DECEMBER 20, 2019
UNREAL, but alive. Have you ever been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance from the tarmac of an airport?! That’s how I got here to the emergency room, where I’ve now been for ten hours as a result of… severe internal bleeding. Just when I thought, sensed, felt and even expressed that real healing was finally commencing, here is yet another unexpected wrench in this treacherous, unrelenting, truly unbelievable recovery journey. Last night, I dared to do something I’d longed for since my accident in early September — begin the journey east to close out the year meaningfully and spend the holidays with my beloved family. But while in the lounge at SFO awaiting the red eye flight, I began to feel faint, then extraordinarily dizzy, as abdomen pain increased. I raced to the bathroom and was shocked by the excessive bleeding and intense discomfort — which didn’t immediately appear to be related to my head and brain trauma, yet also seemed impossible not to be linked.
The lounge staff, who I know well from my former frequent flyer life, became alarmed by my weak state, loss of color and hunched walk, having clearly deteriorated from when I was wheeled in only minutes earlier. I assured them I was fine, reiterating that I was starting to see more consistent progress in a positive direction health-wise, just a bit light-headed, sadly my new norm. Still, they summoned a police officer who, after sharing his own stories of eye trauma and a jet ski accident, insisted I allow myself to be seen by the airport medic team. I was reticent, though felt my body slipping further down the chair, belly expanding visibly and acute pain compounding, and thus accepted an onsite exam. The medics checked my vitals and asked countless questions about both my accident and new symptoms, before calling the ambulance, whose team all but mandated I be taken to the closest hospital. I rang my mother, who had dropped me at the airport only an hour prior and was now back in Marin, to explain my situation with all of the composure I could possibly muster. She suggested going to UCSF, as I have been seen in that medical system during recovery, and the San Mateo-based team got special dispensation to transfer me to San Francisco.
As my pain rose, so too did my concern over the severity of whatever mysterious occurrence was decimating my already-compromised body. I apparently went white and my limbs grew numb prior to being strapped to the gurney with my purse and rollerboard suitcase — my duffel of winter warmies and box of Christmas gifts long gone aboard the plane that had already taken off. “You’re about to see the real workings of SFO. You may want to take a photo of this,” the EMTs prefaced our bumpy journey through the airport tunnels that eventually led me feet-first onto the tarmac itself, rolling by the wheels of 747 jets en route toward the mass of brightly-flashing widely-reflected red lights that was the ambulance — when I did indeed snap this one blurry photograph.
This moment feels surreal. This life feels surreal. This hospital feels surreal. I wept in the arms of nurses, have never screamed so loudly or forcefully in my life, joined to sing Christmas carols in Spanish throughout the halls, underwent examinations I didn’t think I would face for decades yet, and am now lying in a tiny bed next to my sleeping mother (whose presence here merits its own story, which I may or may not share one day) while awaiting the results of my second full blood panel, after tests, exams and conversations with doctors and nurses and physicians and residents and technicians and even the senior janitor. How did I end up with such serious gastrointestinal bleeding? According to doctors (and please don’t ask me the nuanced specifics; I am no medical professional, merely one who listens and tries to accept the findings of those with far more expertise than I): because of the dramatic change in the staples, density and texture of the foods that make up my post-accident diet, mandated by my broken jaw, fractured teeth and dental complications. Try to wrap your head around that one, while my 28-year-old self prepares for her first colonoscopy. I’m sad and tired and just want a break. Nothing in my life has gone according to plan since September 6, 2019 — not one single thing. I could not script this if I tried, nor would I wish it on my worst enemy, and at moments like this, I fail to find any deeper meaning, reason why or purpose in the horrors.