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It Can Be Hard To Breathe...(Post #7)

Deep breath, Sy, just take a deep breath and try to relax…as I lay on a hospital bed, thinking to myself that I was going to die, a pain in my chest so severe that I felt as though my sternum may actually collapse, and the only thing anyone could say to me was relax? There was definitely no relaxing as I was hurled down the long, wide hallway on my way to have yet another round of tests. And I was far from relaxed when I realized the only way I was taking my next breath was because of the oxygen being pumped through my nose and into my lungs. It is a very harrowing experience to be a 16-year kid lying in a hospital and knowing that each time I attempted to take a breath, each time I was hoping my lungs would fill with air, I had to rely on a machine. The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming and that is a feeling I still struggle with today each time I talk or write about my experience. Feeling helpless is not a natural inclination, for the most part we all try to be in control of our lives, but that is not always guaranteed. Be prepared for when you lose that control and tumble into a world of the unknown because this life is fickle and we all relinquish that sense of command at some point. What becomes important is how we handle that sense of helplessness, unfortunately for me; I was a kid with a hole in my leg and worry in my heart, so that feeling of vulnerability was becoming a well-known sensation.

On top of dealing with my match-up with the champion of flesh-eating bacteria, which had already proven to be one hell of an opponent, now I was facing a severe issue related to my cardiovascular system. I had developed a large amount of fluid surrounding my heart, which turned out to be the source of my insufferable chest pain. This fluid, that had made a nice, cozy home inside my chest cavity, was the first time I grasped the idea that the hole in my leg was not going to be my only problem. I’ve often heard and talked about the snow-ball effect when it comes to things like school work, or job responsibilities; the idea that issues will continually arise and just get harder and harder to deal with, but I never thought that theory would be relatable to my life at the age of 16. I would find out as time passed that every instance in which I felt like my team of doctors had a grasp on what was happening, there was something else ready to rear its ugly head and knock me back into my own end zone. Such is life, we can feel like we are on top of the world one day, then get knocked back to reality when we are faced with what seems like prodigious adversity.

Once my team of doctors figured out the cocktail of intensive medications that would assist in evicting the fluid from its home in my chest, we could get back to executing our original game plan. At this point, I had endured numerous surgeries geared toward eradicating the infection from my system, but in doing so, they had removed most of the muscle, skin and connective tissue in my left leg. Now, as great of a Halloween costume it may be, I could not continue my life with a softball size hole in my lower limb. I clearly remember what the hole in my leg looked like, it is a sight that I will never be able to forget. Seeing the rigid and bleeding edges of skin outlining the hole, mixed with the site of my distorted and bruised foot being held on only by visible bone and metal plates was emotionally excruciating. I knew I was not healing, things were not getting better and even though a plan was in place, I wasn’t even close to the 50-yard line. Each day that passed became about next steps, what can be done in order to save the life and limb of this 16-year-old child? As my team of doctors were reviewing game film and making adjustments to the game plan, there was not a clear-cut option in regards to filling in the space that was created by the initial surgical scrapes. Finally, my team called an audible, and added another member to the roster. A medical professional who brought a very unique vantage point to the situation, a physician with a title that may induce thoughts of nose jobs and liposuction, but this particular plastic surgeon’s expertise went much deeper than Botox injections. This addition to the team was a game changer and now we finally had a new set of eyes to help determine how to fill in this gaping hole in my leg. Again, even having a plan of action at this point brought feelings of elation. But since history seems to repeat itself, I was in no way prepared for what would be a grueling 14 hour surgical journey that changed the meaning of the words “he’s not out of the woods yet” for our entire family, forever.

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