Last Updated on: December 16th, 2018
THIS IS MY TRUE STORY OF HOW I NEARLY DIED.
I’ll never forget the weekend of August 24-26, 2012 as long as I live. It was the weekend that marked a major, life-changing event. I nearly died that weekend. The weird thing is – I’m actually grateful for this experience, because it led me to my son.
Let me tell you about it.
What happened in my life and how I nearly died:
On Friday, August 24, 2012, I went to Bingo. I ordered and drank iced tea that evening, and began feeling a bit weird. I got a stomachache, and began feeling nauseous. I hadn’t eaten anything, so I knew I didn’t have food poisoning. I thought that maybe the iced tea was tainted. I don’t think I will ever know if it was, for sure. I just know that I felt fine beforehand.
Just before bingo was over (maybe about maybe ten or fifteen minutes before), I began to feel really sick. I was dabbing my cards, sitting at the table, and I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit.
In the space of about two seconds, I felt this, thought this, and then realized that there was no way I was going to make it to the washroom in time… and promptly threw up into my cupped hands.
I got up, and ran to the nearest garbage, emptied my hands, and then ran to the restrooms, where I vomited some more in the sink. I washed my hands, dried them, and phoned my mother.
I told her to come and pick me up, and to bring a “barf bucket” with her, in case I got sick in the car on the way home. (Originally I was going to get a ride home with another bingo player, but I didn’t want to take the risk of getting sick in that person’s vehicle.)
I played the last game of the evening feeling awful. I did not win, nor did I enjoy my bingo-playing experience that night!
My mom brought me a plastic 4L ice cream pail when she came for me, and I think I threw up in it five or six times during the 10-minute ride to her house. (I have my own apartment, but decided to spend the weekend with my folks.)
I was sick all night. I vomited so much that I ended up dry-heaving because there was nothing left in my stomach. I drank water, then minutes later, threw it up. I got sick of being sick, and so I stopped drinking water. I finally stopped dry-heaving at about 5:30 a. m., and had a really hard time falling asleep.
I‘m sure you’ve been there, at some point in your life, and know how horrible it is to be sick.
The next day, Saturday, my stomach was sore. I figured it was from a pulled muscle or two, from all the vomiting I had done the night before. I took some painkillers, and tried to sleep.
Again, I had difficulty attaining dreamland, and ended up napping on and off throughout the day, into the evening. I took some more painkillers that night. My stomach was still sore.
When Sunday morning rolled around, I was in more pain, not less. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so awful. Surely one glass of iced tea couldn’t cause this much pain, could it? (II never did contact the bingo hall to find out if their iced tea was tainted. I wish I would have.
However, to this day, I only drink from bottles purchased from the vending machine whenever I go to bingo!) The pain was not subsiding, even though I took some more painkillers, and by 10:30 a. m. I could barely move. I couldn’t get comfortable in any position. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, it hurt to lay down. It hurt, hurt, hurt, regardless of what I was doing.
Of course, by this point, I wasn’t doing much of anything, except moaning and groaning. I decided to call Tele-Health Ontario, and speak to a nurse. She advised me to go to the hospital. Ultimately, I ended up calling 911, heeding her professional advice.
By the time the ambulance arrived, I had slowly gathered my pillow, the book I was reading, and my purse, and had my health card at the ready to give to the paramedics. They had to help me into the ambulance. I could barely walk.
On the way to the hospital, I felt like throwing up again, and so the paramedics gave me a barf cup that had a bag attached to it. They told me how to use it. I hadn’t gotten sick all day the day before, but the bumpy trip to the hospital jostled my stomach so much that, moments before arriving at what would be my new home for the upcoming week, I got sick. Really sick. Again.
When we arrived at the hospital, I felt better. I knew that they were going to take care of me, and hopefully determine what was wrong. After several hours, and several tests later, a doctor finally told me that he thought it might be my appendix that was causing me grief.
He called in a surgeon, who happened to be a woman younger than me! She couldn’t have been more than 30! She looked like she was about 24 or 25. She also did not want to operate on me because of my size. I am not a petite woman. I am what they call “obese.” I hate this word, and it’s negative connotation. But, I am a pretty big girl. I always have been. (I’d like to say I’m okay with that, but I’m not. Although I’m now more accepting of it. But that’s another story.)
The doctor informed me that she would operate on me if I really wanted her to. (Um, isn’t that her job?)
She told me that I could take some antibiotics instead of opting for surgery, (she really didn’t want to operate on me) but I knew I had a better chance of living if the operation took place (it is her duty, after all, to make me better).
I explained that I had faith in her abilities, and told her that she should challenge herself (I knew she was worried and wanted to give her that extra boost of confidence in herself).
I guess I volunteered to be her guinea pig and let her gain some knowledge about operating on obese people, although I didn’t exactly phrase it that way (me, always the teacher!). She, in turn, warned me that she might have to cut me open if the laparoscopy did not work. (This is how they usually remove the appendix.) I provided written consent, telling her that it was fine to do this. I think my exact words were “Do what you gotta do; I trust you.” And I did (despite her own self-doubt).
