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SectionI,Chapter3:ImtheDr.,YourethePatient:MyAppendixandComplicationsfromitsRuin IwenttocollegeataregionalstateschoolinOrlando.Itwastheonlyplacemyparentsagreedtofoot thebill,soitwastheonlyplaceIapplied.Theplanhadbeentoliveathomeandcommutetoschool,but thatwasbeforemyfatherchangedjobsandwentintobusinessforhimselfafewhoursaway.SoIended uplivinginthedormsanduniversityapartments.Mytuitionandroomandboardwerepaidforbymy parentsandIworkedparttimejobs(phonesales,typist,cashier,officeassistant)tobuypizzas,ginand tonicsontheweekends,gas,andrebuilttransmissionsformy20yearoldToyotaCorona.Imanagedto savemoneyforgraduateschool.Throughoutcollege,Ididnthaveacreditcardoracheckbook.Iwas determinedtomakeAsandgraduateinthreeyearswithadoublemajorincommunicationsand politicalscienceandaminorinspeech.Ididthat. SomeofmyfriendswouldprobablyhavesaidthatIworkedhardandplayedhardincollege.But knowinghowseriouslyItookeverythingIdid,thatwouldbeamisrepresentation.Myplayingwas everybitasgoaldirectedasmyschoolwork.Itwasactuallyhardertosucceedatplaying,soitfeltmore difficult.IwasdeterminedtofindMr.Rightwhilefollowingrulesthatwouldkeepmybodysafe.

Imight havebeenoutatthefraternityparties,localclubs,andbasketballgames,butIneverhadacarefree attitudeaboutbeingthere.BecauseIwasoutgoingandquicktokissboys,Ihadalotoffirstdates. BecauseIwasserious,intense,anddidntbelieveinsexbeforemarriage,Ihadfarfewerseconddates. Eachdisappointmentledmetowonderwhatwaswrongwithme.WhycouldntIfindhim? OneofmytheorieswasthatIhadfoundhim,hejustdidntrealizeityet.HisnamewasKris,atalldark andhandsomeRadioandTelevisionmajorwholovedanaudienceandalaugh.Wetookclasses together,wentouttomovies,dinners,dancing,andhungoutatmydorm.Thefactthathewasntdating anyoneandheseemedtowanttospendallofhisfreetimewithmeledmetobelievethatwewere buildingarelationship.HewouldactannoyedandcompetitivewheneverIdhaveadateandsoaftera year,ItoldhimhowIfelt.Hesaidthatheconsideredmeaclosefriend,andemphasizedhispointby givingmeaValentinesDaycardwiththewordfriendunderlined.Heexplainedthatheonlydated blondes.Itneveroccurredtometodyemyhair.Imnotsureifthatsbecausethatwassomething outsideofmyworldvieworbecauseitmighthaveforcedhimtorevealwhatwasreallywrongwith me.Inanycase,wecontinuedasbeforeI,abrunette,andhim,notdatingone. Bythespringofmysecondyear,hestartedalongdistancerelationshipwithagirlathisbestfriends college.Iwentonafewdateswithhisbestfriend,Mark,whenhecametotown.Thethreeofuswould gooutdancinganddrinkingandtheywouldmakespectaclesoutofthemselves.Maybewealldid,but theirbehaviorseemedlikerehearsedfunandminewasmorederivative.KrisplayedMybestfriends girlfriend(sheusedtobemine)bytheCarsonhiscollegeradioshow,dedicatingittome.Ihopedthat thiswasallpartofthedancethatwouldleadtoaninterestinghowyourgrandfatherandIfellinlove story.ButIfearedthatitwasnt. Thatspringbreak,IstayedinOrlandotoworkextrahoursatthemall,getanearlystartontermpapers, andseesomehighschoolfriendswhoreturnedtoOrlando.Lotsofmycollegefriendsleftcampusand wenthomefortheweek.Somehadgonetolocalbeaches.NoneofthemflewofftoCancunorEurope 1

fortheweekthewaystudentsIwouldeventuallyteachdid.Thatwasntourworld.Myspringbreak extravagancewasSundaybrunchwithmybestfriendandmygaydebatepartnerfromhighschool.We wenttotherestaurantontopoftheContemporaryHotelatWaltDisneyWorld.Itwasallyoucaneat andunlimitedchampagne.Weateanddrankourmoneysworth.Irememberoverhearingwaiters talkingaboutuswhenIwent,again,torefillmyplate.Onesaid,Iwouldnthavebelievedit,ifIhadnt seenitmyself. Afewdayslater,Ihadabdominalpains.Ihadbeenexperiencingcrampsandexhaustiontheweek before,evenmissingafewclassesbecauseofit,butitwasnothinglikethis.AsmuchasIdidntwantto gotothedoctor,bythethirddayofpain,Iwent.Irememberhowdifficultitwastowalkfrommy apartmenttomycarintheparkinglot.Iwasbentover,clutchingmyabdomen,walkingslowly,myface contorted.ThiswalkbecametheoriginofarumorthatspreadthroughtheapartmentcomplexthatI hadamiscarriage.TherewasanotherrumorthatIhadabotchedabortion.Thatonecamelater,but seemedtopersistlonger. Iwenttomyfamilydoctorsoffice,butsawthepartnerwhomIhadnevermet.Heobservedme, listenedtomysymptoms,pressedonandlistenedtomyabdomenwithastethoscope.Heaskedme aboutmyperiods.IsaidthatIwasattheendofoneandthatIhadalwaysbeenirregular.Isaid,Ithink myappendixisbursting.HesaidthatIwaswrongbecausehecouldhearbowelsoundsandthepain wasntcentralizedononeside.HeconcludedthatIhadafemaleproblemthatwaslikelytoresolve itself.Hedidnotprescribeanything,nordidheaskifIhadagynecologistorifhecouldrefermetoone. Irememberthinkingthatbeingexaminedbythedoctorshouldeasemymind,buttheuneasinessinmy bodydidntallowit. ThateveningIwasexhausted,aching,andnothungry.Itriedtodistractmyselfbywatchingtelevision butrealizedthatIcouldntconcentrateonit.IwenttobedonthelittlemattressIhadinthesmall