One Big Mistake

Five years ago, on February 18th 2010, I was almost killed because of somebody else’s mistake.

When I was seventeen I went in for a routine gallbladder removal surgery that ended up being terribly botched. The operating doctor accidentally severed my common bile duct with the end result being:

• More than a pint of bile (digestive stomach enzyme that has a similar acidity to battery acid) leaked into my stomach cavity sending me home without realizing the mistake had been made. This was by far the most painful thing I had ever experienced. To top it off, when I got back to the hospital we soon realized that I am opiate resistant, so the morphine did nothing to ease my pain.
• An emergency open surgery was performed on me to reconnect my bile duct to the rest of my digestive system. I’ll save you the medical terminology, but this surgery essentially put a u-turn into my intestines that goes against gravity every time I eat anything. It’s very unnatural and causes constant nausea.
• I missed the last semester of my senior year of high school. I was recouping and bedridden for every senior activity that my friends got to attend. When they were all at prom I was doing a three-day stint at the hospital.

I started to feel better after months of recovery. I enrolled for my first semester of college but soon realized that my constant nausea was becoming uncontrollable and I was vomiting about ten times a day. Turns out the revision surgery that was done caused scar tissue that strangled my bile duct, meaning none was flowing through to my stomach or digesting my food. A major issue that is lethal. So one year after the first surgery I was back in and out of the hospital.

• A tube was put in between two of my ribs to connect to my bile ducts for easy access so that the interventional radiology team at UCLA could do monthly angioplasty surgery on me. It FREAKING HURTS A TON to have a hard plastic tube hanging outside of your body. Trust me on this.
• I was on oxycodone constantly for pain.
• Six months of relentless radiology severely, severely damaged my chances of ever being able to conceive a child.
• None of the painful treatments worked.

Yup. I did all of it for nothing. They couldn’t fix me the “easy way” so I went back to UCLA for another major revision surgery. A year and a half after the first botched surgery and I was back at square one. It was disheartening to say the least.

• Surgeons decided not to sew up my surgery wound because they were afraid it would cause an infection. Leaving me with a giant, gaping, open wound on my stomach that needed to be cleaned and packed with gauze every day. I have seen my liver. Not a picture of it. My actual liver once stared me straight in the face.
• My kidneys started failing because of the strong antibiotics I was on at the time.
• I spent my fourth anniversary with my then-boyfriend in my hospital bed watching movies and not knowing whether I would live or die.
• Doctors wouldn’t let me try to eat for ten days.
• Once I started trying to eat it took another two weeks before I could keep any of it down.
• The epidural that was in my back didn’t work. So I had no pain relief until they fixed the problem, after three days of excruciating stomach-open pain.
• I spent forty days in the hospital.

All of this happened because of one slip of a knife. Because of one moment. One mistake.

Things got back to normal slowly but surely after that. Throwing up often became a way of life. It took years before I could start to participate in normal activities again. There were times when I was angry, times when I wanted to give up, times when I semi-unintentionally took enough pain medicine to possibly end my life. Every February 18th for four years I got trashed on whatever my substance-of-the-moment happened to be at the time and felt bad for myself.

This year I’m going to celebrate.

Because I’m alive.
Because I’m in love with the beautiful world and people that surround me.
Because even when I’m in pain I find joy in life.
Because even when I’m near death I find joy in life.
Because we were all put here for a certain amount of time, and to not enjoy it is a waste.
Because life is a gift, not a choice.

Five years ago, on February 18th 2010, I was almost killed because of somebody else’s mistake.

Amazing and supportive people around me told me to fight. They told me that I don’t deserve to die because of the actions of another. They told me my life was precious because I was so young. They told me that I could make opportunities for myself even though the odds were against me. They told me that doctors are supposed to heal, not hurt, and that the law was on my side about that fact if I wanted to sue. They told me that I would be missed.

Five years ago, on February 18th 2010, 125,000 babies were killed because of somebody else’s mistake. That mistake could have been made by anybody. I’m certainly not trying to say that mothers are the only responsible party for abortions or unwanted pregnancies. There have absolutely been horrendously sad situations where the mother was not at fault at all.

What I am trying to say is that millions of mothers a year believe lies told to them by misled people. They’re told not to fight. They’re told that their baby deserves to die because of the sins of another. They’re told that their baby’s life will ruin their life because they’re so young. They’re told that neither the mother nor the baby could make opportunities for themselves because the odds are against them. They’re told that women like them have sued to give doctors the “right” to end their child’s life instead of save it. They’re told that their baby wouldn’t be missed.
Every single one of those children are missed.

⅓ of my generation has been killed by abortion. I miss them. I’ve wept for them. I’ll fight for them. I’ve stopped crying and whining about my own life, because the fact that I even have a life of my own to cry about is an opportunity missed out on by 40 million people worldwide yearly and over 55 million total in the US.

Being very young and very sick is an interesting experience. The worst thing that ever happened to me ended up being an unlikely miracle. It gave me a fire for life that I never understood before. It was more than I thought anybody could possibly handle, but I handled it. It made me strong and empathetic to all types of pain.

For any mothers out there: I’ve never been pregnant, so as far as that goes I can’t pretend like I know what you’re going through.

What I do know is pain, nausea, fear, missing prom, being set back in college, embarrassment, feeling trapped, being stuck at home for years, an unattractive stomach scar.
I know is that I would do it all over again.
I know is that life is precious.
I know love.
I know that Jesus HEALS

And hey, this might just be the start of your unlikely miracle