It’s your typical spring day of April 2000 in the small city of Asheboro, North Carolina. I was just getting back from school, jumping out of the school bus happily. My five-year-old self was looking forward to being outside and play. After carelessly throwing my things inside my bedroom, I hurried back outdoors to my big ole’ country yard.
My father, like any other devoted man of the house, was doing yard work cutting grass with a lawnmower. Since I was a very young curious child, always looking for adventure, I became un-entertained in playing with our dalmatian dog.
After glancing over to my father, my interest in riding on the lawnmower sparked. Without him noticing, I jumped on his back on a step attached to the lawnmower. I was very tiny; therefore, the weight of my body went unnoticed. I held on tight as the wind blew gracefully in my hair while he continued cutting the grass.
Being in bliss, a broad smile appeared on my chubby face.
Like your average young kid, who gets bored quickly, I decided to jump off once he stopped. When he came to a pause, I placed my left foot down to run off, but my small feet were not fast enough. My father put it in reverse, and hastily, the weight of the lawnmower knocked me over to the grass.
What seemed like minutes that flew by faster than the speed of light, my screams and kicks of my other leg brought attention to my father. He jumped off, and his adrenaline managed to lift the lawnmower and throw it across the yard. He picked me up and ran up towards the front of the house.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel pain. I don’t remember having any pain. All I do recall is my echoing screams in the country skies and spotting my dog running with us as he knew something was wrong. My father shouted at my sister to call 911 as he carried me to the back seat of our car. I would never forget hearing him cry and watching how he couldn’t bear to witness blood flooding the backseat.
Soon enough, our cries joined the sirens of an ambulance. My mother was away at work but arrived at the same time when the ambulance pulled up to our driveway.
Then, after being placed on a stretcher, and inside the ambulance, my mother joined. My vocal cords at this point were becoming weak since my shrieks continued to be intense. I still didn’t feel pain, but only the most severe heat one could ever experience. My mother had her hands around my face as she laid her forehead on my head. Her tears became one with mine as we both hysterically cried.
Each time I glanced down to see my legs, I watched a river of blood blending in with the white sheets. And, the worst part of all was the moment when the paramedic poured disinfecting alcohol into my wounds. Those brutal minutes of a thousand nails forcing through my veins are the pain I vividly remember. My cries grew louder and became horrific screeches that I hope never have to experience again.
Suddenly, an African American paramedic next to me continued to grab my fingers. There was so much commotion happening all at once and for me to keep up; and therefore, I didn’t understand he was trying to give me shots of morphine to relieve my pain. Each time he wanted to give me an injection, I pulled away. Looking back, I am beyond grateful for him because those shots saved me from the excruciating agony.
Once the morphine hit, the ambulance became quiet despite my mothers’ whispered sobbing. My eyes slowly became heavy, making it challenging to keep them open. The fear of losing me backed the silent murmurs of my mother, stating don’t fall asleep. And, that was the last thing I heard when I became unconscious.
Swiftly, the rough opening of the ambulance doors woke me up. The broad daylight was blinding once we stood outside. From afar, I noticed a familiar face at the entrance of the hospital. It was a woman and her daughter that my family and I knew from church. Before arriving at the doors, I made eye contact with the woman and raised my little pointer finger saying hello. I smiled. Since I remained heavily sedated with morphine, I felt no pain, only peace.
The paramedics rushed me through several doors, and an older nurse welcomed me with a delicate grin. My mother was asked to stay behind as I needed to undergo surgery. I vividly remember the nurse having short blonde hair and a wrinkled face – evident of long working hours. I was pushed on a stretcher to the surgery room while she and I gripped hands tightly.
Once inside, the nurse taught me something that to this day when I visit the doctor’s office; I continue to do so. She mentioned that for each injection, I was about to get, hold my breath, and fill my cheeks up with air.
One… two… three… inhale… shot… and repeat.
That technique prevented me from feeling the multiple stings from the injections. The nurse then pulls out a deflated balloon with a doodle on it.
“We are going to blow into this balloon so we can make a happy face.” The nurse stated. And, I nodded trusting her. Later, I discovered she was my anesthetic nurse. With all the remaining energy I had left in me, I listened and blew hard into my mask.
I slowly watched the balloon inflate to a happy face as I drifted peacefully to deep sleep for surgery.