Yeah, that happened.

Have you ever experienced something so out of the ordinary and unexplainable that decades later it remained in your mind? One of those things where out of the blue you will remember it and think "Yeah, that happened!"

A couple of blog posts ago I wrote that I do believe in miracles and have witnessed a few. One of those dealt with me back in the 80s and when I was in recovery after having an extremely enlarged spleen removed.

It was that spleen which caused me so much pain and isolation growing up. Dozen upon dozen of hospitalizations, tests, and ping-ponging back and forth between specialists trying to discover what the root cause was for the ever-expanding enlargement and all the other odd symptoms I dealt with since the age of 9.

By the age of 14 it was enlarged to the point where part of it was no longer protected by my ribcage. I would experience attacks where the pain in my side would make me pass out. Doctors were so concerned about it that they removed me from school out of fear that one day, passing in the hallways, I might get hit with a book bag or run into something, that it would rupture.

An elective splenectomy was unheard of, especially back then and for someone so young. Hospital boards insisted that my specialists do everything possible in diagnosing the root cause before they would allow the procedure.

I felt like my existence was a burden to my parents, especially in how much they had to pay out of pocket. And, with everything else I was going through, dealing with the shame of being sexually molested as a child, there were many days I wondered if death would be better.

I was unable to understand how I had already cheated death a few times over. At the age of a few months, I stopped breathing from an allergic reaction to formula. At the time my father drove for Schneider Ambulance in Los Angeles. My mother rushed to meet him in heavy traffic and he was the one who rushed me to the emergency room. I was already turning blue.  I was saved, obviously.

Then at the age of 9, there was the drama with my tricky appendix - tests came back normal when I was sick - three months of testing before the doctors decided to do an exploratory surgery only to discover my appendix had doubled in size but also twisted in a way where the end that had ruptured wouldn't show up on cat scans. I was told that it more than likely was slowly leaking poison into me.
After that surgery I became septic.  I vaguely remember that time as I was in and out of consciousness. I do remember the crash cart by my bed and loved ones always nearby. I survived - like you hadn't figured that out yet.

It was during the hospitalizations for that mysterious appendix when the doctors first noticed my spleen and liver were enlarged. My liver eventually went down to a normal range, but not that spleen - it had a mind of its own.

Fast forward to being on the verge of turning 18. That is when my surgeon finally received the go-ahead for an elective splenectomy without understanding the cause. It was a long surgery and one that he took extra pains in being careful. By now, he was like a member of our family.  A young surgeon back then, Dr. Chorba was a small man with a big laugh and more importantly, patience. By now my sarcasm and stubbornness were deeply rooted within me. I hated hospitals and made it very well known.

I awoke from surgery in ICU. The pain and pressure were immense. There were tubes coming out of me in what felt like was every direction. When one of the residents inquired how I felt and I answered rather bluntly, "like shit" my mother quickly scolded me.  Whatever. 

Days later I was transferred to a regular but private room to finish my long recovery. I liked being in private rooms as even back then I was a night owl and didn't want a roommate complaining I had the t.v. going at 3 a.m.

Those tubes and machines were still, for the most part, hooked up to me. One evening I did go to sleep early,  I remember that I just wasn't feeling right. It was in the middle of the night a doctor with a long beard and in a white coat came into my room and woke me up to inform me he was removing one of those tubes. I didn't think anything of it other than I was grateful as that meant I was getting closer to going home.

I had that queasy feeling from the tube being removed and then he cleaned up the wound and took his leave, telling me I would now recover quicker

A few hours later the residents at the teaching hospital made their rounds. When they examined me there was a barrage of questions on who took that tube out and when it happened. I didn't understand why they were being so adamant in their questioning. Soon my parents and I would learn that there were no notes on my chart about the removal of that chest tube, there were no orders for it to be removed, and that it was a good thing it was because I had started to get an infection at the wound site - had it been untreated much longer I may have been in grave danger, once again. Interestingly, a man fitting my description of the doctor who removed that tube in the middle of the night, could not be located.

Yes, that happened. And it is something that has always remained in my mind, right under the surface - to the point that even still today, out of the blue, those memories will surface - especially when I am under stress. That is when I remind myself, everything in life I am experiencing is all for a reason and to just hold on to that as I ride this roller coaster adventure of a journey.


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