a Women Writer's' Showcase
by Bonnie Johnson

I am a physically healthy person, or so I thought until the day I found myself on the bathroom floor.  It seemed I had just come out of a dream.  I floated within a fog, experiencing incredible pain in my abdomen as the room began to spin.

           I had been walking six miles on a daily basis.  I felt great!  One day, that all changed.  As Patty, the elderly woman I take care of, stayed close to the bathroom due to stomach troubles, I walked my daily power walk.  Three miles into my walk I began to experience shooting pains throughout my lower abdomen.  I had felt them for a couple of days, though not as severe.  My pace slowed as I concentrated on my breathing.  Those pains certainly grabbed my attention.

           Once I reached my home I treated myself to a hot bath and lay down to rest.  At dinnertime, exhausted, I had no appetite whatsoever.  I still didn’t think anything unusual was happening though.  My hormones had been giving me the work-over for some time.  Fatigue was not uncommon.  I’d had these pains before, maybe three times in the past two years.

           The following morning when I went to the kitchen, I became nauseated.  The room began to spin.  I grabbed onto the counter.  There was no fear, just the overwhelming sensation that I was in a vacuum.  With great effort I headed toward the bathroom.  I sat on the toilet to try and get control over what was happening to me.  I started to sweat as I felt myself passing out.  The situation was completely out of my control.

           The room would not stop spinning.  Next thing I knew, moments later, I lay on the floor.  I called out to Patty who had been waiting to use the bathroom herself.

           She couldn’t lift me, so there I sat for half an hour, waiting for the room to stop turning end over end.  Eventually, I was able to get up.  I didn’t know where Patty was going to take me but I was doing my best to get myself together.

           I needed help but I had absolutely no concentration, so when my friend asked me which I wanted, the doctor or 911, I left it up to her.  Off we went to the doctor, she with her stomach urgencies and I with my world in a spin.  What a sight we much have been.  I wondered in my half dizzy state, who the caregiver was now.

           When we reached the doctor’s office, Patty asked me to hold onto her arm.  This wasn’t going to work.  By the time I was out of her car, I couldn’t see.  My world started to spin once again.

           Carefully, I sat on the cement next to the car.  She went into the doctor’s office to get help.  I could hear people around me but I couldn’t see them.  I was once again within that dark tunnel, on my way to blacking out.  I yelled out to let them know I was okay.  Okay is not what I was.  I felt silly as I sat on the ground.  I had just about blacked out when the sensation came over me that I was going to fly away if I let go of the car. Then someone started to lift me into a wheel chair.

           I put myself into God’s hands.  It was an instinctive action.  Even though I had no idea what was happening to me I felt safe, protected.

           I heard all the craziness go on around me while my world spun.  I heard myself talk with the doctor.  Every time someone moved me my world began to spin even more.  Through my fog I watched my friend constantly run to the rest room to take care of her ills.  I heard the doctor talk about my white blood cell count being out of control.  He told Patty that it was very high, that I had some kind of infection.  Shortly after that, an aide rolled me back out to Patty’s car and off to the Emergency room we went.

In the Emergency room, still within my own world of spinning fog, I watched as the staff worked frantically on me, trying to figure out why my condition was growing worse.

           Even though it didn’t look good on the outside of my vacuum I knew a higher force protected me.  I floated within my fog as I watched the doctors and nurses work on me.  I was in a peaceful trance.

           After twelve hours of tests, three separate shots of morphine for pain, and being hovered over by well meaning staff I received my results.  A large, complex mass in my left Ovary had caused all the pain.  It needed to come out right away so off to surgery they took me.

           As I ponder this experience I feel a new zest for life.  I do not know what the future will bring.  Life as I know it could change drastically at any moment.  I am happy to be alive within this moment.

           I am fortunate my illness turned out to be something simple.  Even with all the pain, modern medicine once again worked its miracles.  A few cuts here, a little laser there, one less ovary, snip, stitch and back to the way things used to be.  Well, almost.

           Still recovering from ovarian surgery, with only one left to go, I know the odds are out of my hands.  For it was such a fluke on how I lost my first one, what makes me believe that I have much power over whether I get to keep my other one?

           Out of nowhere I did a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn from a picture-healthy woman to helpless on the floor.  Yet I wasn’t helpless.  I wasn’t alone.  The highest spirit of the universe protected me.

           I remember when my mother died.  Once the shock wore off, I realized how precious life is, how fast it goes.  That was the first time I truly appreciated my life.  I started to see what a gift it was.  To have the opportunity to grow, love, learn; to feel a part of and to help others is truly a blessing.  Now through experiences, miracles and growth, I know I am not alone.  I don’t have to live as if I am.

           I hope I remember this when my clock is winding down, when I am heading towards the transition from life to eternity.  By then perhaps I will have learned to let go with grace.  I want to keep my faith.  I want to accept life on life’s terms no matter what.  I want to live in the now and appreciate every moment, leaving the future to a higher force. I hope with this acceptance I will still love, still grow and still feel a part of life.  I want to remember I can be there for another human being no matter what happens to me.  Until the last time I take a breath, until the last time I shut my eyes for the forever; I hope I never lose my zest for life.  I believe I just had my first lesson.

© Bonnie Johnson 2003

Bonnie Johnson is a freelance non-fiction writer who lives in sunny San Diego California.  She currently has an article being reviewed for publication in, "Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul."  Her story made it past the first Editor with a great review.  Now Bonnie sits patiently to see if their chief Editor accepts her article.  Bonnie writes her stories from her own experiences along with her interests and beliefs. Contact Bonnie.