, interspersing bites with my many daily pills swallowed with ice water and sips of hot coffee, before my head exploded with pain, seeming to spread from my neck to my forehead and then throughout my skull.  I communicated the pain to my husband by a gasp and by the hands I held to my head as if to hold it together. Almost immediately I said, “I’m in trouble.”

My husband led me to the living room and told me to lie down.  I couldn’t stand it.  I sat back up.  He suggested I go to the hospital. I wanted to do something about my wet hair first.  I walked alone down the hall; but once in the bedroom, I could not stand up.  I sat down on the bed.  A pain ripped through me like pulsating lightning from the base of my neck all the way to my tail bone.  I asked my husband to call 911. He said, “Don’t you think you can ride in the car.”  I had him hand me my bathrobe and help me into it and he led me to the car. He may well have saved my life by getting me to the hospital more quickly than it would have taken had we waited for an ambulance. 

During the five minute drive I held my head firmly, pressing it against the head rest to prevent movement.

At the hospital they took me right in. After a few questions a doctor came in and ordered a CAT scan.   I had a burst aneurysm and two other aneurysms as well.  The area between the tissue surrounding my brain and my skull was suffused with blood.  They told me I would be transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis by helicopter. The next hour was a blur, but I was a little closer to consciousness when the helicopter arrived.  By then, all my family who lived locally—two brothers, a sister, two sons, a daughter-in-law, beloved ex-daughter-in-law and three grandchildren had gathered to see me off.  I spoke to the children because I could see them turning away from me, obviously disturbed. With my hair a mess and all the tubes, etc. I must have been a scary sight.

I was awake during the helicopter ride over the familiar country between my home town and our capital city—approximately 95 to a hundred miles, accomplished in about twenty minutes by helicopter.

The helicopter landed on the roof of the hospital and I was taken to the Neurological unit.  By 1:00 that day I was in surgery. Much like the heart catheterization procedure, they went through my groin and threaded the way to my brain to the site of the aneurysm and placed a coil in it to cause the blood to clot.  Unfortunately, the other two aneurysms could not be dealt with at the time.  They remain to be faced after I recover from the one that burst.

I spent 13 days in Neurological Critical Care and two more in the stroke ward before coming home at last.  More than two weeks have passed since then.  Today it is one month since the big event. I was forced to resign my job because of the uncertainty of when I would recover.  I will probably not be able to face the stress of free-lance work for a while. I have gone from a person with a full life and income to one who is barely able to putter around.

I cannot believe the weakness and fatigue I feel.  However, I have been on the computer a few times and I have now written this article.  I want you to know that I will be back.  Someday there will be daily additions to once more.  I hope you will show up to read what I write. I also hope you will be kind enough to join me in thanking God for my life.

Betty Killebrew

P.S.  I just happened to look at a mirror and I realize I did not mention my extreme light sensitivity.  I have written this article while wearing wraparound sunglasses, even though I adjusted the settings on my computer to dim the display.  You would certainly smile—or laugh—if you could see me.

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