By Ryan Wilson
May 8, 2021
Life is no guarantee.
When your life comes into question, you begin to appreciate the little things: From colors and food, to kindness, air and humanity. It’s all part of the life we were given.
I have been hospitalized for nearly three weeks now. I am recovering quickly.
Interestingly, it took 2 hours to correct my two broken bones in surgery. It took two days for surgeons to remove the breathing tube from my throat.
I have scoliosis. It causes the curvature of the spine, and it affects my airways (throat). Doctors have long feared operating on me. My back has curved more with age, and my childhood doctor, who operated on me many times before I turned 21, blatantly said a breathing tube could now sever my spinal cord in my next surgery. In other words, the breathing tube could kill me.
This was on my mind and my parents’ minds as I headed to surgery a couple weeks ago: Will I survive? Do I need a Will or Power of Attorney at age 25? I don’t know. I broke two bones, and the uncertainty about my future came into the present. To top it off, I was transferred to a hospital I had never been to. We did not know how familiar they were with my disability — Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) — spine and airways. OI is a brittle bone disease often coupled with scoliosis.
I met with a number of surgeons and anesthesiologists about my neck, and the implications of my surgery. We took X-rays of my throat, and a surgeon shined a light down my windpipe before surgery. It all looked better than expected.
Yet, all of our discoveries did not solve all of our problems. Surgeons tried five different times to place a breathing tube down my throat. My throat began to swell up; I struggled to breath independently.
I was deemed to be in a “critical” condition, and I was wheeled to the ICU. As I moved from one unit to the other, I was surviving via an oxygen mask that a person manually squeezed air into.
Eventually, I came to, and I started breathing on my own.
My parents saw all of this before their eyes. Understandably, they were terrified. When I awoke and learned the details of the operation, I was terrified.
This is an experience my family and I will remember for our entire lives. We now have a deep, meaningful appreciation for all life gives us.