Moving On Up...kind of (Post #13)
You would think things get better when you are moved out of the intensive care unit, but it ‘s a much different story when your new accommodations happen to be the infectious disease floor of the hospital; but hey, at least I’ll get jello right? Not unless it can be shoved down a feeding tube that felt like it was so far up my nose and down my throat that I was worried it might poke out from beneath the ever so flattering hospital gown. We like to believe that everything gets better over time, and for the most part, that is very true. But we also have to consider that just because things may seem to be turning around, we should always prepare ourselves for the next hurdle that is placed in front of us. I know that sounds negative and morbid, that we always have to prepare for the next negative thing to pop up in our lives. But I have learned over my years hanging out in hospitals and operating rooms that every single hurdle we jump is part of what shapes our future. Sure, would I love for this story to be over and the ending is that I got better and life went on? But, of course, that isn’t what happened, and I have learned to accept the fact that to be truly free of emotional burden forever is not a reality that comes easy, it takes work, sometimes that work is hard and we don’t want to do it, but just like on the football field, practice makes perfect (or as close to perfect as one can be).
I’m sure if I were cognizant during the night in which I was moved from the ICU to the infectious disease floor, I would have felt elation and confidence as they rolled me down the long hospital corridor. Unfortunately, the damage that was done to my system was so severe that in order to stay alive I was on high doses of medication as well as numerous devices helping me breathe. By the end of my time in the ICU, I had endured multiple blood transfusions and even though things were turning around, my team of medical professionals was still worried that they may not have removed all of the flesh-eating bacteria; it became a waiting game. Once I was safely moved into my new digs on the infectious disease floor, I was kept so highly medicated that there were days in which I did not wake up. Air was being pumped into my lungs via a breathing tube; medication was introduced into my system via an IV in my neck; nutrients needed to stay alive were forced down a feeding tube in my nose, but I was alive! There were so many tubes pumping things into my body, but the most painful tube was the one allowing the liquids to be drained from south of the border! I have been through 17 surgical procedures total, all more painful than the last, but one of the worst sensations of pain I have ever experienced was having a catheter inserted into my urethra (disclaimer: I told you this was a REAL story). I always understood how dire my medical situation was, but that never hindered the fact that I was a 16 year old boy who had to have his urinary catheter bag emptied by nurses on a daily basis. Being that I was only 16 years old when this ordeal began, I was also trying to find out who I was as a person, and the feeling of embarrassment I endured was just as fundamental as each surgery I had when it came to shaping the person I was to become.
We don’t always focus on our past experiences enough when it comes to understanding who we are as people. When we experience something negative in our lives, we usually concentrate on getting past it and forgetting that it ever happened. Whether it be being broken up with for the first time, or the first time we fail a test, or even the first moment we can remember being truly embarrassed in public. Naturally we want to move past those events and bury them so deep in our psyche that no length of catheter could flush it out. But as hard as it may be, understanding our shortfalls and difficult times in our lives can be really beneficial in so many different aspects of life. Those times in which I felt humiliation or pain are the times that I can remember most vividly because they truly helped me understand that everyone has a unique experience and the bad times can help you grow as much as the good.
So, I’m all settled in my new pad; brand new hospital bed, a clean gown and all the feeding tube nutrients a boy could ever want. But the best part about moving to the infectious disease floor was the addition of nurses and patient care assistants to my medical team. In professional football, teams always try to trade for better players to increase their levels of success as a team. When I was moved to this particular floor, with this particular group of nurses and PCA’s, my team of professionals immediately became Superbowl contenders! Other than my family and close support system, the people who were taking care of me on a daily basis were the ones who really helped me survive...they kept me alive.
Things have to get better, I may not have been fully conscious but I knew deep down that the worst was over and everything would get better. All I had to do was stay confident and take it a day at a time, something extremely difficult for most people, let alone a 16 year old. The first time I really woke up in my new room was a day I’ll never forget; it was most certainly not a scene from a movie in which I slowly arise from my bed, stretch my arms and have two small birds fluttering around my head. There was something wrong with my arm though, as I felt my eyes begin to open, it was as if my eyelashes had been sewn together, but despite my blurry vision and hazy memory, I felt a horrible throbbing in my right arm and as I glanced down I knew it shouldn’t look the way it did.