Wife’s Story Of Almost Dying in March of 2010

Note: The following story tells about how my wife was at death’s door, at University of Tennessee Hospital during a week in which she had a total colectomy, which involved removing her entire large intestines and colon.

The surgery was on a Monday and she was scheduled to go home that Friday. Then everything went wrong and instead of going home on March 5, she almost went to her heavenly home. I will let Rhonda pick up the story from here. Her Facebook page includes some photos with her story under Notes.

My Hospital Stay

by Rhonda Miller-Hindsman Godfrey on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 10:45pm

On March 1, 2010 I went into the hospital to have surgery. I was having a total Colectomy due to medical issues. Went under anesthesia and had the surgery. Came to and everything was fine the doctor put me on a fast track and had me eating solid foods that evening. Thursday morning he came in and said he was sending me home friday morning. Later on that evening things went out of control for me. I had started feeling bad, my body and face felt hot. Called the nurses station for them to bring me some ice chips. No one came. I get up walk down the hall and up to the Nurses Station to get me some ice and something cold to drink. Hoping this was going to make me feel better. Only to have someone tell me that I could not get any and that they would have to check with my nurse. This upset me as I wasn’t feeling well anyway. I informed them in a not so polite way that I was being released in the morning and I wanted some ice right now. The lady gave me about 2 or 3 bites of ice in a cup, then she asked did I need her to carry it back to my room for me. I just laughed at her and said Hell no I will have this gone before I even get around the corner. If I would have known that was going to be the last time I would have anything to drink I would have taken my time with it. So I get back to my room and I am upset I remember talking to Andrew and telling him not to bring Justin up there since I was going to be going Home tomorrow. If I would have known what was going to happen next I would have begged him to come and be with me. I was all alone in my room not wanting to watch tv or be bothered with any noise. My friend Brenda called and we were talking and I remember crying to her telling her I just didn’t feel good. That I was unable to get anyone to bring me any Ice and I was hot. At this time I am starting to panic feeling all alone and no one there to help me. I felt completely helpless, alone, afraid, and terrified. My emotions were going everywhere. What I did not know at the time or do not remember Brenda telling me she was going to call the Nurses station and talk to my nurse. The next thing I know is the phone rings and Brenda says is the (Nurse walks in) nurse there? I said yes she just walked in.


The Nurse started asking me all kinds of questions. She was a very kind older lady. She was watching me I explained to her that I did not feel right. I was having chest pains and was having a hard time breathing. The nurse said she would be right back. The next thing I know is all the lights in my room are on and there is a room full of doctors or interns in my room checking me out listening to my chest and stomach. Then they order chest x-rays, and a echo cardiogram. Nothing unusual there. So they send me down for a cat scan. Back to the room. During this time my family had been called in because they did not know if I was going to make it through the night. Terror set in for me because every time they would put me on the small tank of oxygen I would have an even harder time breathing. I did not know at the time what day this was or what time it was.


My surgeon was called in he was going to have to do emergency surgery on me but for what no one knows. I had turned septic my body started shutting down. One organ at a time. I felt like they were trying to kill me and I was going to die. I just wanted the pain and the terror to go away. I was completely scared to death. I was alone in this area waiting to be taken into surgery. The doctor sent my husband Andrew in to see me one last time. I remember telling Andrew I love you too, but can you leave now so they can go ahead and operate on me now. Then the next thing I know Andrew and Justin are coming back in to see me. I told Justin I love you and don’t you cry or worry because momma will be right back out. Little did I know what was to come.


So this is the last moments I remember before I went in to have surgery. I kept asking the nurse if I could have a sip of water or a wet rag for my mouth it was so dry. When you are gasping for air your mouth tends to feel like you have paste in your mouth and you can’t get rid of it no matter how hard you try you can’t even form saliva. I kept asking this nurse all kinds of questions. Her answer was always the same not right now as soon as the doctor says you can. So here I am fighting for every breath I am taking and not knowing anything that is going on. No one had answers. All I knew was that they were going to open me up to see what was going on. So after about 5 people were brought in and then taken back for surgery they came after me. They removed the oxygen mask from me and replaced it with another one. I could not breathe. I was begging them to please just let me breathe. I felt like someone was sitting on my chest pushing all the air out of me and not letting any of it back in. I was told that I had started convulsing. But to me I thought I was fighting to stay alive but was unable to move it felt like I was paralyzed.


