I have joked around about my hospitalization, but the sober truth is, I almost died.
My mama says that my temp went up to 105, and I was diagnosed with heart failure and kidney failure. A lot of people were praying really hard for me.
When I came out of the second surgery, the surgeon said no one could stay with me through the night, since I would be in ICU (Intensive Care Unit). So they all went home.
Some time during the night, I opened my eyes. The room was dimly lit, but I could see that I was in a regular room, not ICU. Someone was sitting beside the bed, holding my hand. Her forehead was down on our joined hands. At first, I thought it was my mother or one of my sisters.
I didn't say anything, but she seemed to sense that I had opened my eyes. She lifted her head, shaking back a thick mane of auburn hair. In a calm, conversational tone, she told me that she had been praying for me. She told me I had gone through the surgery well, but that I needed extra care through the night. She said that she was an ICU nurse, and that she would be with me all night.
She wiped my face and mouth, smoothed my hair, adjusted the pillow, reminded me of the morphine pump, and asked about the level of my pain. She asked me if I wanted to pray, but I was having trouble talking. She asked if I wanted her to pray, and I squeezed her hand. So she prayed for me--with me. Groggy on meds, in terrible pain, I was able to understand what she said, even if I couldn't croak out a word. In my mind, in my heart, I prayed too.
She sat back down on a little wooden stool, and held my hand as I drifted back into unconsciousness.
Each time that I roused, she was there to give me a sip of water, to make me as comfortable as possible, and to pray with me.
The light was always dim, not the bright lights the nurses usually turned on. No one else came into my room through that long, dark, pain filled night.
At last, I awoke to sunshine, and the faces of my family anxiously watching to see if I was okay. The next thing I saw was the little wooden stool, now empty.
I asked about her, the nurse who had stayed with me all night. My sister went to the nurses' station to ask how to contact her, to send a thank-you for her watchful, prayerful care.
The charge nurse said that no person of that name had been on duty in that section, nor in any other section on that floor. Furthermore, she said that no ICU nurse would have come to my room, and that if I needed ICU care, I would have been in ICU.
Who was she, this auburn-haired woman, who held my hand, prayed for me, cared for me through that night?
I think she was an angel.
If she was my imagination, as some of the nurses suggested, where did that little wooden stool come from? If she didn't care for me that night, who did?
God sent her to help me, to take care of me, to keep me alive. To be an embodiment of His Holy Spirit. To be my ICU angel.