Near Death Experiences

The closest I’ve ever come to dying wasn’t very exciting. It wasn’t being attacked by a horde of ravenous bears, or holding the line against a swarm of zombies to allow innocent civilians to escape. Nor was it fighting a terrorist hijacking a plane several thousand feet in the air, or even jumping out of a burning building. No, it was far more mundane than that.

I suppose I could spice it up. Let’s give it a whirl. I was in a fight for my life against all the odds? No, I wasn’t really in much danger of dying, to be perfectly honest. Uh… I was nearly slain by a vicious traitor that stole into my deepest ranks? Eh, closer, but not quite.

Oh, let’s just be honest. My appendix nearly blew up. Yeah, my life is kinda boring. It was a while ago, almost three years from now. I remember it quite well. I didn’t think it was a near death experience at the time, and to be perfectly frank, it still isn’t a near death experience. But it’s the closest I’ve ever come, apart from maybe slipping in the shower or something stupid.

If I had to pick a time to get a dangerous infection and be hospitalised and have to go into surgery, I don’t think I’d change a thing, honestly. It was near the end of term three, year nine. We had Exhibitions. For the uninitiated, it was a community service project. Not assessable, not important in the slightest. Literally no one wanted to be there or be involved, but yet the entire year was forced into the dullest week of their schooling life. Mine contrived to be more exciting.

Monday. The beginning. I woke up with a slight stomach pain. The one where you’re not sure if you’ve eaten too much, or your stomach is complaining because you haven’t had enough to eat. Normally, I would have gone to school. But it was Exhibitions. This was a sort of excuse to not bother, right? I admit, I lied. I hammed up my alleged illness. For if this happened, I could spend the day playing TF2, rather than doing whatever we did at Exhibitions. My parents decided to let me stay at home to relax, and victory was assured. Perhaps my later affliction was the result of karma, as atonement for the sin of lying.

Karma first struck at about 3:30. I was in an intense round of TF2. I was the defensive team, we were holding well, but the attackers were starting to get through. We were a well-knit team, something surprisingly rare, but so were our opponents. It was neck and neck. And then my stomach decided to throw the match. During the day, I had the same dull, lingering pain. Because of it, I had subsisted primarily on water and some crackers. Nothing really bad, always present, but not enough to really change anything. But then it struck with a vengeance. It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. With studded boots. It hurt. I slouched and started groaning. I found it near impossible to concentrate on the match. I missed obvious shots, died to enemies I should’ve killed, and spent about thirty seconds walking into a wall. I realised the cue and dropped the match. I think I was lying on the carpet for about fourty minutes. It was that disgusting stomach pain where you can’t actually throw up, but you want to. Wanting to throw up just for a chance of relief is one of the saddest positions to be in. I eventually dragged myself downstairs, equipped myself with a bucket, and puked (oh, the puking started up rather violently) through the rest of the day. My parents just assumed that the gastro I thought I had had come back with a vengeance. If only we knew.

Tuesday and Monday blended together, at first. This was because I got literally no sleep that night. It was a stomach pain so intense that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I put the TV onto cartoons and zoned out through the night. I threw up about eighteen times. For a long time there was nothing in there but the water I was desperately gulping down and stomach bile. At about seven in the morning, my dad asked me if I wanted to go to the doctor. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I had never felt worse in my life. I felt worse later that day, but that’s another story.

We went to the doctor a couple of hours later. Time really was a blur at that point. I was just zoning out to terrible cartoons and throwing my guts up by turns. Walking was a new challenge on this journey. The pain was located to my right hip mostly. Smart readers probably would twig what was ailing me now. However, I had been awake for a whole day, and really not in an intelligent mindset, so I just assumed I had awful gastro. I eventually hobbled to the car and we took the short drive from my house to my doctor. I managed not to throw up. This was an achievement, but it wouldn’t last.

The doctor looked at me for about two minutes before he told my dad to get me to the hospital right now. My appendix was going to explode very shortly, according to him. This was not a nice prospect. I wasn’t even thinking about the Exhibitions I was going to miss. I’m a terrible teammate. So, after another short hobble back to the car, and another agonising drive, we were at the hospital. I staggered into the Emergency wing, and the gravity of my not-wellness was swiftly realised and appreciated. I was put on one of those cool wheely beds to await further diagnosis. Some new doctor came up to me to try his hand at diagnosing me. He did this by poking my tender right hip. Repeatedly. I was too weak to tell him to stop.

“Hmm,” he said, between jabs, “is this sore? Hmmm.” I initiated a natural defence mechanism by attempting to puke on him. Well, not really, but I couldn’t help myself. The doctor fled unscathed, and I never saw him again. Some poor bastard had to clean up the floor later, I imagine. I was then wheeled into the waiting room, and had a cocktail of fabulous drugs injected via IV into my hand. Anti-nausea meds (wonder who recommended that), fluids that I had sorely lacked, antibiotics to stop my infection from getting worse, and some painkillers. Those were my favourite. It still hurt, but I could actually think of other things.

The next seven hours were in the waiting room. I was waiting for a paediatrician surgeon, who was busy. Every half an hour a nurse came by to check my blood pressure and talk about dogs or something. I was completely loopy on lack of sleep and being on drugs at this point, so half of what I said was assuredly gibberish. The time passed pretty quickly. I don’t know if I was asleep or just passed out. Probably both.  But, eventually, the surgeon arrived. He took about one look at me before agreeing with the diagnosis. I was taken away on the magical wheely bed into a room with the shiniest ceiling I’ve ever seen. The anesthesiologist appeared at my ear and said she’d be starting the anesthetic soon. I was panicking. Afraid of the inevitable surgery. What if I never wake up? What if they botch it and take out my lung? Even at best, I’d have to say goodbye to my appendix. During my panic, the anesthetic went on. It was just like someone flipped a light switch in my mind. One second on, one second off.

I made a full recovery. Boring, I know. No complications, the offending appendix was removed and thrown in a bin somewhere or something. I spent the rest of the week in hospital subsisting off lemonade and jelly, sleeping and watching about half of the Simpsons. Exhibitions was successfully avoided, much to the chagrin of those in my group. I would say I felt bad for their plight, but I’d be lying. And the last time I lied, I had to have one of my organs removed. Next time it might be vital, after all.


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