Rural Living

Death's Door:

A Window on the Blessings of Rural Living

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Thereís much to be said in praise of rural living. In fact, thatís what this column is all about.

Deadlines being what they are, I write this on New Yearís Day. And I have but one resolution: Be thankful.

I am most thankful that Iím alive. On Nov. 11, I blew a gasket. My bowel ruptured, and I sprung a near-deadly leak. I am thankful I was able to crawl to the phone, and find a ride to the hospital. I was not so happy to drink that stuff that tastes like a really bad pina colada, so I could have a C-T scan. In fact, I was in such overwhelming pain, I didnít think Iíd ever be happy again.

I almost wasnít. After a bumpy, scary ride from the Bath hospital to Lewis Gale in Salem, the surgeon said I had about two hours to live. I was immediately wheeled into Dreamland.

Those of you who have been through this mill ó and I am surprised to discover there are so many out there óknow what came next. Yep. One of the worst things I could imagine: The colostomy. I cried when I learned this would be my fate, but now, two months later, I am thankful to have learned that one can live with and get used to darn near anything.

I am especially thankful that, sometime this month, the colostomy will be reversed. Iíll be put back together again, I pray, and can hopefully get back to my once-happy life. I realize how lucky I am that this thing can be reversed; many of you must live with it the rest of your lives. You have my empathy.

The funny thing about this sudden, scary, painful illness is this: The experience has been rife with blessings. One night lying in bed, the wound-vac machine attached to me perking away like a coffee pot gone mad, I was suddenly overcome with listing the good things. And the best of the good things are the people with whom I share this rural locale.

I was in one hospital or the other for a month. Yet Brownie was lovingly taken care of; my sister took it upon herself to get my mail and pay my bills; and friends kicked into helpful high gear. I canít count ó and can barely remember ó the phone calls. They came first, starting while I was in the surgical ICU. When I graduated to a regular room, visits began being added to the phone calls. I was one busy patient, lying there drugged out, still scared, and making what I hope was coherent conversation. I got calls from folks I barely knew, wishing me well. A lady Iíd met just once showed up with a nice new shirt I could wear home, since my other one bore the remnants of that icky pina colada. Delivery men marched in, carrying fabulous floral displays. While I slept, my sister left a new pair of fuzzy pink socks on my bed. I canít recall ever being so pleased by the perfect gift.

And then the cards began to arrive.

I swear, I must have received 200 or more, many from people I donít know, but who like my columns. Each was uplifting and appreciated.

When I got home from the hospital in mid-December, the holiday season was in full swing. Some friends had hung a decorative swag on my front door. Others had walked in and filled the refrigerator with soups and yogurt and other bland but tasty things. Fresh sheets were on my bed, and fresh bread sat on the kitchen counter.

Friends called to see what I needed from the store. Then they bought it, and usually refused to let me pay them. Visitors knew to stay just long enough to have a few laughs, and leave candy, food or flowers.

The largesse was seemingly endless. Itís been two months now, and the blessed rural folk just keep on giving. A friend shows up to shovel snow from my steps. My hairdresser called and offered to drive over from Lewisburg, W.Va., to do my hair. (Apparently, according to several well-meaning nurses, I really needed it!) A nurse I know crept into my room at midnight and gave me a pedicure. Some blessed, anonymous angel made a deposit to my bank account, to ďhelp pay bills.Ē

Is it any wonder I love rural living? 


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