In two days, it will have been officially ten years since I had a bowel resection that saved my life. Ten years. I still can’t even really wrap my head around everything that’s happened since that time, just how much around me has changed. Maybe it’s because, ten years ago, I wasn’t even sure I would be around now. A bit melodramatic, yeah, but I spent so much time being miserable that I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be around if that’s how I felt. I’m almost grateful that time, painkillers, and everything else, has prevented a lot of long-lasting memories of 2005 and 2006 for me. Of course, there are things I wish I could remember better, things that probably mattered.
I, by no means, have amnesia. It would be more accurate to say that my body was significantly more concerned with keeping itself alive (while simultaneously trying to destroy my digestive system) than it was with remembering pop culture trivia. Combine that with being on painkillers for about half of 2006—as in, regularly popping prescribed painkillers to be able to function—it’s easy to assume that I might be a little fuzzy.
There are specifics I remember. I remember the feeling of everything prior to my surgery. A week or so before, my knees felt like they had broken. I had some kind of acute pain, radiating from my knees outward. I could barely walk across my living room floor, and each step made me feel like I might pass out or vomit. It lasted hours.
A week later, resting my head near the toilet, dry heaving as my stomach visibly spasmed. Later that day, I’m half-laying on a hospital bed, admitted, barely able to drink a CT contrast. Things get a little hazy from here, to say the least. I remember at some point essentially demanding something for my pain before they tried to haul me off to take an x-ray. Not long after that, a nurse gave me some morphine, and I can’t remember anything until I woke up after surgery.
I spent about a week in the hospital, watching CNN because my room had very few channels. The combination of then-current events, and morphine, makes a very interesting blur within my mind. Essentially, I was watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfold, half-high on opiods. Not exactly my preferred way to spend my time.
My parents told me, once, that a priest came into to my room. It was a catholic hospital, so they had those guys around. He asked if I wanted to talk, and I politely declined. This is something that I literally do not remember at all. I don’t remember someone coming in the room, I don’t remember any aspect of this. It’s not a fuzzy patch where details are missing. There’s just a hole in my memory where this apparently goes. Part of me, now, views that as a personal victory against the “no atheists in a foxhole” nonsense I’ve heard since I was little.
But even now, I still remember, somehow, the feeling of wanting everything done. People who have chronic health problems, or are in constant pain, talk about ending their lives. Other people, in return, talk about how that’s cowardly. I could not possibly disagree any more than I do. The resounding feeling that has carried on in the back of my mind was just how much I wanted to stop hurting. I was dying, actively dying. Even prior to my surgery, I was pretty actively dying. I woke up every day weak, and tired. My joints were sore, my stomach perpetually sending sharp pains if I so much as laid wrong. It was exhausting. Suicide is, by no means, an escape of anyone who is cowardly. It’s desperation. In my case, I never attempted it, but as I laid on that hospital bed before my surgery, I didn’t care what happened. I didn’t care if I died, if I lived. I just didn’t want to hurt anymore. And I think that’s important to acknowledge.
I didn’t have a focus on this post. I’m feeling kind of scatterbrained today, as it is. But I wanted to write something, because it’s been a bit of time, and I felt like I owed it to myself. Ten years is a long time, and I think even this small bit of reflection has been beneficial in reminding me of just how much I’ve done in that time. Things I never would have imagined. Maybe I’ll finish reading a book. And actually work on the stuff that I’m keeping this around to write.