Hello I am here, Andrew, why do you keep yelling at me? What Danna, Donna, and Robbie are here where I can’t see them. Andrew where is Justin. Justin says Momma I am here I love you momma. I love you to Justin. Then I hear a lot of talking but I can’t make out who or what they are saying. There are these shadows and I can’t make out the faces. There is a light around them but it is hazy. I could hear my husband and Justin as plain as day but others I could not understand. I would find out later that I was in a coma.


While in this coma I had actually thought that Andrew and Justin were ignoring me and I did not understand why Justin would be telling me to open my eyes and tell him I love him. I kept yelling at the top of my lungs that I was awake and that I did love them and for them to not leave me. I kept trying to grab their hands and hold onto them but I was unable to move. I did not understand at the time what was going on and I was very scared.


Then on March 11, 2010 I heard a nurse say today is your son’s birthday and he just wants you to open your eyes. So I opened my eyes and the next few hours felt like seconds everything seem to go so fast for me. They were removing the tubes and the main lines that they had on me then they were making me get up and out of the bed. My feet and legs were huge and I just could not believe how swollen I was and that it was March 11 then everyone started telling me I had been in a coma and that my sisters had come to be there with me and that I was not expected to live. This was a lot more than I could handle and then the Doctor told me about the ileostomy bag and the drainage holes. Then the next day is when they hit me with the other medical conditions that came up after the surgery. They are as follows: cirrhosis of liver, diabetes, bone degenerative disease, nerve damage, neuropathy, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and that there were 5 masses found in the piece of the colon that was sent off and they were cancerous.


So now that I no longer drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes I have all of these other things to live with. This has been a very long journey for me and it is not over on September 30, 2010 I will be seeing my surgeon and discussing the next surgery that I am going to be going through on October 18, 2010 and what will be done and what will happen after that. I am so looking forward to getting closer to having this bag removed and back to my old self as much as I can be that is. We may actually be looking at 2 or 3 more surgeries so I will find out more on September 30,2010. I am praying for some very good results from the Doctor and some encouraging results from my test.


Now there is one thing I have not written about at this time and I am just waiting for the right time and the right way to tell that part of my story. This part of the story is about when I was in that Coma and what I remember going on at that time I am working on that in a separate note article. So now I am going to share this with you and I am adding the photos that my sister and them took of me while in that coma. I am not ashamed of any of this I went through it I lived through it and I am here to testify about it.


There is one thing I do want to say that if you ever have a loved one or even someone you know that is in a Coma talk to them don’t be afraid of them because if you talk to them then they do not feel alone. I don’t care if you do nothing but read a card or book or newspaper or even the directions on the equipment around them. Just hearing your voice is soothing and let them talk to you about it in there on time. Do not push the person to try to remember everything that happened it will overwhelm them and throw them into a psychotic break. Take it easy and slow and be there and just try to understand. One thing I can honestly say is that unless you have went through the exact same thing as that person then you do not know and you cannot understand what it does to that person. So be patient and understand that they are being harder on themselves you don’t have to be any harder on them.


I can honestly say that me and my immediate family (Husband Andrew, & Son Justin) have been through the wringer. If we would have let this take over us and not be there for each other than we would not be together right now. This has been tough and I have had a lot of breakdowns and would blame everyone for not understanding. The nightmares and day terrors were the worse. But I felt like no one and I mean no one not even my doctors could understand or even explain to me what was going on with me.


So I am going to sign off for now.

Thank you for reading this and trying to understand my ramblings.





Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

2 thoughts on “Wife’s Story Of Almost Dying in March of 2010”

  1. Now is your time to help others through these kind of trying times. I think it’s good for you emotionally to tell about your experience, and it’s good for others to read about what it’s like to be in a coma. God Bless you.

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