I spent the Fourth of July last year alone in the Critical Care Unit of Good Samaritain Hospital fighting for my life. I had experienced the pulmonary embolism a couple of days before and I was still struggling to breathe. My pain levels soared probably fueled by stress or quite possibly fear. My comfort level with hospital staff had been destroyed by one uncaring nurse and that only fueled this process.
Unaware of the holiday, I struggled like a cat trying to right itself in a fall. The reverberation of sound off bare walls and floors magnified the intensity of my situation. My very presence in the CCU guaranteed the aloneness that fueled my fear. Desperate for something to tell me my world could survive this latest onslaught against me, I feared for my horses, my family and my life.
I remember Dave and Lindsay were focused on other things so there was no chance that visitors would alleviate nor redirect this focus that engulfed me. It was the only day of this hospitalization that I had no visitors. It was the day I needed them the most.
It wasn't until evening when an aid asked me if I would like to see the fireworks that I even realized it was July 4th. Too sick to care about the beauty of the coming light show I declined her offer to move me to a vantage point. The fear of more pain stronger than my need for some kind of relief.
I tried to sleep my way through the explosions and random glimmers of light that ricocheted off a wall outside my window. In a twilight state induced by my condition and pain lollets I dreamed of my horses and saw visions of them intermixed with the second hand light show breaking sparkling outside. It was a glorious but frightening reminder my thread to life was thin.
I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Instead I clutched at a small stuffed horse that had been delivered to me by a friend just hours after the PE had tried to suck my life right out of me.
I remembered the moment I saw that little Ty horse the overwhelming sensation it had arrived just in time. Needing something physical within my grasp it was an unlikely lifeline that I could clutch tightly and envision those beautiful Arabian horses that have fueled my passion.
As much as that sterile hospital room sucked the life out of me, the power of that one small gesture from a distant friend gave me the means to tap into the strength that comes from my herd. It was a Fourth of July I will never forget.
Considering the way I feel most days, looking back at last year's Fourth is a good dose of perspective. It's easy to feel sorry for myself because I am not back to full throttle yet but remembering where I was at this time last year helps me appreciate where I am. I may not be where I want to be but I am no longer fearing for my life and I have the strength to walk to the barn. Boy, is that a big improvement over last year.
I am still alone. Dave is working and the girls have gone off to enjoy the fireworks display at the Tacoma waterfront. I am grateful I have the strength to be the one home monitoring the safety of my horses as some neighbors shoot off illegal fireworks. The horses are peacefully in their stalls munching away on extra hay. For a change the sun is shining and a week of warm weather is promised. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll even get to ride a horse or two and tonight I will probably watch my fireworks on the TV instead of seeing them reflected off a hospital wall. I never imagine last July 4th that I would even get to see this day.