They say that we have a lizard brain, but I know it’s a lion—fierce and territorial—that emerges when there is nothing else to keep us safe.
Six years ago I was woken up from what was supposed to be a relatively routine surgery related to Crohn’s and told they found something unexpected, a cavity the size of a softball that was filling from my leaking intestines. On the day before Thanksgiving, the doctors put me back under and disconnected my colon.
After the surgery, a pain crept up my midsection, growing until it became what felt like a raging fire that was consuming me from the inside out. The nurses, desperate to help as I screamed in pain, pumped me full painkillers but the drugs only worked to dull my mind. Eventually, the drugs and pulsing pain created an uncontrollable panic as what little I could still identify as “me” slipped away. The nurses tried to restrain and sedate me, but I resisted, climbing to the top of the hospital bed, growling and swinging the IV pole desperately. Even now, with my eyes closed, I can feel the vapors of that pain and the animal inside that came out to protect me.
Tomorrow I will have my seventeenth surgery related to complications from Crohn’s. The procedure will move my ostomy from the original spot to the other side of my abdomen, finally leaving that area to heal. The change, along with my efforts to keep my disease in remission, will hopefully provide a stronger base to live and pursue my new found athleticism with less pain and daily complications. Equally as important, this surgery is the first decision in my health journey I got to make on my own and when I wake up, the last thread of trauma to that day long ago will be cut.