bedroomintheapartmentandsleptfitfully.Icouldbarelystandupthenextday.MyroommatewhomI hadjustrecentlymetandmovedinwithhadthemasterbedroomandabedroomset.Shewasawayfor theweek,soIdecidedtosleepinherbed.Itwasanoutofcharacterintrusionforme,butthepainhad increasedandIcouldntimaginesleepingonmyfloormattressanylonger.Thepainintensifiedthatday, soIcalledthedoctorsoffice.Thevoiceontheotherendofthephonedismissedmewithacurt, Mylantashouldhelp. Butthenextdaythepainwasevenworse,whichseemedunimaginable.Icalledthedoctorsofficeagain inthemorning.Iwastoldbythenursetoputahotwaterbottleonmyabdomen.Itriedtorestthatday andmanagedtosleepalittle.Itwaslikepassingoutmomentarilyonlytobeawakenedagain.Afriend calledandIsaidthatIwastoosicktogetoutofbed,.Shesaidshedbringsomethingformetoeat.I dontremembereatinganyofit,butIdidsipthelemonadeshebrought.SheaskedifIhadseenadoctor yet.IsaidthatIhadandhehadpromisedthatIwouldgetbetter.Irememberverylittlefromhervisit, butshemusthavetoldmetocallagain.WhenIdid,Iwasreprimandedbythenurse.ShesaidthatI neededtorememberthatIwasnotthedoctorsonlypatient.Hehadtoldmewhattodo.NowIneeded tostopcallingthem.IfthenursehadaskedmewhenIhadlasturinated,Iwouldnthavebeenableto

tellher(ithadbeenatleast24hours)butIdidntknowthatthiswasanimportantthingtoreport. Peeingdidntseemlikemuchaproblemcomparedtothepain. Icontinuedtosufferandthinkingthattheremustbesomethingthatcouldbedone.Iwasafraidtobe rebukedagainsoIcalledtheofficeatnighthopingtogetadifferentnurse.ThistimeIwastoldbya doctorthatIcouldgotothehospitalandgetashotforthepain.However,itwastheonlyshotIwould get,soIneededtodecidethatthiswastherighttimeforit.Itshardtobelievethathetoldmethat, butIrememberitclearly.Ithoughtthatthepaincouldntgetanyworse,butIthoughtthesamething thedaybefore.Ididntwanttowastemyshot.Istayedput. ItishardtosaywhetherIwasnoddingoffthenextday.IsuspectthatImighthavebeenpassingoutand comingto.Iheardthefrontdoorknobrattleandheavyfootsteps.IrealizedhowvulnerableIwastoan attacker,unabletomoveinthebed.Istartedyellingandheardhimrunaway.Itwasprobablyan apartmentexterminatorwhohadkeystothebuilding.Theboyswholivedabovemeandthosefrom acrossthewalkwaydecidedtotrytosynchronizetheirmusic.TheyplayedWillieNelsonsMamasdont letyourbabiesgrowuptobecowboysagainandagainfullblastneverquiteatthesametime.Myhell hadgrownworse.Istartedyelling,Stopit!Stopit!Stopit!Idriftedoutagain.WhenIcameto,the musichadstoppedandIheardavoiceinmyheadsay, Ifyoustayinthisbedanothernightyouwillbedead.ItwasacalmclearmalevoicethatI interpretedasbeingGod.Icalledmyfatherandsaid, IamsickandIdontwanttostayherealoneanymore.Couldyoucomeandgetmeandbring mehome?ProbablybecauseIhadnevercalledandinterruptedhimatworkbefore,heknew somethingwaswrongandimmediatelyleftarrivingninetyminuteslater. Hedidntexpecttofindmepaleandwrithinginpain,withanabdomensodistendedthatIlookedabout sixmonthspregnant.Hedrovemetothehospital.Everybumpalongtheroadmademescream. Idonotrememberhowlongittookbeforetheyoperatedonme.IknowItoldmystorytoatleast threehealthcareprofessionals.Iknowthattheyhadtimetodoasonogram,twopelvicexams,ablood test,andwheelmebackandforthincorridorscarelesslypushingmeintodoorwaysandelevatorsasI screamed.Everyonetoldmeangrilythatwhattheyweredoingdidnthurt.TheydidntknowwhyI wasmoaning,gasping,crying,andinvoluntarilyjerkingwhentheypresseddownonmyabdomen.Day turnedtonight,andIwasaskedtosignaformthatwouldpermitthemtogivemeahysterectomy.Iwas readytosignanythingforsomerelief. ItfeltlikeonlysecondshadelapsedbetweenthetimeIwaswheeledintosurgeryandthemomentI wokeupinrecovery.Thenowfamiliarpaininsidemygutpersisted,andaddedtoitwasanewone. Therewasaburning,aching,tornfeelingontheoutsideofmyabdomenthatconnectedtothehorror fromtheinside.Forthefirst24hoursorso,adriftonswellsofrelentlesspain,Ifloatedbetweenwaking andsleeping.WhenIoccasionallysurfaced,thepain,soextremethatitleftroomfornothingelse, tuggedatme.Irememberknowing,withoutfearingit,thatImightdie.Iwastootorturedtovaluethe

lifeIhad,orplannedtohave,overdeath.Iknewonlythatdeathwouldfreemefrommybodyand,I believed,putmeinthehandsofalovingGod. Mypurportedrecoveryperiodwasinterruptedoccasionallybybizarreandhorrifyingmomentswith medicalprofessionalsandfellowpatients.Thefirstwaswhenanursecameintomyprivateroomatthe endofthehalltoyellatmeformoaningtooloudly.ShetoldmethatIwasdisruptiveandselfishand neededtobemoreconsiderate.IttookmeafewmomentstodecipherwhatshewassayingbecauseI hadbeendeepinsideofmyself.IhadbeenunawarethatIwasmakinganysounds. ThesecondstrangemomentwaswhenIawoketofindanoldmanbymybedlookingdownatme.He wasinahospitalgownthathehadpulledupandhishandwasonhispenis.Itriedtoscream,butonly muffled,throatygrowlsseemedtocomeout.Ihadnoideawhathewasintendingtodo,butI rememberbeingafraidandawarethatIwasentangledintubes,wiresandanchoredtothebedbymy