We care so much about the start that when we get to the ending we aren’t ready. And sometimes the wave arrives with no warning and the ride has already begun.
I had just left Lincoln. Where I just saw my estranged grandmother. She was in the hospital for knee surgery. And she had no idea that I would pay her a visit, rightly so because I have only seen her twice in my life.
We spoke of my life, shared her pictures of my lady. She was very happy. I parted to head back to my home in Laramie, which was 7 hours away. It would take another week, a plane flight and 26 lbs of flesh till I would get there.
In nowhere Nebraska, I felt the first of many pains that would come to cloud my judgement. Driving on I-70 a sharp constricting pain came from my gut. It ebbed away. Then a time later it returned. The pain intensified and the intervals in between grew short. This eye lid clenching pain was a challenge while driving to the Denver airport, where I would pick my girlfriend up.
I now I find myself in the bathroom next to an empty waiting room of an emergency room. The heat of the constricting pain made me sweat. With no shirt on I heaved mucous into the toilet while I pressed with all of my might on that burning spot.
Now, I am lying in an emergency room infirmary bed knowing that I was closer, but far from relief. Doctor Brown came in and ordered an x-ray to determine what was the fuss about.
It had appeared my large colon was twisted onto itself. I needed emergency abdominal surgery. And a transfer to a hospital was in order. The EM to my right filled the ambulance with small talk. But I wanted this moment to myself. The setting sun made the clouds golden against the dark eastern sky. It was beautiful to me in this moment of uncertainty.
Between the transfer this sharp constricting pain subsided. Meeting with the surgeon we decided to wait till the morning. Then as the sun rose again the pain returned. Dr. Ferrigno came in and I shook her hand saying, “let’s do this.”
I awoke with 29 stables through the middle of my gut, with more sutures below the skin. I was happy not have a colostomy bag! The trip was not over. There was a new pain. A pain I could not run from. The slow distention of my gut inflamed from dissection and constipation. It looked like the staples could be deadly to anyone in the room.
A slow hard pain that narrows your thoughts. The inflammation filled me. My breath, my breath, it was taken from me. Only short shallow ones I could manage. The slope was slippery with the prospect of pneumonia and secondary surgery – to relive the buildup of gas.
With my harden gut, I got a walker. My lady Ivy, pulling the IV, I took steps with the breadth and pace of a man 60 years my senior. How feeble I am.
The movement didn’t work. The ever-present distension was unbearable. The gas from my innards was working itself the opposite way. I became very nausea. And wrenching up what fluids I had pulled so grossly at my newly sewn seams.
The nausea subsided. My seams did not tear, but they felt like it. I laid down with my mouth filled with this white stuff called thrush. I felt the waves batter me with no way-out. I let them crash over me.
I got up to walk once more. To get the distention to subside, I did not want them to operate on me again. This drowning restriction of breath was not going away.
Why was it not working!?!
My lady turned to me to tell me to relax. She played meditation music. I sat breathing and with these walls of pain, I was able, still, to relax.
I must say Ivy and I have never been this happy for me to fart! Though with these new movements of my bowels came the sharpest of constricting pains! They would halt me on my walks – as if there were some gremlin with a wrench cranking away! But these were signs of improvement. I was happy to pay this fare as my organs came back online.
Speaking of which, the first large movement yielded an alarming amount of blood into the toilet!! And I had just taken a pill of Oxycontin. (I only took pain medication to sleep.) With this event I fell asleep.
A teenage skater stood before me, two others stood to his right. A hammer struck his forehead. The skin ripped, blood poured, and the boy fell into the river. I rushed to pull him out. The current was so strong, and his flesh was quickly rotting. His orbitals bones began to show.
I let the river take him.
I was discharged three days later. Filling my prescriptions, I choose not to fill the Oxycontin one. ‘I do not want it.’ The pharmacist rebuked, “ no one says that.”
With my stool softener and ibuprofen, I left the hospital. But I wouldn’t be getting home by road. A May snowstorm had just come through and closed the roads north. There was no way to Laramie.
I was by myself and 26 lbs lighter. (Ivy was in Laramie; she had left 3 days prior for work.) I wanted to go home.
I took a 20 minute flight from Denver to Laramie over this storm.
I was home.