Guts / by Josh Guess

So, I intended to make my next post about the results I had from my big book giveaway last month. I'm still going to do that when I get my sales report on the fifteenth, but a very interesting experience came my way a few days ago, and I want to talk about it.

My appendix decided to part ways with me. It was not an amicable split.

I'd been feeling crappy for about a week before Saturday morning. I called into work during that time, which I very rarely do--that was the previous Sunday, I think. When I woke up Friday night I felt a little off. By the morning I knew something was very wrong. My wife and I went to the hospital around noon.

Following some bloodwork, a battery of tests on my urine, and a deeply personal physical examination, I got my first CAT scan. If you've never had the pleasure, let me assure you it's an...interesting experience. The scan plus the contrast material they injected into me made my body heat up by about twenty degrees for a few seconds. I was told that's a normal thing.

Not for me.

My appendix, the scan showed, was so inflamed that it actually started to curl around on itself. I'm not a doctor, but that sounds pretty terrible. So, off to surgery I went. The delay between being told I was going to surgery and it actually happening was less than half an hour. The people at my local hospital were on the ball, not wanting my useless little appendix to rupture and cause all manner of problems.

I didn't really have time to get worried or scared before the Nurse Anesthetist said, "You're going to sleep now," and I did. Not before throwing my eyes open in defiance of that statement, to which he commented that I was "a funny kid." Then, darkness.

Lemme tell ya, waking up from that surgery sucked worse than anything in my life. I felt god-freaking-awful. When the nurse asked if I was in any pain, I mumbled yes, and she said the best five words in the English language: Let's get you some medicine.

Honestly, I didn't have much of an opinion about the surgery. Once the necessity of the thing became clear I just went with the flow. It was afterward, when I was admitted to the hospital and knew I would have to stay there alone, that I began to feel off. My wife Jess and my best friend Patrick were there when I got out of recovery, but I told them to go home and get some rest when I realized how deeply I was about to sleep.

Next morning, I found out my second round of labs were still bad and I had to stay another day to get my white count up. The infection in my appendix had been pretty hardy, and probably had spread. Jess was there by the time I heard that news, and she spent the morning with me. She had to leave to get sleep for work around noon, and I was left alone.

Except for you guys.

Many fans and friends (and some of you are both) sent me messages and well-wishes on Facebook. I spent several hours chatting and commenting back and forth with people, and it was really awesome. I mean that word in its original sense. You filled me with awe. As an adult, I've only had oral surgery before, nothing this big. I've never been in a situation where I had no control. I was in that room, private and nice as it was, and I was poked with needles, trailing an IV, feeling so out of my element that I was sort of lost.

Which is ironic, since full-time job is working in a nursing home. Other side of the coin and all that.

Patrick ended up coming to the hospital that afternoon and hanging out with me, but during the early hours of the morning and in the empty spaces between, I realized how lucky I am to have you. My family, my friends, my digital companions on various social networks, and my fans (who exist among all those groups). You kept me from thinking about the pain in my stomach, the worries over how much all this is going to cost me, and how bad the complications could be if something went wrong.

I don't know if I'm coming across as overly emotional here, but it was really a humbling experience for me. I'm so glad to be home, and I'll be off work for at least another week, so I'll be writing in that time. As thanks for everyone's support, I'm going to do a piece or two of short fiction while I'm off and give it away on this blog. It's not much, but I hope you enjoy it. You all did what you could to keep me sane while I was in the hospital, the least I can do in return is try to entertain you for a while.

It may not seem to you that you did much, but believe me, you did. I'm a creature of habit. When I'm thrown out of my routine I go crazy. I get stressed out, my blood pressure goes up, I can't sleep or relax. It's a serious problem for me. Imagine my surprise that while I read your messages and made snarky comments with many of you, I felt better. And not just felt it--I was measurably better. My blood pressure, along with my anxiety, dropped significantly while I chatted with all of you. I felt at ease during a time that should have nearly driven me insane.

So, I guess what I'm saying is thanks. Thank you for being a friend.

Yeah, I just quoted the Golden Girls theme song at you. You're gonna have to deal with that.