May is Pre-Eclampsia Awareness Month. In an effort to bring awareness and draw support from my readers I will share the story of a dear friend and survivor, Tia.
Fathiyyah Doster, a Miami native, world traveler, music enthusiast and awesome Mommy embarked on her journey into motherhood in February 2010.
I remember seeing pictures of her baby shower on Facebook then almost immediately following, there were well-wishes and prayers, but not the usual prayers. Something had gone wrong. Read along and be inspired as Tia shares her story of victory, faith, and survival.
They say you don’t know how strong you are until you actually have to be strong. And to be honest, the last time I ever felt strong was after my daddy died. It was almost like a forced strength because everyone and everything else around me was crumbling before my eyes. In some strange way, I think I carried that same strength throughout the years, just saving it for the moment that I would need it again. And surely did I need it beginning February 5, 2010.
It’s funny how sometimes it takes tragedy and trials to make a believer out of some people. As much as I’ve tried to deny myself of these feelings, it holds true for me. I’m not sure how much I believed in God before, but I did. I grew up knowing Him, but never took enough time to fully secure my faith (or so I thought). Til this day, I thank God for a praying mother because without her, I wouldn’t know Him.
Time after time, people tell me I have a testimony. I often wonder why God chose me, of all people to give this test and testimony to. I mean, even after so much went on, what do I say? What do I do? How do I testify that God is real and I know it. So these days, my prayer is that God shows me how to do just that. So I guess writing something would be a good start, huh?
For those that don’t know what happened, I was pregnant with my daughter, due to give birth on or about February 22, 2010. Of course it was designed some other way that God saw fit and I had her through emergency cesarean at 5:07am, on February 5, 2010.
I felt some abnormal pressures in my stomach and back and after calling the midwife around 12am, I went to the hospital, honestly thinking it was a false alarm. Upon being checked in by the nurses, it was found that my blood pressure was a 210/150 (or something like that). Immediately I knew what that meant. My plans for a natural water birth were shattered. They needed to take the baby ASAP. I panicked.
Literally no more than five minutes after my blood pressure was taken, I began to seize and blacked out. When I woke up, I was not oriented to place or time, and the only thing I knew was that there was no baby in my stomach and I was connected to many tubes and pipes and hoses and machines. I just couldn’t understand. My nurse tried to explain to me what had taken place, but everything was a blur…the only thing I could comprehend was that “your baby girl is okay.”
They diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome. This is basically a very severe case of eclampsia. It means Hemolytic anemia Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count. This led to two seizures and multi organ failure, shutting down my lungs, kidneys and liver. My blood was clotting, I was retaining all types of fluids and I was swollen. They proceeded to intubate me, put me on a ventilator, dialysis, connect these draining tubes in both sides of my stomach.
Over the course of what I think were days, I remember bits and pieces of people coming to visit, meeting nurses and doctors. I was intubated and not able to talk at all, making me frustrated and tired. The doctors were all out of ideas. Nobody knew what to do. It was a waiting game. A nightmare! A three and a half month nightmare. I remember telling one of my best friends that I felt like I was on an episode of House. I secretly wished it was an episode of House and at the end, they figured out the mystery and sent me home to be with my baby.
The one thing I do remember is praying non stop. I couldn’t talk, walk, write, eat, drink, sleep and I could barely think. You never know how much you miss those simple pleasures in life until you can’t do them anymore. The only thing I knew how to do was pray. Throughout my stay at the hospital, I had several nightmares, several dreams, and the only thing I could do in the midst of it all was pray. It was just me and God. Or God and I. I was angry and frustrated. I was happy and grateful. I was hungry and thirsty. I was sleepy and anxious. I was depressed and paranoid. I was up and down, here and there. I was lonely and in pain. I didn’t know how to feel. I was a mess! But all I could do was pray.
One dream I remember vividly is my daddy being there telling me to stop being lazy and to get up and do what I have to do. He told me that he would watch Ayah while I handled my business. At the time, I really just enjoyed seeing my daddy in my dreams every night. I didn’t know what it meant, it just felt good. I felt again how I felt when my daddy died. This overwhelming strength came over me. If I wasn’t going to handle this for myself, I had to do it for Ayah.
