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Wednesday, 01 February 2012

Put On A Happy Face

By Jackie Harrison

If you have been reading my stories, you know I don't like to write sad ones. I hope this one will not leave you sad but will give you hope and a reason for living.

When I was small, I almost died from a hemorrhage following a tonsillectomy. Later I contracted malaria from playing outside during summer evenings in Georgia.

I married at a very young age and had a daughter at the age of 22. Before her delivery, I began bleeding and was forced to stop working, destroying my plans of walking straight from work into the delivery room.

My doctor told me I had a "green cervix" and would probably be a month late. He also told me to cut out all my salt because I had suddenly gained three pounds, still short of the 15 pounds he enforced. I promptly left and bought half a pound of salted peanuts and ate them.

My husband's family arrived for the delivery on my due date. It was cold in Atlanta and the pipes had frozen. I helped open them. That evening I began having labor pains.

I have never been one to pay attention to pain or any other physical problem so the next morning, still having a few pains, I went with my mother-in-law to Sears to shop for baby things. She became alarmed since my pains became fairly regular. I told her not to worry because if I delivered at Sears, they would give me a complete baby layette. This sounded good to me since we didn't have much money as a poor, medical-resident family.

I waited until the last minute to go to the hospital. The delivery went well. The next day, I stood up from my bed and suddenly found myself standing in a pool of my own blood. The nurses panicked so I raised the foot of my bed myself and laid down until they took me to the operating room.

Instead of suturing the artery causing my bleeding, they merely clamped it. They removed the clamp the next day and sent me home.

I continued bleeding profusely at home and was re-admitted for suturing.

I became pregnant again in about a year. One day while I was working in the operating room, I looked in the mirror and saw a fine red rash over my face. I checked my body and found it covered with the same rash.

I knew immediately that I had the German measles. I refused, however, to accept it until I was seen by the doctor who authored the book on communicable diseases. I lost the baby.

Next I was pregnant with twins. I had acute poly-hydramnios. I developed a milk leg and was placed on bed rest. I had pains at about six months so I called the doctor and was admitted for one day.

I was sedated and told I was just exhausted. At home alone the next day, my membranes ruptured and the sudden loss of 40 pounds of fluid left me in shock. The twin girls lived a few hours and died.

After I returned home, I suffered such severe pain in my abdomen that I was forced to go to bed where I could hardly stand for anyone to walk across the room and jar the bed. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and treated for an abdominal blood clot.

Back home again, I began bleeding more each day. I calmly told everyone I was bleeding too much but since I continued to go about my activities, they were not concerned. Then in the middle of one night, I turned to my husband and said, "I am dying," as I faded in and out.

The worst part of this ambulance trip was my little daughter clinging to my hand as I was hauled off again.

The next pregnancy ended with conflicting opinions by pathologists of a "missed abortion" or a “hydatidiform mole.” After this diagnosis and niine months of carrying this "thing," I was forced to send blood specimens to the cancer institute for one year.

Trying to get pregnant again, I was given a local anesthetic in the doctor's office where I went into anaphylactic shock and almost died.

I am glad I was young when these happened because they formed my value system for life: God first, family second and joy and gratitude for every minute of my life.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Holy cow! You have endured! I can see how this would firmly establish your priorities in life. Obviously you have a reason for being here and need to complete in your lifetime. Thank you for sharing this incredible story.

Jackie - Wow!

You are incredibly brave. I am a big sissy when it comes to the sight of blood! - Sandy

You warned us that this story was not a happy one.I am speechless. How could all of these events happen to one person? I am not sure I could have survived such continuous trama and emotional drama during my productive life as you have.
You remind us all that God, family, joy and gratitude during every minute of our life helps us through and after the hard times.

I was that little girl who was clinging to her mom. The same mom who has taught me what's really important in life. For that I am eternally grateful.

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