I go by a few hats. Entrepreneur, Business Owner, CEO, President. All validating I am out there on the grind. Getting the job done, being a multi-tasking dynamo one-woman production. Until it happened without any warnings, that I was aware of, and just like that it took my breath away.
I had just returned to the US on a follow-your-heart proposal and married my wonderful husband Gabriel in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I at best, was on top of the world. Leo DiCaprio had nothing on me at the bow of his ship! I am in-love and the happiest I have been in years!
But on my return trip in Dulles International Airport, I began to feel out of sorts, aching and unusually tired. Because I carry many titles to my name, adding “jet lag to the list, no big deal. But four weeks after arriving home, with a round of over-the-counter cold medicines, a trip to the doctor for the go to antibiotic Z-pack to treat a possible bronchial infection, to a mad uncontrollable coughing spree leading to an emergency follow up visit to my doctor’s office; led me to meet DC’s EMT finest, placing an oxygen mask on my face.
The oxygen spewing so quickly through my nostrils felt like a cool babbling brook of spring water. I looked at them with relief in my eyes and thanked them and said I felt so much better and was waiting for my doctor to give me a prescription to send me home, since I had my breathing now under control.
The room went quiet – like outdoor crickets only quiet.
The paramedic gently told me, if I am on oxygen to breath, the only place I am going right now is the emergency room. I just looked at them with a blank stare trying to process what they just said. Maybe they didn’t really know who I was. Prior to this oxygen mask thingie on me, I swam laps three to five times a week, stop playing!! I begin to lift the oxygen mask off to tell them this and my breathing immediately became labored.
One by one, the hats began to fall. Entrepreneur, Business Owner, CEO, President. The only hat left at that moment I could focus on was Mom. My son was away in college preparing for his finals and his mom is on her way to the emergency room. How do I let him know I am going to be okay, when I don’t even know myself? All my hats are on the floor and I don’t know who I am anymore.
A very close friend asked me why I was smiling with an oxygen mask on. The answer was simple for me. I did not want to alarm my son. I did not want to scare him, that he would shut down and not be able to take his finals thinking about me. So, I gave the best smile I could, hoping it would say to him, that I am okay, it’s not that bad son.
The second picture that I did not share with him had me in full mask, struggling to breathe with high powered oxygen pouring through me, working to keep my oxygen levels up so I could keep living! I was fighting to understand what in the world took my breath away!! This picture was the real deal that was happening to me in real time. The precision of the emergency room staff had me fully disrobed out of my street clothing into a hospital gown, checked in with name wrist band and an IV drip in less time than a pit stop at a Nascar Raceway. That same photo had me later that night transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. Five days later the pulmonary surgeon marked my left breast with a black pen to indicate it would be the left lung which she would collapse and prep for lung biopsy surgery.
The third photo after my three-week stay at the – resort and a multitude of test and ongoing lab culture growth, showed I had no infectious diseases and quieted well- meaning naysayers’ fears, I didn’t contract Eboli from my travels abroad. This was a welcome back to the US home disease. A very rare strand of community ongoing pneumonia, and 50% of my lungs became severely inflamed and compromised. All of this almost escorted me off of this planet!
My team of physicians looked at me earnestly and said this is going to take some time to heal and I need to seriously consider taking the summer and possibly to the end of the year off so my body can heal. I am adding on my fingers with nonstop warning bells. I screamed silently inside and kept quiet as I studied my medical team’s faces.
The rising costs associated with my health crisis I estimate at $48,500.00 and who knows what other hidden costs I may have overlooked. I will also have to seek out other government resources for aid. Gabriel’s travel documents have not been cleared by the State Department and his overwhelming frustration on what he can and cannot do to help me was painfully understandable to both of us.
WHO STOPS WORKING OVER THE SUMMER WHEN IT IS YOUR BUSIEST SEASON??
I was fuzzy on the details at first. But still was not prepared for the house guests that would accompany me home. A shower chair, a walker, a bedside poddy and a 24/7 oxygen machine!
Now here is what I do know and have fully comprehended. I am temporarily sick, because I am a diehard optimist, but this is curable and I am slowly healing with steroid medication. I can’t work, but I can Blog about this experience to help me wrap my mind around my medical crisis. I can write for my supper. It is healing time, and maybe my blogs will help someone too.
I also know, I need my village. God knows I am not comfortable with asking, as I am more comfortable with offering my assistance. But I am asking family, friends, non-friends, the mailman and the bakery down the street to donate to this Blog with a donation of any size. President Obama’s largest contributors were people who gave, $5, $10s, $20s and every little bit helps as I prepare for this chapter in my life of healing.
Lastly, I also know this did not happen overnight, this was my perfect storm. My former marriage of 20+ years was tumultuous and laced with emotional and verbal abuse. While ending in divorce in 2014 over a three -year battle of litigation, the aftermath is filled with malice of my ex unrelentingly trying to force me to sell our home. The stress has taken its toll on my body and if it was not shut down the way it was, I am not so certain, I would have stopped. I would have kept going because I felt I had to keep going. Because, because, because I am a mom and if I don’t who will...
Next Monday, I will have a new Blog update on this experience. Please donate as you feel the need, read as you feel the need and please share this blog as you feel the need, for it is truly healing time for me as I come to terms on what took my breath away.
Barbara Nyaliemaa Mosima