25 April 2014

How the zebra got her scars, Pt. 2

30 Jan – 2 Feb 2010

I have been bleeding internally for over 19 hours.

The surgeon re-opens my distended abdomen, first at the c-section incision, then vertically, up past my belly button, as he painstakingly searches for the source of the bleed. He can’t find it. I receive more blood. The blood flows through my arteries, ceaselessly emptying into my body, coagulating and congealing amongst my internal organs. An erroneous wound to my colon and another to my large intestine are identified and repaired. They re-sew my uterus. I fail. I am resuscitated. I receive more blood.

I am heavily sedated but not unconscious; there is also a drug to try and erase my present memory. My intestines sit atop the swelling mound that has become me, contained by a wound vac. I have tubes through my neck to my heart, I am intubated and my wrists are strapped down. I fail. I am resuscitated. I receive more blood.

A conference is had, how long to wait, will the wound heal itself? They cannot find the origins. I am given more blood, the hospital is running out. They send out a vehicle to obtain more; it crashes on an icy road. A second vehicle is sent; the ice storm claims it as well, a pitiless joke. They cannot save me. A decision is made, phone calls begin. It is not safe to transport me by road. The civilian life-flights will not fly in the weather.

I take over 12 bags of blood, four bags of platelets, three bags of plasma. There is no more blood to give. I am still bleeding.

My brethren come to my aid; the Marine Corps search & rescue squadron, call sign Pedro, takes the flight. Final transport preparation is made. The CH-46 lands and off that bird walks one of my former crew chiefs. He later tells me it was not one of my better days. Halfway through the flight, I fail. I am manually resuscitated.

At the second hospital, the new team stabilizes me. I receive more blood. I have a football-sized hematoma crushing my right lung. I fail. I am resuscitated. I receive an injection of blue radioactive dye and the doctors watch on the CT scan screen as it ebbs out through a cluster of severed uterine arteries. I receive anesthesia and the nurses roll me to surgery. I have swollen to over 200 pounds.

They remove the hematoma football and inject my arteries with a gel, embolizing them from the inside out. They wait. The bleeding stops. I return to the table for the insertion of mesh sutured into my abdomen to close me. I am stable.

2 Feb 2010 – I don’t know what time it is. There is a clock on the wall but my eyes won’t focus. My throat is raw and I am thirsty. The room is quiet but for the mechanical breathing of the medical machines to which I am tethered. I cannot move or lift my head. I am in the ICU at New Hanover Regional. A nurse appears. She calls K. and puts the phone to my ear. I start to cry.

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