A continuation of my faith journey with Crohns disease.
The second time Crohns almost killed me…
Before we got married I was working as an actor… which means we were broke. After we were married, I began working in television, which means we were nearly broke. Both meant we didn’t have health insurance. Dr. Boyd was my gastroenterologist at the time. For the first five years he treated me, during my broke and uninsured phase of my life, he never once charged me for his services.
I remember saying “look, I’ll pay you something, just let me know.” He looked at me and with his southern-gentleman drawl said “Pete, don’t worry about it. I don’t make money off of patients like you. I’ll let you know when you can start paying.” It was only years later, when I finally got a job with insurance, that I was able to convince him to accept payment. He was an amazing man and an even greater doctor.
He’s the only doctor I’ve ever met that was never late for an appointment. Actually, that’s not true. Once I had an appointment with him at 2:00 p.m. He entered the examining room at 2:03 p.m. and apologized profusely. I said “I don’t know if you know this, but you’re a doctor! Do you know what that means?” But, he felt my time was as valuable as his. More doctors should hold that opinion.
In any event, as my intestinal scarring continued to grow and as I neared the five year anniversary of my first major attack, just like clockwork, it appeared as though I would need intestinal surgery. At the time I was working for a national cable network in Orlando. I had been married for almost two years and my wife and I were blessed with a 1 & 1/2 yr old daughter. My work hours had become unbearable, working 12-18 hours a day, six days a week for three months.
On one of my rare days I didn’t have to work I was sitting in the living room with my wife and daughter. At one point, my wife tells my daughter to “go see Daddy” and my daughter walked passed me and over to the phone. She didn’t even recognize me as her father. It was at that point that I knew something had to change. Either I could continue to pursue my life-long dream of working in the entertainment industry, or I could be a responsible father and husband. I chose the latter.
We decided to move from Orlando back to the Tampa Bay area. Knowing I didn’t have insurance, Dr. Boyd informed me to go to the emergency room where he’d admit me. I should have known that things weren’t going to go well, as there were numerous signs, all of which I blissfully ignored.
For example, my wife and I moved out of Orlando… on Friday, the 13th of January. We were moving to Tampa Bay where I was to take a position at local television station… Channel 13. While I recovered from the surgery, we were going to live with her parents for a short time, so we stored our belongings in a storage facility… we were assigned Unit #13.
So, I go to the emergency room, get admitted into the hospital and after some arguing between my gastroenterologist and the surgeon, they agree to give me the surgery.
Do you know how they find Crohns scarring in your intestines during a resection? Well, they take those internal organs that are in the way and throw ‘em on your chest. They then take your intestines, pinch it through their fingers, and squeeze it through the length of your intestinal tract. They can feel the scar tissue inside, so they pick the beginning, the end, snip, sew, done. Like a cowboy at a colonic rodeo.
After the surgery they wheeled me up to my room and gave my a self-limiting self-medicating morphine button, a device to blow into to keep my lungs from developing pneumonia and a bunch of ice to chew. It was during the recovery where things started to go terribly wrong…
To be continued…