Opinion

Sharing a new journey

My friends, I must apologize to you for my long absence. I am in the midst of a journey like no other; one I did not choose, yet one that has changed my life in unimaginable ways. As for the lessons learned, they are far too numerous to categorize or list. 

In my last submission, I promised to share this journey with you, and now I am ready. 

In late May of this year, I developed an infection that seemed to be incurable. I visited with my primary doctor and received a prescription for an antibiotic. The test administered proved I had an infection. Visits to the Emergency Room led to more prescriptions, but the infection continued to rage and eventually, I found myself in the ambulance on my way to Cary Medical Center. 

My infection was so severe that I became septic. I could barely lift my hands. I could not hold myself up to walk. I was confused. I was weak. The hospital stay was approximately one week, and included some days in the Intensive Care Unit. I was given a total of three pints of blood and a procedure was done that thankfully showed no signs of cancer. The infection, however, returned days after I returned home and once again, I found myself in a hospital bed, uncomfortable and frightened. This life-threatening condition was the result of my own denial, as well as radiation and chemotherapy administered 12 years prior to treat colorectal cancer. 

My husband was there by my side and each night, I would ask him to leave early and go home and get some rest. My sister could not come to see me during that time because of safe procedures administered by Cary. I received flowers and numerous other gifts from friends and family. 

I knew the recurring infections were each life-threatening. My urologist, who worked with very capable hospital staff, saved my life. An unseen and divine presence remained with me throughout every moment of fear, bewilderment, and physical pain. In my life, there is a higher power; and though I do not fully understand the wonder of it all, I believe this to be so. Little did I know that I would soon be introduced to a procedure like no other that has proven to be nearly 90 percent effective. It is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the use of 100 percent oxygenated air at an elevated pressure to treat a variety of medical conditions, including damage from radiation and chemotherapy. This high concentration of oxygen travels through the body’s bloodstream to injured organs and tissue. In my case, it is my bladder that is severely damaged and the cause of the agonizing infection and sepsis. 

I began therapy on Aug. 8, and as of this writing, I have had 20 sessions. I have 40 more sessions to go. I feel emotionally and physically strong enough to write about this experience and I will share it with you. 

Please be cautious and pay attention to your body, my friends. Be kind to each other and yourself. Stay safe. 

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their two dogs, Barney and Morgan.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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