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I was born at 26 weeks old (babies are normally born at 40 weeks) and as a result, I had an IVH (a brain bleed) when I was 3 days old. This caused the space where the CSF (special fluid that protects and bathes the brain) in my skull is supposed to drain to become blocked. The fluid buildup it caused is known as Hydrocephalus. My head got really big and when I was 4 months old an eye doctor noticed my abnormally large head and told my parents to get me to a doctor right away. I saw a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children's National Medical Center who shunted me (inserted special tubes that go from my skull to my abdominal cavity) to relieve the pressure on my brain. The operation was successful but due to the high failure rate of shunts, I needed 6 additional surgeries to fix or replace the tubing as it broke or got infected. By the time I was 1 and 1/2 I'd had 7 surgeries.(All done by the same surgeon.) End of back story.
I saw my neurosurgeon once a year for a checkup but was problem free. On February 1st, 2017 I woke up with abdominal pain the progressed throughout the day. I went to the doctor and when a cause couldn't be found I was sent to Inova Fairfax Hospital. I had acute appendicitis (which I'd suspected) and one of my shunts was disconnected at the neck. My appendectomy was performed the following morning and I was released from the hospital a few days later with instructions to go see my neurosurgeon.
My neurosurgeon told me I'd need a shunt revision (an operation to repair my shunt). A week before I was scheduled to have surgery I was out walking my dog and as I was very nervous about the upcoming operation, I began to pray. I said, "God I believe that I'm going to survive this surgery but I'm still scared to death. If I am going to survive please show me."
A minute later a double rainbow appeared in the sky. I remember wondering why the sign was so dramatic. I remember thinking, is something going to happen that will shake my faith in God if it weren't for that dramatic sign?
The day of my surgery arrived and we left for the hospital. Once it was time for my surgery I said goodbye to my parents and was taken to the OR. Once there I asked my neurosurgeon how much of this I'd remember and he said, "Probably none of it." I was informed by the anesthesiologist that he would begin to give me laughing gas. I said ok and the mask was placed over my nose and mouth. He asked if the gas was working and I said "No...no...no-yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! As the gas took effect I began to hear an echo of every sound I heard and the noises increased in volume. My vision also began to blur slightly. All of this terrified me and I began having severe anxiety right there on the operating table! "I'm scared! I'm scared! I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die!" I yelled. The mask was quickly removed to prevent me from losing consciousness while I was still terrified.
My neurosurgeon approached my side and said, (I'm gonna use my real name here cuz I really don't care if people on here know it and the story sounds better that way lol) "Hey Elizabeth why can't dinosaurs talk?" " Why?" I asked. "Because they're dead!" I cracked up and in an instant, I lost consciousness.
An hour later I woke up, though it felt like only a second had passed. "Thank you God!" I said. Looking over at a nurse nearby I asked: "Did I just say that out loud?" She said, "Yes." and I said "Oops!"
A while later I was up in my hospital room while my parents had gone to go eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria. My neurosurgeon came in and I said, "Hey I have a joke for you!" He asked, "Is it about dinosaurs?" I said yes and we both laughed. It later occurred to me that the event I was referring to when I said, is something going to happen that will shake my faith in God if it weren't for that dramatic sign? must have been the anxiety attack I'd had.
That was on Holy Thursday. I was released on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday I was at church at 6:00am ready for the sunrise service in which our youth choir sings. I walked into the choir room and everyone gasped at the fact that I was there. I was filled with the true joy of Easter in a way I never had before. Thanks be to God!
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