I provided written consent, telling her that it was fine to do this. I think my exact words were “Do what you gotta do; I trust you.” And I did (despite her own self-doubt).
I was prepped for surgery and called my mom to apprise her of the situation. I told her that the surgery usually took about an hour-and-a-half, but might last longer, depending on what the doctor found once she began the operation (this, according to the good doctor), and told her to call back “later”, to find out how things went.
My mother ended up calling back a few times that night. She was told I was “still in surgery”, and so had to call back at a later time. It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning that my mom breathed a sigh of relief. They finally informed her that I was in “recovery”, coming out of the anesthetic. I was pretty groggy and ended up sleeping a lot that night. At some point, I guess they moved me to a room.
The next day, my mother and the doctor both came to see me. Dr. M (not sure that I should use her full name here, so I won’t) informed me that I was lucky she operated on me; I had a bad infection, was filled with pus, and my appendix had burst into so many pieces that she had to “go digging around for all of the pieces.” Mere antibiotics would not have helped me. I needed the operation.
The good doctor also told me that she to cut me open, too. As a result, my belly ended up with a six- to seven-inch incision, which was stapled shut with 23 non-dissolving staples. She also put me on intravenous antibiotics for four days. Apparently, I would live, but I was going to be “sore for a while”.
I was to return to the hospital in three weeks time to get my staples removed (it ended up being four weeks, though), and I was also to make a follow-up appointment with my family doctor. Further instructions included continuing with oral antibiotics for two weeks, as well as daily cleansing of my incision and changing of my bandages.
What Dr. M neglected to mention was that, during my operation, she also removed a hernia from below my belly button, which I didn’t even know I had. In fact, I didn’t learn of this hernia until weeks later, during a follow-up appointment with my family doctor! When I gleaned this knowledge, I decided to write the good doctor a “thank-you” card. Naturally, I was a tad peeved that she didn’t tell me about the hernia I had, but I was grateful that she saved my life.
I NEARLY DIED. Then I realized I wanted to live.
During my stay in the hospital, I had three roommates. One was an 74-year-old retired nurse. I’ll just call her E, to protect her privacy.
E and I stayed up really late one night, talking. We talked about a wide variety of topics and shared experiences with one another. We also spoke of my son. I confided in E and explained the situation. I had not spoken to my son in over three years.
My son, who I’ll call J, also to protect his privacy, moved out two weeks after he turned 19, and “disowned” me, his grandparents, and his aunt and uncle. (He was 19, need I say more?)
Naturally, I missed J, and tried several times to contact him. The only way I had of connecting with him was his girlfriend’s cell phone number. It was October of 2009 when I had last spoken to J, and when I was in the hospital, nearly dying, I began thinking about him, and life.
I did not want to die without saying goodbye. Funny that I should be thinking about death at my age. However, being so ill really made me contemplate things, and it was almost as if my life was flashing before my eyes. Almost.
Anyhow, I had to stay in the hospital for almost a week following my surgery. Usually, patients are sent home within a couple of days. I, however, had a major infection (which likely caused my appendix to explode) and was kept under the watchful eye of the doctor and nurses who attended to me.
I ended up on antibiotics, and had to take them for an additional two weeks after my release. I had my staples removed at the four-week mark. I didn’t heal completely until about two months after that. By this time, it was November.
During my healing process, I decided to try to find my son. I had a general idea of where to find him; someone had told me where he was working. I made some phone calls, and found his exact place of employment. I ended up writing and snail-mailing a letter to him.
A month passed, and J had not responded to me. I wanted to give him some time to (a) digest what I said in my letter and (b) contact me. I then decided to find out when he was working, and made it a point to call him when he was on-shift.
That conversation was a difficult one. We hadn’t spoken in over three years. I had to deal with his attitude. He denied knowing me, at first, but I powered through his negativity and threats and showed my true emotions.
I had changed my life a lot in the two years prior, and told him this. He didn’t believe me. But, I gave him my number, and he ended up calling me.
We spoke for nearly an hour-and-a-half. We talked. We listened. We laughed. We cried.
I couldn’t believe it.
He phoned me again, a week later.
Then again, and again.
I couldn’t call him; I didn’t have his number. I did not call his work again, out of respect for him (he asked me not to).
The point is, we re-connected. I don’t think any of this would have happened if it wasn’t for my appendix bursting. My operation led me to my son. For that, I’m very grateful.
We still talk, to this day. Slowly, he is letting me back into his life.
It’s tough, but we’re getting there.
I now have his number. We have Skyped, too. There’s more, but he’s really private, and I can respect that. I have to. I love him, and I don’t want to lose him again.
I NEARLY DIED and MY LIFE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER!
Join me next week when I reveal a bit more about this story, and how he influenced me to get to where I am today…
Read the continuation, How Re-Uniting With My Son Impacted My Life.)
Update: This true tale of mine was included in an anthology being sold on Amazon! Unfortunately, I don’t receive any royalties, but it’s nice to know my writing is being read! You can buy a copy of What’s Your Story?: 2013 Memoir Anthology simply by clicking on this link.