embattledmidsection.Thisfeeble,oldmancoulddoanythingtomeandIcouldntstophim.Thankfully, thesamenursecameinduringmythrashingandpanic,perhapstochastisemeagain.Sheledtheman away,tellinghimthatthiswasnothisroom.Shesaidnothingtome,anddidnotreturntocheckonme aftersheledhimaway. AthirdinterventionthatIremembercamefromadoctorwhoperformedasubclavian.Heexplained thatthesubclavianwasabedsidesurgery,thatwasnecessarytotrytorevivemykidneyswhichwere stillnotworking.Iassumedthatasurgerywouldincludeanesthesiaandwasunpleasantlysurprised thatitinvolvednopainkiller.Ashecutasmallholeinmychestandshovedatubeintoanartery,Ifelta newtypeofpaininapartofmybodythathadpreviouslybeenspared.CHECKMEDICALDESCRIPTION. Thetubewasusedtoflushfluidthroughmysystemtojumpstartmykidneys.Hesaidthattheflush requiredthatIremainflatandstilldespitetheadditionalpainthatitwouldcauseme.IfIwasnot perfectlystillIcouldsufferinternalorgandamageasthefluidrushedthroughmybody.Isteeledmyself, determinednottocausefurtherinjury. AcarpenterslevelwasusedtomakesurethatIwasflat.Ihadneverseenalevelbefore.Iuseditasmy focalpointtohelpwillawayanyphysicalreactiontothepain.Iwatchedtheairbubblesinthelevelas thetoppartofmybedwaslowered.Everyadjustmentofthebedintensifiedmypain.Dontmoveor youwillhurtyourselfmore,Ikeptrepeatinginmyheaduntiltheprocedurewasover.Theexperience taughtmethatnomatterhowhorriblepainwas,itcanalwaysgetworse.ItwasalessonthatIwould recallthroughoutmylife. *** Thenextdaymyparentsupdatedmeonwhathadhappened.Myappendixhadrupturedbeforethe surgery.Thedoctorsuspectedthatithadbeenleakingforawhile.Myabdomenwasfullofpoisonthat couldnotbesurgicallyremovedsincethesurgeonsscalpelwouldspreadit.Hehadtoworkfast. Antibioticswerebeingusedtokilltheinfection.Thekidneyflushhadworkedandsavedmefroma lifetimeofdialysis..MyparentsdidnttellmethatIwasntoutofthewoodsyetandmyfathersgo getumdemeanordidnotrevealthis.However,Iknew.IhadalmostdiedandIcouldstilldie.

ItwasthenthatIsawmynewabdomenforthefirsttime.Therewasanincisionthatwentvertically frommypelvicbonetomybellybutton.Theincisionwasaboutaquarterofaninchthickheldtogether (andyetopen)withbigredplasticthingsthatwereanchoredoneachsideofthelineinholeshalfinch across.Thereweresevenofthemoneachside.CHECKTHISMIGHTHAVEBEENAFTERSECOND SURGERY.Thereweretwosoftadhesivetubescomingoutofmylowerabdomen.Onewasontheleftof theincision,theotherontheright.Theyweredrainagetubessewnintosurgicalincisions.Pussand bloodwasmattedtomysurgicaldressingandneededtobepulledoffbeforecleaning.Itwasawfulto lookatandworsetohavetouchedasnursesscrapedthepuss,blood,anddeadskinaway. Theopenwoundwaswhymyroomwasmarkedquarantined.Visitorsandmedicalpersonnelwere supposedtowearprotectiveclothingandgloves,butthatwaserraticallyobserved.Mercifullythe quarantinesignkeptthetrafficthroughmyroomataminimum.Theinsufferablycheerfulcandy strippersroutinelymistookthewarningtomeanthattheycouldcatchwhateverIhad.Icouldnttake anythingbymouth,somealcartswerentcomingin. Thelastnightofmysupposedrecoverystageofmyhospitalstaywastheonlytimemysisterand brotherjoinedmyparentsinmyroom.EventhoughIlookedbetterandfeltbetterthanIhadearlier,I recallthatmyfourteenyearoldbrotherlookedscaredandsatfarawayfromme.Therestofthefamily wasenthusiasticaboutmyrecovery.TheywerethereforthefirstmealthatIwasallowedtoeat.My fatherpaidfortheupgradedfoodtray.Itwaswithinhispowertodothat,sohedid,hopingtohelpme.I didntwanttoseemungrateful,soeventhoughIhadnointerestinfood,Iatealittleofthechocolate silkpie.ItwasthefirsttimethatIthoughtthatmynightmaremightbeending.Ihadsurgicalrecovery painthatwasmanageableandthepaininsidemyabdomenhadeased.Icouldnowholdaconversation. Iknewfromexperiencethatsurgicalpainwouldgetbetterwithtime.Aslongasthingswerebetteron theinside,thingsontheoutsidewouldimprove.Myhopeswereshortlived. ***Thenextdayitwascleartomethatthingswerenotbetterontheinside,thatthenightmarewas notoverandthatsomethinghadgoneseriouslywrong.Thepainwassevereanddifferentthanbeforein awaythatwashardtodescribe.ButItriedtoexplainittothenurses.Theyassuredmethatitwas trappedgasandthatgaspainscouldbeextreme.Iknewthatalready,butthiswassomethingelse.I rememberthatoneofferedmeaTumbutIwasstillinenoughpainthatatnoonIbeggedthenursewho tookovertodosomething.Whenshelefttheroom,mymotherfollowedher.Shewasupsetfrom havingwatchedmesufferallday.Whensheimploredthenursetohelpme,thenurseofferedmy motherasedative.Idontneeddrugs,mydaughterdoes!mymotherrememberssaying.Thenurse explainedthatthesurgeonhadwrittennopainmedicationonmychart,soshecouldntgiveme anything.Painmedicationsloweddownrecovery,sheexplained. Iwasnotrecovering.Iwasgettingworse.Itoldeverymedicalstaffpersonwhocameintotheroomthat daythatsomethinghadchangedandIneededhelp.Onenurselookedconcerned,buttoldmethatshe didntwanttocallthedoctorbecauseitwasSundayandhedidntliketohavehisweekendsdisturbed. Butastheafternooncontinued,shemusthavechangedhermindbecauselatethatafternoonhe arrived.

