May 5th, 2003 was the day I almost died. Each year that passes, I don’t dwell on the negativity or my fear. Instead, I look at all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and all the amazing people who I have in my life. In remembrance of that day, I have included a section from my book, “I Am Not Contagious.” Enjoy!
“A glow of light shined like a spotlight on my hospital bed. The sheets were stiff, with a hint of bleach. The pain in my stomach was horrific, which made it difficult to speak. It felt as if I had floated out of my body, and I was watching myself from a corner in the room. A Surgeon entered and walked to my bed showing little emotion on his face. He informed me that I had ruptured open somewhere in my abdominal cavity and my tummy was filling with blood and stool. My body was going septic. In a state of shock, I said “I have to get back to California…they have to save my internal pouch” and the Surgeon responded, “No way. You are not stable to travel… You would die.”
I couldn’t process what he was saying any longer, with my head in my hands, I began to sob. That day, I called 911 at 12 noon and by 4 pm, I was on the operating table. This moment changed my life forever; I still have an eerie feeling on May 5th each year that passes. No Margaritas or Tacos for me. I just think about where my life had been and how shocked I am still alive.
There were no planned surgeries seeing as it was a holiday. I was wheeled into a large room that was lined with a row of empty beds. As I manipulated the tubes from my I.V. so I could changed into the surgical gown, I looked up and realized just how alone I truly was. The sound of my bare feet walking on the tile floor echoed throughout the room. The tile was cold and seemed to radiate through my body. I began to weep quietly until the sound of a person walking at a frantic pace pulled me out of my misery. Jake ran into the room and as we locked eyes, no words were needed. I could breathe again; the weight of my pain was temporarily removed. The last thing I remember is Jake hugging me.
I woke up ten days later in agony. My mother was at the side of my bed. There were tubes coming out of every orifice in my body. The surgeon had lost I.V. access during my surgery, which led to having a port placed in my chest. I had a feeding tube down my nose, which made breathing strenuous. I pulled off the tubing that was providing me oxygen and I said “Am I alright?” My mom went on to explain that my body needed time to rest, so I was placed into a Morphine coma for almost a week. Confused and cloudy, I tried to sit up and that’s when I noticed a very familiar feeling. I touched my stomach and ran my hand down to my pelvic area where I felt plastic. My colostomy bag had some how found its way onto my body again. I began to scream, my mom tried to calm me, but it was no use. The hell I had known became reality once more.
When I was released from the hospital, I was put on suicide watch and was not to be left alone for any length of time. My uncle and cousin came into town to relieve my parents. We watched movies, as I slept the days away. Everyone tried to encourage me and keep my spirits up, but trying to fight for my existence was a battle I was losing.
I could not eat food for weeks; which would allow my body to recover. I had to wear a backpack that was full of a milky white I.V. solution called total parenteral nutrition (TPN). This fluid contained all the nutrients that I needed to survive and it was pumped slowly into my body through the port in my chest. It was undecided if I could ever use my internal pouch again and the thought of having a colostomy bag before I was 25 years old sickened me.
I wanted to die. I would have if I could have found a painless way to end it all. The emotional sorrow and the physical agony had weakened my spirit. Jake came home from his shift at the fire station and found me in the kitchen. A nurse had come to our home to teach me how to flush my portacath, so I wouldn’t get a secondary infection. As she pushed the needle through my skin into the port in my chest, I screamed. I could not take one more ounce of pain.
Everything hurt, especially my heart. I had so many hopes and aspirations for my life. Cancer ripped my dreams right out of my body and left me in darkness. Every day was a struggle. I did not want to get out of bed. I welcomed sleep because my dreams were the only break I could get from my life. I had lost the fight in me. Jake could see it, so one afternoon he came to me and said “If you can’t fight for yourself, fight for me…for us.” It was a slap in the face. Now, I knew I could get through this… I was strong. I just needed someone to believe in me and give me an extra push. This was not going to be the end, in fact, this was going to be the beginning of my life.”