Saturday, February 3 is a day I will probably never forget.
My husband, Thomas, had been in the hospital since December 29 and various health challenges kept arising; internal bleeding, low blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, breathing issues, a lupus flare, and excruciating all over body pain just to name a few. There were also infections. Those pesky infections kept coming. Every time a blood culture was done something would grow. There were bacterial infections and fungal infections. At one point, Thomas had four different bacterial infections and one fungal infection. Thomas also experienced abdominal pain that would not go away. On February 1 a CT scan was done and it revealed a hole in Thomas’ colon. A perforated colon is a dangerous condition and can be life threatening. What makes this condition lethal is not due to the perforation itself but in the seeping out of the toxins from the colon to the bloodstream that can cause serious harm to the body. The most common treatment recommended is surgery.
On Friday, February 2 a surgeon came and spoke to us and stated Thomas was not a good candidate for surgery due to his frail health. The surgeon explained this was a difficult surgery and recovery for a healthy person, so for someone in Thomas’ condition it was not a good solution. He said, “It would be equivalent to a quarterback throwing a Hail Mary pass that most likely has no chance of being a success.” So now what? Do you just leave the hole alone. The surgeon said we will give your husband the strongest antibiotics and hope for the best. “Hope for the Best.” That was it. I felt hopeless.
Another doctor said it appears to be a small hole so it’s possible the hole could close on it’s own or an abscess could form and wall off the opening. They also stated that although the hole wasn’t something interventional radiology (IR) could repair, IR could place a catheter to drain the fluid sitting in the abdominal area, that was causing Thomas so much discomfort.
So on Saturday, February 3 Thomas was wheeled down to IR for the procedure to place the catheter to drain the fluid in his abdomen area. But 15 minutes later he was back in his room. I thought that was fast. And then a surgeon approached me and said the imaging that IR did revealed the hole in Thomas’ colon was much larger than they thought. He said, “If we don’t do surgery your husband will die. If we do surgery your husband might die.” Will vs. Might. My head was spinning. The surgeon who had just told me the day before there was no way he would operate on Thomas due to his frail health, now wanted to operate on him.
The anesthesiologist soon joined the surgeon at Thomas’ bedside and he was very direct. He said Mr. Griffin there is a strong possibility you will not survive this surgery. Are you sure you want surgery? You don’t have to do it. We have ways to keep people comfortable for the amount of time they have left. Thomas said I want the surgery. The anesthesiologist reiterated what he said but this time said, “Mr. Griffin you most likely will not survive this surgery.” My Dad, my Aunt, and I stood at Thomas’ bedside as he said, “I want the surgery and if I don’t survive donate my body to science”.
The surgeon and the anesthesiologist pulled me out of the room and said if there is anyone your husband wants to talk to or see he should do it. I asked how much time did we have. They said how about an hour. We’ll send for him at 8pm and then they said you know what, your husband talking to his family and friends is more important so have the nurse call us when you’re ready. I went back in Thomas’ room and kissed him on the forehead then walked to the recliner behind his bed and sat down and cried. My Aunt came and wrapped her arms around me.
I gave myself two minutes to cry, and then I jumped up and asked Thomas who he wanted to talk to. My Dad called his Dad. I called Thomas’ stepdad. I then called Thomas’ mom. Thomas would say a name and I would call that person and quickly explain what was going on and then put the phone up to Thomas’ ear so they could talk to him. I called a few local friends and of course my brother and sister who reside in Los Angeles and within 30 minutes Thomas had 12 people in his room loving on him. We all joined hands and my aunt led us in prayer.
When Thomas was wheeled down for surgery, our family and friends proceeded to the waiting room, and I of course went down with him and my Dad and sister accompanied me. We went as far as we could go with Thomas and at 9:35pm he was wheeled into the operating room.
My Dad, my sister, and I joined the others in the waiting room. Now for the hard part. . .waiting. Some talked. Some read. Some prayed. Some ate. A security guard entered the waiting room just after midnight and told us the waiting room we were in closed at midnight so we had to move to another waiting area in the hospital. As we walked to the other waiting area I called ICU to speak to Thomas’ nurse to let her know we were no longer in the waiting area that I told her we’d be in. I wanted to tell her where we were moving to. This way if the surgeons were going to come talk to me after surgery she could let them know where I was. Thomas’ ICU nurse was on a break but the nurse who answered the phone was a previous nurse of Thomas and she said, “Mrs. Griffin your husband just got back to his room.” I’m like Wait. What. Surgery is done? She said oh yes it’s done I just helped get him situated back in his room. I thanked her and hung up the phone and said Thank you Jesus! I then shared the news with our family and friends. Everyone was elated. I then said to my sister they were supposed to call me or come talk to me when surgery was finished. I wonder if the nurse I spoke with was talking about Thomas, so I called back and spoke with the same nurse and she reiterated your husband is back in his room.
We all took the elevator to the 4th floor, entered the ICU unit, went to Thomas’ room and there he was. Heavily sedated and intubated but very much alive! GOD IS ABLE!