When approaching Greenbush resident Sheila Forst about sharing her story prior to her upcoming benefit, she was very reluctant at first, but thankfully, she agreed to do so.
“I don’t like to have people feeling sorry for me … I’m just thankful to be alive. If I can help or inspire one person who is experiencing what I’m going through, I feel God has chosen me for a reason,” she said, adding, “There isn’t a pin-pointed name for ‘it’. I could name more than 15 plus things that have happened to me along the way.”
Twenty years ago, while Sheila was pregnant with her son Skyler, problems in the pregnancy developed and she was referred to a specialist in Grand Forks. It was discovered that she had a blood clotting disorder.
“I had to give myself blood- thinning shots in my stomach twice a day and was going to Grand Forks twice a week to have ultrasounds done. Then my bladder quit working – by the time I got to the hospital I had two liters plus of urine in my bladder.
“That’s when all the craziness began … everything started to escalate,” Forst said.
Because blood clots had closed off oxygen leading to the placenta, Sheila had previously suffered five miscarriages. She said she found out later at Mayo that she had an autonamic attack on her body. It went part way up her spine which in the future caused a fully-disfunctional pelvic floor.
While Sheila was still carrying Skyler, she was placed on medication to stop any contractions. At 35 weeks, the medication was stopped with hopes that Skyler would be a full-term baby.
“I was discharged but as a precaution they told me to stay within ten minutes of the hospital,” Forst said.
Two days later, on January 22, 1999, and five weeks early, baby boy Forst entered the world weighing six pounds.
“After Skyler was born they pieced me together as best they could. My body was in a lot of repair,” she said.
“About two years later, my abdomen had increased in size so much that an emergency hysterectomy was performed in Grand Forks,” Forst said. “Things hadn’t been going that great with the bowel; continuous surgeries were done in different ways to try and get the bowel and bladder to work.
“I left work at Polaris where I had been for 13 years to go to Rochester the first time and I never got to go back to work again,” Forst said. “There I was without full-time employment although I tried to work part-time at different jobs … things were really tough.”
While reflecting on her health journey, she commented, “It’s amazing … I’m sitting here and you wouldn’t know what my body has underwent,” Forst said. “My whole bottom is sewn shut, the neck of the bladder had to be cut off because of having to place a suprapubic catheter; I have bags attached to my body. But, here I am – I’m holding my own and I’m learning a new lifestyle!”
“I’ve had a lot of angels along the way,” she added. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t receive an uplifting message from my “Prayer Warriors”, Youth groups, or individuals. And, a lot of what I like to call ‘God Winks’ have kept me going. I am so blessed!”
A pancake benefit sponsored by the Greenbush-Badger Lions Club for Sheila Forst will take place on Sunday, January 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Greenbush Community Center. There will also be a Silent Auction and bake sale held by “Friends of Sheila”.
If you are interested in donating any items for the benefit, contact Dena Hanson, Jody Kirkeide, Sharla Kilen, or Lori Foster. They would love to see many of you there to help show Mama Sheila some love and encouragement as she continues to “Keep the Faith”!
To find out more about Forst’s journey and see comments others have shared about her, read the January 16 issue of The Tribune in print or online.