One of the most memorable experiences that will haunt my days to come is my little hospital episode a few years back. It all started with a little headache...

I had just finished lunch and my head hurt. This was odd, since my miraculous immune system has prevented me from getting even the smallest cold for the last 5 years. In fact, I often brag about my immune system and how incredibly superior it is to everyone else’s immune system.

Later that night I had a stomach ache. I started to wonder just what the heck my immune system was up to. Perhaps it was getting some practice in for the coming y2k apocalypse. Who knows. I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning it was still there, but it was minor; I’d just walk it off. I went to work, came home, and continued having a stomach ache. This was starting to freak me out. Usually they pass within 2-4 hours, not 24. I decided to truck on down to the doctor.

My doctor examined me and said it was a stomach flu! A lot of that going around, apparantly. I’ll simply take some Tylenol and get better. So I got my Tylenol, and went home and proceeded to puke all over the place. My parents chose the previous hour to go on a vacation for a week to Europe. Perfect timing.

"Well", I thought, "Stupid stomach flu made me puke. That’s a first. I’ll just eat again to refill." PUKE. Maybe some orange juice. PUKE. A piece of gum? Yes, piece of gum stays in my mouth just fine. And clears away that wonderful acidic taste we are all familiar with.

I spent the next 4 days in bed, sipping soup and drinking water and orange juice. It became increasingly painful and difficult to stand, walk, move, etc., and I couldn’t reach the phone from the spot I crawled to on the floor. You have no idea how long 4 days is until you spend every waking moment in pain, not even able to reach the TV remote.

Lucky for me, my parents decided to come home, and much to my protest (“It’s just a stomach flu mom!! Really!”) they dragged me to the doctor again. “Oh my,” said the doctor after a rather uncomfortable rectal examination (my first). “I suggest you hurry over to the emergency room as soon as possible. Your appendix is about to burst.”

Ooooh great. Just what I wanted to hear. Appendicies can kill people. Here I am with my great immune system... Sheesh, I’ll bet my immune system didn’t actually deal with anything, it just dumped all the sicknesses into the appendix. I’m such a bastard!

Lucky for me, the hospital was across the street. After x-rays and such, I was admitted into a room (upgraded from emergency! Woohoo) where they proceeded to tell me I had Chron's Disease. It wasn’t an appendix.

Yeah.

Chron's Disease.

So here I am, spending 3 days of my life in a hospital bed, thinking only about the little speech the doctor gave me. “You will live to 35, max,” he said. “You will have to have surgery every year,” he said. “And after every surgery, you will have to rebuild your abdominal muscles from scratch. It’ll take 2 months or more.”

Me, being extremely active, hiking, camping, running, climbing, inline skating - I was devastated. I wouldn’t be able to do any of my favorite activities for months on end every year for the rest of my life. Even worse, I’d have to re-learn how to sit up once a year, amongst other things.

Not to mention that the rest of my life suddenly had 40 years chopped off of it’s expected maximum. It was so much of a shock that I could just lay there and think about it in disbeleif.

But wait, what would I die from? “Oh, starvation,” said the doctor. “Every time we operate we cut out a piece of your intestines. Eventually you won’t be able to process food any more.”

Greeeeaaaat.

“Either that or an infection.” Oh, joy. The painful deaths.

From a bad stomach ache, to a worse stomach flu, to appendix life threatening, to terminal illness. I was overjoyed. I was leaping across the room in delight. “hooray!” I said a matter-of-factly. “Now I can die young just like I’ve always wanted to!” *rolls eyes*

On the fourth day, I was getting a routine abdominal scan, for preperation of the first surgical strike. The doctor noticed something odd, and stepped outside to talk to the nurse for 10 minutes. He came back with a nice surgical suite on a dolly, saying he had spotted an anomaly and would have to releive some pressure right then and there. He pumped me full of my first hard drugs.

It was amazing. The vapors in my throat that were a figment of my imagination, the ceiling tiles that went from a perfect 1 by 1 foot square grid to nice spiral patterns, the foot long needle, the whirling colors, the dizziness, the experience of having liquid sucked out of your abdomen… It was some pretty funky stuff.

After I came down, I realized the horrible gross reality that I cannot fully describe on paper. I had a little valve stuck in my stomach and a bag pinned to my gown. It was disturbing to see, with my own eyes, on my OWN BODY, nonetheless, the merging of flesh and technology. Sure, it was only a plastic plug, but it was still disturbing.

It turns out it WAS my appendix after all, and it blew the day after I saw the first doctor. Why did the others miss it? Oh, simple. If it was my appendix, I would be dead. So it obviously couldn’t be my appendix.

GO IMMUNE SYSTEM GO! Another notch on your belt, mate!

Recovering from this little episode took me the better part of a month, complete hospital time. Not to mention the recovering abdominal muscles and the pre-sick time.

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