The admitting physician asks me, "Can you drive independently? Can you go to the bathroom by yourself?" Something deep inside wants to say "Google me, bitch!" but i bite my pride and respond appropriately, letting him examine me with his chubby fingers. I'm not the usual patient here and baffled nurses scuttle out of the room, agitated that i refuse their pink plastic water pitcher and choose to use my own glass bottle.
It's been a long battle, these last three months. Somehow, someway, a Staph infection made its home deep in my spine and moved quickly. It literally ate one of my vertebrae and part of another. How does that happen? I mean, exactly how does an infection find a vertebrae and eat it so quickly? One MRI showing nothing and then another three weeks later corralling all types of doctors into urgent action. I've never heard of anything like this and the doctors have no clue how it came to this, but here i am, two major surgeries later, healing, fighting back, as my beside lamp from home softly illuminates this white stale room.
Rewind three months.
Water (sweat) fills my ear and i awake in total panic. I'm under water! I fight to breathe and swim, but realize i'm in a bed. Confusion. I don't know who or where i am. Delirium. Complete amnesia. I'm scared. "Somebody help me!" Expletive after expletive, i scream into the salty darkness. Soaking wet and freezing, survival mode takes over and i tear off my shirt, burrow into the wet blankets and cry myself to sleep.
That's what the fevers did to me and when they started, my appetite stopped. Five days with no food and a good friend, fed up with me, bought me a thermometer. This was the thing that finally told how high my fevers actually were and when the 105 degree crash landing into the ER happened.
My spine needed to be rebuilt and the surgeon needed to gain access through the side of my chest, remove a rib and detach my diaphragm to remove the leftover fragments of bone, crumbs from the table, and the other infected vertebrae. Cadaver bone was put in place, but during surgery i lost too much blood so they had to stop. Waking from that surgery was a nightmare. Fear. Claustrophobia. Pain. Unable to move. Every breath excruciating. And you can count out sleeping too. I think I went five or six days without sleep.
The next surgery was seven days ago and the surgeons are amazed at how fast i've recovered. The stationary bike, resistance bands, weights, stretching, and throwing the medicine ball around all have me exhausted and it feels good. I was sick for so long. My appetite returned a few days ago and now i can't stop eating. I'm pale and thin, but my resolve feels strong as ever. The next few months of rehab will be very difficult, but i'm fighting back.
This has been the biggest mountain i have ever had to climb.
Life Lesson: We manifest what we want for our lives, but getting there might not look like what we expected and most likely is very painful and difficult. Relish the journey no matter how difficult it is. There is beauty in the struggle.