Assoonasheenteredmyroom,Icouldseethathewasangry.Hisjawwasclenched,hiseyescoldand hewasmovingquickly.Heaskedmymothertoleavetheroom.CHECKItriedtoexplainhowthepain hadchanged,thinkingthathemightbeabletomakesenseofthesubtledifferenceinqualityandits intensification.Icouldseethathewasntlistening.Hegrufflyexaminedmyincisionpressingonmy abdomen.Hesaid,Theresnothingnewwrongwithyou.IknowbecauseImthedoctorandyourethe patient.Youareaselfish,whinybaby.Youwantsomethingtocryabout?Illgiveyousomethingtocry about.Thenhegrabbedthetwodrainagetubesfromthesideofmylowerabdomenandyankedthem outofmybody.Iscreamedandsobbed.Helefttheroom. *** Painisaterriblething.Itdistortstime.Itremindsyouofyourownsusceptibilitytoillnessandinjury. Butpeople,theyremindyouofyourvulnerability.Ilearnedlaterthathewentdirectlytomymother whowasweepinginthehallwayandsaid,Theresnothingwrongwithyourdaughterexceptthatyou babyher.Thenhestormedoffthefloor.IstoppedaskingforhelpbecauseIknewthatIwouldntget any.Ialsoknewnowthatangeringthemmeantthattheycouldhurtme.Dr.EvilhadpowerandIwas hisvictim.AllIcoulddoishatehim,andIdid.Laterthateveninganursecameintomyroom.Shesaid, Ifanyoneasks,Ididntgivethistoyou.SheaddedsomethingtomyIV.Soonallthepainwashedaway. ItwasthefirstreliefIfeltsincemyinitialcramping.Iremembersavoringitandwantingtoholdontoit, butitwaslikesmellingperfumesweetandintoxicatingandthengoneassoonasitfillsyoursenses.I fellintoapeaceful,soundsleep. ThenextmorninganothernursecameintotakemyvitalsandcheckmyIV.Assoonasthethermometer wasinmymouthshestartedtolectureme.ShesaidthatshehadheardallaboutthesceneIhad causedthedaybefore.ShesaidthatIneededtorememberthatdoctorsandnurseswereexperts.They knewmoreaboutwhatwasgoingonthanIdid.Trustus.Weknowwhatweredoing.Thosewereher finalwordstomethatdayasshesaunteredconfidentlyoutofmyroomleavingthethermometerinmy mouth. NotlongafterwardDr.Evilreturnedtomyroom.Thistimehedidntmakeeyecontact.Hesaidthatthe morningsbloodtestshadindicatedthatmywhitebloodcellcountwassoaring.Theinfectionwasoutof controlandheneededtooperateonmeagain.Anursewouldsoonbeintoprepme.Iwantedhimto saythatheshouldhavetakenmypainmoreseriously.Iwantedhimtoapologizefortreatingmeso badlyandsaythatinthefuturewhenIsaidtherewasaproblemhewouldlisten.Ofcourse,hedidnt sayanyofthesethings.ButIhadbeenrightandhehadbeenwrongandwebothknewitsoIthought thatmaybewithoutacknowledgingit,thisexperiencewouldchangethingsbetweenus.Itdidnt.He remainedanarrogant,nasty,insensitiveass.Hewaslikethepain.SomethingIcouldntalter,butIhad tosurvive.*** Thesecondsurgeryleftmemoreincapacitatedthanthefirst.Ihadmoreuncomfortabletubesandwas attachedtoevenmoreapparatus.Ihadthecatheter,aswellasbagsfornutrition,hydrationand antiobiotics.ApparentlytheyhaddifficultyfindingaveinformysurgeryIVbecausemyentirearmwas puffyandred.Soon,itbecameblackandblue.Alsoontherightsideofmybedwasalargemachine 6

withaclearjarcontaininggreenbilethatwasbeingintermittentlysuckedoutofmyabdomenthrougha gastrointestinal(GI)tubethatwastapedintomyrightnostrilandrandownmydryscrapedthroatinto mygut.Ineveradjustedtothathardplastictubeandhowitfeltinmynoseandthroat.Itcausedmeto gagwhenIswallowedhardanddryheavewithoutwarning. IwaspleasedwhentheytooktheGItuboutthinkingthatIwasgettingbetterandhorrifiedwhenthey hadtoputitbackin.Anurseshoveditupmynoseandaskedmetohelpherpushitdownmythroatby swallowinghard.Somethingwentwronganditendedupcomingoutofmymouth.Shehadtopullitout andtryagain.Everythingabouttheprocesswasawfulknowingwhatitwouldfeellikewhenitwas done,hearingandfeelingthecrackofcartilageinmynose,feelingthescrapingofthetubedownmy throat,notbeingabletobreathwhileithappened.ItwasanassaultthatmademefeellikeIwasbeing suffocated.Inowwonderifthepanicitinducedinmemightfeelsomethingakintowaterboarding. Thesecondsurgerysincisionwasinthesameplaceasthefirst,butnowitwasalittlelonger,more open,andmoresore.Cleaningitwasevenmorehorrifyingthanbefore.Itwasalwaysdonebytheday nurseswhoseemedtodislikemethemost.Mymotherthoughtitwasbecausepeopledislikethosewho theywrongandtheyhadallwrongedme.Ithoughtitmighthavebeenbecausetheywerethemost