Rebecca eating a sandwich. That’s the image that keeps playing through my mind. She’s so thin that despite the hospital room being heated to about 95 degrees she is constantly shivering, covered in goosebumps. But she’s eating a sandwich! She showed no hesitation in eating the entire thing in front of me, her husband and her cousin. She didn’t say it but I think it was her way of saying she’s glad she’s still alive.
When I ask her how she’s feeling, the first thing she says is “relieved.” She doesn’t expound on that but she has a great deal to be relieved about. First of all, she should be relieved that her husband came home when he did. By his own account, he found her rigid and unconscious on their bed – black from head to toe from lack of oxygen. She had no pulse and no breath. It took the paramedics seven minutes to get there. Her husband adds apologetically, “and I don’t know CPR.” Rebecca was dead for seven minutes. I ask her if she saw a light or had an epiphany or any other life changing experience. She didn’t. The last thing she remembers is hanging up the phone. The next thing after that was waking up in the ICU with the ventilator breathing for her. She tried to rip it out of her throat so they restrained her and she was scared. Fear is her first thought upon waking. Fear is all any of us felt until she woke up.
Secondly, she should be relieved that her children didn’t find her. I can’t imagine how a 5-year old, a 3-year old and a 1-year old would have dealt with a dead mommy. Even now I can’t bear to consider that possiblity. They were downstairs watching TV and still don’t know what happened. But someday they will.
Thirdly, she should be relieved she’s alive. The doctors said she might never recover. They gave her a fifty percent chance of coming out of her coma. She did that. They said she would be on the ventilator for at least 5 days. Slightly more than 24 hours and she proved them wrong again. They say this could happen to her again, with no warning. That her heart is weak and her lungs are damaged. I hope she proves them wrong for the rest of her long life.
I only spent an hour with her at the hospital but I learned a lot. I left, much relieved myself, with that image of her and her sandwich. I left feeling very hopeful. She’s letting me bring her and her family dinner tonight. It’s food and comfort and friendship and hope. I’m grateful.
PS> I want to thank Laura for her thoughts on how we as women view our bodies as enemies instead of being grateful for their power.
I want to thank Ruth for her kind consideration of my question – I agree with you and I’m grateful for your support. I do indeed read Every Woman Has An Eating Disorder – it’s a great blog and I totally recommend it.
I want to thank Whitney (and all of the rest of you!) for your kind thoughts, prayers and support for my friends. I think it helps. Thanks for reading too!!! :)))