If Only ... This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   I am a strong, healthy 18-year-old with an active lifestyle. I am athletic andparticipate in high-school basketball and golf. In my free time, I lift weights.Last summer, I worked two jobs and played summer basketball. I rarely experienceillness or any kind of health problems, but last July things changed.

Iwent to see the doctor and listed my symptoms: stomach pain, back pain, aheadache, high fever and a loss of appetite. I hadn't been sick for years, and mydoctor said it was merely a viral infection and gave me some medication for myappetite. This reassured me that it was nothing serious and would go away in afew days.

For the next three days I was able to eat, but the othersymptoms persisted. My temperature was still 104 degrees, the highest I'd everhad. When the medicine ran out, I wanted a second opinion so I went to adifferent doctor in the same practice. That doctor decided to do some blood workand then told me I had tested positive for mono. This reassured me that I wasgoing to be fine, although I still wondered about the stomach and back pains,since they were not normal symptoms of mono.

For the next four days thesymptoms continued to worsen. I decided the pain was too much and called thedoctor again. I expressed my concerns and he prescribed a week's worth ofprednisone, a steroid. This didn't help. My stomach felt like it was going toburst and my back was always sore. Two weeks after my first appointment the painin my back was killing me. I began to wonder what was really wrong.

Twodays later I was unable to go to work because of the constant pain in my stomach.Later that night I called the emergency room and spoke to the doctor. I couldn'ttake the continuous pain anymore and believed that something was seriously wrong.The doctor on duty told my mom to bring me in the next morning.

The nextday, the doctor did more blood work and again told me I had mono. Leaving withstill more pills, this time for my stomach, it was my firm belief that somethingwas really wrong.

In the middle of the night my pain became unbearable, asthough a thousand needles were constantly poking at my stomach. I yelled for mymom and told her there was no way I would make it through the night. It was theworst pain I have ever felt, and I was really scared.

After anever-ending, torturously bumpy ride, I managed to stumble into the emergencyroom. Every movement was more painful than the last. The nurse got me onto a bed.I was so dehydrated she couldn't find a vein to take blood. They immediatelystarted running tests, put in an IV, and took me for x-rays. At this pointwalking was too difficult and I was moved in a wheelchair. After ten milligramsof Demerol I was out, but not for long.

I am still not sure what woke me,the nurse touching my arm or the sharp pain in my stomach. The nurse shot anotherdose of Demerol into me after taking more blood. At 9 a.m., the surgeon came inwith the doctor and they explained that the x-rays and the blood work didn'tpoint to a specific diagnosis. Exploratory surgery would be necessary, but theywanted to watch me for a few more hours.

At 3 p.m., although the surgeonwas ready, the doctor called off the surgery and I was referred to an internalmedicine specialist at a regional health center. Every bump we hit on the way wasten times more painful than the last.

This doctor came at 5 p.m. andsaid I would likely need surgery. At 6:30 p.m. I went under the knife for thefirst time, and I have never been more scared. It was only later that I learnedhow crucial the timing was: my appendix had ruptured days before and at anymoment my internal organs could have failed from the released poison, most likelycausing death.

I spent two days in the intensive care unit, and the littleI remember is hazy. After six days in the hospital, I still was not improving andthe doctor told me I had peritonitis, which means all my internal organs wereinfected. More surgery was necessary. I hadn't looked at my incision yet, andwhen I finally got the courage, I was horrified by the three-inch hole in mystomach.

I went in for this second surgery feeling calm. I trusted thedoctor with my life. Afterward I didn't stay drugged up long and I felt a greatsense of relief.

On day nine in the hospital I began to receive visitors.Everyone looked at me as if I were an alien. I had eight IV tubes connected andan assortment of gadgets attached to two IV poles, combined with aheart/respirator monitor, oxygen tubing, and many other tubes. I reallyappreciated the company, but I hated seeing my healthy friends. For the nextthree days I lay there feeling sorry for myself. It was pathetic.

Duringthe last four days in the hospital I was determined to get out. Those daysconsisted of constant walking, breathing treatments and my being weaned off themorphine drip. After 16 days, I was finally released (30 pounds lighter, I mightadd) with stockpiles of medicine. I was unable to lift anything over 20 poundsand I'd been advised that my strength would be slow to return as my body had beentraumatized. It would be several months before I was back up to my normalstrength and energy levels.

For two months, I was unable to work or do anyphysical activities. I still can't help but think that this whole ordeal couldhave been avoided. If only the doctor had done a few more tests, this would havebeen minor surgery. I would still be able to play basketball and golf. I couldhave even been on the football team. Two major surgeries later, all I can do iswonder what might have been.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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