Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Friday, January 27, 2017

It was a year ago today that I had emergency surgery here in Kuwait. 

I had a counselor tell me once that our subconscious is so much more aware of dates/anniversaries than we even realize.

That is totally the case for me currently.

Yesterday I just felt off. Distracted. Blue.

When I realized the date last night and made the connection, it was as if I could hear an "a-ha" audibly. 
I got out our laptop and started looking through pictures of last January.
It's so strange to see myself, and think there was a giant cyst inside my person that very moment, twisting on itself to the point of becoming gangrenous...and I no idea. None. I had my annual women's exam in August before we moved to Kuwait, and no cyst was palpable upon exam. By the time the surgeon removed it here in January, it was the size of an infant's head. 
That bastard grew fast. 

I gave Thanks last night having lived through the whole experience, and shared with my family around the dinner table how grateful I am to be here today.

And then I didn't really think about it much more into the night, fell asleep on the couch watching shows with Dave, went to bed about 11:30pm, and proceeded to have a really disturbing night's sleep. I slept tossing and turning until Sister tapped my shoulder at 5:45am asking if it was time to wake up (no) and then if she could crawl into bed with me and snuggle (yes), and then slept again until I awoke sometime later in a state of sleep paralysis. 
I've only experienced it one other time in my life, and it's incredibly disturbing.
I could see the sun shining through our bedroom curtains, so I knew it was day time. I could hear my family making noise in the apartment, outside of our closed bedroom door, so I knew I was alone in the bedroom. I could feel a tear slide down my cheek, but could not will my arms to lift my hand to wipe it away.
Finally I fell back to sleep.

I woke up later to David gently tapping my shoulder. When I opened my eyes, he said "Baby, it's you want to keep sleeping? Or do you want to wake up?"
Um, I want to get up. It's the freaking afternoon.

He told me to take my time, and quietly left the room.

I laid there for a minute, blinking and stretching, and orienting myself.

And then a wave of panic washed over me.

How had I possibly slept so much?

Calm down's likely a result of an over stimulating week. 
(Work was especially loud this week. Think field trip with 120 three and four year olds, and a then party day. 
Also I could tell by the way my ears were all poppy and my nose stuffy that perhaps I had a cold. )

It's just those things. That's all. You are tired, and you are fighting an oncoming cold. That's why you slept nearly fourteen hours last night. Stop feeling so afraid.

And then I found words for why I felt terrified. 
This is how it all started. Last year on the day I went to the ED, I had been awaken by my husband telling me it was the afternoon.

It can't be happening again. It can't. I won't live through it happening again. I can't do it. It'll be okay. It's not happening again. Nothing scary is wrong with me. What happened to me was the exception, not the rule. 

I took some deep breaths, reminded myself I'm alive and healthy, and headed out to the living room to see my family who had been awake for so many hours they'd already had breakfast and lunch. I kissed David and thanked him for letting me sleep for so long.
I headed into the kitchen to make some coffee and get some yogurt and granola. 
I walked back into the living room and sat down to eat my breakfast.
The kids started talking to me, telling me all kinds of things.
It was an incredibly normal experience, but it all felt like SO MUCH. Too much. Words flying at me in rapid succession. I couldn't process what they were saying.
My breaths started getting rapid and short. I had sensory overload. My hands started shaking. 

I was having a panic attack.

I haven't had one in a long time, so it took me a bit to identify it and acknowledge it. 

Not wanting the kids to see me in such a state, and knowing I needed ground myself, I stood up and quickly excused myself to the bedroom for a few minutes. 

I sat on our bed and found five different things to touch. 
I closed my eyes and listened for five different sounds.
I took deep, purposeful, long, breaths.

I knew in my mind that just because I'd slept so much, did not mean in any way that I had another cyst. I knew in my mind that I was fine, and that the odds of such an event happening to me again were incredibly slim.
I knew these things in my mind, but I could not convince my panicking heart.
Such is anxiety.

I couldn't breathe. I was suffocating sitting on that bed.

I ran to the window and threw it open.

I thrust my arms and head outside. 
A sand storm was occurring, so it's not like I had the freshest of air to greet me, but the breeze felt good.

I looked down at the bumpy gravel road leading away from our apartment to the nearest main real road.

Right there. I walked right there while trying to get a cab to take me back to the hospital. I grabbed that pole, that one right there, supporting that carport to try and find my footing again after the pain had taken me to my knees. Right over there was where I had to crawl for a bit, the aching so severe I literally could not stand up. And there, right there was where I had to raise my hand in the air and pray that taxi would see me, because I was unable to use my voice to call out and get his attention. 

I was reliving it all, and it was tormenting. When I read the MRI report again yesterday I noted it said my ovary and tube were "infarcting". The medical term for a Heart Attack is a Myocardial Infarction. My ovary and tube were having a Heart Attack, and my colon was on it's way to being devoured as well. 
At that time as I was making my way to a taxi, I had no idea that's what was happening inside my body. Remember they'd diagnosed me with possible kidney stones (without any imaging) the night prior and send me home with ibuprofen and antacids. 

And then I went back into the ED...and I laid on that gurney...and I threw up into that kidney shaped bucket while being wheeled into the MRI...and I went back to that damn gurney...and they stopped my pain medicine drip...and I moaned and writhed about...and I passed out from the pain...and I awoke to a veiled Muslim woman praying over me, apparently drawn to my bed because of my wailing even in a state of being passed out...and then I passed out again...and I awoke and whisper-cried from that gurney, that effing gurney, "sister! sister! (the Arabic term for nurse) please...please somebody help me!" and I cried and cried at the futility of it all, as no one came. 

I really, truly thought I was going to die right there in that emergency room.

If you've read the original post, you know the story. Tina and her husband came to my rescue and sorted things out with the insurance and the hospital, and finally a competent physician was tracked down (by Tina, my hero :) ) and brought to my side and he fought to get me finally, actually admitted for surgery.  

Being wheeled into the O.R. (or "theater" as it's referred to here...which I can't wrap my head around calling it that as it makes it feel like a show to it's taking the seriousness of surgery all too lightly...) I remember looking around and seeing again that no one was wearing gloves and no one had really understood me when I'd tried to tell them I was allergic to sulfa meds and thinking if God Himself did not intervene I would surely die here and now.

I stood at our bedroom window and took deep breaths. I looked at different sites, smelled different smells, listened for different sounds.
It had all been so very terrifying, yes.
But I lived through it.
I am alive today.
I am a much stronger person for it.
Outside of panic attacks like today, things in general scare me much less than they used to, because I KNOW I'm tough. 
I didn't really know that about myself before this had happened. 
I am tough.

And, I am so thankful for friends, thankful for a husband who heeded my insistence he stay home with our worried children instead of come with me, thankful for the few medical personnel who did take care of me, thankful to be alive. 

Thanks be to God. 


  1. Oh, Kendra. I am so sorry to hear you've had such a terrifying day. And so happy it all ended well a year ago. You *are* tough, and I am so happy to have you as a friend. xox

  2. Not much fun to re-experience that time a year ago and have it impact you again. However, you survived BOTH experiences and are coming out of them stronger than ever. Here's to this being the last time that particular "anniversary" will be anything more than a memory.

    Love you,
    Aunt Carol

  3. You are the toughest lady I know. I'm sorry to hear you had to relive it all again :-/ praying for you, sister.