The doctor stood over me and said, “Mr. Larez, you were one day away from death.”
It was a warm summer afternoon almost 10 years ago today. I was visiting my family for the weekend. It had been too long since I saw them.
Another week would have been torture!
Little did I know this visit would lead to even greater suffering.
All was going according to plan. Good music. Good BBQ.
And suddenly I felt a pressure in my throat. I tried to ignore it, but it was only getting worse.
“Are you ok?” my mother asked with a concerned look.
I simply nodded and decided to get some rest.
It was several days later before I finally realized something must be wrong.
The pain was getting unbearable… Still, I decided to wait it out.
This continued for an entire week.
All the while my friends and family were pleading to me to see a doctor. I figured it would pass eventually, so I respectfully declined.
Finally, as I lay on my cousin’s couch barely able to move, my family came to me and said: “You’re going to the hospital.”
I was seen immediately. The doctor placed his hand upon my throat before walking to the other side of the room.
“It’s hard. We’re going to need to see what’s going on in there,” he said. “I’m going to need to extract a sample.”
“A sample?” I asked with concern.
He then proceeded to take out the biggest needle I have ever seen in my life.
Now I’m not afraid of needles, but I’m definitely not a fan.
It was bigger than my hand! And thicker than my fingers.
He shoved the giant needle directly into the center of my throat and what he pulled out still amazes me to this day… A full vial of yellow-brown puss…
“You’re going to need immediate surgery,” he said.
I just sat there.
It was only a few minutes before they rushed me off to another room to remove the accumulated puss in my neck. The surgery passed in the blink of an eye.
I awoke with a terrible pain in my throat. It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. And keep in mind I’ve broken close to a dozen bones in my life.
When I was young I literally thought I was cursed. Every year from the time I was 5 until the age of 13 I would incur a serious injury on or around my birthday.
But I digress!
“Had any BBQ lately?” he asked.
“You appear to have swallowed a metal wire,” said the doctor as he showed me my X-rays.
He then pulled out the wire which must have been at least 4 inches long!
“Apparently, the wire had fallen off from one of those brushes you use to clean BBQ pits. And the pressure inside your throat caused a large puss ball to form,” he said almost in disbelief.
“Mr. Larez, you were one day away from death,” the doctor said as he stood over me.
“If you hadn’t come in when you did, that ball would have burst, suffocating you.”
I simply sat there.
All of a sudden my whole life flashed before my eyes.
All the mistakes I had made.
All the things I wish I said.
The goals I had yet to accomplish.
Then it dawned on me…
“What if I was too late? How would my family have taken the news?” I thought.
Right then and there I vowed to never take my relationships for granted again.
I learned to appreciate the little things.
I learned to be in the moment.
I learned to forgive, to not be so stubborn, and to trust others’ intentions.
Life is too short to not spend it doing what you love with the people you love.
This a lesson I still hold with me to this day. And one I hope I never forget.