A free verse poem giving an account of my life-threatening GI bleed.
|The day started fine.
My beloved wife Linda and I
did our two-mile exercise tape,
with my using five-pound weights
for the arm exercises. All good.
We ate lunch at noontime,
then settled in to watch golf
on TV and nap. Everything normal;
no indication of the harrowing
At 2 PM the first signs of trouble
showed up. Walking from the sofa
to the bathroom, I became dizzy
and needed help from Linda.
But, back seated on the sofa,
I felt good and clear-headed.
On another potty run at 5 PM,
I again became disoriented
and fell to the floor. Not fine!
With Linda’s help, the mission
was completed and I was resettled
on the sofa. I felt fine, mentally
alert, in no pain, sensed no
immediate danger ahead.
Comes 9 PM, and I feel faint
upon trying to rise from the sofa.
Soon Death will be stalking me!
My wife gets my rolling office chair
for me to sit upon. I black out,
eyes rolling upwards, start seizing …
blood issues forth from my mouth
soaking my shirt. I regain awareness
to hear Linda’s terror-filled voice
frantically calling my name while sobbing
and begging the 911 person to hurry.
Twice more I throw up copious amounts
of blood. So much blood!
I realize I am now teetering on the edge
of a crumbling cliff, facing falling
headlong downwards into the abyss
of darkness. My angels arrive not
on gossamer wings but as EMTs
in an ambulance with brightly flashing
lights and loud motors revving.
The EMTs swarm over me as a fourth
round of bright-red blood pours forth
from my mouth. Onto the gurney,
into the ambulance, where an EMT
on each side of me attempts time
after time unsuccessfully to find a vein
with a needle for an IV saline bag.
I awake to hear, “BP 60 over 40.”
I ask, “What is critical?”
The reply is, “You’re there!”
The thought ‘I may never see my Linda
again’ fills my mind. A deep sadness
Finally, with success in starting an IV
port and saline infusion, the ambulance
hurtles toward the nearby hospital ER
only blocks away. The rough jostling
of the gurney surprises me. I hear
the sirens howling as we negotiate
through heavy traffic.
The gurney is lowered from the back
of the ambulance. I’m rushed inside
to waiting ER nurses. Soon Linda
arrives by my side. I am quickly infused
with saline and three units of blood.
I’m in and out of consciousness.
At 2 AM I become stable enough
for the covering gastroenterologist
to stem the flow of blood by banding
the esophageal varices that had ruptured.
After four days in ICU, where I received
my fourth unit of blood, and three days
in a regular hospital room, I was discharged
this morning. I am alive and making
satisfactory progress in my recovery
from my near-fatal GI bleed.
The experience was a collage of memories.
Prominent among them was having nothing
by mouth for thirty-six hours, followed by
a liquids-only diet for three additional days,
during which they actually fed me gruel daily.
Gruel! I had thought gruel was something
paupers ate during medieval times.
I was so excited … nay, joyful when they
moved me up to a semi-solid soft diet.
Some say that after experiencing
a close call with Death, it makes you
appreciate life more. You no longer
take things for granted. You pay
more attention to the beauty of Nature,
to the importance of family and friends
I hope it will be thus with me. I know
I won’t take each new day for granted
but will realize what a blessing each day
I am given henceforth truly is.
And I shall treasure my Linda
and cherish every future day we get
to spend loving one another.
(This poem is dedicated to the EMTs, hospital nurses and doctors who played a role in saving my life.)