Santaluces High School

The Tribe

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  • Graduation: 05/14
  • No School: 05/27
  • End of 4th Quarter: 05/30
Santaluces High School

The Tribe

Santaluces High School

The Tribe

“Live Everyday As If It Were Your Last”

A picture of me at Chuck E. Cheese moments before the worst.

Muhammad Ali once said, “Live every day as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” The quote is used by people as a reminder to enjoy each day because one day you will no longer be able to create memories to look back on.

My aunt invited me to my little cousin’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. My grandma picked me up and had loads of candy for me to eat on the way. I was telling her about my classes, teachers, and friends but little did I know all of these things were at risk of being stripped away from me.

I ran in and the wristlet was put on my arm, I looked back at my grandma, who nodded her head as a way of saying “yes” for me to play. My cousins and I began running around and getting on rides. After five or six rides, we were called over to sing happy birthday to my little cousin, who looked happier than ever to eat cake and celebrate with Chucky. After eating, I began feeling nauseous due to a slight pain in my lower abdomen. I attempted to ignore this feeling because I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s night or cause my grandma to leave early. While in immense pain, I was still putting a big smile on my face and getting on rides. The last ride swung up and down making the pain unbearable and after leaving it, I could barely walk. I told everyone that I wasn’t feeling well and decided to sit down for a second. I had no choice but to lay my head on the table and hold my abdomen because it felt like I was being cut from the inside out.

I arrived home and changed into my pajamas. The bubblegum-pink medicine poured into my mouth and flowed down my esophagus. I then fell asleep, gripping my abdomen with tears yet again. I could only hope that the medicine would be the key to my life becoming normal again.

Day 1: I couldn’t eat, sleep, or drink anything. I began to notice that I could no longer lay on my right side, it felt like an electric eel was sliding through the bottom of my abdomen, causing the pain to electrify every second.

Day 2: I couldn’t go outside and play with my friends nor could I spend time with my family. This day is when I began vomiting all over my house, yet another symptom of my “upset stomach.”

Day 3: My parents finally had enough. I begged and begged to stay home that night but I was told no. My parents informed me that they were going to take me to Bethesda Hospital. On the way, my tears were flowing like a waterfall, they had stained my shirt and the blanket that my mother had wrapped around me.

Once we arrived at the hospital, my parents stated everything that had been going on over the last few days and I was taken back into a small space with a yellow curtain. The nurse performed an ultrasound on me, I remember the purple fluid being as purple as lavender and as cold as ice. She began circling the device around my abdomen and her face dropped. She quickly put away the device and wiped the purple fluid off. After, she exited out of the curtain and I could see nurses running back and forth on the other side like madmen. I wasn’t nervous until my parents were escorted in front of the curtain and I heard the words “emergency surgery.”

Before I knew it, I was rushed into surgery to receive an appendectomy surgery, surgical removal of an appendix that has/will rupture and result in the spreading of infected fluids. A clear mask was put on my face and the anesthesia began to enter my body.

I woke up in a room with a window, bed, couch, television, bathroom, and a pretty lengthy hallway on the far right side that led to an exit door. All I could hear was the recurring beeping noises that were coming from the various machines that were connected to the wires flowing through me and the droplets of fluid being caught by a singular plastic pouch. Little did I know that this room would become my cage for the dreary weeks to come.

By the end of week one,  I was told by the doctor that staying home another night would have resulted in my parents waking up to a deceased child. During this week, tubes were inserted inside and outside of my esophagus that flowed down to my abdomen in an attempt to eliminate contaminated fluids. I began consuming fluids through an IV since I couldn’t consume solids, I took medicine every few hours and had an emergency appendectomy surgery.

Around week two or three, I learned how to walk without having to hold my abdomen or wince in pain. The nurses announced that I would be able to walk down the hall and play in the playroom with other children who were also staying in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or pediatrics unit. Once I was cleared, I rushed down to the playroom, where I met a boy who had brown skin, light eyes, and dark hair. We became friends and played with toys for hours on end.

My days of despair had started to brighten: I made a friend and started receiving letters and visits from my classmates and teachers. Everything was going great until the doctor stated that the tube method was failing to collect a sufficient amount of fluid. He suggested another surgery that would form incisions in the left and right side of my abdomen, at each side a pouch would be attached to a tube. The tubes would be used to draw out fluid and the pouches would be used to collect it. I pulled through the surgery and became immobile yet again. When I was cleared to go to the playroom, my friend was no longer there and I never saw him again.

Around week four or five, the doctor announced another surgery, he said this final surgery would remove the pouches once and for all. By this time, all of the machines were no longer attached to me. I had no more pain in my abdomen and I was finally cleared to eat solid foods. The same night that I was cleared by the doctors to consume solids, my dad left the hospital and came back with two boxes of Picasso’s cheese pizza and honey barbecue wings. I remember a majority of the hospital staff rejoicing at me stuffing my face with grease dripping down my chin.

Week six finally came when my parents signed me out and I was wheeled out to my mom, who pulled the car to the front of the hospital. I still remember the tires screeching and the wind blowing in my face as we rode to Bud’s Chicken & Seafood. We got enough chicken, fries, potato salad, coleslaw, and shrimp to feed an entire village.

It has been eight years since I was released from the hospital and the scar from the surgery remains implanted on the right side of my lower abdomen. To some, it may seem like a constant reminder of the pain and suffering I went through, but to me, it only motivates me to become a level four Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse to help infants who are critically hospitalized like I was.

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    Patricia FelixOct 7, 2023 at 8:52 PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience and choosing to help others because of it