So here I am, almost one year to the day from my operation. Honestly, I don’t think the operation itself had as much an effect as this anniversary does.
*Flashback to anyday prior to September of 2005*
Started day out the same. Woke up, refused to look in mirror, scraped dead skin from inside cheek,brushed teeth, got a dip, took shower, still refused to look in mirror…. and so on. Stop in at Wal Mart on my drive into work, buy a paper, something to drink, a can of Skoal Spearmint…… Nothing unusual, just a normal day in my life.
*Flashback to December 9, 2005*
Ceiling is off white. Kinda dark. I feel weird. I suppose it’s pain. There are people in here. I sense them. I tell them something, but I can’t hear my words. Room fades to total darkness.
*December 10, 2005*
Eyes open. It’s down right hot in here. I’m burning up. Hard to twist my head for some reason. I hear voices. I see them appear as I move some. Looking down on me. The pity in the faces. The nurse hands me “the button”. It’s for pain. I hate “the button”. Sleep falls again. TV wakes me later. More people in here. There’s the doc. “Hi doc.” I know I said it, yet again, heard nothing. Wait, what the heck is wrong with my neck and throat? I feel tightness around it. I hate having anything around my throat. I despise ties. Yet now something was gripping my neck firmly. I reach for it and find a large tube coming from the front of my throat. Man, it’s hot in here.
Those were my first few days after my operation. I begin to remember stuff after a few days. Going into prep. Being consoled. Joking with the nurses. Then the room started to fade and my journey began. I later remembered the feeding tube they placed in me. Once I could talk, I asked about it. They said I wasn’t lying when I said I had bad gag reflexes. The feeding tube came out while in ICU as soon as I was able to give it back to them.
The following 2 weeks were miserable. I would send everyone home at night. Complete isolation.Then I wouldn’t be able to sleep. It was hot EVERY night despite having the temp in room set real low. The breathing treatments were actually not terrible. At times.Not eating at all was weird. As was not talking. Though after the first week and a half, I was able to squeeze out a few words if I worked it the right way.
Finally got go home. Ahh. **Later that night** Crap, my neck is bleeding. Must control panic. It’s bleeding inside and out. Going into my lungs!! This is the same feeling as drowning! MUST CONTROL PANIC!! When you have a trech in your throat and it starts bleeding, if you hold your head just right, you might be able to stop the bleeding. Anyhow, an hour drive to hospital, another 5 hours sitting around there. They send me home after it bleeds no more and they know it’s all out of my lungs. Next day, the doctor on call sees I can breath on my own and removes the trech. Wow, what a weird feeling, having a gaping hole in my neck.
I could go on about the many varied ups and downs of this operation. But I won’t. Many have read my story on my website. Some things will never go on that site. Some things will only be mentioned here, in this post. No one I knew could relate to me. No one could relate to what happened. No one could relate to a “quit”. I knew there were others who needed and even wanted to quit. I made up my mind before the operation to help those. And even to help those that didn’t know they wanted my help. Whether they liked it or not.
I have come across some who scoffed at my warnings. One was a beautiful young lady. She figured she was gonna die anyway, why bother about how.Another was a man I thought would rip my head off. His friend listened to me though. All types of people. Good, it makes it interesting and challenging.
Though I was well into my dip before I found the quit forums, I still lacked something. Understanding. Once I stumbled across QS, I found some of that. I seen the varied stories, all with a common thread. Support. We all came to these sites in the name of support. At first it was to seek it. Later we began to give it. I still feel the pangs of the loneliness that I had at the hospital. Yet I can come in here and find solace. I would be remiss to try and name all those that have helped me. And many will never know they helped me. Sometimes we dole out support without even knowing it. It might have been a funny post on a bad day. That happened today. It might have been someone’s HOF speech that touched my soul. It may even had been reading as someone reached out to a new quitter. But you all have helped with my continuing recovery.
To anyone who wants to know. I wake everyday with the knowledge that I am clean of nicotine. I also wake everyday to the pain of what nicotine has done to me. Life will never be the same for me this one year after my surgery. Yet I refuse to let it pass quietly by. To my brothers and sisters in quit, I love each of you. Please keep the quit and help all who seek it.
God bless and much love,
Curtis aka ODT