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Sometimes our downfalls come from the very same reasons that people call us heroes. If you push too far or too hard, you can ruin everything that you have worked for. I have learned first-hand, that there is a very fine line between heroism and surviving. Sometimes we learn these lessons the hard way, pushing just a little bit further until something breaks. Other times we get lucky and are given a mild slap on the wrist to scare us down off the ledge. Here I was experiencing the latter. Thank goodness I was lucky this time.
I refused all pain medications following my surgery
After everything that I had gone through during the previous surgery (two weeks prior), I was very adamant that I did not want ANY pain medications after the ones given for the surgery wore off. I had experienced my own personal Groundhog's Day hell for several days before the meds had finally worn off and I did not want a repeat experience. I was barely 18 years old, but I HATED the feeling of being so out of control of my own actions. Jumping from one fragmented moment to the next; sometimes repeating fragments of the same dream over and over again in my mind. I definitely did not want to feel that way again.
My mother hated the idea that I would not receive any pain medications post surgery. I know now, as a mother, why she felt this way. No one wants to watch their child writhe in pain without being able to somehow alleviate it for them. She would at some point try to sneakily press the Demerol button when she thought that I was asleep, but I noticed it and got very mad. I felt like my rights were being violated and that I wasn't being listened to. I hadn't thought about what my Mom was going through as I went through this. I may have been stuck in a hospital bed, but I was still a hormonal teenager and acted as such.
The worst pain I have ever experienced in my life
This surgery was far different than the last. They merely had to patch up a rip in the dura. The synthetic patch that they had used in the first surgery was being rejected by my body, so one was made using my own tissue. This new patch would hold up much better than the last. I remember all of the moments after this surgery and did not sleep for two days afterward. The pain that I experienced was the worst pain that I have EVER experienced in my entire life. Being a stubborn young person, I did not give in and take the medicine that they had readied in my IV. “Just in case you change your mind,” they would say, but I was so determined to achieve this. Whatever THIS actually was, I am still not sure. I think that this might have been the moment that I learned to put myself into a meditative coma. I learned from this experience, that I was made of steel. I had steel resolve that I just couldn't let go of, as well as nerves of steel because who really asks for a major surgery without pain medication? Apparently, this girl.
Stars Wars for Thanksgiving becomes a family tradition
My previous surgery was just after my 18th birthday but this time around I was in the hospital during one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving! Most of the hospital is empty on Thanksgiving, so I had the VERY RARE luxury of being able to have SEVERAL stacks of pillows all over my bed. I knew full well how rare this chance is, so I kept asking for more pillows. I mean, who wouldn't? My family was at home making dinner, but had promised me they would come up to the hospital with all the food, as soon as they finished. I told them to bring me something to watch on TV since football was (and still is) WAY too boring for me to keep up with. (I can hear you football nerds gasping from here!) When my family showed up with all the food in hand and the Star Wars Trilogy in the other hand, a new family Thanksgiving tradition was born. Everyone sat around my hospital room and watched Star Wars with me, all day long. I sat there enjoying all of my favorite home-cooked Thanksgiving foods and Han Solo with my huge stack of pillows surrounding my body. Even though I was laid up in a hospital on Thanksgiving day, I felt like I was very loved. Every year on Thanksgiving day, it is still our family tradition to watch the ORIGINAL three Star Wars movies! I've even rope the Hippy Hubby and son into this yearly tradition!
On the road to recovery
With such an easy fix this time around, I was out of the hospital a lot faster from this surgery. Everything was looking up from here. I was learning to walk again and I was on the path to graduate with honors that year. I had survived yet another round of surgeries and I still had the use of my legs. Whew! Yet another dodge of the bullet. It seems like I dodged a LOT of bullets during my childhood. This was the last surgery that I went through in my teen years, but not the last surgery that I would experience. I still had more to come.