“Anomalous”, an “exception”, a “phenomenon”; these are all things I have been called in the medical community throughout my recovery from a near-fatal attack over ten years ago.
The “anomaly” came into play during the initial sweep of MRSA that ran through the ICU and burn units, claiming the lives of two patients and yanking many others into the circling of the proverbial drain for months afterwards; I was, once again, somehow spared death at that time as well, despite the many open wounds that left me like a sitting duck for the infectious riptide. Immediately following exposure to the initial strain of MRSA, twelve out of nineteen of the patients there, in my particular unit, broke out with the Shingles (a strain of it that is STILL with at least two of them, to date). Again, I was “unscathed”. It’s important to keep in mind while reading this, that I was unconscious for the better part of 3 ½ weeks straight upon arriving and being rushed into emergency maxiofacial/vasculature surgery – it’s not as if I even had a clue as to what was happening afterwards, in the unit. I wasn’t putting up any conscious fight against anything…that entire period is dark for me, and I carry no recollection of it now. Either way, it was then that I received the medical file label of “immuno-anomalous”; a label that has stuck with me ever since that time – only to be elaborated upon by other surgeons, doctors and various medical professionals in the days to come.
Next was something wonderful: ‘Raynaud’s Phenomenon’.
This is a very strange condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause microvascular spasms in the fingers, nose, and/or toes. Doctors rarely see this condition – it has a very, very rare (identified, at least) occurrence in the world; thus, is difficult to get properly diagnosed, much less treated. I nearly lost all ten of my toes on two separate occasions due to Raynaud’s;
- Once, before getting it diagnosed accurately, when a doctor came through on his rounds and basically told me that my toes were so gangrenous that they would need to be amputated;
- Again, before getting it properly diagnosed, another doctor came through on his rounds and said that they wouldn’t need to amputate, because my toes were shriveled into raisins anyway, and would soon “come off on their own” (that was on my birthday, by the way). Happy fucking birthday – you’re toeless!
Either way, I managed to keep my toes – all of them – to the absolute shock and surprise of all of us…I’M still not even sure how that happened without medical interaction – my toes DID literally look raisins for about a week. But – “phenomenally, they bounced themselves back to bloodflow…”, according to the treating physician at the time. And so, was born: “the Phenomenon”.
Lastly, but most sticky, has been “the Exception to Every Rule of Medicine”; a quote, verbatim, about me from a seminary speech made at Stanford Hospital during a retirement celebration thrown for my original reconstructive surgeon – one amazing individual – when he was asked if I was the reason behind his “early retirement”. So many other people from the Medical community were there to hear an esteemed and well-respected old-timer say such a thing, that I will likely NEVER live it down.