I spent more then a week sleeping, miraculously I woke up, “I wished I wouldn’t”. I remember my sister, her husband and a couple of other people around me. I do recall how I reacted when I come back to life and realized my terrible situation. I tried to move, I couldn’t, I tried to get out the bed, I couldn’t, and when I tried to speak and ask what was happening to me, I couldn’t do that either; all the flame and mucous were out of my mouth, disgusting! I know, but that’s what happened. I tried to raise my arms and clean it, but every effort was helpless. I started crying but couldn’t cry out loud, so just the moaning and big, ugly gestures were showing. I was so devastated! I felt like my life slip away and turn into a living vegetable. I couldn’t look straight, my neck was all mess up, twisted like when a chicken gets killed by grabbing it from the head and spin it around. I wasn’t able to stay lied down on my back because every bone of my body hurt. I had to be only in my right side, and my head was in the opposite direction. My only way to communicate with them and answer back and forth any questions was by blinking my eyes………
It was over a week already, time to remove the stitches off my belly. I was all happy, actually, I was beginning to eat and swallow, not too much and hard food, either. For instance, any meats, beans or tortillas, which was one of my favorite things to eat, my stomach wasn’t strong enough to handle it yet. I was improving and that was what mattered to me. In those days I started to get off the bed and walked a little bit, I was hoping to heal soon and get out of there. Time kept running, and I’m getting better and better every day. I was in fact scheduled to go home, yes, you heard me right, go home! It was Thursday, July third, a day before the Independence day, a doctor came to me to do his regular check ups. He said, “Mr. Ramirez, because you’re doing so good, there’s no reason to keep you here any longer, you’re going home Monday”, July seventh. I was immensely happy to hear that, I could’t believe it. My gladness was letting the emotions showing up, and my eyes started watering and dripping tears down my cheeks, but this time of happiness, a giant smile was drawn in my face. I have to do a check up on you, the doctor added. I was so tickle that I didn’t minded. He checked my heart rate, my breathing, my whole body. Suddenly, he spotted a big bruised formed in my right side above my hip; it was huge, and every time he squeezed it, oh-gee!! it hurt. It was an infection, he explain, we need to applied surgery to extract all the bad liquid that is inside causing you trouble. Stayed calm, he told me, it will be a very small operation, just to insert a little plastic tube to absorb the juice, and we will be done. It doesn’t change anything, you still can leave on Monday.
Around 5:00 in the afternoon, some medical staff came for me to take me to the surgery room, When, my brother-in-law stepped in the room and found me in the stretcher bed. “Where do you go, pancho!? where do you guys are taking him? Is there something wrong or something bad happened?” he bombarded us with questions. No brother-in-law, nothing is wrong! I replied back. Well, they found an infection in my right side, but it’s nothing to preoccupied, they just have to insert a little something to absorb the bad blood inside. So, I didn’t think it was necessary to alert anyone and make them to worry about it for no reason. He calmed down after find out that there was nothing wrong with me and agree not to let my sister, his wife, know about it. They took me to the surgery room and promptly put me under anesthesia. I fell asleep, and they proceeded with their job. I don’t know how long it took. When I wake up I was already back into my room with a drainage thing hanging on my right side. It was already night time, so my brother-in-law had left home awhile ago. I was still drowsy from the anesthesia, so I just closed my eyes and kept sleeping until the next day.
The following dawn, a nurse’s assistant interrupted my sleep to take my vital signs, then, I had small breakfast pancakes with syrup! and got off the bed to go for walk around the hallway. It was Friday fourth of July, I spent it wandering around the hallways, once I got tired I lay down, and later on I got up again and continue my journey. Around 9pm I went to the window to watch the fireworks from the hospital, many patients and their families began to gather, as well to see the lights displayed. Boom, boom! The fireworks started to fill the sky of brightness, marvelous colors and stunning shapes. Wow, wow! Can you see that? It’s amazing! looked at that one, I can’t believe how beautiful it looks. everybody there were shouting their amazement. I was listening to them saying that words of enthusiasm, but I did not understand none of them, I just thought to myself, whatever they were saying must be good, because of their face’s expressions. So, even though, I couldn’t understand, I was having fun enjoying watching the show and the people, with my IV pool aside like a “weapon”. The artificial lights kept going for about 15 to 20 minutes more. After they finished, everyone return to their dormitories, and their relatives went home. I went to bed and tried to sleep too, but I couldn’t, my mind was so restless, all I thought was about Monday! my big day. I didn’t sleep that night, I was very very excited. I used to say to myself, “when I get out of here, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that and be over here and over there, and why not, tried to be a better human being this time, since my God gave me one more chance to live.
