Lesson Learned- A Memoir

How I ended up there, I don’t remember exactly; it’s a blur of events—a mixed-up jumble of vaguely remembered hallways, conversations, faces. What I do remember, however, is waking up, snapping out of that nice dreamland known as anesthesia. I remember stirring just slightly; opening my eyelids just enough to let a small ray of light hit my drowsy eyes. I remember seeing people with masks rushing around; I heard them yell, “Someone restrain her! Give her more anesthesia!” That’s all that had time to register with my brain before I was back under—returning to that mystical dreamland.

When you are little, Christmas lists are long and filled with trivial items such as toys, books, games. But now that I’m older, my lists tend to be filled with more meaningful things. This past Christmas, all I wanted was for my Dad to be off of work. You see, my Dad works three different jobs to support the 5 of us, and sometimes his work schedule doesn’t allow him to be around for the important events. This year, Christmas was one of them. And it wasn’t fair.

When I first found out that he had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I was upset. I cried. I might have even thrown a temper tantrum. This man that has always worked hard to give his daughters the best life possible, who has always put up with ridiculous hours, who has always picked up the slack at work, who has missed many important events in my life since I was 4, now had to work on Christmas. And it wasn’t fair.

So, when it was time to start writing Christmas lists, the one item on mine was that Daddy could be home for Christmas. At the time, it seemed impossible. There was no way anybody would willingly volunteer to work for him on Christmas. Everybody he works with has families of their own.

It seems as though the person in charge of handing out unusual Christmas gifts has a sense of humor, because I got my wish—in one of the worse ways possible.

Do you ever have that feeling of impending doom, or that something bad is going to happen? On Friday, December 23, 2011, that’s how I felt. It started out as a normal day, except for that nagging feeling in the back of my mind, warning me to be on my toes. On the surface, nothing was unusual; however, deep inside me, all hell was about to break loose. My body was fighting an infection that it would take people in white coats, cutting me open, to get rid of.

So here I was, lying in a hospital bed, the day before Christmas Eve, too drugged to even realize the humor in the situation. The needles in my hands pumped the morphine dripping from the IV bags into my body. My hands were bruised from the failed attempts at inserting the needle into my tiny blood vessels.

I remember test after test trying to determine the cause of the excruciating pain in my abdomen. I remember doctor after doctor coming in and pushing on my abdomen. I remember sounds coming out of the doctors’ mouths that sounded like gibberish to my “high-on-morphine” brain. One word, however, reached my ears with a clarity that terrified me—appendicitis.

The rest is a blur. I was too drugged up on morphine to remember events clearly.  I heard a doctor say, “The surgery is tomorrow morning at 7:30.” I saw elevators and lights. I remember waking up with tears pouring down my face as electrolytes were pumped through my body, burning their way through my skin as they entered my bloodstream. I remember people with white-colored coats talking to my dad about what was ahead. I remember being wheeled away from him as they took me, terrified, into the unknown. I remember waking up as they were yanking the tube out of my throat, and hearing someone yell, “Someone restrain her! Give her more anesthesia!”

How I ended up there, I don’t remember exactly. What I don’t remember is the nurse telling me about my surgery, asking me questions, having a conversation with me, because I asked the same questions a while later. What I don’t remember is the in-betweens, the small details that people may ask you about.

I do remember that I left that hospital on Christmas Eve. I was home for Christmas and so was my Dad.

Lying in my makeshift bed on the couch that night, I found myself laughing, even though it hurt, at the humor of the situation. I asked for something that seemed impossible, and I got what I wished for in the most unconventional way possible. I learned a very important lesson last Christmas, and I hope I never have to learn it again:

Be careful what you wish for, because it may come back to bite you in the butt.

Dear 5 Year Old Me*

Don’t let anybody tell you to color inside the lines, because nothing’s perfect–no matter how hard something may try to be.

Keep eating the paste that everybody tells you not to eat in Kindergarten. For one day you’ll taste the words of cruelty and hate that people are ready to dish out on a hot platter. They are ready to serve you the leftovers that somebody fed them.

Rock that Superhero cape, because one day, you’ll realize that you can’t save everybody on your own. There’s just too much hurt in this big world for one person to heal.

When you fall down and scrape you knee, put a band-aid on it. Some day, a band-aid won’t be big enough to cover the pain.

When someone makes you cry, run and tell Daddy; because when you’re 5, he can fix everything. Someday, he won’t be able to fix everything, though he’ll certainly try.

Keep thinking that boys have cooties, because broken hearts are hard to heal.

Keep making up rules when playing games. One day, you’ll realize you don’t always get your way, and sometimes the odds are NOT in your favor.

Don’t be scared of the monster under your bed; for one day you’ll realize that the monster is inside you, trying to tear you down.

Don’t be afraid to climb that tree, dive off that board, try something new. You’ll look back someday and regret the chances you never took.

Cherish the moments you have, because life goes by way too fast to sit back and watch it fly by.

Lessons are always learned.

Being “cool” does not exist. It’s just something people make up to make you feel inferior.

There is no such thing as eating too much candy–unless you get a stomachache.

If duct tape, superglue, or WD-40 can’t fix it, it’s useless.

You’re never too old to have a Teddy Bear, especially when you need a friend who cares.

The storm must come before the rainbow.

Everything you need to know to live life fully, you learn in Kindergarten.

You are more than what people tell you that you are. Trust me, I know.


A 17 year old you.

P.S. You think you want to grow up now, but you don’t. When you grow up, there’s too much work and not enough time to play.

*Originally this was a Spoken Word Poem I wrote entitled, “Letter To My 5 Year Old Self.”
This song has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it is my favorite at the moment, so here you go!