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Whispers: Chapter 13

Shira Hart

I was gently and not so gently woken and reminded that if I wanted to continue living, I had to make the effort to breathe

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A The darkness faded into pain. I was alive.

“Breathe, Shira, please breathe.”

My spine had been so misaligned that it was one step away from making pancakes out of my lungs. When the surgeon gently pulled it away, my lungs tore. The resulting hole was fixed — — mostly.

As I floated in and out of This World, I was gently and not so gently woken and reminded that if I wanted to continue living, I had to make the effort to breathe. After being awake for 24 hours, hubby took a break and my dedicated sister took guard duty. “Please, more painkillers,” I whisper-begged.

“It’s slowing your breathing too much… just breathe,” the nurse answered.

At that moment, I was sure the nurse was the cruelest person on the planet.

Pain. Tears. Admonishments not to get hysterical. Blissful oxycodone oblivion. That was the cycle of the next ten days in the hospital. One friend came with a giant teddy bear and fed me mango pieces. My sister flew in to be with me for a week. I wasn’t left alone with my pain. The circle of people who had helped hubby through his challenges stepped up to try to help me. One family friend lived in a hotel near the hospital for a week so he could be there for us 24/7.

Those were the sparks I tried to focus on as pain made me question my existence. I felt like every bone in my back was broken — — and it was. My back had to be broken to allow me to become whole. I cried for hours, releasing years of frustration, letting go of the past, and eventually making a space to hope for the future.

I pulled my IV pole with me as I dragged my new body around my ward. I discovered I was two inches taller now, and the floor suddenly seemed so far away. Around and around the ward I went, doing my laps. I counted, like a child — — one for me, one for my husband… I wanted to be a wife again, but I had to rebuild myself first.

Shabbos included an emergency CT scan, as my stomach rebelled against all the meds and sent gigantic pain waves throughout my body. I began to wonder if life would ever be normal again. I wanted to go home.

But when I finally got there, home wasn’t sweet. After the first wave of relief, I begged to be taken back to the hospital. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than two minutes at a time, couldn’t turn myself over in bed — — I could just watch the clock tick its way until my next dose of painkillers. I wanted my life back, I just wanted to be a regular person. With the next wave of pain I sank into self-pity. This Marfan’s thing isn’t fair; why did it choose me, why me?

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