Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The True Meaning of Life

Quote of the Day:
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
Charles A. Beard~

Current Local Weather:
Coldfront with inevitable snow showers will be sliding in
from the outside while warmth is felt all around inside.

Currently on my iPod:
Don't You Worry Bout A Thing

Stevie Wonder

Dear friends, family and my family of friends,

Usually, when life takes you by the neck and squeezes so tight you believe that reality is not only out to get you but actually threatening to kill you, people say you get to find out who your true friends are. Over the last month, I got to be one of the special people in this world that knows what a TRUE 10 is on a scale of 1-10 of pain. I also found out that I can endure an enormous amount of emotional distress...I got to take a field trip in the hospital from my medical bed when the doctor t
old me the "pain" was in my head to the suicide watch bed and see what all that consists of in a hospital setting...Regardless, this is my point, I found life among the pain, chaos and feverish storm my body was creating.

I am truly blessed. Truly, enormously and surprisingly blessed with life.

I found out that my true friends are all over the place, even as far away as Australia. Some people discount the weight of internet friendships and say that it is all about hooking up or that your internet friends aren't actual friends. Turns out that I have an enormous network of people that I have met and not met and talked to online and not talked to but maybe once or twice, that poured out of the woodwork to save not only my sanity but my life. The internet is a god-send in many ways and for me, it truly saved my life.

Tsk...tsk...go ahead, say it.

But, when I announced that I was in the hospital (of course the hospital has wi-fi, they'll serve you coffee too!) to my network of twitter folks and facebook, I started getting daily phone calls (people found the hospital, the room number and began to ring my ears off!) cards, e-cards, messages of affirming love and well-wishes and queries regarding what kind of help they could provide me even from a distance. Over 1,000 messages/cards and whatnots arrived. Packages of books, music and downloads came in by the dozens. I got flowers from my best girlfriends and guy friends. Even when I was too out of it to remember people calling, I got calls. I cried myself to sleep most nights thinking of not just the pain but wondering about the simple statement of, do I deserve this?

I believe, when we're at our worst, we should burrow down and ask these kinds of questions. Leading up to the 18 day stay followed by a reprieve of 3 days only to be admitted again for another 8 days, I had been in pain. I had over 23 ER visits in one year for the same pain, in the same place and with the same intensity. It struck me at all hours, and sometimes rendered me unable to walk or even breathe properly. When I got off the plane in Denver from the NAMM show, I was swollen, barely able to walk and vomiting every few feet. I had to go get help.

Doctors earlier in the year, other than my newest pal in the medical field, Dr. Larry Melia, had given me the run around. I had one ER doc tell me that pain affected every woman and that I just needed to get in line and learn to deal. I had one doc ask me if I was an IV drug user. I had another that denied me care because he said that I had been in the ER too many times and they weren't going to give me pain meds anymore. I guess it didn't matter to him that I had not asked for pain meds, but merely an ultrasound of my swollen, tight and somewhat puckered belly. I cried. And cried. And cried. Many, many nights I had pain so bad that Dr. Melia would get a call just to reassure me that I wasn't dying.

I was admitted to the hospital over Thanksgiving. I spent three days in there and the GI doctor said that he was sure that I had some kind of adhesion disorder as my stomach just didn't "look" right but he couldn't pin point it to a disease and that the general surgeon on call that day refused to even come in and talk to me about it.

Six nights into my stay in Porter Adventist in Denver, the surgeon I trusted came into my room and told me what I did not and could not stand to hear. He said that this pain was all in my head and that a good dose of haldol or anti-depressants would do me some good. I not only began to cry, but I began to doubt my ability as a human being to think and react logically to what I was feeling on a physical and an emotional level.

The psychiatrist and nurse came in my room the next night and asked me what they could do to help put my mind at ease. I asked for a second surgical opinion and if he would say that it was in my head then I would put matters to rest and seek serious psychological help, including an admission to a state facility. I've never been so crazed and out of my mind. I was hurting, throwing up and losing weight and it seemed that it was a sort of "depression."

The next morning the wonderful Dr. Tilquist came into my room, took one look at the old scar embedded into my upper left quadrant of my abdomen and said, what about Monday? He was shocked and surprised at the difficult time I had been given and was more than willing to take a look. I don't remember much about the day of the surgery other than telling him, as they wheeled me in, that if he found "nothing" that they were to just sedate me for the rest of my life.

Three something hours later, one large mid-line incision later and the removal of copious amounts of scar tissue that was binding up my stomach, colon and innumerable other organs, I was declared "fixed."

Despite the heinous complications I had thereafter, I feel better. But I feel better in a way I never expected. I feel grounded, full of life and in love once again. Things are brighter than they were the days before this as I truly hit rock bottom. And instead of abandonment by my "friends and family" I was lifted up upon the shoulders of everyone I have come in contact with over the years and brought to a healing place by the warmth of their hands and hearts.

This, in my humble opinion, is the meaning of life. If we can not lift each other up when we are down, whether it is the people of Haiti or our next door neighbor or fellow writers etc...then what good is the life we're living. I have a renewed sense of spirit and belief in my fellow man. That sounds quite stilted but it's honestly how I feel. Again, I am truly blessed and as I said on my facebook update the other day, in the game of life, I'm finally winning.

Yours in fevers, friendship and finally finding yourself,


5 comments: said...

what a heartbreaking & amazing story u hv my dear. thank u 4 sharing. welcome 2 healthcare in america, yes? (I myself was a pharma rep 4 over 15 yrs & left it--abandoned the whole soul-sucking thing.) I now focus on my kids & writing.

I hope u continue 2 share ur story & live a pain-free life.

xoxoRachelintheoc (on twitter 2!)

Deb Courtney said...


EdgyJuneCleaver said...

Dear Cecily, Because of my own circumstances, I lost track of your progress after I admitted you immediately post op and I'm relieved you are recovering physically.

Seeing patients in the agony you suffered hurts my soul in ways I can't articulate. But knowing you are mending and your spirit wasn't broken is a soothing balm for this battered and bruised caregiver. Peace to you and good luck with your next projects. --Laura Klein RN

√Črico Cordeiro said...

Dear Cecily,
I hope you're ok and recovery quickly! Hospital is a not very nice place to be. And we need your writings!!!
I'm a brazilian jazz fan and run a blog called "jazz + bossa". I'm delighted with the pictures - what a dream!!!! And I can see you're a fan of Elis Regina, our great singer!!!
So, if you have some free time, make a visit to my blog, ok?
I put your blog among my favourites.
See ya (and sorry my english).

Travis Erwin said...

You are far tougher than me.