Joy Magazine

Nothing Happens by Mistake

Lynne, I just cut your carotid artery. You will have a massive stroke or die in minutes. Lynne, do you hear me?"

I was watching an amazing star show when I heard those words. I felt like a child in a magical movie — just enjoying the moment and the view. It was as though someone had sprinkled glitter across the brilliant blue sky, and I lay there mesmerized. Though I heard someone speaking, the voice sounded muffled. When I finally focused on it, I responded, "Did you just say that I am going to die in a minute?"

"Yes, Lynne, I did. We are removing the instruments and we have stopped the procedure. Can you talk to us and tell us how you feel?"

"Yes I can, but I would really like to see my husband, now. Please get him."

"As soon as we have stopped the bleeding, we'll get him."

"Okay. I am seeing the most incredible star show and blue sky. I feel as though I am not really here, but I am not really there, either. Nothing hurts, and the stars are bright. Can I see my husband?"

They assured me I would see him soon, so I laid back and enjoyed the show. Nurses and doctors surrounded me.

I had been diagnosed with nerve damage several months before and had visited my neurologist to tell him of a new symptom. My left eyelid drooped, and my pupil would enlarge for no apparent reason. He examined me and decided to do a test to rule out a tumor. He scheduled the test for 7:00 a.m.

We were there promptly at 6:45 a.m. to sign the paperwork at the hospital located in California. I will admit to signing paperwork many times in my life without reading the fine print; however, the fine print in this paperwork explained the risks involved in the upcoming procedure. I understood and was prepared to take them.

A hospital emergency resulted in an unexpected delay to my procedure. Five hours later, medical personnel wheeled me into the surgery room. Then a neurosurgeon introduced herself and explained what was about to happen. With a small camera at the end of a tiny tube, she would insert it through my groin and snap pictures of my brain.

I would receive medication through an IV and would remain awake during the painless procedure so I could communicate with the specialist. After the instrument's insertion, the doctor took the first set of pictures and then entered an adjoining room to examine the photos.

When she returned, she attempted to lift the camera and run it further into the carotid artery. The damage occurred when she failed to elevate the camera high enough as she pushed it further into my artery. The device cut a slit in the arterial wall thereby creating a flap that impeded the blood flow to my brain. I noticed a stinging sensation and that launched the brilliant sparkler display.

My husband fidgeted in the waiting room while conversing with a friend who'd stopped by on her lunch break. Fortunately, he wouldn't be alone to receive the scary news the hospital nurse came out to convey.

Medical assistants then wheeled me into a sterile setting, where they would observe me and learn my fate.

I amazed the doctors and the staff. The flap began to heal. I would not die and — contrary to medically scientific expectations — I would not have that stroke.

However, the test could not be completed. I was observed for 24 hours and released to go home, but the healing process was monitored closely. It has been 13 years and my eyelid still droops and my pupil enlarges — but I'm here.

But I knew all along what the outcome would be. After having survived many difficult years, I was in love with life and my husband. I had told him many times that I loved him "bigger than the sky." He had always responded that he loved me "more than there were stars in the Milky Way." I suppose I needed to see that star show to envision what he meant.

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