Three months ago to the date on the calendar, I almost died.
I woke up a little after midnight that Monday morning because I had excruciating stomach pain. My wife drove me to our hospital’s emergency room where they x-rayed my stomach and then loaded me into an ambulance and sped me north to one of the two major “city hospitals” where the awaiting surgeons sliced open my stomach and repaired a torn duodenal ulcer. Later, one of my surgeons told me that if I had waited an hour longer, I would have died.
That was some heavy info to ponder while I lay recuperating in a hospital bed for a week. My nurses made sure there was no sepsis or complications from the surgery, and I pondered about the important things in life while I made sure to exercise my legs and lungs to prevent blood clots.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital allowed me only one visitor, which I had to approve in writing the best I could while on my back. I chose my wife, of course, and she visited nearly every day while I kept in touch with family and friends via phone and (shudder) Facebook. (I don’t like Facebook, but that’s another post for another time.)
Because of the drive and her part-time work schedule, my wife could only visit for four or five hours. We have been married for 39 years (40 in November) and she is my partner, best friend, and my crutch to lean on when I need to lean. So, when she wasn’t at my side and I wasn’t on my phone, the rest of the time I was busy soul searching. (I’ve been told almost dying can do that to a person.)
When I left the hospital and went home to finish recuperating, my love and appreciation for my wife and family had grown. My cares and worries about my job, social status, and everything outside my family circle became less important. Being anything outside my role as husband, dad, and grandfather, whether artist, author, or that guy who works in the photo center at a Walmart store: not important.
Three months ago, I almost died. But three months ago, I started living again.
Below is a selfie showing my stitches. It was my last day at the hospital.