I remember consoling my mother and praying with my sister. I remember my friends and family coming to see me. I remember my aunt by my bedside constantly until I was comfortable enough to stay by myself. I remember foot massages and half baths from the nurses. I remember multiple procedures and painful procedures. I remember being so reluctant to take any medications out of fear of becoming addicted. I remember being so protective over my trach out of fear that I would suffocate. I remember dialysis and being hot then cold then hot again. I remember my fevers being so high that they had to put that COLD blanket on me. I remember the nurses packing my cesarian cut with what I thought looked like packing foam to help absorb some of the fluids in my abdomen. I remember wearing those leg things that are supposed to help decrease the chances of blood clots in the legs. I remember leaving the television on the nature station and just watching pictures of nature wishing I was well enough to go somewhere, anywhere. I remember trying to text when I thought I was better. I remember listening to Anthony Hamilton non stop on my mp3 feeling a bit soothed from his voice. I remember watching ‘Why Did I Get Married Too’ on bootleg on my portable DVD player. I remember my aunt braiding my hair and trying to cover up my bald spot. I remember my friend coming to paint my nails and my cousin giving me a pedicure. I remember seeing one of my nurses cry because she had never seen anything like my case. I remember being transferred to Tampa General Hospital. I remember my room decorated with balloons, flowers, cards, pictures and the overwhelming love and support. I remember attempting to write when I couldn’t talk. I remember the crazed respiratory therapist that traumatized me several times. I remember the very blunt nephrologist and the very sincere internal medicine doctors. I remember the transporters and nurses and other staff coming to check on me all the time to see what progress I was making. I remember the Haitian chaplain coming to pray with me almost everyday. I remember the ghetto tech that always made me laugh. I remember the older volunteer nurse that came to give me GOOD baths every Sunday. I remember watching every rerun of every show on every channel, everyday for three and a half months. I remember the first time I sat up, the first time I spoke, the first time I was able to eat.
Most of all, I remember the very first time I saw Ayah (when I was coherent). All I could do was cry. I hated for her to see her mommy that way. I was shaking uncontrollably as I held her. I told my mother that I didn’t want her to come back to that place as long as I was there and that was my motivation to get better as soon as I could.
Love poured in from everywhere. I never knew how much love and support surrounded me and that is one of the greatest feelings a person could ever have. I needed that in order to sustain. God knew exactly who to place in my life. I think this situation not only touched my life, but the lives of so many people who now understand that this thing is real. A person can be here one day and gone the very next. The overwhelming amount of prayers and petitions that God received had to help sway his mind…LOL. So many people believe that God is real and believed that he was able to do more for me than we would ever be able to do.
The aftermath is the hardest. Physical therapy to regain strength in my legs and feet from having foot drop. Having to continue with dialysis; My kidneys were the only organs that didn’t recover fully and although they are functioning, they aren’t functioning fully on their own. Right now, the options are permanent dialysis or kidney transplant. Mentally, I’m burdened everyday with the thought of being here for my daughter. I struggle with confidence and strength everyday. I struggle with accepting the new person I’ve become and the person others expect me to be. Feeling like I have these shoes to fill because of my test. I feel obligated to do more than exist now, I need to live, and live with a purpose.
I know that God has my back. Even through the difficult times. People say He didn’t bring me this far to leave me. I could have been gone. My daughter could have been gone. He didn’t have to give me another chance at life, but He did. There was no way anybody could tell me that I deserved His grace. What have I done to afford this gift?
Gradually I’m understanding that it’s not about what I have done, but what I am going to do. My prayer is also that my testimony speaks volumes through my actions. That I never let a day go by that I don’t appreciate the moments that I have on this earth. You can’t tell me God isn’t real. If I wasn’t a believer before, I’m definitely a believer now. If He does nothing else for me, He has done enough. Love brings change. God brings change. I know that when his glory shows up, bodies are healed and most of all, lives are changed. All you have to do is believe. My life was forever changed on February 5, 2010.
Today, Fathiyyah has progressed and is no longer on dialysis. She resides in Miami where she raises her beautiful daughter, Ayah. Tia’s resilience is unmatched. While she survived HELLP syndrome, she didn’t rejoice quietly. As part of her testimony, she formed Team Ayah’s Miracle and spearheaded the Promise Walk for Pre-Eclampsia. This year marks the third year that the South Florida community will have a chance to spread awareness and raise funds for Pre-Eclampsia. I was able to participate last year just weeks after finding out I was expecting. The testimonies of the women and men involved were so encouraging. If you would like more information or to donate go to www.promisewalk.org
Thanks Tia for sharing your testimony.
Be sure to donate. Any amount could help.
Until next time, Be Blessed & Live Well.