Monday arrived, finally, after a long weekend waiting for it. I got off the bed bright and early hoping to go home as soon as possible. However, there was a nurse who spoke Spanish. She told me, I wouldn’t be discharged until the afternoon. I asked, why not now? “Because the person who does that it’s not here yet, and your family is not able to come for you at this time. Oh-well!, better late than never, I remarked and walked down to the hallway. I walked down, walked back up to the room, took a glance to the clock hanging on the wall hoping to see the handles advanced quickly, but they seemed to run backwards, instead. I was just anxious to get out of there, I guess!, and because of that I felt an eternity to be waiting a little while longer. I laid down and get up, laid down and get up, and so on and on until the time to left the hospital finally hit the spot. Around four o’clock my brother-in-law arrived for me. He and I signed a couple papers, the medical staff gave me some recommendations, took me out in a wheelchair to the vehicle, and my brother-in-law and I climb in to the auto and head to Sonoma.
We got home nice and safely. My sister was working that day; fortunately, I have such a wonderful sister, she requested to get off a little earlier just to take care her little brother, how about that!. She got home a couple hours later and made dinner for her family and me. That was a difficult decision, because she did not know what to cook for me, as I was just release from the hospital. My stomach was very weak yet to eat whatever, I wasn’t hungry anyways, I explain to her. She said, are you saying to leave you without dinner until tomorrow morning? Are you nuts! You know I won’t do that, I’ll figure something out, so don’t say that again. I told her, okay sister do whatever you think is good for me. Rapidly, she cooked something very simple, simple but delicious, chicken noodle soup. Everyone sat down and eat, my sister, her husband and my nephews, two nephews and one niece. I glanced once in awhile to their plates, because they had something different than me. They had grilled steak, refried beans, tortillas and hot sauce. I thought even though mine was okay, theirs were better looking and maybe, just maybe, tastier. We finished dining and went to take a seat on the couch for a little while just to digest. We were speaking of many stuff and adventures we had in our lives. After about 30 minutes I decide to go to bed, my nephew yield me his bedroom that night, because it was right next door to my sister’s one, so she could keep an eye on me…….
My friend and I stopped at a store for a 12 pack of beer, because we thought we needed more to keep us going. We were counting on it, not thinking about the future and what was about to happened in just a couple minutes.
My pal and I were heading to the restaurant happy with the music at full blast, and with the bottle in the mouth intoxicating ourselves even more. It was as if we were in some kind of competition against each other to see who could drink it faster. We were on the freeway with lots of traffic on the road. Suddenly, my buddy opted to step down the gas pedal to go even faster than the speed limit. He was getting too close to vehicles in front of us. He tried to passed them on the other side and went faster. Immediately, after that our car jumped to the opposite direction on the highway. A vehicle impacted us in the front and another one from the behind. The hit was so strong that I lost conscious instantly. I did not know what happened to me or my friend, for how long we were in the wreck, what happened to the people who were in the other cars either. When I opened up my eyes, I was surprised to realize that I was in the hospital emergency room surrounded by doctors and nurses trying to bring me back to life. Although, I could still breathe and was aware of what was happening to me, my life was in jeopardy. They took me to surgery immediately.
The crashed did extreme damaged to several organs inside my abdominal areas and needed to be fixed. Before they proceeded with the surgery, as I was awake, they inquired about any relatives, I had to let them know where I was, and what had happened to me, so they could come to check out on me. I didn’t know any word in English yet, so someone from the hospital was interpreting for me. I knew, I might not make it through the operation. I thought, “I got into this myself, nobody pushed me or put a gun to my head and said, “you better do these, or I’ll shoot you”, “I did it all by myself. I decided not to let anybody know about it and to handle it my own. Then I told the lady who was interpreting for me to reply to the doctors that I didn’t wanted to give notice to my family. In case I didn’t make it out alive, it would be my problem, just mine, no one else’s. They agreed with my statement; however, I had to sign a paper to release the hospital from any responsibilities. I could hardly hold a pen and didn’t care if it was clear, I just wanted to get it over with.
I woke up the next day in the afternoon. Miraculously, I survived the surgery. I was covered with tubes all over my face and body, though, but I made it through! I was in the intensive care room, because even though everything came out well; the doctors thought I would not last long alive, as consequently of what had been remove from my body. I opened up my eyes and glance around the room; unexpectedly, saw my sister and her husband standing by my bed. They didn’t took too long to noticed that I was in the hospital because of a car wrecked. I don’t know how, but they did. As my state of health was very critical, I wasn’t allowed to have visitors. They were the only ones who could pay me visits while I was in ICU. She was holding my hand and crying really hard, not out loud, but I could sought her tears falling down in the sheet of my bedside. She whispered at my ears, (please brother don’t go, don’t leave us, we love you very much. What would I tell mom if you go? She would died of sorrow and broken heart) It hurts just to remember her words, my heart shrunk every time I remembered.
