Recently, I had a bout with sepsis, and bad things started happening in a rush of poison running through my organs and allowing E Coli to swim through my bloodstream. My blood pressure dropped to 60/42, my blood glucose level was over 300 without eating for days, my heart raced, and my stomach was in sheer agony personified… I was dying!
I don’t mean metaphorically, my organs were going crazy, my body was shutting down and the ER doctors said my body was pretty much a ticking timebomb. I had the shakes, I was freezing, I was vomiting, I had a fever over and over again, and all in all I spent eleven days in the hospital. I had a shunt put in my stomach, massive doses of antibiotics fed through an IV along with fluids to hydrate me, and pain medications galore… I almost died!
As I write this now, I have monitoring from my house, of my vitals and glucose levels, my blood pressure, temperature, and glucose are near perfect, and daily the information is sent to a nurse. All of my bloodwork is looking better since my discharge and are on par to be normal levels, and I have lost a lot of weight, very quickly, due to the diet I am on…but I nearly died!
I am not out of the proverbial fire yet though, I still have to have the shunt removed first, then laparoscopic surgery to remove my gallbladder and perform a liver biopsy at the same time, to assess any damage. Then I can finally physically heal and relax a bit… but mentally, I am looking deeply at the fact that I almost died and am trying to heal from that.
As I lay in that hospital bed, night after night, never able to catch more than an hour’s sleep in a sitting due to machines beeping, nurses constantly checking my vitals and taking blood or giving me medications, I had a lot of time to think. The skill, care, thoroughness, and willful fight to combat my afflictions, by the doctors and nurses of Temple University Hospital, saved my life. They plucked me from the brink of pre-renal failure, multiple organ poisoning, and succumbing to sepsis and E Coli, and healed me to where my organs are doing great now, albeit I may have minor liver damage.
… but I almost died…
…my children were almost fatherless, and my wife was almost a widow!
I very well could have ceased to be at this very moment; all of my dreams, plans, and goals, were almost utterly ended in one fell swoop. I could have left behind my mother, of whom I am her only child, and uncles who are much older and helped raise me, I very well could have died overnight if I hadn’t gotten care. My kids are too young to visit me in the hospital, so I wouldn’t have even gotten to say goodbye to anyone.
Now how do I navigate that mentally, while trying to heal physically? Should I put one aside for the other and tackle the other later? I wasn’t given a manual on this, even with all of my mental health certifications.
Prior to the illness nearly killing me, I was trying to navigate through my loss of the ability to walk and working through some deep sh!t, do I put that aside also? How does someone operate in any functional capacity while crawling through the mud, contemplating their own mortality, and trying to heal physically? Oy vey is mir… por que… why me, why do I get the rare spinal conditions, an illness that tries to kill me, and a deep dive into mortality introspection?
I’m hoping after all of the procedures and operations are finished, that I will regain some semblance of normalcy once more and that I can come to grips with my mortality and loss of my physical abilities. Trying to balance physical and mental health can be exhausting, but for now, I am telling people I love, that I love them, I am living in the moment and in a spirit of gratitude for each day of life I am granted. I am living, I am alive, and that’s what’s most important right now, to me, to my family, and to my friends and people who care about me.
If ever there were a representation of MOMENTO MORI, “Remember you will die,” it’s what I’ve undergone, in that I am learning to live, enjoy the small moments, and be grateful for life. There are many things, I will eventually take away from this brush with death, but I think living, truly living, is one of the biggest.