Don’t assume all birthdays will be there

By CAROLE BAILEY,

Birthdays. They are milestones, aren’t they? When is your birthday? I just had one. I turned 62. I don’t mind if you know my age. It’s just a number. Do you know why? Because I almost died 10 years ago. I have been given 10 extra years so far. So, I celebrate that birthday; not really a birthday but 10 bonus years. I mean, a true gift. And I know it.

Let me tell you about it.

My colon ruptured when I was on vacation down in Gulf Shores. I ended up being in the hospital two weeks down there, where I knew no one. I didn’t know the doctor who did my emergency surgery. That’s where your faith meets the road.

God had a plan for me. I didn’t die, obviously. My doctor who I got to know well after two weeks? He ended up being a very strong Christian man. The nurses asked me if I needed anything when they were wheeling me into surgery. I just asked them to pray for me. They told me they already had. I knew immediately I was going to be ok. God gave me that peace that passes all understanding. My whole body relaxed. Then, the nurses told me right before I went into surgery my surgeon was the best one around, especially in the south. He was THE doctor they would want if they were in my place. Talk about blessed assurance!

I remember when I woke up from the surgery, I saw my hubby on his laptop. The very first thing he said was I only had 48 hours from the first pain to have surgery or I would die. Then, he told me 1 out of 7 people don’t survive my surgery. He had been researching it during my surgery. I told him to not talk to me anymore. Can you blame me?

I remember my husband never left my side for three weeks. He was amazing. While I was in the hospital for two weeks in Gulf Shores, we were up late one night in the hospital at 3 a.m. My doctor came in to see me. I looked at him and asked what are you doing here at 3 a.m.?  Are you on call?  He said no, he was just concerned about me. He wanted to come check on me. Really?! I thought to myself, he’s got a great bedside manner. Or he needs to get a life. Or maybe, just maybe,  I’m a lot sicker than I realized? You see, I was never told how sick I was.

I finally was able to come back to Jackson, only to return to Baptist Hospital for another week. My body was septic. The infection was not going away like the doctors wanted. So, my doctors brought out “the big guns.”  But the difference? I was across the street from my church home. I knew all my doctors and some of the nurses. Jackson is so blessed with an outstanding medical community.

When I finally got back to my home to stay, some sweet friends said they thought I was going to die. They wanted to come down to Gulf Shores to see me, but hubby said no and not to come. I was glad to hear that he had said no, because I was not in any shape to see anybody. If I tried to talk to anyone on the phone, I’d cry. I don’t know why. But I couldn’t talk. Plus I couldn’t read. I was on major pain meds and had more tubes coming out of me than I care to say. But I could pray. And I could quote Bible verses in my head. It was an interesting time. A very reflective time. I think God wanted me to be quiet - to rely completely on Him, which I did. I had no choice. I could only go up from where I was. It was a life-changing experience.

So, I recovered thankfully. It took me a full year to be back to 100 percent. A new normal for me. Within that year of recovery, I buried my mother and both my father-in-law and mother-in-law. I’ve been given 10 extra years, so far. Not sure what God wants me to do, but I was given the gifts to see both my daughters get engaged and married. I was able to witness my daughter becoming a mother, which made me a grandmother - the very best new chapter in my life! God was very gracious to me to allow me to be there.

So, when is your birthday? Mine is in July. I’ve been given 10 bonus years. Do you know why you’re here? Have you ever come that close to dying? Even if you haven’t, you’re here for a reason. Now, we just have to figure out what that is.

Happy birthday! I am 10. How old are you?

Carole Bailey is a Northsider.

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1. He drove a blue ‘77 Chevy Nova in high school. 2. He played on Jackson Prep’s 1985 and 1986 state championship basketball teams.