A month ago (March 10, 2016), I was admitted to St. Vincent’s (where I got the best care I’ve ever received in MY LIFE) for six days. SIX DAYS! For me, it was like a death sentence because it meant that I couldn’t be at home. I had hair to do and children to snuggle. I had dinner to cook. I had a husband who wasn’t used to waking up without me being beside him, in eight and a half years, we’ve slept apart maybe a total of 10 months combined (for shows, work, and during our separations, yes, separations with an “s” but that’s a post for another day). AND I had deadlines. I looked at the doctor and burst into tears. It was a Thursday and he told me that I was gonna be in the hospital at least until Monday. AT LEAST UNTIL MONDAY! For someone like me, that was ludicrous.
Now, keep in mind, before he told me I was going to have to stay in the hospital, he’d said, “Mrs. Henderson, we didn’t expect you to make it through the night.”
To this I responded, “What the hell do you mean you didn’t expect me to make it through the night? I wasn’t gonna die. I got a husband and two kids and I got shit to do.”
I was sitting in this hospital room, with an IV in, getting 4mg of Morphine every 3 hours, antibiotics, 4 or more bags a day of Sodium Chloride flushing my system, a 100+ degree fever that kept coming back, a shot of a blood thinner in my stomach that I swear is what Satan’s kiss must feel like, and regular blood pressure and blood work checks that made the nurses frown in concern and I had the nerve to tell the doctor I didn’t have time to die. I even got angry with my husband for not bringing me my laptop so I could work. *I know. I know*
I’ve told this story to several friends since then and their response is always the same. They laugh, shake their head, and say, “only you would tell the doctor you didn’t have time to die.” One friend even told me I’m the kind of person who’s gonna decide when I die. Like, one day, I’m just gonna say, ok, I’m done, and lay down and die. But not a moment before.
When I was first discharged, I made the joke that death is gonna have to come with something harder than E.coli in my kidney to take me out. But, as I reflect on it now, I realize… y’all, I almost DIED!!!!
The Reality Sets In
I went to dinner last night with a dear friend and she asked a question that I’d been asked so many times since my discharge, “How do you process that?” To which I responded, “I don’t think I did. Because, in my mind, death wasn’t an option.”
I’m happy to report that 30 days later, I’m back to about 85%, (which is to the normal person about 150% lol). I sponsored the See Jane Write 5th Anniversary Party. I’ve got over 10 events scheduled this month (with time to rest in between). I have a book, Side Piece Chronicles 3, releasing this month and, although I missed my goal of a book a month this year, my publisher made sure I knew that almost dying is an ok reason to miss my goals.
Today, I made myself sit down and reflect. Think about what it actually meant that I was told they didn’t expect me to make it through the night. And here’s what I came up with. You ready?
You find out who’s for you and who’s against you when you get sick. I’m a pretty popular kid and there are lots of people who will be singing your praises and in your corner but you see who’s really on your team when you’re down. There’s a saying that goes, “Never forget 3 types of people in your life: Those who helped you in your difficult times, those who left you in your difficult times, and those who put you in your difficult times.”
Now, I’m not angry at those who left me hanging. What I’m saying is that the realization will help you put things into perspective. You have to know who to keep around and who to let go, no matter how bad it hurts.
My husband was spazzing the hell out. He told me, after two days of them not being able to tell him what was wrong with me, he was about to pull a John Q. (It took them that long to get my white blood cell count under control so that they could find the infection.)
My friend, Brianne Patrice, who I’d been friends with just a couple of months, stayed by my side, sleeping on that painful ass pull-out sofa day and night, only leaving when she had to, even though I tried to run her ass off. My friends Rochelle, Yogi, Catina, and Mawu came to see me and sat and talked to me, giving me some form of normalcy (yeah, my friends are pretty awesome so I had to add the shameless plugs! Please click the links to check em out) . Those who couldn’t come see me called, texted, and messaged me. I had to make a few of them stay their asses in Montgomery because they were trying to get on the road, and they weren’t kidding about it, either.
I don’t usually use Social Media as a form of validation but I got hundreds of well wishes on my posts about me being sick. Some people may have been saying get well just because, but I don’t care. I always say, people don’t have to waste their energy on you, so the fact that they even took the effort and clicked like or wished me well meant more to me than anything. So, to everyone who did: Thank y’all!
The Importance of SELF-CARE
Laying there in that hospital bed, I realized that I needed to take care of myself. I’m a go-getter. Sometimes, I forget to eat, get little to no sleep, and Johari has to remind me to go pee. This is why I’ve been as successful as I have. BUT now that I can’t do as much as I once could because I’m still healing and recovering, I’ve learned that you can still be great and be normal. (Now, by normal, I mean eat, sleep, and pee regularly, you know that stuff your body requires you to do lol.)
But, when I wasn’t able to work, ya know, because I was being held hostage in the hospital and all, I saw that working 90 days in advance pays off. Because I had been planning so far ahead, when I got out of the hospital, I was already ahead of the ball. Wayyyyyyy ahead of the ball. People kept saying, “You’re back on the grind.” I told them I’d actually rested but the grind had paid off.
You never really know when it’s your time to go. As many times as I say I didn’t have time to die, it’s really not my decision to make.
Life is short. Trust your dopeness. DO what makes you smile. Be with people who make your heart sing. Don’t waste your entire life being unhappy. Blaze a trail. Take that cooking class. Leave a mark on the world!
I heard a car ad one night and the woman said, “I want it to matter that I was here.” That’s how I live my life. But, looking at my children. At my husband who looked like he’d lost a lung when he heard he’d almost lost me. At my friends who told me things like “the world needs you, I need you.” I know that it matters that I’m here. And, as much as I want to have a legacy filled with great accomplishments, the greatest accomplishment of all to me will always be being there for those who love me.
Johari needs me. Qadira and Phoenix need me.
So, instead of going hard to the paint, I have chosen to go longer, pace myself.
Be the tortoise instead of the hare. Slow and steady wins the race.
And now, more pictures of the great month I’ve had since the day I almost died!
And I’ll close this post in true Joi Miner fashion! Love y’all!
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