Winter break started off hot. Not having to worry about school and being home with my family was awesome. Christmas was great and so was my birthday. I knew I would be in the hospital over New Years, but I didn’t care, I was looking forward to getting a big part of my recovery out of the way. The surgery went well and I was out of the hospital a few days after and back to Ohio. I went home with no idea what the following few weeks had in store for me…
The first couple of days went fine, other than some pretty serious pain in my abdomen from surgery. That alone was a lot worse than I expected, I couldn’t even turn to one side on my own, which I have to be able to do to prevent bed sores, especially while being bed-ridden. I took the surgery very lightly because I wouldn’t let myself worry ahead of time. It took about a week until I was able to eat again and eating did not become any easier after those first couple of days I was home. Monday (January 6th), I had a good breakfast, but nothing more than a few bites for lunch and dinner. The urine that was draining out of my catheters was really bloody and the two weren’t draining right. This was way beyond me, or my parent’s comfort level to deal with, so my mom took me to the ER. This didn’t end up being a serious problem, I was released about six hours later. Tuesday is when my stomach started to hurt, and I ate even less than I did on Monday. On Wednesday, I had some Honey Comb cereal for breakfast and my stomach pains only got worse. They were so unbearable that I couldn’t even take a drink of water. My mom reminded me that I had to drink, so I finally had a little apple juice and vomited almost immediately. “Alright that’s it, we’re going back to the ER,” my mom said. We went back and after waiting around for a couple of hours, I was admitted and sent to the X-ray room. The X-rays showed that I had a bowel obstruction. Basically, a kink had formed in my intestines since leaving the hospital in Chicago and nothing was passing through me. I was full of shit. They put an NG tube in as the first attempt to fix the problem. The NG tube goes in your nose, through your nasal cavity, and down your throat into your stomach—–If you’ve ever had an NG tube put in and were conscious for it, you know what a bitch it is passing through your nasal cavity—– It was used as a vacuum to suction my stomach out. I remained full of shit because the tube could not go past my stomach, and my obstruction was at the bottom of my intestines around the surgical site. However, the hope was that pressure would be relieved from the obstruction and it would unwind itself in a couple of days.
I stayed at Miami Valley hospital in Dayton through Friday. My stomach no longer constantly hurt, but still produced spikes of excruciating pain. Meanwhile, the doctors at Miami Valley had no idea how to treat me. My urologist in Chicago is one of the few surgeons in the country that performs the particular surgery I had, and the Miami Valley doctors were clueless to it. They put me on all kinds of serious antibiotics to kill the bacteria in my bladder, even though I told them not to treat my bladder: “Two feet of my intestines were just put into my bladder, there’s gonna be some bacteria there that shouldn’t be in any normal body. I do not have a normal body. Here’s my surgeon’s number, he said to call him if anyone tries to treat my bladder for infection.” Which the doctor responded, “No I know what you’re saying. I get that this operation was done, but you have so and so kind of infection. You are very sick. This needs to be treated right now.” For me it was like… what can I say back to that? He was getting all defensive like I was saying I knew more than him. No I don’t study medicine, I didn’t even know what the hell he just said, all I knew was what my surgeon told me to tell other doctors if they tried to treat an infection in my bladder. “You have his number, just call him.”
By Friday, the doctors saw that the heavy antibiotics were not solving anything and they finally talked to my surgeon doctor. The local doctors were very happy when he told them he would like me to come back to Chicago to be under his supervision. They realized they were lost. I’m convinced the doctors there would have killed me had I stayed. But Friday night came and so did the ambulance squad. The ambulance squad loaded me up and got me on the road to Chicago. I did get to lay down in the ambulance, but between the super hard little ambulance bed I was on and the NG tube, the almost five hour ride was hardly bearable. What choice did I have?
