A continuation of my faith journey with Crohns disease.
Now, my brother Paul has had Crohns for years. My brother Charles and I pray to God to give the disease to each of us if it would make Paul better… yes, ignorance is bliss.
And, the Lord said Yes to that request… to me.
The year is 1989 and I’m now 23 and a recent graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Fine Arts. I’m a semi-employed actor and I join my mother, father and niece Katie on a trek to Indiana to attend and take pictures at my oldest brother Joseph’s second marriage.
While we were at the wedding rehearsal, I started to feel nauseaus, so I went to the restroom at the back of the church and it turned out I was having massive internal bleeding from my intestines. Never having seen anything like this before, I get my Dad and ask him if it was normal. I’ll never forget… he looked into the bathroom, then to the priest and said calmly “Where’s the nearest hospital?”
I lay down in the back of my Dad’s car and off to the hospital we go. Being children of the depression and young adults during World War II, my parents are notoriously frugal. So, I’m lying in the back seat, feeling the pressure of the blood building up within me and my Dad says “Pete, I’m just going to drop you off at the emergency entrance. If I sign you in, then they’ll bill my insurance.” Considering I was in no position to argue, I agreed.
So, we arrive at the hospital and I walk into the emergency room. I was feeling very light headed as I staggered up to the receptionist. I said “hi, my name is Pete Bauer and I’m bleeding internally.” The receptionist responded “is that B-O-W-E-R?”
Now, when I was a kid, at the beginning of every school year the homeroom teachers would go through the class roll. “Anderson” – “here”, “Banks” – “here” and then they’d come to me… “Bow… boy… boyuer, baver…” And I’d always have to say “Bauer!” So, when the receptionist asked me to spell my name, in that millisecond I remember asking God… God, of all times, couldn’t she have guessed my name right, just this once!?
I responded “no, B-A-U-E-R and I think I’m going to pass out.” And, apparently, I did! I felt this great release, like I was floating, angelic almost. It was awesome. Then, the next thing I know some nurse is slapping me on the face repeatedly. I’m on a gurney being wheeled quickly into the emergency room.
Hint: If you want to get into the emergency room quickly, pass out! Trust me on this one.
The lights on the ceiling were flashing by, like in the movies, while this nurse continues to smack me saying “Mr. Bauer, are you with us! Are you with us!” I said Yes as we arrived in the emergency room.
Within minutes, doctors were swarming around me, prodding, poking, asking a million questions at once. It was something right out of “ER.” I told them I had a brother who had Crohns and they kept prodding and poking and asking. And, you know, I remember thinking, “wow, this is one of those serious situations you read about.” And I always wondered how I would handle a crisis. And you know what? I’m funny! I was joking left and right. I was on fire! When in a crisis, I make jokes! Good to know.
At one point, I’m getting a little perturbed because all of these nurses and doctors aren’t appreciating just how “on” I am! So, I finally say “you know, this is some of my best stuff!” The doctor simply looked at me and said “Mr. Bauer, we’re trying to save your life.” “Oh, well then, proceed.” I mean, if it’s that important to you!
To be continued…