Survival Day!

Seven years ago my body decided that I had lived too long, so my gall bladder threw a stone, my pancreas tried to digest the stone, failed to digest the stone and proceeded to digest itself.  I found myself in the hospital, dying.

And the battle began.  My primary doctor marshalled every specialist in the place to my aid and I celebrated my 53rd birthday by getting out of intensive care, so weak that I could not even stand.  But it was not enough.  I languished for another two weeks and my doctors, realizing that they could do nothing for me, asked me if I was willing to be transferred to Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee to be put under the care of Dr. Stuart Wilson, one of the best pancreowhatsit specialists in the country, if not in the world.

I agreed, so they bundled me onto an ambulance and shipped me off.

And the fight was on again!  This time mostly between me and Dr. Wilson because I was a terrible patient.  We disagreed about almost everything and in the process of trying to recover, and the remains of my pancreas refusing to do anything that pancreas remains normally do in these cases, I managed to get pneumonia and MRSA, causing me to have every antibiotic known to be pumped into my body leaving me allergic to some and immune to most others, and get used to being profoundly diabetic.  And also becoming living proof that you can live without a pancreas.

I was supposed to die.  But I did not die.

I basically sat in my room, resenting the nurses, despising the pestilential care assistants (for the most part, some were ok) and being grumpy as hell.

And all the while planning what I was going to do when I got well.  Because in spite of my condition I never, honestly never, had one moment of regret for anything I had ever done in my life, no hand-wringing repentance for this supervillain.  I just sat and daydreamed about being home, going to parties and generally tearing up the countryside like I had before.

And I walked away from it.  On Dec. 27, 2002, I walked out of the hospital and got into the van to be driven home by my wife, who, in all the time I was in the hospital never once missed a day visiting me.

So on this day we celebrate survival, survival in the face of all odds, when even nature itself is ranged against us.



5 Responses to “Survival Day!”

  1. Dion Wright Says:

    100% willpower, and a clear conscience. Two things most people do not have at all, and together they make miracles happen

  2. Brent Says:

    Hey Uncle Chuckie, I know you don’t believe in karma per se, but do you think your illness here could have been some type of “karmic” backlash? Like maybe someone trying to get revenge on you for something?

  3. drpsionic Says:

    Well, Brent, if it was karmic backlash, I would not have walked away from it. I like to think of the whole episode as proof that there is no such thing as karma.

    The cause was really pretty simple. I was stupid. I started having pains in my abdomen that winter before but I just assumed that I was starting to get old and there were things I could no longer eat, instead of going to the doctor and getting the damned gall bladder out.

  4. Brent Says:

    Ah I see, thanks for clarifying. I asked because I had just been thinking about the old adage regarding shark attack survivors considering themselves lucky, but if they were lucky, why did they get attacked in the first place?

    As to the procrastinating with gallstones, I can relate, gallstone attacks are not fun. Although fortunately for me I didn’t go through what you did, I did have them really bad for months till I got around to getting mine out. It was just before my 23rd birthday, one of my biggest “Good grief” moments in life so far haha

  5. drpsionic Says:

    I’ve always viewed the whole episode of one of those, “Open head, insert brain,” moments that could have been so easily avoided if I had just used some uncommon sense.

    But walking away from it was something amazing considering the odds were seriously not in my favor.

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