More than 24 hours went by and I was still alive. The doctors’ diagnostic were not very accurate, as they thought it was. Miraculously, I was starting to get better instead of worse. My God, king of kings, lord of heaven and earth, and creator of every creature in the planet, big, small, human, nonhuman, under water, land, and above the skies had already decided to give me another chance to live. The third day passed by, as I was in a better shape, they transferred me into a different room, away from the intensive care unit. Thanks goodness! That was a good sign, aren’t you agree? Everything seemed to started getting back to normal. Although, I was still hooked to all of the hospital’s machines that helps to stay alive and getting check ups once and again by the nurses who were taking care of me, my recovery was coming along really good. I thought so, everybody did.
Now, as I was in a different room my family and friends could visit me anytime. As a result, visitors filled out the room quite a few times. Unfortunately, I never had the whole family in this country, not even half of them, only my sister, her family, and one brother are here in California. My father and uncle are also in this country, but they are in Washington state, the rest are in Mexico. Anyhow, I remember, sometimes when, either my relatives or buddies dropped by, as we were chatting. They started throwing out some terribly funny jokes that were too difficult not to break into laughter. My incision was too premature yet, so it was screaming of pain in silence, every time I smile or make the smallest gesture; my companion noticed right away. because tears were actually rolling down my cheeks, so it was obvious for them to realized how much I was hurting. They stopped playing around and tried to calm me down by saying, sorry, sorry, sorry Pancho, Pancho was my nickname, we didn’t mean to hurt you. I lifted up my head, and looked at their faces full of guilt and remorse. My amusement grew up bigger, meanie me, huh! I just thought it was hilarious to see their expressions. After awhile, finally my giggles went away, and the pain started to slow down. Everyone was quiet, they feared to make me laugh again too hard and cause to reopen the wound. Then, I broke up the silence and, as I was a little devil and unconscious about any consequences. I threw a couple of funny sayings, just to restart the conversation. Fellows, I’m a little worry now, why? they replied, because I realized one thing, what??? Anxiously reply, the death didn’t want me, so if not even the death want me, who will? Hahahahaha! I won’t either, one answered, you’re nice guy, but I don’t like to play sword games. pretty soon the room got too loud. A nurse had to come in and shut us down. She said, please keep it down guys, there are patients sleeping, and Mr. Francisco, she stared at me, has a very recent operation that may un-closed again if he continues making too much strength. Instantaneously, everyone turned into silence, and she return to the nurse station. They stayed for a few minutes more and then left too………
Life is unpredictable and can change in a blink of an eye. It doesn’t give you any warning of what is about to happen, it just happens.
It was Sunday morning June 21, 2003. I used to live in Windsor, California. In the apartments by my job, I was spending time with some friends, including a very dear friend of mine I consider him my brother.
My best friend and I were hungover from the night before. We went out in the city and were drinking in a bar. We knew we have to go to a football game in Santa Rosa, California, the next day because my friend was part of the team. He had to attend so the team did not forfeit the game. Despite the hangover we went, I didn’t have to go, but I wanted to be supportive of my best friend.
As he went out to turn on his vehicle. I was in the bathroom turning my stomach inside out. Eeew!!! Sorry, you know what happens next.
As soon as we were on the road, we decided to stop at the store for a beer to treat the hungover. We got a 24 pack of beer, it sounds a little excessive now, doesn’t it? As soon as we got to the field, there was a group of guys from his town in Mexico getting ready for the game. It was morning and, time to get breakfast. There was a (Taco Truck,) and some of them went to get stuffed, but some others, like us, went for the beer.
Everyone started drinking, and the bottles of the beer were getting empty. By the time the game was supposed to begin, the players were a little drunk already. It’s a good thing it wasn’t a professional one, otherwise, they wouldn’t were able to play. The group left to form part of the team, so I was left alone. I had beer with me and, as you can imagine my loneliness wouldn’t last long. I thought, showing beer to drunk men is like showing gold to thieves. A few yards away from me there was a group of spectators from the same town in Mexico as my friend. There was a beautiful woman that when I saw her my heart started beating up very fast and left me out of breathe. “She was truly a precious lady! I thought.” Oh-well, that is another story. I was a silly young man who used to pay more attention to the “cerveza” than to the pretty girls. What a dummy! Soon the group of guys came up to join me. We introduced ourselves to each other and became friends.
Once we finished greeting and shaking our hands, everyone grabbed a beer and start drinking while watching the game. My friend and some other players ran toward us to have a sip of beer every now and then. The drinks were running out, and we were just beginning to enjoy. Every time the drinks ran out someone from our group ran to the closest store to get more. As time was running out, everyone was starting to get dizzy and noisy. When the game ended, we were very intoxicated. Our team lost, by the way.
Part of the team went home, and others joined us to keep the party going. It was dark by now, and everybody was drunk. We had to leave, but no one of the group wanted to stop drinking. The night was just beginning. We decided to go to a place in Santa Rosa called “La Fondita,” a spot where you can drink, eat, and listen to the mariachis singing nice music. Also, you can delight the eyes with the waitresses serving the customers, very pretty mamasitas used to work there. As the group departed everyone agreed to wait outside the joint for the whole gang to arrive, so all of us could get a table together…….