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The Broken Road – Under the Knife Again

As I lay there staring out the window awaiting my impending death, my boss came into the dialysis room with news to lift my spirits.  I was going to be transferred to the private hospital, Clinica Biblica.  Money speaks loud and clear in Costa Rica.  After the doctors were informed of this, I was disconnected from the dialysis mechanism and prepared for the transfer to the new hospital in a REAL ambulance.  All I could think was that the worst was over and I would soon be released. I had never been as wrong as I was in that moment, but at least I had hope and faith back that I was going to make it through this.

costa rica ambulanceThe EMTs put me on the gurney and rolled me out of Hospital Mexico.  Elation swept through my mind as I exited the building.  We raced towards the new treatment center where money equaled doc tors and nurses that actually seemed to care about your well-being.

After being transported to the private hospital, the ambulance; unlike the Cruz Roja ‘ambulance’ actually took me inside and made sure I was being checked in properly. Clinica Bilblica is basically a hospital that is run to U.S. standards and everything is clean and new.  There are not people stacked side by side waiting to be attended to, nor people dying in the same room as you (at least none that I could see). I was rolled into the admitting area where I was separated from seeing other patients by curtains as the doctors and nurses began to actually treat me.  At Hospital Mexico it felt like they were guessing at what could possibly be wrong with me, and trying different treatments like I was a laboratory rat.

After approximately 45 minutes, I was updated on what was going on. 10 minutes later, I was transferred to my room. Ironically, it was room 420. For all of you who do not know what that means, 420 is a code for ‘time to get high’.   The private room had television, air conditioning, and a button to summon an attendee.  Although I should have been so thankful about where I was and the treatment I was receiving, I had reverted back to my assaholic behavior.

Over the past few days, my body started going through withdrawal from the alcohol.  I had been drinking close to 20 shots a night; 5 times a week for the 3 years I had been in Costa Rica. Obviously, this will cause dependency.  I was extremely irritable and would go from one extreme of emotions to the other. Sad to Happy; Apathetic to Depressed; Calm to Angry. I was a person no one wanted to be around. During the nights I would wake up in cold sweats. Later, I alcohol-withdrawalbegan to run a fever.  Due to my loss of appetite and my intense anger, I would throw food against the wall when it was brought to me and would be close to yelling at the nurses that were trying to help me.

Then the hallucinations began.  I would imagine that I had an invisible laptop and was able to send emails and Facebook messages with my mind. I was in my head keeping in touch with friends, the company in the USA that was going to hire me, and the ex-playboy model.  Although everyone knew this was beyond ridiculous and not happening, they went along with my illusion. The doctors had told people to allow me to go through this, as it was my body’s reaction to the withdrawals and if they told me that I was imagining these things, they would have hurt me more than helped.  On phone calls, Stephanie would even pretend that she had received my Facebook messages and emails, keeping my mind from going into overload.

At Clinica Biblica my boss, Hunter, my landlord, and my boss’ girlfriend were all there.  Hunter actually had shown up drunk which everyone knew and were not appreciative of.  When the doctor arrived I was able to speak to him in English which was the first time anyone that was going to be treating me spoke my native language.  It was also the first time that I had admitted to using cocaine to any of the doctors.  His calm personality put me at ease as he explained they would be performing a surgery to clean out the bacteria and would also be putting me through hemodialysis.  He then asked me if I had any questions or needed anything. My response was, “ice cream.” Do not ask me why, I was just craving it.

I was then rolled into the dialysis room.  Due to the fact that my kidneys were failing and I was unable to dispose of the waste in my system, hemodialysis (in the most basic terms) takes your blood and runs it through a machine which cleans it and then it is placed back inside your circulatory system.  The best part is that it really does not hurt, but it is weird watching the machine suck out your blood and then return it to your body.

hemodialysisAfter a dialysis session which lasted about 45 minutes to an hour, I felt like a brand new man.  I had my energy back and was even able to smile a little.  I headed back to my room where I had my real laptop delivered to me.  The visitors said goodbye and promised that they would be back tomorrow for the operation that would clean out even more of the bacteria.  Alone in my room, I sent emails and was certain this entire ordeal would soon be over.  All I wanted to do was get back to work and return to the USA.  My brain was finally starting to work again and then I remembered that my destination in the USA was still up in the air.

It was then I realized that Stephanie and I had broken up and that my thoughts were to either head to Denver to be with my ex from college, or head back to Texas and live near my parents.  I am not one to put my tail between my legs and go home to mommy and daddy, but I knew that I needed to get out of Costa Rica.  With a feeling of contentmen, I closed my eyes and was able to sleep for the first time in about a week.

The next morning I was woken up and prepped for surgery.  The only problem was that the hospital had not received the money yet and the doctor had been told not to perform the surgery until money was transferred.  When this happened, it really opened my eyes to how the private hospital worked, and wondered what they would do if I was dying? Kick me to the street? Fortunately, the money arrived within the hour and I was put under again for the second time in Costa Rica.  However, this time I was in an operating room with the newest equipment and English speaking doctors.  Darkness…

I woke up in my private room and felt 1000 times better once the anesthesia finally wore off.  I was back and ready to get out of there after a few more days of recovery.

Then something happened inside my head.  It had been about 8 days since my blood clot and although the experience had taken me close to death, I realized that I had made it through and my arrogance told myself that I DID IT ON MY OWN! My mind was trying to convince myself that even though this was a trying and difficult situation, I could return back to the life I had been living before the blood clot.  I was convincing myself that I could drink again; that I could do drugs again; that I could revert back to my previous behavior and it would be fine.

I guess God heard this thought inside my head and decided to take this experience to a new level.  My thoughts of ever returning back to that life would soon be erased.  Maybe God wanted to tell me in person, and that is exactly what he did.

Next up – Experiencing Death 

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