flirtatiouswithDr.Evil.Ialwaysknewwhentheywerewithhimbecauseofallthegigglinginthehalls. Mymothersawhimpinchoneofthemontheassonce.Unlikesomeofthenightnurses,thedaynurses wouldntletmehaveicechips.TheyignoredmycomplaintabouttheIVnotfeelinglikeitsintheright placeanymore.Itwasuptothenextshifttofindthatmycollapsedveinhadallowedthemedicationto swellmysofttissue.Theseniordaynurseswouldsendoneofthenursesintrainingtocleanmywound. Shewasneversupervisedandwasntverycareful.WhenIsuggestedthatdabbingtheopenwoundwith thegazehurtlessthanrubbingit,shetoldmethatsheknewwhatshewasdoing.Itwasafamiliarand unconvincingline. Thisphaseofmyhospitalstaylastedforweeks.Itincludedconstantcramping,burningpaininmy abdomenwithfrequentsharppains.Adayaftersurgerytheystartedmeonwalks.Icouldntstandup straight,butIcouldpressapillowtomyabdomenandshufflealonginabentpositionaslongastwo otherpeoplecouldpushmycartsandmachine.Thesewalksweresupposedtohelpmybowelsrecover, movetrappedgasaround,andkeepmefromdevelopingbedsores.Apparentlyalotofpatients complainedaboutwalksbecausenurseswouldtellmeitwastimeforawalkinamannerthatsuggested Ihadalreadygiventhemahardtime.Ineverdid.Iwasdiligentaboutthewalksregardlessofhow difficulttheywere. ThedryheavingincreasedduringaperiodoftimewhenIobservedthatthemachinethatsuckedoutthe bilewasntworkingright.Ofcourse,Ireportedittothenurses,butthatdidnthelp.Iremembertelling onethatitwasntsuckinganymoreandIwasfeelingsicker.Shedidntevenlookatthemachine.She justlookedatmelikeIwasanidiotandasked,Doyouknowwhatintermittentmeans?Isaid, Yes,itmeansthatsometimesitworks!Sincethenurseswouldnttakemyconcernsseriously,I triedtogetthehospitalfrontdesktoconnectmetothepeoplewhodistributedandmaintainedthe machines.WhenItrackedthemdown,theysaidthattheycouldntcheckthemachinebasedona 7

patientsrequest,theyneededtobecalledbyanurse.Isaidthatthenurseswereignoringmeand maybetheycouldactlikeitwastheirownideaandjustcomeby.Theywouldnt. Eventuallythebuildupofbilethatwasntgettingdrainedbythemachineallowedtheinfectionto strengthenandmywhitebloodcellcounttoclimbevenhigher.Dr.Evilwasonvacationbuthisassociate toldmyfatherthathewouldneedtooperateathirdtime.Myfatheraskedhimifthebiledrainage problemIhadcomplainedaboutcouldhavesomethingtodowiththeinfection.Ithinkhewastryingto placatemyfatherbylookingintomyconcernsbecausethedoctorbroughtmetoradiologywherethe positionofmyGItubewasexamined.Itrevealedthatthetubewasnotintherightplace.Itneededto bepushedfurtherdownintomyabdomentoreachthefluidthatitwassupposedtodrain.Thetripto radiologywasuncomfortable,layingflatmademedryheave,havingthetubepulledandpushedagain thoughmynoseandthroatwasawful,butatleastIavoidedanotheroperation.ThefactthatDr.Evils sidekicktoldmyfatheryourdaughterwasrightwasnicetohear,butIwouldratherhehavetoldme directly.HehadalreadyalignedhimselfwithDr.Evil.ThatwasclearthefirsttimeImethim. TherehadbeensomanyproblemswithmyveinsandIVsthattheywantedtohaveanotherdirectline putin.CHECKNAME.Thedoctorwhohadputinmyoriginalsubclaviancametoputinanotheronthe othersideofmychest.BeforeIcouldeventhinkaboutwhatIwassaying,Isaid,No.Dontdothat.My bodyistellingmethatthatsnotagoodidea.Hedismissedme. Yourejustsayingthatbecauseyouknowithurts.ItoldhimthateventhoughIknewitwould hurtthatwasntthereasonIwasrejectingthesecondsubclavian.Ididntunderstanditmyself,butI knewthatitwasabadideaanditshouldntbedone.ButitdidntmatterwhatIthought.Hewasgoing todoitanyway.Onceagain,thebedwasleveled,mychestwascut,andalongneedlewasstuckinit. Thenthedoctorsaid,Well,thatdidntwork.Sometimestheydont.Still,Ineededtotry.Thenhewas gone. ThenextdoctortotrytogetatubeintooneofmyarterieswasDr.Evilssidekick.ItwasthefirsttimeI hadseenhim.Hecameinwithtwoofmyleastfavoritedaynursesathisside.Hesaidsternly,Ive heardallaboutyou.Imnotgoingtoputupwithanyofyourcomplaining.Ineedtodoacutback (CUTDOWN?).Itsgoingtohurtalot,butIdontwanttohearonepeepoutofyou.Thenheputalight onhisheadandanursehelddownmyarm.Hecutatwoinchincisionatthecruxofmyarmandstarted shovingasmalltubethroughit.Isilentlyenduredwhatwouldbeoneofthetopfivemostpainfulthings thatIeverexperienced.Istaredathimthinking,Ihateyou.Ihateyou.Ihateyou.Ithinkthismental chanthelpedmeenduretheexperience.Whenhewasdone,helookedatmeandsawtheangry determinationinmyeyesasIstaredathim.Ihaddonewhatheaskedandresentedhimforhowhe askedme.Helookeduncomfortableanddidntseemtoknowwhattosaynext.Icouldseethathe wasntevil.Ididntneedtohatehimanymore.Afterall,hewasjustthesidekick. *** Istartedtofeelmoreexhausted.Ihadtroubletakingdeepbreaths.Ireportedthisproblemtoan afternoonnurse.ShesaidthatIwasprobablyhyperventilatingbecauseIwasupset.IfIcouldcalm myselfdown,Iwouldfeelbetter.Iwastooweaktofinishmywalkthroughthehallwaysthatday.That 8

