I almost broke a record. Almost being the important word in that sentence.
No, it wasn’t me who won the Boston Marathon. And no, I didn’t break the record for lifting the heaviest weights or eating the most hot dogs or anything that might land my face in a book. I almost broke Stacy’s record.
Stacy, as we’ll recall, was my first roomie during my past hospital stay. She stayed in the hospital for a little over three weeks. I, on the other hand, stayed in the hospital a day short of three weeks and am finally back in my little dorm room, showered, cleaned, scrubbed of hospital scents, slightly battered and bruised, but alive and home.
My hospital stay spanned eight roommates, two rooms, a PICC line, two blood clots, three GI Attending doctors, three NG tubes and an NJ tube, two trips to endoscopy and conscious sedation, a discovery that my ribs pinch my veins thanks to ultrasounds, being assigned to every nurse twice, my iPod battery dying, six new magazines, two and a half finished essays, five new prescriptions, a friendship with the cleaning lady, and a weekday television schedule (Saved by the Bell, Good Morning America, Ellen...). I discovered that a braid keeps hair remarkably untangled after not being brushed for three weeks, but mostly that I’m more durable than I had anticipated - only majorly crying once in twenty days.
I have few expectations out of my life, besides death and taxes. I expect to be sick, I expect hospitals and poor IV access, and all of that. But let’s be clear - I don’t expect a poor quality of life, I don’t expect those trials in the healthcare system to be defeating and deflating. I expect my life to be an endless series of triumphs and challenges. I think this expectation of almost breaking hospital stay records is helpful, I don’t consider my life a tragic mess and seem to be able to slip in and out of my real life and my hospital life.
It hasn’t even been nine months since my ostomy surgery and so far I’ve had five hospitalizations and the discovery of new disease in my small bowel. But much, much, much more importantly than that, I’ve had popcorn, and run, and done yoga with my Mom, walked my dog, laughed until I cried, met amazing new people, been loved and respected by friends, interviewed for a job, gotten my driver’s license, traveled, read with small children, cooked dinners, and loved my life. Activity wise, that is record breaking for me.
I expect my life to be challenging and amazing, some pain is bound to happen, but my experiences will be real and honest and genuine. I expect to achieve all of my dreams, no matter how cheesy it sounds, I expect to contribute to the world and to be a part of the cure for IBD.
I didn’t break any records, but that’s okay. I’m showered, cleaned, scrubbed, bruised, battered, alive, and home - but optimistic and determined... and smiling.