The human body is a remarkable mechanism. It was amazing for me to shift from a deep sense of helplessness to a great sense of encouragement in only one week. As the Shingles were brought under control and I was getting my mind wrapped around the Ileostomy. I was very much looking forward to getting back home. I would receive daily visits from the doctors, GI Specialist along with the Surgeon who performed the operation. This one particular morning, the Surgeon arrived to my room before my father. He proceeded to ask how I was feeling, he checked the surgical site as well as the discharge from my stoma.
He abruptly asked if I knew the scope of what I had been through? I responded understanding I was lucky to have had the surgery, that I didn’t know how much longer in could have gone on in that amount of pain.
What the surgeon said next stayed between the two of us for quite some time. He went on to explain, during the surgery, at the moment he lifted the diseased section of Colon out of my cavity, it began to break apart. Given the physical state I was in, he didn’t know what they would have been able to do if it ruptured inside of my body. He said the toxins would have rapidly spread throughout the body faster than anything they could do to prevent it. He held my hand, explaining I was a lucky young man. He said he did not tell my parents or girlfriend. He offered to tell them if I so chose. I asked him not to.
I carried this for many years, when I did tell members of my family I was surprised to hear they had already known. The doctors didn’t tell them nor did I. They said they knew how bad of a state I was in and understood there was a possibility of the Colon breaking apart before it was removed along with the consequences.
Back in the hospital, I was told the day was finally coming closer. The time I could go home. The nurse would be coming to my apartment for the first few appliance changes at home, which was a great relief at the time. I was comfortablely eating food and moving around on my own pretty well. It was this time reality again set in. I no longer had clothes that fit. My girlfriend bought me some new boxers, swears and shirts. My entire life, I was always heavier than average. To now be wearing small and medium sizes was shocking to me. I felt sick to my stomach putting these clothes on. A time where I should have been over the moon, being released from the hospital I was overwhelmed with these new clothes.
The amount of support I received was incredible. Not just from close friends and family, the hospital staff as well. I had been in the hospital nearly two months. I developed a high sense of appreciation for all the staff had done. Given the hospital was undertaking an expansion, I was moved around the hospital to wards that had not yet been touched. One such ward stands out in my mind. Before the surgery I was moved to the Pediatrics Ward. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night to try to walk off the pain. The ward had a sort of race track pathway in the middle. There were all sorts of pictures of sick kids with their families, nurses & mascots that would have visited. As I walked around with only my thoughts, I took stock of my life. I was sick, in pain and scared. Being in this environment, surrounded by children who were fighting their battles, watching how they didn’t let their experiences stop them from playing and laughing was incredibly inspirational. I was only there for about a week, after the surgery I went back to an adult ward. The memories of those nightly walks in Peds will always be with me.
The day had finally arrived. The discharge papers were signed, all my stuff was packed up and taken down to my dads car. I said my goodbyes to all the nurses that were on shift and my dad wheeled me downstairs. The car ride felt like a new experience all together. It was a 15 minute drive from the hospital to our apartment. The seatbelt hurt, every bump in the road hurt even the sunlight burnt my eyes. For a large rental car, it still felt as though I was sitting on a wooden bench. I felt like crying, this was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I was out of the hospital and on the road to a full recovery but every thing I touched felt different now. Simple things like getting in and out of a car, hugging people & shaking hands. It just all felt different.
Getting to the apartment building, my girlfriend was taking pictures of my dad helping me walk down the short flight of stairs into the apartment.
Walking into the apartment felt great! It was quiet, the beeping I had been hearing from all the machines in the hospital were gone. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself, I was so used to the routines of the hospital and now there was nothing.
We all have defining moments in life. Moments that transcend explanation. At this moment, as I recall this life experience, this was one of these moments in my life. I did not know it at the time but I was changed more mentally than I was physically. Years later when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, after I had the seizures and throughout my ordeal with Pyoderma Gangrenosum, this experience defined how I am mentally up to the task.
I have moments where I truly feel I am not able to cope with the cards I am dealt. In these moments I will read the journal I wrote while in the hospital. I read the words “I AM FIGHTING” and am reminded how strong I was made from this event.