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My First Surgery

The Devil whispers - You can't withstand the storm. The Warrior replied - I am the storm.

Vanja PetreskiVanja Petreski

I am one of the rare fortunate people that have very strong and healthy body, with 35 years, rapid and sometimes not so healthy lifestyle I never had any major health issue and my body recovers extremely quickly. That’s why I don’t have any health insurance and I don’t know anything about hospitals, but I had in my TODO list to investigate and handle that topic in Medellin, Colombia that I was always postponing thinking that I will never have any health problem and that I am superhuman. Well, shit happened.

Beginning

I was working the whole day solving one complex algorithm and when I was done, took few beers to relax my mind and went to bed around midnight. Around 3am I woke up with very strong pain in my stomach. Took some medicine, prepared soup and took hot shower to release the pain. But after 1 hour nothing happened – pain was worse, I was sweating and breathing rapidly and shortly. I was only thinking how to release the pain, I never felt something strong like that. At that point I realized something is very wrong and that I have to act quickly.

People Get Fake When Shit Gets Real

We all have so many friends, but people get fake when shit gets real and in reality we can count on very few people when we are in trouble. In those moments we can see who really wants to help us. That night it was Carolina. She is a doctor and lives 20 minutes ride from my place. So I called her around 4am in the morning and told her that I am coming to her place to help me. I was only thinking how to get there and to be in safe hands. When I came, she gave me more medicine and I took another hot bath. After two hours I was in worse state, could barely standing and literally didn’t know what to do with myself to release the pain. We realized it’s time to go to the hospital. Even she has 2 young kids, she called her neighbor, early in the morning, one older lady and she came in 20 minutes without asking anything to take care of the kids, while she is with me in the hospital. Taxi came. She told him to drive to El Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, private hospital, considered to be the best one by local people and one of the top hospitals in all of Latin America. Taxi driver quickly realized that I am in a bad state and started pushing car siren and driving like crazy, other cars were moving on sides to let us pass. We came quickly to hospital. I am so grateful living in Medellin, Colombia where paisas (local people) are so friendly and always ready to help, no matter of time and circumstances. It’s pure blessing.

Entering Hospital

We entered in Emergency sector of the hospital, they registered me and I was received without waiting to measure vital signs and explain what’s wrong. Since I don’t have any health insurance, they explained me I will have to pay particular which basically means that will charge you a lot, but on the other hand you won’t have to wait too much. I said it’s OK and another doctor received me after 20 minutes to talk with me and check me more. They told me they suspect it’s Appendicitis.

Diagnosis

Then they gave me medicine to release the pain and took blood samples to do tests. After 2 hours blood test result was bad indicating even more that it’s Appendicitis. Then surgeon came and he was pushing my stomach to see do I feel the pain. Since I said that I feel it just a little bit (partially because of medicine, but partially because I wanted to avoid surgery :D) they sent me to radiography to do stomach scan. Scan definitely confirmed that it’s what they suspect and I have been told that surgery is needed. Btw, police and security guards are on the front doors, so you can’t go out at that point for your safety, because if not treated Appendicitis can lead to death.Many things were passing through my mind: “what if I have to go through surgery, what if it is something worse than Appendicitis, what if..”. But I was calm all the time and making fun with nurses and doctors, keeping positive attitude and trusting that all will be just fine.

Surgery

It was time. They took me to intensive care unit to make final preparation and talk to anesthesiologist. I used that opportunity to take a selfie, I still had a phone, because I wanted to show to anesthesiologist facts about one bodybuilding supplement I was using containing diuretics and some other stimulants that could cause problems with anestesia. This was taken minutes before the surgery:Since it was my first surgery, he explained me the process and what can possibly go wrong and as he was talking I was imagining myself with heart attack, allergies, destroyed teeth, etc 😀 But I was strangely calm and, somehow, observing the whole situation and myself from outside, it was like meditation. I was glad I don’t panic, I am calm and without fear, I just let it go. Also I knew I was in a very good hands. Finally, they took me to the surgery room and I was impressed with equipment and how everything is clean and organized. They started injecting anesthesia and put mask on my face. Everything was fading and in 3 seconds I was gone. I am the warrior, let’s do it!

Waking Up

Somebody is calling me, I am waking up, but very disoriented, I heard voices, I think I told something, but I don’t remember. It was really confusing for the first 10 minutes for me. Then I came to myself. I was in intensive care unit for some time and then they took me to my room. I was drugged to release the pain, but still felt it in my stomach. I couldn’t move a lot. It was time for sleep.

Going Out

In the morning they checked me, told me everything went perfect, that I am recovering quickly and that I can leave during the day. First meal after 24 hours. Tea and soup.

It was time to pay the bills. They charged me $2100 USD for all. Then I went out. I spent one more day with the help of others, I couldn’t move myself a lot due to pain. The next day (2 days after initial pain begun) I was on my feet and on my own. Very quick recovery. Still taking drugs for the next few days and one month without gym, but that’s all.

Conclusion

Lessons learned:

Software Engineer & Digital Nomad

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