Meet our August Scarlight, Shawnise Chantel from Jacksonville, Arkansas! Shawnise is an active member of my Scars to Confidence Facebook Group, and I noticed her after she told her story in the group. I was excited when she accepted the call to become a Scarlight Feature to share her story of resilience and strength to a broader audience. Thank you, Shawnise, for inspiring us all!
Below is Shawnise’s story.
“July 20, 2019, at age 33, I was wheeled into the operating room after delivery of my beautiful baby girl to have a simple procedure to tie my tubes (tubal ligation). That simple procedure turned into a 54-day hospital stay, and a 20-minute cardiac arrest episode which left me with both physical and emotional scars. It turned out, the doctor nicked my bowels during tubal surgery. My abdomen hurt so bad that I refused to eat. The second day post-surgery, an NG tube was dropped into my abdomen, and I was on a feeding tube.
The mistake of the injury wasn’t discovered until 6 days later. My mom and sister knew something wasn’t right. I complained that I was hot, and nothing seemed to bring me comfort – the room was below 60 degrees. My mom told the nurse that she believed I had an infection. To me, the infection felt like gasoline flowing in my blood stream that was lit by a match- it felt like a wildlife inside of me. My mom was my advocate. The doctor agreed to investigate my family’s theory [of infection] the following morning, but my mom stood up for me; she put up a fight! A mother is never prepared to bury her child!
Immediately, a Ct scan was done which showed a severe amount of fecal material in my abdomen. I was on the verge of death, and it was almost too late. My organs began shutting down. I was prepped for emergency exploratory surgery. A nicked bowel was found along with several abscesses. I was sent to the critical care unit with a wound vac and several drainage pumps to drainage the infection. I was diagnosed with 3 deadly infections and was on the highest doses of different antibiotics to ease the pain. While in CCU on my birthday, instead of cake and ice cream, I was diagnosed with renal failure, upper respiratory failure, and congestive heart failure. I was also diagnosed with double pneumonia and developed bed sores and had to have an additional wound treatment. It was one problem after another.
This is where my mustard seed of faith kicked in. I had to continue to have faith in my recovery. I sent my newborn with her first- time dad for about 6 months. This felt as though my child was ripped from my arms. My 16-year-old at the time was at home caring for her one-year-old sister, a responsibility no child should face, while my parents and sister were at the hospital caring for me. When the one-year-old came to see me in the hospital bed, she cried because the tubes and my appearance frightened her. I was convinced that my child didn’t know me anymore. I thought maybe this is how it ended for me. I then began to have severe nosebleeds which led to a blood transfusion. I never had a nosebleed in my life. I also became septic, (vomiting my bowels), which was disgusting.
A while later, things started to improve, so the doctors scheduled me for discharge. The day before I was scheduled to go home, it started off amazing. I was super excited to see my children. My sister came to visit me like always and nothing was unusual or out of place, but before my sister could walk inside her home after leaving me, she received a frantic call. I flatlined and they were in the mist of reviving me. During this time, a device was giving me CPR, the doctor gave 5 shocks, and the nurse continued to try to revive me for 20 mins until I finally showed signs of life. I am not sure how close I was from my time of death being called. I was put in an induced coma for 48 hours, to take the pressure off my brain and heart.
Parts of my memory is vague because I was given medicine to erase the trauma. However, I remember parts of the afterlife vividly. The day after discharge, I was showing signs of a brain injury, stroke like symptoms. This led to being readmitted at a different hospital. I was too afraid to return to the previous one. Once I made it back home, I was told the labs showed E. coli and they needed for me to return for treatment. I cried and cried I just wanted this nightmare to be over, I was mentally drained, and my body was weak. The only thoughts that kept me going were my babies, and the sadness in my parents and sister’s eyes, even though they tried hard not to show it. They too were exhausted.
During recovery, I had home health, a wound vac, a life vest, and IV meds in my arm. I needed assistance for everything, things that were once simple turned into a huge challenge. December 4, 2019, I received a defibrillator. The fear of being shocked and the series of events left me traumatized. My dad recommended that I seek the help of a psychiatrist. I knew I had to try something because I was miserable and in darkness. I had anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
After countless sessions with the psychiatrist, she recommended that I write a book as an assignment for therapeutic healing. My memoir “God Within the Lily, ” published by The Butterfly Typeface Publishing was born. This memoir is the catalyst for my rebirth. Writing gave me power, an escape, vision and understanding. I was on a new path to healing. When I was clothed, I felt safe, but when I undressed myself, the scars were a painful reminder. I was ashamed of how I looked and the choice I made to have the surgery. I learned to return that mindset back to sender and know that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, I had to forgive it all to be a healthier me. It took time, I had to trust the process. I was still a single mother who had to pick up where I left off with my babies. Motherhood was a challenge being so sick, but it was rewarding and satisfying!
Sharing my story for Gods glory and for it to be confirmation to inspire others has made my life worth living!”
Questions for Shawnise
- How has your story shaped your life’s perspective?
“I realized life is imperfect and short. I am no longer blinded by certain things in my life. I went from perfectly healthy to a life-altering experience. For me, death came as theft in the night. This has taught me to cherish big and small moments and milestones, because at any time we can take our last breath. I no longer focus on materialistic things or things that are negative. I am cautions because of my heart condition. I learned to love even more. I accepted that my body is a temporary shell and when I see myself in the mirror now, I say ‘Girl you are beautiful, you are strong, you are blessed, and you are a queen!'”
- What steps did you take and/or tools you used to overcome how you felt about your scars? If you have not yet, why?
“Prayer was my main outlet, followed by counseling, and the help of a psychiatrist. I’ve written a book called “God Within the Lily”. I joined empowering social media support groups. I also been utilizing radio, podcasts and in person interviews and other platforms to tell my story which as has given me deeper courage. All of this has brought me therapeutic healing which allowed me to embrace my scars and the glory of it all!”
- What is the most important thing that you have learned about yourself through your journey?
“There’s not just a one specific thing. I have learned that I am stronger than my circumstance. My beauty never changed regardless of my scars. That I was born for such a time like this. That I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. That my illness didn’t define me my strength, courage did. I learned patience. I also learned that life is a series of moments, and the power of love and confidence!”
- What is one lesson that you can share with others that will inspire them?
“Never give up! You are resilient. Your scars have a greater purpose, so tell your story. It can be someone else’s breakthrough or lifeline because you never know who’s fighting a battle.”
Thank you, Chantel, for being a part Scar Power’s amazing community and using your scars to empower and inspire others! Good luck on your book and all your future endeavors!
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