My adventure began with a 4 day all expense paid stay at Mission Hospital in Asheville. Let me start by saying that besides the sporadic cold, headache or sore throat, I am generally a pretty healthy person. Having lived in California for almost 10 years has given me more of a holistic, or, as my brother would say, hippie approach to life. I eat organic foods, cut down on refined sugar and flour, meditate and drink my “green drink” (which my father lovingly calls “frog spit”) every morning. Imagine my surprise when what I thought was the flu transitioned into me being driven to the emergency room.

I knew I was truly sick when I heard myself agreeing that going to the hospital was my best course of action. I had gone through a week of chills, no appetite, intense sweating and a headache and now my speech was beginning to slur and I couldn’t keep my balance while walking.

It would be fair to say that at the time I had animosity and an aversion to doctors, medicine and hospitals. I grew up with a mentally ill mother and watched as she was prescribed a constant barrage of medications; medications that sometimes worked or would work for a short period of time and then fail. I judged the medical community for this failure and as a result, never trusted or forgave them for not helping my mom live a better life. In fact, I had so much inner anger around the concept of illness that whenever I got sick I got mad that I was sick.

Getting to the hospital took most of my energy. As soon as we walked into the emergency room, the woman behind the desk took one look at me and brought me a wheelchair. Just the way that she looked at me made me feel safe and taken care of. I remember bits and pieces of that night as I was put through a battery of tests: an MRI, chest x-rays, blood tests and a spinal tap. Even in my haze I remember thinking “everyone is so nice.” In my semi-delirious state I imagined that the testing and exams were spa treatments and I was at an exclusive resort being pampered.

When they finally wheeled me into my room, I watched as they put a port in my arm for the IV and it seemed like cords were attached to my body in various places. I vaguely remember wondering how, with all of these attachments, I would navigate my way to the bathroom. Ah, the priorities that come to mind right before falling asleep.

The next morning, I still felt like crap but when I spoke, I could once again form coherent sentences. I rang for the nurse and when she came in I was told that I had pneumonia. Because I thought that pneumonia included constant coughing (and I hadn’t experienced that), I was surprised at the diagnosis. The symptoms of slurring and lack of balance had confused me as well. I was told that my slurring and lack of balance was a result of potassium deficiency and that if my levels had gone any lower, I could have developed heart problems that would have lasted the rest of my life. There was also a possibility that if I had waited another day before coming in that I could have died.
As the day went on and they alternated between giving me bags of potassium and antibiotics through my IV, I realized that the medical community that I had shunned my entire life had diagnosed me correctly and saved me. Because of the care and medicine I was receiving I would not have chronic heart problems and I was still alive. When that thought sank in, I felt a shift and experienced a healing around my old wound of anger and mistrust towards the medical community and illness. My body was feeling better and as a bonus, my mind and spirit were also receiving a deep healing.

From that point on, the entire stay in the hospital seemed surreal. It felt like an event that I was living through but the anger that I had experienced in the past whenever I got sick was gone. There was an underlying peacefulness and a feeling that this experience was happening for a reason and I was supposed to surrender to it.

For the most part, I was successful with allowing myself to surrender to the experience. The only breakdown I had was on the third morning I was there. I started thinking about the future hospital bill and my lack of medical insurance and began to cry. A nurse walked in and as I wiped my eyes, she asked me what was wrong. She listened as I shared my concerns about paying for my care and told me about a program that the hospital had set up to help people like me that didn’t have insurance. She told me that she would send someone from the program to talk to me. The next morning before I checked out, a woman came by and interviewed me. Afterwards, she told me that she would be in touch once they reviewed my case. When she left, I meditated and talked to God. I said,
“Ok, I am surrendering my worries of the medical costs to you. I trust that you will provide the means for me to pay for them.” I had to breathe and have that conversation several more times in the upcoming weeks.

Let me take a moment and acknowledge that the support I received from the people n my life during this time was amazing. My friends took turns watching my cat while I was in the hospital. One of my closest friends flew in from California to stay with me as soon as I got out of the hospital. She brought cards from my other friends in California, cooked, cleaned and shared laughs with me. Her loving and positive presence was a great foundation for my recovery. The day after she left, my brother and his family arrived to spend Memorial Day weekend with me. When they left he handed me a check and said, “Michelle and I talked and we don’t want you to worry about your recovery. Use this to live on while you get better and don’t worry about paying it back.” My little brother was taking care of his big sister. Just prior to getting sick, I had started a new job. When I got home there were several get-well cards from my manager, co-workers and owners of the company. The love and support I received was overwhelming.

My birthday was about 3 weeks after I got out of the hospital. As I was leaving to go meet some friends for dinner, I stopped to get my mail. Sitting in my mailbox was a letter telling me that as a result of my interview, 100% of my hospital stay was being covered. I broke down and cried.

Throughout this experience I shed many tears and a majority of them were from joy. I was given a healing in my body, mind and spirit. I had received loving support from friends, family, new co-workers, the medical community and God. It was an experience that truly changed my life for the better. The anger I once experienced whenever I felt sick is gone. The angry child within me was comforted and shown that it was okay to trust again. Now whenever I get a sniffle, go into a funk or start to have anxiety about the future, I think back to less then a year ago, remember, and surrender.

Author's Bio: 

Lorri Gifford has been reading Tarot Cards since 1986. While living in California, she worked at The Chopra Center for Well-being as their Spa Director and a Lead Educator. In 2009 her intuition guided her to move to Asheville. Lorri enjoys writing, giving readings, coaching and helping others develop and deepen their intuition. She can be reached at or 828.505.4485.