The end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 had come and gone. With each passing day I was able to sit up a little bit longer and was gaining strength back in my legs, be it not very much. I had no idea when I would be going home but I remained focused on overcoming this situation. A few days after New Year’s I was given the news……I was going to get to go home.
The date for departure from the hospital had been set for January 8th. It was only then that I started wondering, what was I going home to? The campaign I had been working on had long since terminated. I had very little money due to the fact that I had never really saved any, nor currently had a job. I could not do anything by myself……bathe, use the bathroom or walk. Who was going to attend to my basic needs? I knew that the hospital experience was probably going to be the easiest part of this road I was travelling.
January 6th – My ex-boss had arrived to tell me the plan of action that was going to be taken upon exiting the hospital. There was a woman that was going to take care of me at her house while I continued on the road to recovery. The cost of this was $600 a month and it included everything. There was enough money to pay for this from my old job for 2 months. I believed foolishly in my head that after a month I would be able to work again as long as I had Wi-Fi and my laptop.
January 8th – A mixture of sheer terror and excitement passed through my mind all day long as I prepared for the next step in my journey. I had been told that I was going to be picked up in the afternoon and then taken to my new residence. The afternoon came and went. After dinner was served, I ate a little and settled into a depressed mindset…..they were not coming to get me today. After the sun went down and I had begun to lose all hope of anyone’s arrival, my ex-boss, his girlfriend, along with another friend of mine and his wife entered the hospital room. A sense of triumph came over me. I was going to finally start my life again. I had made it.
My ex-boss and his girlfriend had gone shopping for my travelling clothes. As they took out the sweatpants and t-shirt, I did not even care that I was going to look like one of the people in the “People of Wal-Mart” photos. The women; both my friend’s wife and my ex-bosses girlfriend began to dress me. The hospital scrubs came off and the “civilian clothes” as they would say in the military were placed on my emaciated body. I was 5 foot 10 inches tall and I weighed 95 pounds. I pushed a smile to my face as the wheelchair was brought to the side of the bed.
With help from an orderly and a nurse I was placed into the wheelchair in preparation for discharge. With the excitement of this event and the energy being spent, I began to feel very light headed and knew I was going to faint. I woke up 20 to 40 seconds later with my ex-boss freaking out. He wanted me to stay in the hospital as he did not want any responsibility if anything happened after discharge. From the look on the attendees face I knew that if I did not quell the doubts in the room I was going to remain in this hospital for an even longer time. My sales personality kicked in as I convinced those around me that this was normal and that all I had to do was lay down. The excitement of the situation caused this fainting spell. A gurney was rolled in and I was placed on it laying down, awake, conscious, and hiding my own personal doubts that I should not be leaving the hospital that day.
I was rolled out of the hospital room and was left in the hallway with Priscilla, my ex-bosses girlfriend. I had never met her before, except for one time after my initial interview with the company. He had picked her up with me in the car as he was dropping me off at my bus stop. I had heard his stories about her and felt sorry for her being in that relationship, but I have long since determined that understanding women’s choices when it comes to men is impossible. However, there was something about her; A kindness in her eyes and a warmth in her touch as she held my hand to comfort me lying there. It was as if she knew the torment going on inside my soul and she was there to walk me through it.
Her boyfriend returned and I began the hospital discharge process. Part of this process was the bill which of course I would have to pay bit by bit over time. The total for 2 ½ months of hospital care, open heart surgery, and a few other surgeries was $90,000. This bill would have been over 1 million dollars in the USA. They needed a photo ID of the person that would be the contact person for this bill. Because my passport was at the house where I was headed, Priscilla immediately volunteered to use hers, as it would allow me to be discharged. I then was privy to see what her relationship consisted of.
She was immediately told that she was not going to be able to do that by her boyfriend and why that was a stupid idea. Although it did not mean she was responsible for the bill that was what her boyfriend thought. She tried to explain this to him in her quiet demeanor to express her view, but it was rudely discarded as untrue. I looked to my friend and his wife standing beside me and I could see they too were feeling sad for this poor girl.
Forty minutes later my ex-boss came back from his trip to get my passport. The paperwork was signed and I was rolled out to the awaiting vehicle. I was laid in the backseat. Close to three months from the time this all began; I was going to sleep in a bed that was not a hospital bed.
After a heart healthy stop at McDonalds on the way to my new residence, we arrived at a woman named Angela’s house. I was transferred from the car to the wheelchair in order to be transported to the bed. Upon arrival I had another fainting spell and woke up on a hard single bed. Outside, my ex-boss had decided to bring his dog into the yard where Angela’s 2 dogs were ready to pounce on the Golden Retriever. During the tussle among the canines, Priscilla’s boyfriend found a 2 by 4 and hit the back of one of Angela’s dogs which was older and had no teeth. Because of his actions he would forever be known to that household as “gringo loco”.
Priscilla came inside and sat next to me, embarrassed by the actions of her boyfriend. I could tell she truly cared about me and my recovery, but more in a poor guy sort of way. The only people helping me in this situation were basically strangers. I had never met her, my ex-boss I had worked together for about 5 months, and the friends I had made in Costa Rica came and visited when they could. There was no one else there. I saw the look in her eyes as she looked at me, she felt sorry for me, that I was in this situation with no one there by my side.
The dog fight was over, the night air was silent, and the goodbyes had been said. I had not come back into the real world with a parade or cheers. I had come from the hospital and everyone’s life was going to continue without a second thought for me. I felt like I had been abandoned or thrown into a shark tank and told to swim.
The biggest support I needed at this point in my life was love and emotional support. It was there, but my mind could not recognize it, as it was from strangers. I decided to shut off my heart and power through this alone. I had made it through the hospital; with my independent mind set, it could get me through this. Little by little, the emotional pain I was keeping inside kept growing; it was kept hidden by a false smile that was displayed to the world.