Back in late April I became Ill.
The prelude to the surgery was scary. If you haven’t had major surgery, it’s a bit intimidating. Lots of folks dressed up like you’d see on House or Grey’s Anatomy. The surgeon, Dr. Whitehair came over by me to talk before they wheeled me into the actual operating room. I was in pre-op with my wife, my father whom we will call Senior for a variety of reasons and a very close family friend named Wild Willie. Wild Willie and his wife have been friends of the family since before I was born. Wild Willie and his wife were unable to have children and my parents always said they would share me with them. I introduced them as my alternate parents at my wedding and have always considered them to be something of a second set of parents. In pre-op I introduced Dr. Whitehair to them.
“This is my father, Senior and my other father, Wild Willie.” I said.
Dr. Whitehair barely skipped a beat, his eyebrows only quirking slightly. I was puzzled at that but no one else said anything. After some chit-chat and discussion of the upcoming surgery, Dr. Whitehair left the room, saying they would be coming to get me in a few minutes.
After they left, it dawned upon me that I had just introduced my father and family friend as a gay couple. Apparently nobody else in the room other than Dr. Whitehair had noticed either. It was funny and released some of the tension that had been building up before the surgery. Soon enough they came to get me. I said my loves and goodbyes and they wheeled me into the chilly environment of the surgery theatre. They transferred me to the surprisingly narrow surgery table and the anesthesiologist injected something into my IV then put a mask over my face. He smiled down at me kindly and asked me to count backwards from 100. The last thing I remember is 98.
They tell me they woke me up in recovery to remove the breathing tube. A fortuitous thing about anesthesia is that it messes with memory, especially early on. I woke up in the recovery room and was soon transferred to a hospital room. Floor 3 North Tower. 3NT. A place that would soon become our home for over a month. My stomach hurt, as to be expected but the Dilaudid they injected into my IV kept it under control. Dilaudid feels like those seconds when you are falling asleep at the wheel and telling yourself not to fall asleep, but then realize it’s too late. Very strange drug, but works well on the pain.
They even got me to stand that night. It hurt, but it seemed manageable. The next day I was sore. Very sore. But I walked some and by the end of the day I was even eating and drinking again. The mood was that I was going to be discharged sometime the next day.
The next day the pain woke me up. It was bad and it didn’t get any better. The doctors and nurses thought I was constipated. The anesthesia and painkillers can do that. I was given oral laxatives. Later the pain was so bad that I even got an enema. I hurt so badly I didn’t even care about the indignity of it. The worst part was none of it helped. They kept me in the hospital. My wife knew there was something wrong and began to get aggressive with the doctors and nurses. Finally they did a blood test. My kidneys were shutting down and I had a massive white cell count. I don’t know what would have happened if it wasn’t for my wife. I was in too much pain to understand or push for my own treatment at that point.
A CT scan of my abdomen found a leak in my stomach. They had accidently perforated the remainder of my stomach during the surgery and it had leaked into my abdomen. Full-blown sepsis. For the second time in three days, they wheeled me back into the operating room.
I remember clinging to my wife and crying my eyes out as they took me away. I was delirious with pain, scared and terrified to be going back to surgery. I remember sobbing to her “They can’t do this, they can’t do this” over and over again. The last thing I remember is seeing her next to my father as they wheeled me away.
The next part is going to be the worst, about surgical intensive care and recovery. I’ll have to put it in the next diary which I hope will not take so long to write.
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