Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 7:30PM
Two years ago today, I spent my first full day at Good Samaritan Hospital and met my first doctors. The first wasn't that impressive, but the second was. Let's just focus on the positive and talk about my second doctor. Dr. Hector Ramos. He would be my first surgeon, but he didn't know it two years ago today. Two years ago today, Ramos was a stranger to me and I was just a strange case to him -- a seemingly healthy 28-year old with no sign of blockage but a backed up GI system and a belly full of fluid. "When I heard about you, I had to see for myself." This was one of the first things he told me as he warmly shook my hand. I proudly displayed my bulging belly to him, slowly gaining confidence in my mystery status. If I'm going to vex all my doctors and puke all over the place, at least I should have some kind of strange pride in my ability to endure it all. Ramos pushed and knocked around my belly, not noticing anything out of whack except for its size. He listened to my bowel sounds with a stethoscope to my gut. Or to put it more aptly, he listened to my lack of bowel sounds. After he was finished examining my belly, he looked me dead in the eye. "I want you off food and off Dilaudid for the next 24 hours. You're going to hate me, but it needs to be done. We'll get closer to some answers by tomorrow." My first doctor, the not impressive one, was beyond puzzled by my case but had started me on a diet of clear liquids and continued my doses of Dilaudid (Ramos told me that the sinfully delicious painkiller was called "Heavenly D" on the streets). Ramos knew that Heavenly D would only stall the function of my GI system even more, and that adding liquid to my already liquid-filled gut just didn't seem like a good idea. I gave Ramos one of those high fives that turns into a handshake and told him that I'd go off the food and the drugs without a problem. "I got this," I said, as I slapped him on the shoulder. Ramos was short, fiery, smart, and Latino. I felt a kinship with him immediately. Even during that first 20 minute exchange, I already felt like we were buddies, going at this mystery illness together. It made me feel safe. Even though he didn't have all the answers, I never doubted that Ramos would find them out. Two years ago today, I embarked on a physical challenge that promised to be excruciating. Two years ago today, I dove headlong into my doctor's orders, wanting more than anything to find a resolution. Two years ago today, I was unafraid. But I had no idea what was in store for me. Tune in tomorrow for more. I'll be writing "Two Years Ago Today" until my cancer anniversary, a day that I was not expected to live to see, September 19th, 2012.