nursewhowasassistingmesaidthatshedletmegetoutofwalkingthistimeasifIwerepullingascam onher.Anothernursesaidthatmybreathingproblemwasinmyhead.Itsurefeltlikeitwasinmybody. Itriedtherepetitivethinkingagain,thistimeIthought:calmdown;calmdown;calmdown.Ididnt realizehowmuchtimeelapsedasIconcentratedonbreathingandcalmingdown.ButIknewitwaslate whenIsawDr.Ghost.HewasatallthinpalemanwithhairlikeGeneWilder.Hewassoftspoken,never seemedtobeinarush,andhadsympatheticeyes.Ihadrarelyseenhimduringtheday,buthad occasionallyseenhimatnight.Hewasntasurgeon,butIknewthatinsomewayhewasworkingonmy case. Dr.GhostaskedmewhatIwasdoingupsolate.Isaid,Im[inhale]tryingto[inhale]breath[inhale]. HeaskedmewhattheproblemwithmybreathingwasandIsaidthatthenursessaidIwastoo emotionalandneededtocalmdown.Hesaidthatachestxraymighttelladifferentstoryandhe orderedone.Itwasanotheruncomfortabletriptoradiologybecausestandingupstraightwasas difficultaslayingflat,butatleastthistimenoonetouchedthenosetube. Inthemorning,Dr.Evilcametrottingintomyroomwithhisdaynurseentourage.Hesaid,Anxray revealedthatyouhaveapuncturedlung.Sinceithappeneddaysagowhentheytriedtogiveyoua subclavian,thereisnotimetowaste.Iwasimmediatelyturnedontomyrightsideandaskedtoputmy armbehindmyhead.Thenhecutmeonthesideofmybreastandshovedalargetubethroughthe incisionintomylung.Afriendofminewhoalsohadthisdoneafterherlungcollapsedfromagunshot woundsaidthatithurtmorethangettingshot.Shefelt,shesaid,likeshewasbeingimpaled.Ididnt knowwhatthatmeantatthetime.TheprocedurehadworkedandIcouldbreath,buteachbreath rekindledthepain. Aftertheprocedure,Ikepthopingthatthepainwouldease,butitdidnt.Ilookedatmymotherwitha panicthatshehadbecomefamiliarwithandIsaid,Itfeelsliketheyrestillcutting!Forhoursevery breathItookfeltrepeatedcuttingsensation.IthoughtIwouldgoinsanefromreexperiencingthis traumaoverandoveragain.So,Ionceagainwentintomyselfhypnotictrancelikechanting.Thistime themantrawasItfeelsliketheyrestillcuttingitfeelsliketheyrestillcuttingIrememberthatmy fatherwastherethatday,soitmusthavebeenaweekend.Irememberthathepracticallycrawled underthebedtogetthetelephonereceivertotherightsideofmybedsothatIcouldreceiveacallfrom Mark,Krissbestfriend.ThiswastheonlyphonecallItookduringmytimeinthehospital.Idont rememberwhatMarksaid,butIrecallfindinghisvoicesoothing.Hewouldlaterbecomeaministerand Ithinkhisreassuringcalmnessprobablyhelpshimwiththatjob. Latethatnightinthesameposition,feelingthesamepain,focusingonthesamewords,Ididntnotice Dr.Ghostentertheroom.Whyarentyouasleeptonight?heaskedkindly. Itfeelsliketheyrestillcutting,wasallIcouldsay,unwilling(orperhapsunable)tobreakthe focusthatkeptmefromwhatevermadnesswasinthisseeminglybottomlessanguish.Heturnedon thelightstolookatthewound,leftandreturnedwithanightnursewhomheinstructed.Dr.Evilandhis minionshadnottapedthetubeintotheholeorbandagedthewoundcorrectly;therefore,ithadbeen constantlyshiftingposition,resultinginthecontinuouscuttingsensation.Beforetheystarted,Dr.Ghost 9

hadthenurseaddapainmedicationtomyIV.Thesecondnightofpeacefulsleepofmyhospitalstay followed.Itnolongerfeltliketheywerecutting.Dr.Ghosttalkedtomyparentsthenextday.Hetold themthathehadignoredDr.EvilsorderregardingpainkillersbecauseIwasclosetogoingintoshock andthatwouldhaveslowedmyrecoveryevenmore.HesaiditwassurprisingthatIhadntgoneinto shockorpassedoutyet.Hethoughtthatmostpeoplewouldhave. Dontletthemtellyouyourdaughterisnttough,hesaid. Thecollapsedlungbroughttherespiratoryteamtomyroomtoprescribeexercises.Theywere encouragingratherthandismissive,soIworkedhardforthem,blowinginandoutofalittleplastic apparatustryingtokeeptheballinitairborne.Theadditionofabigrespirationmachinewithatube