“. . . so I start down the path.”
The phrase from a dear friend’s message caught my eye. As I reread it, I thought, Isn’t that how a lot of things in this life begin?
You’d think writing about my unusual story of healing would be a joy-filled, swift thing. Simple. Bite or two of cake. Nothing to it. Just sit down at a keyboard and let my story write itself.
Meme: “Don’t close the book when bad things happen in your life, just turn the page and begin a new chapter.”
Memes are cool on Facebook. They can be jarring when one cuts them off the screen and attempts to paste them into real living. Sometimes life doesn’t fit neatly into the places we’d prefer it did. Often I’ve found it peeking out from between lines, hidden within and behind things we never said and sure never wanted to hear.
Nothing about this story has been simple because the bad things kept happening too fast to start a new chapter. I’ve been writing steadily for almost 20 years, handling practically every subject that exists. Occasionally I’ve done it well. This project of baring my closely-held memories, impressions and reflections of impending certain death, teamed with God’s miraculous intervention is many things. Attaching the concept of ‘simple’ to my journey is as odd as Booger the bloodhound in spandex and a tutu.
Hemingway wrote that writing is simple: just sit down at your typewriter and bleed on the paper. The longer I continue writing my story, the more I get his irony.
This story is one for the books. This one. It’s an unvarnished, bloody, dirty, septic, foul-smelling, hideously-expensive battle to the death I didn’t ask for and never expected to fight. I knew from every human perspective and hard, scalpel-edged medical truth that I was going to die.
Why write about it? I needed somebody who’d been there before to help me, to cushion the goodbyes and the final journey from Here to There.
Trouble is, there wasn’t anyone. I asked my surgeon if he knew of any patients who had survived what I was experiencing. He hesitated just long enough for me to know there wasn’t one. Bravely, I declared as authoritatively as one can with an NG tube stuffed up the nose, “Well, then–I’ll be the first!”
We were in Kansas. He’d heard the wind blow before.
I’d thought it through during the long years of being fed through Hickman catheters and figured somebody needed to know. I decided that I at least needed somebody to be able to follow my tracks. It was important to me that somebody else staggering blindly along my Shadow Valley back trail know where I fell so what’s left of my body could be retrieved for appropriate disposal. It was that bleak.
“If you’d had strong enough faith—” Do us both a favor and don’t go there. My personal faith in God and the nonstop praying of my Christian family of spiritual warriors is one of the few stable things present in my life, that April and May of 1997.
I didn’t see any of it coming. No warning signs of my small gut betting it could start sticking together and dying so fast we couldn’t stop it before it killed me. There were no expectations, no planning strategy. No online parade of resources existed, nor was there the usual gaggle of others testifying to their experiences. The docs had to make up a name for it: Small Bowel Adhesion Disease. We didn’t know what caused it, and weren’t real sure how to stop it.
What we did know is that suddenly I was dying. After long months of attempted intervention with three resect surgeries, I was placed on permanent 24/7 TPN therapy and sent home. I was told the only chance I had was an entire gastrointestinal system transplant: stomach, spleen, liver, large and small intestines, gall bladder . . . All of it. I was told the only patients accepted in that program were morbidly terminal and this transplant was their only hope. At the time there were only 2 or 3 places in the U.S. that did that procedure.
At age forty-four, I was quietly placed on that waiting list.
Relax. The story doesn’t end there . . .
© D. Dean Boone, March 2017