It Wasn't Even Halloween...(Post #5)
Some of the scariest moments in our lives are seared into our memories forever, recalling a sight or a sound that sets off a chain reaction in our minds that lead us down a path of uncontrollable recollection. Other times are cloudy, we have to connect the dots and try to create a memory that may be associated with a certain experience. Then there are times in which everything happens so fast, everything becomes so complex and drawn-out that it seems to be the only thing that keeps our concentration. When the nurse plunged that needle into my arm and everything went dark, little did I know that moment would be the beginning of a convoluted string of torturous memories that would inhabit my thought process and prove to be difficult to overcome. Our minds are so difficult to fully understand; as a 16-year-old kid, I was still developing into the person I was to become; I was just beginning to understand what it meant to question things, to form my own opinions and ideas. Now I was faced with a situation in which my future was no longer mine to control, I had to learn to wrap my head around the idea that I was not in charge of how my mind worked. It was difficult to control my own thoughts amongst all the negativity that was swirling around what had become my world and my life.
After determining that I had contacted a very severe, flesh-eating bacterium, it was now all about how WE save my life and hopefully my leg. I use the word WE in the previous sentence because I knew that the physicians were going to put forth their greatest effort to save me, but I also knew that I was part of that team! If I truly wanted to pull through, and become the person I was destined to be, then it was just as important for me to fight alongside the team of doctors.
Surgery is painful, trust me. No matter how severe, or how “non-invasive” a procedure may be, it always hurts. After completing the puzzle and determining I was going up against one hell of an opponent in regards to this flesh-eater, surgery became my only defense. When it comes to football, the chess match between offensive and defensive coordinators during a game can be the difference between a win and a loss. At this point in my struggle, I was totally on the defensive; this flesh eating bacterium had the upper hand and drew first blood so to speak. I had a surgical procedure every 48 hours to try and “scrape” away the bacteria, but the only issue with removing the infection was that most of my muscle, skin and ligaments in my lower leg would be destroyed as well. The surgeons had to eradicate the infection, but that eradication would also be the first step toward the tangible downfall in regards to my quality of life. Quality of life isn’t something we think about when we’re 16 years old, we are more concerned with going to school, meeting friends on the weekends and worrying about whether or not we’ll have a date to homecoming. Trying to understand that doctors are tearing apart my leg in order for me to have some semblance of a “normal” life is not an easy pill to swallow (along with the other 20 medications I was on at that time).
Remember when I was discussing scary moments in our lives, and how it is difficult to live with some of those memories? It is also very difficult to wake up in a sterile hospital bed with stiff sheets and a pungent odor of bleach to realize that days, even weeks of your life have passed you by without even knowing. When that first needle was plunged into my arm, I was unaware that in order for my heroic team of doctors to save my life, in order for them to give me more time on this planet, I would have to have some time taken from me. During those first surgeries, I was never awake, even after I would make it to recovery; the infection and pain were so severe that it was more beneficial to leave me under the influence of medication and anesthetic. During the initial round of surgeries, we’ll call this the first quarter; it was all about understanding the opponent and going on the defensive. Each surgery took a little more of my leg but was setting the foundation for the matchup to come. I had five different surgeries within the period of 10 days or so and even though I cannot cognitively recall each procedure, I can still feel the pain today, both psychologically and physically.
After the first quarter ended and I had five surgical procedures under my belt, I was still only on the 10-yard line with a lot of field ahead before I could even sniff the end zone! A football game is not won nor lost in the first quarter, sure an opponent can gain the upper hand, but with the right level of motivation, and maybe a little luck, there is always time for a comeback. When I awoke, in a state of oblivion, groggy from the medication, I had a moment of deja vu when I glanced down at my leg, as I did on the field when it was first broken. What I saw cannot be described as simply abnormal, but rather something out of a horror film. The surgeries to eradicate the infection had momentarily been successful, but success does not come without a price, and my payment came in the form of muscle, skin and blood. I saw my knee and then my eyes began to travel downward, I had about eight inches of “normal” leg, then abruptly, like a linebacker stopping a ball carrier dead in his tracks, my vision become blurry. I wiped my eyes and took another look, the only thing I could see laying on those stiff, white sheets was bone; no muscle, no skin to cover the area, but rather I could visually see the bones in my lower leg that were responsible for holding my foot onto the rest of my body. I couldn’t fully comprehend what I was seeing, but more importantly I was also unaware that seeing the inside of my lower leg wouldn’t be the most horrific thing that happened to me during my journey.