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From Near Death To Health. It's Not Funny!
David 'Kip' Koontz

April 25, 2002

When this is being read I will be recovering from surgery. Surgery to repair what many of you have, I presume jokingly, referred to as my "pregnancy."

You see, I know that my stomach has been bigger than normal this past year. I know why.

In October 2000 after enjoying a fun afternoon watching Navy football in Annapolis, I returned home not feeling quite right.

Within an hour that not quite right feeling turned in violent pain.

Frederick Memorial Hospital's crack team of emergency room doctors told me they thought I "may have food poisoning" or "some kind of infection."

One doctor in particular got his boxers in a bunch when my friend took a stab at a diagnosis (he asked the doc if it might be my appendix). The doctor responded huffily asking, "Who here has the medical degree?"

Fine lot of good his degree did him.

I was sent home chock full of pain medicine and a handful of treats to take when I got there.

I was told that "if the pain hadn't stopped by Monday to go to your primary care physician."

A couple hours after sun up on Sunday I had attempted to rise to do one's regular morning routine. I only remember hearing a noise that sounded like nothing I have ever heard before coming from my mouth.

I remember falling to the floor, grasping my "food-poisoned" side, screeching and screaming like some kind of wounded animal.

I remember the pain-filled trip back to the crack team of doctors at FMH's emergency room, who one would think, upon seeing me in the state I was in (it could only be described as hysteria) that these crack professionals would know what to do to make me better.

If not, how to put me out of my misery, after all, they shoot horses with broken legs.

I remember the drug induced haze I was put in until Monday morning when through glazed over and near death (and, yes, folks it was a very close one) eyes, I saw my primary care physician looking more troubled than a doctor should ever look.

I know she asked me something about a surgeon and kind of remember someone telling me he was a surgeon and explaining things about the very real possibility of a worst-case scenario.

I then only remember waking up seven days later having no idea what happened or what was going on. Seven complete days are forever lost. My surgeon and my primary care physician have told me that I am lucky I do not remember.

I remember when I first looked down and saw the 14 and inch cavity that lay open down my midsection. They say they heal better when allowed to heal from the inside out.

From this point I remember the constant reports that I developed this and then that infection as a result of how badly things had gotten inside me after my appendix burst.

You see, one gets peritonitis when one's appendix has burst and allowed to seep for 2 days untreated.

One's bowels and kidneys and liver and all other internal organs stop functioning as well. This causes more toxins to fill your innards.

The more toxins, the more infection, the more infections, the more antibiotics one must take.

At one point I was on 12 antibiotics. Of course, that was still when they were not sure I was going to make it.

I remember having to endure too many procedures and too many pokes and prods. I remember the never-ending look of worry on the steady stream of doctors who were called upon to treat me.

I remember the two-month recovery time at home.

That leads us to today. It has been a long time coming. Multiple delays and countless complications later, I am finally where I need to be - "having my baby."

I am hopefully resting peacefully after having my surgeon re-open the 14 and inch incision that runs down my midsection. The same incision that, because of the distention I experienced as a result of the pollution inside me, herniated badly.

The "pregnancy," as some of you have called it, is actually all my internal organs trying to breech the hole that exists inside me. Guess they don't like it in there.

Be that as it may - the surgeon is going to clean out any residual goop that shouldn't be there and then reposition my organs where they are supposed to be. Then they will close the hole with mesh and sew me back up again.

This time I will vividly remember the anticipated six days in hospital and 4-6 weeks recovery.

So, you see, the point of this diatribe is not to seek pity, prayers are good though, but to ask you to think about how painful words can be.

Even if spoken in jest.

The pregnancy humor, the "when do you deliver" jokes really were not all that funny.

I didn't ask to almost die.

I did ask to live.

If living means I had to have a paunch for a year, so be it.

I am a lucky guy and I am thankful.

If you had said that to me, too, it would have been so much nicer than a poor excuse of a joke.

How many people do we offend by not knowing the whole story?

Let us strive to think about that.

By the way, the baby is doing fine. Big bruiser. 12 pounds 6 ounces. 21" long. 10 toes and 10 fingers. Red hair though.

Must be the mailman's.

[Editor's Note: 'Kip" is doing quite well following his four-hour surgery. He is expected to be home by the weekend, which will be followed by several weeks vacation, oops, sorry, recovery.]



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