I thought I was the rare person who almost exploded to death, but Mom said she knew a lady in Kenya whose guts split open. By the time they rushed her to a hospital in Mombasa, Kenya, gangrene was growing inside her, and she died the next day (gangrene grows fast in Kenya). Anyway, my explosion was more violent than hers because I would never have lived so long, my surgeon said,
I almost died from a “bowel obstruction”, but I was saved by an odd stroke of luck. I “just happened” to be in the hospital and in my room when my stomach began tearing from the obstruction. The pain was unbelievable, unlike anything I’ve known. If I were at home I would have bled to death before the ambulance arrived. I’ll tell the story to share the miracle that saved my life.
It began with stomach pains, which were expected since I was just released from a week-long hospital stay for the same problem. They starved me for a week (i.e., no more than a little crushed ice). That first blockage became serious gradually over four days because I thought it was a stomach flu, and quit eating. But the X-Rays showed it was all cleared up, and I was eating and pooping again. New stomach pains arose only hours after coming home from the hospital, but my body was merely adjusting to solid food, right? I never imagined the new pains came from another, more serious intestinal blockage.
I called the surgeon for pain pills, and he wanted me back in the Emergency Room even if it cost another $200! We did that last weekend already, so forget that! I could wait until Monday, see the regular Doc and save $200. After all, the surgeon dished up the requested pain pills, and if it was serious I had at least four days’ grace, just like last time, right?
But the surgeon suddenly called again and said he reserved the last available hospital bed for me so I could avoid the big ER fees. He wanted me back in there. (I suspected he just needed business, but I relented.)
Just as I settled into my new hospital room, my belly suddenly distended, reached its max size, and started ripping. I jumped from minor pain to off-the-scale pain within minutes! My intestines were fully blocked, so my stomach was quite angry retaliated with acids, bile and gasses like crazy. My dirty mouth went on auto-pilot with “OUCH! F***! SH**!” This blockage was quite unlike the previous one.
What happened next was surreal. No less than a dozen nurses, docs, and a surgeon crammed into the room, prodding, sticking needles, poking, stuffing tubes and fingers into all the orifices or veins within reach. My blood pressure plummeted so low, they refused to give me pain meds, so this really hurt! They pushed a tearful Darlene out into the hall where she and Kyle could hear me swearing in delirium at my torturers. (Later I learned it was the hospitals trauma team.)
Suddenly a muscled linebacker appeared—really, this guy had big guns—pushing aside two nurses and grabbing the tube they were jamming down my nose and into my gullet. “Quit cussing,” he growled as he jammed that tube past all barriers—nasal cavities, twists, bends, larynx, gag-reflexes—and sunk it deep in my belly. He used enough force to stuff a football down that path, I was sure of it.
Still, I won the tug-of-wars against my tormentors. My prostate-thingy kept two stocky females from jamming a catheter tube in my bladder. They took the most direct route, of course, so one held a tube while the other jammed a tube, but Mr. Prostrate said, “Go away!” On the third attempt they triggered a blue streak of choice words which nobody could censor. They gave up, thank God, but how they tried! (I never needed the catheter anyway.)
The following week I ran into staff remembering me, who said things like, “I was worried…You look much different now! …That was touchy! …How’s it hangin’ now?” (OK, the last was fictitious, but makes sense.) That linebacker even came back the next day to see me and joked about it, showing a bandage on his hand which he claimed I inflicted on him (he wanted me to feel better about our tussle). They filled me with the max allowable Hydromorphone for a week, thank God (it was Dilaudid, “six times stronger than morphine,” they said). I held interesting conversations with imaginary visitors, like, “Kyle! Stop taking those purple-spotted pills!” (What it was about, I do not know.)
Two surgeons made a foot-long cut down my belly, pulled out all 30 feet of intestines and inspected every inch. They sliced off a section of scarred intestine, which means no more blockages, hopefully. Now home at last from the hospital, I’m mildly-drugged with Percocet, pooping painfully through a patched-up pooper. But I’m alive, held together by 35 staples. In a couple weeks I’ll be mostly-healed, the docs say.
The Beauty of It All
I’m not only alive, but I’m revitalized by the love and aid from our amazing fellowship of Saints. It is a pride-killer to be so incapacitated and receive this outpouring of God’s tender mercies. I am indebted beyond words or measure for the prayers, food, time and everything my brothers and sisters are sacrificing, from high-schoolers to old-timers.
I am quite sure Jesus spared my life at the right time and place. The account above is a light-hearted version of a grave situation and major surgery. The time between the decision to go to the hospital and the descent of the hospital’s trauma team on me was about 15-20 minutes. I knew it was very serious for maybe five minutes before it actually became a critical situation. I never knew a bowel obstruction could turn critical so fast, but since then I’ve learned all sorts of people died this way (the little girl in Poltergeist is one).
But there is one last piece of this miraculous puzzle which clinches the miraculous nature of it, which I’ll share next…