I returned to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the middle of the night Friday January 10th. The nurse that I had when admitted would talk to me and ask me basic questions, just doing her job, but I kept my blanket over my head and never said a word in response. I figured if it was important, my mom would answer for me because she was in the same room. I was miserable and hadn’t gotten more than a couple hours of sleep a night for days, or had anything to eat or drink in a long time. The doctors ordered another fluid for me, so the nurse tried at least three times to get another IV started on my arm, but had no luck. She brought in the head nurse to give it a try and I would have lashed out at this guy had I given a fuck about anything anymore. I laid in the bed lifelessly as he tried to hit my vain: “Okay lets see what we can do here, you gotta be very still. Be still, be still. Okay almost. Be still, be still!” I didn’t so much as twitch a muscle in my entire body the whole time. I wanted to rise up from the sheets, grip him by his mouth and tell him that. I made it through the night and Saturday marked the peak of the worst week of my life. My surgeon was off for the weekend and was not on call either, so I still had to wait until Monday morning to talk to him. His team of med students and a partner surgeon came in multiple times throughout the weekend, but I stayed on the heavy antibiotics because that’s what I was on when I arrived and my doctor wasn’t able to give an order yet to take me off them. The doctors present thought my infection was septic and were telling me all of this false information. I had figured that once I got back to Chicago everything would get figured out and I’d be “back on my feet” in no time. However, there was still no plan and thus no end in sight. I needed to see a finish line, something to look forward to. I thought it was the end of the road for me. After a good 15 hours straight of not talking and hiding under a blanket, my mom came to my bed side, “you didn’t give up, did you?” “I gave up a long time ago,” I said. My mom started crying, “Just like that? You’ve made it this far, been through everything you’ve been through and you’re just done?” I don’t think I responded. She went on to talk about all of the finer things in life and what all I have to look forward to with returning to school and the great job that I more or less have lined up already, “But you don’t want any of that. You’re just gonna give up.” I finally responded, “I guess I do. This is just the worst thing I’ve ever lived through. At least I was unconscious most of the time after my accident. I am very much here for all of this and I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve eaten like three days out of the past two and a half weeks; I’m running on nothing.” I continued, “I guess I haven’t given up, but I don’t think it matters. Are you hearing everything that’s going wrong with me? I’m gonna die in this bed. Maybe not tonight, or the next, but I’m not getting out of this hospital.”
I made it through another night with only a couple hours of sleep, and Sunday was the start of my upward swing. At least for me emotionally. The doctors told me that I would go in for surgery in the morning to get the obstruction corrected. This was pretty bad news, the risk of an obstruction reoccurring goes up after every surgery due to scar tissue, but I was thrilled. I was finally given a plan, and I had sights on the finish line. Later in the day, I had some more X-rays done, which I was told looked better, and I finally shit a little bit. I had never been so excited about some poo. Monday morning, my surgeon came into the hospital, and told me that things might be starting to work themselves out. He prolonged the surgery until early afternoon. Things started to pass through me again around noon, more than the day before, I had some more X-rays done, and my surgeon came in late afternoon and told me that I wouldn’t have surgery that day. This was good news, but it kind of bummed me out. I had been saying ever since Miami Valley, “Would they just cut me open already?? They’re gonna keep putting it off and end up doing it like a week from now. By then it will be too late and I won’t make it back to school in time.” I was so determined to make it back to school. I had been so used to being in a hospital, so when I returned to school first semester to get my life moving again and was able to spend time with friends, it was the best thing ever. I knew I would get that same feeling because I would have been so used to the hospital again leading up to my return.
I had it in my head that I would for sure need to be cut open again, but that the doctors kept pushing it back. I honestly thought school second semester was now out of the question for me. I spent The whole day Monday trying to become okay with the idea: “Well at least I’ll have no school related worries for the next several months. Always was a bitch getting homework you couldn’t figure out. I’ve probably lost 15 pounds, so I’ll just hit the gym day after day again and put on twice as much as I’ve lost… Yeah, I’ll just be massive when I go back to school next fall,” I thought. Things continued to progress, though: I got a PICC line put in Monday night to give me the nutrition I was missing from not eating and I started to feel better. More and more was passing through me each day from then on. I got my NG tube out late Tuesday night and I slowly worked my way up from liquids to food starting Wednesday. I got released on Friday, but stayed local in Chicago through the weekend because my surgeon said that Monday would be the earliest I could get my catheters removed.
My mom and I held down the Ronald Mcdonald House for a few days. I still couldn’t do anything because I had two tubes draining urine out of my body. How are you supposed to push your wheelchair around when you’re holding two bags of piss? On the bright side, I could actually have food and water. Not having an NG tube after having one in for a week felt like such a luxury. I could eat, drink, and swallow painlessly whenever I wanted. I was so amped about that.
This is ridiculously long, so I’m going to finish it up real quick. Getting my drains out was so nice. Like I got rid of my chains and was free again. Since getting home on Monday, I’ve been preparing for school and trying to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on. My bladder is supposed to be worse at first, and it is, but is supposed to be way better after a couple of months. I’m keepin’ my nuts crossed until then.