Near Death Experience Brings Two Women Together
JEFFERSON CITY - Around the holidays, we gathered with our loved ones and counted our blessings. For Jefferson City resident and mother of two, Ann Fleury, one of those blessings is Heather Bisges.
"It's the amazing the little things that come out afterwards," Bisges said. She used to work as a nurse in the ICU at Boone Hospital in Columbia. She was working the nightshift when doctors rolled Ann onto her floor in March 2011.
"The minute Ann rolled through the door, I knew it wasn't a side effect from the surgery," Bisges said.
27 years old at the time, Ann didn't think much of this surgery. Her doctors called it a minor procedure. They were going to remove her gall bladder and abdominal hernia.
"That's what we were told throughout the whole experience. The whole weekend before, it's a simple, it's a minor procedure," Ann said.
"Everything went fine, according to the doctors, and she was sore afterwards," Ann's husband, Sam Fleury, said.
Ann's pain, however, didn't stop there. She said it escalated throughout the night.
"I woke up and I had an increased pain and it was very excruciating," Ann said. "It's not a pain you can rate on the scales. It's a pain that you knew that death is associated with it."
Ann was bleeding internally, losing blood fast and on her way to losing her life.
"She couldn't talk, she couldn't look at me. She was there, but she wasn't," Sam said. "It got really real at that point...I was very scared."
Ann and Sam said they pleaded for help from nurses on the recovery floor. Finally, they moved her to the ICU to be monitored overnight. It was during the transport that Ann said the pain stopped and something remarkable happened.
"Then I heard a voice and it was a voice, it was so calm and trusting and it said, ‘Let go, just let go.' My first thought is, ‘I can't, my two kids. They're little.' And the voice said, ‘It's okay, they're going to be fine.' And just like that I let go," Ann said.
Ann said she was dying when Bisges took over as her nurse in the ICU and saved her life by insisting the surgeon came back to the hospital.
"She was arching her back in excruciating pain. I honestly, to this day, I don't know how much time Ann had left," Bisges said.
"All realistically, ‘Do I need to start planning a funeral?' Honest to God. I got to that point," Sam said.
"I can remember Ann's dad looking at me saying, ‘She's got two babies at home, you have to save her.' And I can just remember from that point on that I had to do the best that I could," Bisges said.
"Heather was Ann's voice when she couldn't talk. She was her advocate when she couldn't advocate for herself," Sam said.
If you put your trust in your faith, like Ann, what happened next will make sense.
"I've been through enough in life to know God's always with me. Most of the time when people hear that voice they don't come back. They don't get a second chance. And I get that second chance and it's very overwhelming," Ann said.
Ann gets a second chance on life, on motherhood, on serving others.
"When you go through something like this, you have to come out and talk about it...I'm here to bring attention to wonderful nurses like Heather," Ann said.
"Every once in a while you'll get a patient that really touches your life and it's those patients that make you think, this is what I'm meant to be doing," Bisges said.
"Something only fate could have brought together," Ann said of her relationship with Bisges.
The two women are now friends and live nearby one another. Doctors used around 60 units of blood products to save Ann's life that night -- an average person has five to six units of blood in their entire body.
Ann plans on writing a book and about her experience. She also hopes to advocate for nurses and blood donations.