The single most terrifying experience of my life came after a routine laparoscopy...my third and final one. In September 2010, as a follow-up to the major surgery (laparotomy) a couple weeks earlier, I was to have a laparoscopy to clear out some surgical wrappings.
It was supposed to be outpatient.
When you have an abdominal scopic procedure, the medical team pumps your abdomen full of gas in order to have the organs sort of "float" and avoid puncturing something that shouldn't be punctured. Then they remove as much gas as they can before closing. But some always escapes, leaving pockets of gas that drift upward inside the body, usually causing left shoulder pain as it dissipates or gets absorbed.
Having had this particular surgery two times previously, I wasn't expecting a problem with this. But, for some reason, this time was different. My shoulder started hurting a bit very early, and then by early afternoon I was having trouble breathing because it felt like my chest was tight. Pockets of gas had released and moved upward into my chest cavity, and I literally had very little room to breathe.
I'm not sure exactly when it happened...maybe early afternoon. One of the nurses came in to check my swelling and started to recline my bed. As she did, it felt like someone was squeezing my chest in a vice. I couldn't breathe, and I started getting hysterical and crying and sobbing in a lack-of-breath kind of way. The nurses sat me back up and started rushing around, ordering blood tests and an EKG and all sorts of things while my husband stood there in sheer terror.
I decided then and there that suffocation would be the worst way to die. Because I thought I just might, right there on that bed, hours after an outpatient surgery.
Today, I read a facebook update about my friend's son...the one who is two weeks older than Olivia and battling lymphoma. He recently had a bone marrow transplant, and today he is battling with some sort of mucousitis and is having trouble breathing. I am thinking about that terrifying experience as I pray for this brave little guy today. He has gone through a lot. Please pray with me.