runningintomysidemadewalkseventrickier.Italsoprovidedmewithonemoremachinethatcould malfunction. WasthismachinethereasonIsmelledsmoke?Wasthereafireorelectricalshortintherespirator machine?Orwasitinthebilesuckingmachine?Icalledanurseandsaid,Ismellsmoke.Itwasntuntil blacksmokestartedpouringouttheairventonthewalloppositemybedthatsheandmymother smelledanything.Thenursemadeacallandthefloorstartedevacuating.TherewasnowayIwasgoing tobeabletomovefastenoughtogetoutoftheroom,sothenursecalledforassistanceingettingme out.Herrequestwasmisunderstood,soaCodeBluewentoutoverthepublicaddresssystem, broadcastingthatIhadflatlined.Icouldhearitfromthespeakerbehindmybed.Inranmenwithheart pumpstoreviveme.Fortunatelythenursewasabletostopthembeforetheysentanelectricalcurrent throughmychest.Thenurseandmymothermaneuveredmybedoutthedoor,butwestoppedatthe elevatordoors,whichweredisabledbythefiremenwhocamerunningupthestairsinfullgear.There wasnowayIcouldescapethefloor,soIhopedtheycouldtakecareoftheproblem.Iremembermy motherandadoctorwhohadgivenmethesubclavianwaitingwithme. Icantbelievethis,thedoctorsaid.Icould.Iwasbeyondbeingsurprisedbyanythingthat happenedinthathospital. HowcouldIbesurprisedbyasystemthatallowsthedoctorwhooriginallymisdiagnosedmeand ignoredmycallstobemyadmittingdoctorandpermithimtochargemefordailyvisitsduringwhichhe didnothing?EverytimeIsawhimmybloodwouldboil.Itdidnthelpthathewasalwayssocheerfuland saidinanethingslike,Yourespendingsomuchtimehere,youcouldbeanurse.HowcouldIbe surprisedafterDr.Evilorderedarectaltubetoreleasetrappedgas?Itwasanuncomfortableand humiliatingexperiencetohaveanursestickatubewithaplasticballoonontheotherendupmyass. WhenItoldhimthatthiswasnteffectiveandIwanteditdiscontinued,helaughedandsaid,Idont thinkiteveractuallyworks,butitisagreatwayfornursestogetbackatpatients.Getbackatusfor what?Isitforbeingsickorbeinginpainorfornotrespondingwelltotheirtreatments?WhathadIever donetothesepeoplebesidestrytohelpthemhelpme? ***

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Thathospitalstaylastedsevenweeks.ItwasclearduringthelastfewdaysofthestaythatIwouldlive.I wasfinallycuredbecauseDr.Ghostwenttoamedicalconferenceandsharedmycasewithother doctors.Heaskedthemforsuggestionsforantibioticcombinationsthatmightsuccessfullyfightmy peritonetus.Oneofthosesuggestionsworked.Yearslater,IwassadtolearnthatDr.Ghostnolonger practicedmedicine.Therewassomethinginthenewspaperaboutamalpracticesuitmyunclesaid. Thatwashardtobelieve.Maybehewasactuallyascapegoatordisillusionedbyhavingtoworkinsuch aheartlessprofession.Ormaybehejustmadeamistake. ThehospitalseemedlikeanentirelydifferentplacewhenIwasrecovering.Ibeganwritingletterstomy friendstoexplainwhathadhappenedtomeandwhyIhadbeenAWOLformonths.Manyofmy friendsdidntknowIhadbeeninthehospitalbecausemynewroommatehadsimplytoldthem,Shes nothere.Illhavehercallyoubackwhenshereturnswhentheyhadcalled.Maybethiswasherwayof gettingbackatmeforsleepinginherbed.Myfriend,Robin,tiredofthisrefrainanddemanded, Whyisntsheeverhomeanymore?ThatshowshefinallylearnedthatIwasinthehospital. ShecamewithmyfavoritelemonadenotknowingthatIcouldnttakeanythingbymouth. AfriendfromworkhadknownbecauseIhadmyfathernotifymyemployer.Irememberwakingupafter oneofmysecondsurgeryandseeinghersittinginmyroomholdingasinglerose.Shelookedpetrified.I wasalsovisitedduringthefinalweekbymyfriend,Jeff.Idontknowhowhefoundout.Irememberhe wasupsetthathehadntknownwhatIwasgoingthroughsooner.Hesaidhecouldhavebeenhelping mebyprayingformeallthistime.Irememberhowsurprisedmymotherwaswhenhedroppedtohis kneesraisedahandintheairandcalledonJesustohealme. KrishadcometovisitmeoncetellingmeaboutallthefunIwasmissing.Hehadanewfriendwhomhe saidIdlike.TheywerehangingoutallthetimesinceIwasntaround.Shewasfunnyandfunandsmart likeme,butalsoshortandblonde.Beforeheleftheaskedifhecouldtakesomeofmyflowershometo hismothersinceitwasMothersDay.Idliketosaythathisvisitgavemeanewperspectiveonhimand curedmeofmylongings,butitdidnt.Itjustmademesad.HisfriendMarksentmealoveletterin German(whichhespoke,butIdidnt).Anotherfriendcametoreadittomeandtranslateit.Hewasin