ANSONIA– Jerri Barber is recuperating from a recent emergency major surgery and has returned to work at Dollar General in Ansonia.
The odds against Barber ever being still around to tell her story is a miracle in itself.
She recalls that fateful day a little over a month ago so well.
“The day was Friday, Dec. 3 2021,” she recalled. “It was my day off and I just wasn’t feeling well. I slept most of the day, and I had a pain in my lower right back. Didn’t think too much of it till later that evening when my boyfriend, Kenny and I went to Greenville to eat. That was about 7 p.m.”
She said when they got back home, the pain got a little stronger.
“I tried to lay back down, but I just wasn’t feeling well, Barber continued. “Around 9 p.m., my lower stomach was kind of hurting. At that point, I thought I had the flu. Cory, my son, asked me, ‘Do you want to go to the hospital?’, and I was like ‘no’ So I went to lay back down.”
By this time, she said Kenny was in bed because he works third shift.
“Around 10 p.m., I was getting sick,” she went on. “I’m still thinking I have the flu. Right side and stomach were hurting really bad. This went on till about 1 a.m., mostly just getting sick. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, which I thought was strange because I felt like I had to go. Now, I was sweating and shaking and thinking ‘what is going on?’ because the pain was really bad. It had to have been around 2 a.m. when I went back to the bathroom and continued to keep getting sick but still couldn’t go to the bathroom. I kept having the sensation to push, it was horrible.”
Then, something else occurred.
“All of a sudden, whatever the pain was in my lower back, moved around to the front of my stomach at that very moment,” she remembered. “It felt like death came through the bathroom door and rushed right through me. It felt like life had just left my body; the pain was so bad. Still had no idea what was happening to me. I put my arms out and hollered ‘what the hell?’. I thought I was going to die at that moment. I was crying and sweating, wondering if I was going to make it to the bedroom where Kenny was.”
As she was sitting there trying to get her bearings back, she was getting really scared.
“I finally got back to the bed, reached over, and touched Kenny and told him I needed to go to the hospital,” she said. “He jumped up right away and said, ‘let’s go’. He knows I never go to the doctor or hospital so when I said that, he knew something was really wrong. We were leaving the house and it was really foggy.”
They arrived at Wayne HealthCare and she said she was in so much pain.
“The pain was now in my lower stomach,” she said. “They took me back right away and gave me something for the pain. The doctor on call was great. She came in and pushed on my stomach and sent me right away for an MRI. It was like she knew. It wasn’t much longer until she came rushing back in to say, ‘Sweetie, we are rushing you to another hospital, this is an emergency. You have an aneurysm in your aorta that burst.’ I was in such shock, I just looked at Kenny and told him I was scared. He said he was too. CareFlight couldn’t take me because of the fog. Things started happening really fast. The ambulance was already there. They were trying to find a hospital that would take me. Kettering it was, and off I went. The Wayne Hospital staff who cared for me were great. So were the ambulance people. I’m so grateful for those people who took care of me.”
At Kettering, she was rushed right to the operating room.
“They were all ready and waiting on me there,” Barber said. “Things were happening so fast, I didn’t even know what time it was. When I woke up from surgery, Kenny was there. So was Cory and my best friend, Joanie Beam. I slept most of the day. When I woke up, I was feeling pretty good. I had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. They went through both of my legs and they put a stent excluder in both of my legs and a graft stent excluder in my abdomen.”
She was recovering really well, or so she thought.
“I got out of the hospital the evening of the sixth,” she said. “The next day at home, the seventh, I was ready to start my day….new diet, eating three to four times a day, and taking pills I’ve never had before.”
She then went on Facebook and saw where four people she knew had passed away.
“It really hit me hard,” she said. “I started crying and Kenny asked me why I was crying. I said that this could have been me on here, then he started crying. I felt like I had come so close to it. It’s something I still can’t shake off to this day. I will never forget it either.”‘
According to Barber, the next two days at home, she was getting more and more and more depressed.
“I was very tired and didn’t want to talk too much…just mostly stay in bed,” she said. “On the third day, the ninth, I started getting sick again. I had a really bad pain on my left side. I’m like, ‘Here we go again.’ So, they get me in the room and start doing tests on me. MRI showed me everything from the surgery was fine. I guess there was blood that I lost that had backed up behind my bowels, causing the pain and sickness. I had scopes done and also found out I had some more fun news. I was in the hospital till the 12th.”
After she got home that time, she was feeling a little better, but noted that the depression was getting worse.
“Joanie would stop out and tell me, ‘I just want to hear you laugh and feel better.’ I just couldn’t shake it off,” Barber continued. “I finally got to my family doctor. She started me on something for my depression. I was feeling weak and tired. I had no feelings about anything. The week after that, I went to see my vascular doctor, who said I could return back to work Jan. 4. I said, ‘Okay.’ That was in two weeks. The way I was feeling, I wasn’t too sure about that, but okay.”
The Ansonia woman said by the end of December, she was finally starting to feel better, but still not 100 percent.
“So on the fourth, I went to ask to have my hours cut so I wasn’t going to be worn out,” she reported. “They have been working with me and I am grateful for that. As of Jan. 22, I still feel the toll all of this has taken on me. I get scared if I feel a little pain. Doctor says I’m good to go, but my body and mind aren’t there yet. I will never be able to forget the feeling of death rushing through me that night.”
The experience has given her a lot of time to reflect on what happened.
“Life is so precious,” she said. “I look at things differently now, trying to take better care of myself. Not that I did anything to cause this, it just happened. I have to be scared every six months now to make sure all is okay. I’m just glad to be alive.”
She concluded, “I’m so thankful to be here to tell my story. Thankful for all the prayers that came in and everyone who called to check on me. The love was felt from you all. But most of all, to my boyfriend, Kenny, for being by my side the whole time.”
She also expressed appreciation not only to Kenny and friend Joanie, she also thanks son Cory, and her daughter-in-law Samantha Midlam “for helping out and doing all they do” and to her grandchildren, Abby, Lyllee and Aidan Barber “for being right there when I needed something.”