After years of hemming and hawing, I finally sat down and wrote a letter to my surgeon. I am sealing the envelope tonight and mailing it off tomorrow! I don’t know if he will respond or if he will even see it, but it is a thank you that needed to be said.
Dear Dr. Ahmad:
You might not remember me, but I was a patient of yours in 2010-2011. I was referred to you after months of battling a flair like I had never experienced before. I was a 20-year-old kid who felt alone and lost in this giant world, without so much as a road map to guide me.
I remember our first visit in waves; never in full focus or with much clarity. You wanted to perform surgery and give me a temporary ostomy. I was scared–but not of dying–at least I don’t think. I was scared of what happened if I survived. I know that probably sounds crazy, but it’s as close to the truth as I can surmise.
To this day I don’t know what compelled you, but you offered your surgery pro-bono. You saved my life. I’ll be honest though, I hated every minute of that bag. I remember feeling powerless. I remember the bag leaks and the shame l felt, like it was yesterday. You were true to your word though, and it was temporary. So temporary in fact, that I never truly got to appreciate what that first surgery meant. I was so focused on what I had lost, what was taken from me, that I never stopped to think about what I had gained: faith. Faith not in God but in science and in humanity.
I have spent the last six years trying to write this letter to you. I think I have never felt worthy, like the things I have accomplished were not enough to make you proud or happy that you went through all the effort. I might not ever be the model patient, or save the world, but for the first time in my life I am proud of me and I have you to thank for that. I have you to thank for everything. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I have included some pictures of the things that I am proud of. Things I was only able to do and achieve because of you.
After surgery, I re-connected with a boy I knew in second grade. A boy I fell in love with and married. That deep-in-your-soul, shout-it-from-the-roof-top, write-a-sonnet love, that I thought only existed in fairytales and Hollywood. After being told I would never have kids, I had two. Two crazy, full-of-energy, wily, smart, and handsome little boys. I went to college, graduated with an Associate’s before deciding to go back for a Bachelor’s. I even bought a house and started a career. I have lived and continue to live well. The hard times are surrounded by the good times, and I know I owe my success and family to you.
So thank you, truly.
My mom used to have this saying (I hate it as much now as I did then), “Let life be a surprise to you.” As a meticulous and methodical planner, I HATE surprises. Oh sure, show up with lunch, gift me some flowers or chocolate, but never, ever spring ANYTHING on me. It won’t work out how you think it will, that I can guarantee. So imagine my–for lack of a better word, surprise–at the story I am about to tell you.
I commute an hour to work, leaving the house by 6:30 a.m. (on a good morning) after dressing as fast as the Tasmanian devil. I have a hard time getting up; I rarely ever get a full night of sleep, and the nights that I am lucky enough to get more than 5 hours, it is usually broken, restless, and pain-filled.
I like to drive with the heater blasting on my feet and the window down, I know how weird that sounds and I am rolling my eyes at your semi-distaste and confusion. Yesterday I am driving to work in said typical fashion, though I will admit yesterday was an emotional day for me and I had no pre-conceived notions about having a good day, let alone an easy Monday.
Anyway, as I’m driving my pant leg is swaying which I assume is due to the heater/window combo so I just ignore it. For the first five minutes. Then I get annoyed and try adjusting my pant leg. Then adjusting my boots. Finally, I pushed my leg against the seat to stop my pants from moving altogether. That worked, as I thought it would, so I gave it little to no other thought. I had already processed and dismissed the idea of it being a bug (I had a hell day with winged creatures some odd numbered weeks ago and didn’t think I could be THAT unlucky).
HA! Well, I have been wrong before and yesterday was no exception. I got out of my car and I kid you not…the biggest freaking brown spider, yes I said SPIDER, came crawling down my leg and scurried off my boot. I am talking the Aragog of freaking domesticated (I hope) spiders. Are you kidding me?!!? I am standing there in a mixture of shock and horror, smashing this eight-legged freak to bits, shaking in disgust rethinking my entire commute. This…thing was basically caressing me for the better part of an hour and I had no clue. I am still itching and seeing bugs that are not there in my periphery. I feel all sorts of violated. So…check your shoes closely ladies and gents, ’cause eww.
At work I am regaling my tale of woe with one of the corrections deputies (I work at a court house) who is oddly focused on the fact that I am wearing boots in July, like keep up, there was a SPIDER. Of course I am shook up and dramatically playing the what-if game: what if it was poisonous and it bit me, what if my final words are going to be something stupid because the venom is pumping through my veins, what if…another CO chimes in with, “What if you become spider man?”
So to that, should I become SpiderSpears (not a girl, not yet a woman) along with my lame web-spitting hands “super power” (batman household, sorry Peter), hopefully I also genetically create the cure for Crohn’s.