townforavisitthelastweekofmyhospitalstay.Hecamedressedinahugebozoshirtlongenoughto looklikeadress.Irememberhowhemadetheafternoonnurseslaugh.Toobadlaughterwassucha smallproportionofthetimeIspentthere. WhenIwasreleasedfromthehospitaltostaywithmyparentstherewerestillchallengesahead.My firstmealathomemademesosickIwasalmostreadmittedtothehospital.AfterthatIdevelopeda dailyroutinethathelpedmereadjusttofoodandgainstrength.Islept10hoursanight,tookabouttwo hourstryingtogotothebathroomandshowering,restinginbetween.ThenIdgodownstairsformy halfabananabreakfast.ThenIdreadforawhile,walklapsaroundthelivingroomwhileIplayedthe bestsideofLondonCallingalbumbytheClash,andwriteletterstofriends.Nextcamelunchtheother halfofthebanana.Thenmybrotherwouldcomehomefromschoolandbringinthemail.Hedusually pretendthatnothinghadarrivedformeandthengigglewhenherevealedatleastonecardorletterin

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hisbackpocket.WedwatchGeneralHospitaltogetherandhavesomevanillaicecream.ThenIdwrite orreaduntilmyparentscamehomefromwork.Idtrytoeatmorefordinner. MyfriendFrankvisitedwhenIwashomefromthehospital.Wehadbeenonthespeechteamtogether inhighschool.HewasoneofthequirkynerdyboyswhoquotedStarTrekdialogueandplayedalotof Risk.Irememberhowangryhewasaboutwhathadhappenedtome.HepacedandclinchedhisfistsasI toldhimaboutit.Hetoldmethatthesedoctorswouldbepunishedwhenheruledtheworld.I appreciatedthesentiments,butdidntputmuchstockinhisplans.Ihadheardhimtalkaboutbuilding anempirebeforebutnevertookitveryseriously.YearslaterIwouldlearnthathewasinfederalprison forembezzlingmillionsofdollarsfromcompanieshehadstarted.Inhisdefense,hesaid,heneededto becausetakingovertheworldisexpensive. MymotheroftensaidthatIhadexperiencedenoughpainfrommyappendixordealtolastmea lifetime.ShesaidIalreadyhadmorethanmyshareandshouldbehealthyfromthenon.Ithought howmuchmorepeoplewouldbeabletounderstandeachotherifthatwashowitworkediftherewas acumulativeamountofpainthatwasequallydistributedtoeveryonetobeexperiencedthroughout theirlifetimes.Iwouldneverhavechosentoenduresomuchofmineallatonce.Butifthatwashowit worked,Iwasgladtohaveminebehindme.Itwasanicethought,butIhadbeenthroughtoomuchto believethatanythingabouthealthwasfair. Despitemyparentsbeliefinfairness,theydiscouragedmefromtryingtosuethedoctorsorhospitalfor whathadhappened.MyfathersaidthatifIwantedtopursueitthenhedcontactalawyer,butI neededtogotothemeetingalone.Ididthis.IwastoldbythelawyerthathedidntthinkIhadacase thatcouldbewon.First,itwouldbedifficulttogetadoctortotestifyagainstotherdoctors,butjuries neededtoheartheirtestimonytofindchallengescredible.Second,appendicesweredifficultto diagnose;although,hethoughtasimplebloodtestwouldhavesecuredmeahospitalbedrightaway. Third,hedidntseeanypermanentharm.Hesaidajurywouldlookatmeandseeahealthygirlwho hadbeenhealed.TheywouldnotthinkbeconvincedthatIhadbeenwronged.Ithankedhimforhis opinionanddidntgivealawsuitanotherthought.IknewthatIhadbeendamaged,butunderstoodhow thatwouldntbeevidenttoajury.Theimportantthingwastoputthisbehindmeandgetbacktomy life. BeforeIcoulddothatIneededtoseDr.Evilonemoretimesothathecouldtakemylaststitchesout.I suspectedthathedmakethisasuncomfortableaspossible,butitdidntenduphurtingverymuch.I hadalreadyhealedenoughtobebeyondhisharshreach.Perhapsthatiswhyhehadtofindsomeother waytotryandhurtme.Hesaid,ThatsprobablythemosthideousscarIveevergivenanyone.I almostlaughedinhisface.Iknewthescarwasugly,butwhywouldIcareaboutthatwhenwhatwas importantwasbeingaliveandwithoutpainandfreeofthehospitalandsadistslikehim?Didheactually 12

thinkhecouldhurtmyego?Orwashejusttryingtoremindmethattheuglinesshehadbroughttomy lifewouldbewithmeforever?Hecontinued,Ithinkyoushouldconsiderplasticsurgery.Isaid, Noway.IwouldnevergothroughsurgeryforcosmeticreasonsespeciallyafterwhatIvebeen through.Helookedsurprisedandsaid, Well,Itakealotofprideinmyworkandthatscardoesntrepresentmeasasurgeon.Sodont tellanyonethatsmine.So,Dr.Evilwantedsomethingfrommenow.Hewasntgoingtogetit.AsI lookedathimforthelasttime,Ithoughtthattherewasnoscarhorrendousenoughtorepresenthim.

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