The room began to come into focus as I awoke from the anesthesia. I was caught in-between reality and dream. I almost thought that everything that happened had been a really bad dream, but that state of consciousness slowly subsided into the reality of my situation and where I was.
The recovery room was dark even though there were a few lights on here and there. I suddenly realized the pain in my lower leg was gone but that my upper leg was both throbbing and bandaged heavily. I could only assume that the surgery to remove my blood clot had originated in that area. As I started to regain my bearings I knew that I needed to notify my boss that I would not be in that day. I also needed to let the company (on whose campaign I was working) know that I had gone into the hospital the night before. I was under the illusion I would be walking out of the hospital within 24 hours and heading home and back to work.
As the pain in my leg continued to grow, I asked one of the nurses if I could use her cell phone. I had no idea what time it was or the gravity of my situation. The surgery I had just gone through at the public hospital in Costa Rica did not have a very high rate of survival. I phoned several of my “friends” but being that it was around 4 o’clock in the morning, none of them were answering. Finally, Hunter answered my call.
Me –“Hey buddy, sorry to wake you up. Can you do me a favor?”
Hunter, (sounding half-drunk which he probably was) – “Sure man what’s up?”
Me – “I am in the hospital, no big deal they just took out a blood clot in my leg last night. Can you call my boss and let him know that I will not be in today, but should be in on Monday?”
Hunter – “No problem I will call him in a couple of hours.”
My mind was at ease. I had called into work and would still have my job. After I walked out of here in a couple of days, I would continue with the plan of moving to Tahoe and then to Seattle. This was just a slight bump in the road that would pass. With the pain in my leg continuing to worsen, I asked the nurse for pain medication. Under the influence of another dose of Tramadol, the pain lightened enough for me to head back to sleep, still hoping that when I woke up it would all be over.
After shutting my eyes and drifting off for what seemed like 10 minutes; I was woken up as I was being moved to a normal hospital room. In the public hospital, due to the number of patients being attended to and the lack of space, the patients are basically put where ever there is space. In the room there were 5 beds on each side and no curtains between beds so there was zero privacy. I would play a game I would play inside my head trying to guess what happened to the individual patients. It kept my mind occupied enough to not think about the growing pain in my leg.
Doctors would stop by my bed and examine me. Each time I would ask when I was going to be released. Each time I would get the same answer, rest you need to recover. Friday passed…….Saturday passed…….I was now starting to get worried. I had work on Monday and had to get there or I could possibly lose the opportunity in the USA. I truly believed I was going to walk out of there and continue the life I had been living. I think this is when God decided that I was not going to change my life unless this situation was taken to a level that would get through my stubborn head.
As Sunday came to a close, I noticed that the part of my leg that had the surgery performed on it was warm and throbbing and growing in size. I would only find out later that the area where the initial incision had been made had become infected by bacteria from not being properly sterilized. The bacteria were passing through my entire body and organs through the blood stream. My immune system was trying its best to fight it off.
Tuesday – My current boss came to see me. I had become weak and my body was failing. I knew as much as he knew that if I remained in that hospital I was going to die. I gave him passwords to my email, Facebook, and other methods to contact friends and family. I needed to come up with about $4000 to $5000 in order to get transferred to Clinica Biblica, a private hospital.
You really see who your friends and family are when you are lying on your death bed. However, I soon realized that the people being contacted; my lacrosse team, my parents, brother and sister, and other friends had been badly screwed over by me. I had mistreated them and wronged them so much that in this time of need I did not have a true support system. The alcoholism and lies had pushed them all away.
Wednesday – The infection in my leg had spread and my immune system was starting to lose the fight against it. My kidneys had begun to shut down and I was no longer urinating. The bacteria were slowly shutting down each of my organs and my body was being killed from the inside. As the immune system tried to generate enough T-cells, I became weaker and weaker.
Thursday – The doctors seemed to finally see the severity of the situation I was going through and I was transferred into the dialysis unit in Hospital Mexico. Hospital Mexico’s dialysis was peritoneal dialysis. The medical description of this is a special fluid is flushed into the abdominal cavity and washes around the intestines. The intestinal walls act as a filter between this fluid and the blood stream. By using different types of solutions, waste products and excess water can be removed from the body. Doesn’t sound too bad? Think again!
The actual experience of this is much worse than a medical description. The specialist begins with telling you this might hurt a little. Next, an 8 to 10 inch needle is then jabbed into your abdomen. A tube is then slowly inserted into your body. A bag of solution is then attached to the tube and is emptied into your abdomen causing a large amount of pain as the water pressure builds up and your abdomen expands. The purpose of this is to get the kidneys to function and remove waste products from the body……for me it did not work. All it did was cause more pain and suffering.
I was dying alone with my thoughts and contemplating where I went wrong. There was no family or friends beside me. All my mistakes and the way I had lived my life were there to be seen right in front of me. I had lived my life on a continual Spring Break while all those around me knew that when college ended, so did a life without responsibility. Each and every mistake and the road I had traveled had been designed and governed by alcohol and drugs. Like so many that come to Costa Rica, I was running from a past I thought I could escape if I just changed locations. The past and those demons were still alive and right there beside me. As I laid my head back down on the hospital bed I stared out the window and knew I was dying. It was all I could do to not break down and cry.
Next Up – Under the Knife Again