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Column - I’m back! And humbly grateful
Holli Deal Saxon

When I saw my byline on the front page of the Statesboro Herald Thursday, the first time it has been there in about 16 months, I teared up. I'd thought I would never write again.

Already being just about legally blind due to hemorrhaging behind my retinas, I was struggling to do my job in December 2020. That’s when COVID hit me and took out my kidneys.

A few days after admission to Augusta University Hospital, my heart stopped as nurses were attending me in my bed. I was in the hospital’s shock/trauma ICU for several days, and they had not expected me to live. I did.

But God and I had a moment. An experience that changed my life forever.

People talk about experiences when they "die" and come back. My experience was nothing like what I have heard about. I was surrounded by nothing but bright white light, and silence. Upon realization that I was not "in my body," I got a little scared. I (mentally) called for God and was overcome by a warm, loving, reassurance — a joy that defies description. No one can ever tell me God isn't real.

Recovery hasn't been, and isn't, easy. I spent 45 days in the hospital and still could not get out of a bed by myself. After that, I spent three months in Pruitt Bethany Nursing Home in Millen, undergoing rehabilitation. I came home before I should have, due to my hard head, and went back for another month of rehab at Pruitt in Vidalia.

Angels disguised as drill sergeants at both places got me to be able to get up and move about by myself, but after coming home I need help getting dressed.

Throughout all this, I remained just about blind. I could not make out facial features and sure could not read or write. Heartbroken, I had to resign from the Statesboro Herald, where I had worked for about 23 years.

My mom taught me to never give up and my dad always said "Can't never could." More importantly, my God let me know that day when He surrounded me in light that I was not done.

I know there were thousands of prayers lifted for me, and a lot of them were from me. I used to pray periodically, but now it's several times daily. I am just so thankful for life, for every breath I take, every experience, regardless of how trivial.

I had planned eye surgery for early 2021, but my health issues at the time were more urgent. However, prayers were answered earlier this year and the surgery vastly improved the vision in both my eyes. Soon, I will have cataract surgery to improve my vision even more.

I am not out of the woods. I will have to get off oxygen and manage some other things before I am eligible for a kidney transplant. But I have dialysis three times a week and have a portable oxygen concentrator so I can go places.

I still have walking and balance issues, but I discovered one can still catch, lead, feed and groom a horse from a wheelchair. I have planted flower bulbs and seeds and have strawberries and potatoes in my garden so far, with more to be planted.

Most importantly, I am back at the keyboard, writing part-time for the Statesboro Herald from home. It is a blessing I never expected. I missed being a part of the goings-on in my hometown, missed expressing myself in columns and informing the public what is happening.

It is in my blood, and with God's miraculous love and strength, it is within my ability once again. I am humbly grateful to be back.

Holli Deal Saxon is a freelance writer. She worked for the Statesboro Herald for 23 years.

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