At least according to logic and science.
I was seventeen. I had spent the weekend at my best friends house, the Carlson's. On Sunday I began to feel ill. I had a mild fever and as such, sat on the couch watching TV. The Carlson's agreed to let me stay until I felt better. On Monday I noticed I hadn't had a bowel movement in a day or two. Being the good natured, hopeful teenager that I was, I didn't worry about it.
Tuesday came and went. I continued to be immobile on the Carlson's couch, watching tv. Symptoms were getting worse. Still no bowel movement. On Wednesday, the Carlson's and my mom made the switch and I went home. I was getting worse. I had never been this ill in my life. I continued with my original assumption that I just had a severe stomach flu of some sort.
Then Thursday came. I knew that this had gone on too long and I was continuing to get worse. 5 days of getting more sick. In the morning I told my mom, "Something is really wrong, this can't be just a flu."
We went to the hospital and were given the typical emergency room run-around. At the end of the day the doctor confirmed. I had a serious flu and there was nothing that could be done. We went home, trusting the "educated."
I can't explain the misery of my illness at this point. This was like a superflu times ten. Over 24 hours later on Friday night I took a turn for the worse. I lay in my bed for hours, wracked with pain. Pain unlike anything I have experienced even since. I was on fire. If hell is real, I am pretty sure I know exactly what it feels like. Waves of fire were consuming my entire body. Meanwhile in my head the emergency room Doc kept saying "you just have a severe flu, you'll be fine." So I lay there and dealt with the pain. I finally fell asleep at about 4 am Saturday morning.
When I woke on Saturday, I felt a bit better. I thought that maybe I had come over the hump and that was it! Boy was I wrong. That night I was again visited by the demon of hellfire. And again, after hours of pain, I fell asleep in the midst of it.
Sunday. It had been seven days. The last two nights were filled with indescribable pain. I knew. This was NOT the flu. I had no doubt in my mind that the Doctor was wrong. I told my mom, and we went back.
This emergency room experience went a bit differently. This doctor poked and prodded and asked all the right questions. He kept poking his hand in my abdomen and body cavity and asking, "Does this hurt?" I would answer with my pain reflex of pulling away. About the tenth time I said, "It hurts everywhere! If you touch me again I am going to kill you!" So he sent for the senior surgeon on staff.
Half an hour later in came this wonderful older man who was so much gentler and understanding of my situation. He grabbed my bed and rolled me to the MRI room. On the way he had me drink this really nasty chalk substance. He told me we had to wait for the fluid to go through my intestines and then we would do the MRI. After about a half an hour we did it. The results showed that the fluid was throughout my entire body cavity.
The doctor explained that based on my story of the fire-pain I had experienced two nights in a row, my appendix had exploded two days before, and he couldn't believe I was still alive and he was afraid I may not make it to surgery which was scheduled an hour away. I was stunned. Even the doctor seemed flabbergasted. He kept saying over and over, "you shouldn't be here right now, we have to get you into surgery now, you could die any minute!" He explained that I had peritonitis, which is an infection throughout the entire body cavity. He also explained that most don't live more than a few hours let alone a day, or two! I could tell he was on edge. He was pacing, he was mumbling, he kept looking at me with fear in his eyes, and then a nurse came in and told us the room was ready. He rushed me in and got me anesthesia instantly and I was out within five minutes.
When I awoke I had a seven inch hole in my stomach that had been stitched back up except for a one inch tube that was draining any fluid that remained in my body cavity. I was in the hospital for month after that. During that time, the doctor would occasionally come in and say "I can't believe you are here." I could tell that he had been seriously rattled by what had happened, and he was battling with something in his own mind.
I knew what it was. He had witnessed a real miracle. His entire education and experience told him that I should be dead. There should be no way that I lived with a full body cavity infection that long. Yet there I was, and he would look in occasionally to make sure that it was real and he wasn't dreaming.
I believe that all of us have had an experience like this, at least to a degree. A sign that tells us that we are not in control and that life and death are beyond our understanding. And we do all that we can to fight it off. We try so hard to forget the magic of being alive. The miracle of existence.
I had to remind myself of this story. It would seem like one would never forget something so powerful, and yet I did. When I remembered the other day, I sat for a moment in shock. That was nearly half my life ago. I remember now. I have a purpose and a reason for being. I don't necessarily know what it is, but I know that it is there and I will fulfill it. And so will you.
Remember the magic.