It was close to midnight on Oct 8th, 1999. I’d seen my date off and settled in to check my email before calling it a day when the worst pain I’d experienced dropped me to the floor. If I’d had razor blades for dinner that night it felt like they were passing through my system. I barely made it across my bedroom floor to pound on the wall to get my roomates attention. When they paramedics came they had to put me on the gurney sideways because I couldn’t straighten out. Each bump on the road brought waves of pain as the 5 minute drive to the hospital seemed to go on forever. I remember being told to do drink some milkshake type stuff and promptly projectile vomiting it on the nurse who gave it to me.
I came to 3 days later with IV’s in my arms, tubes down my nose, my throat and a catheter. I remained that way for 11 days before I was removed from it all and taken out of ICU. My large intestine had a perforation and they removed a bit over 2 feet, during an operation that only 20% live through. The surgeon told my motheer to call a priest for last rites, and she told him, “He can’t die. He may be a pain in the ass, but he’s my pain in the ass!” It didn’t help her any that it was the same hospital my Dad had died at 10 years earlier.
It took me 6 months to fully recover. I have a scar that goes from above my navel to an inch above my penis. Solid BM’s are only a memory and red meat is on my not allowed to eat list (though I do cheat on that ocassionally). On the operating table I died, but I don’t remember that. I also died a half hour after the operation when my lungs collapsed and couldn’t breathe without the aid of a respirator. I don’t remember that either.
What I do remember is feeling lucky to be alive when Dr. Arnold told me all this.
Every birthday I have now is a gift. So if I get a bit post happy around this time of the month every August, it’s in celebration of a life that almost wasn’t. A celebration of friends who almost weren’t. A driving force to live a life still open to an unkown realm of exciting possibilities.