Story by Ashleigh Kong
Since I was young, I always knew I was the center of my family.
I was my father’s first daughter, and I stood at the center of my parents’, and grandparents’ universe. At this time in my life, I was just a young child – 2 year-old to be exact – when all their hopes, and dreams for me should've, and could’ve been taken away.
I have very minute recollections of the pain, and suffering I went through during this time, although it could never compare to the agony my family went through. There was uncertainty if I would live to see another day, month, or year.
During this time when I became sick, I was living in Jamaica.
The stories I’ve heard that my sickness was not just an average stomach virus still shocks me to this day, and why the doctors could not diagnose me faster.
I remember sitting in a hospital bed with a Pooh bear my dad had bought me during this time, with IVs hooked to me, and nothing coming out.
Doctors, and nurses couldn’t draw blood from my veins. With IVs hooked all over my arms, I remember one on my foot that caused me to shriek in agony every time I walked.
Sitting on the balcony outside of my hospital room, I looked at the cars passing by for my dad to come see me. I couldn’t understand at the time why I was in this room for so long, and why my parents weren’t with me all the time.
As another week passed by, I heard my family come in, and out, arguing about what to do next.
My condition began to worsen to the point where I couldn’t eat, and my stomach began to significantly swell.
This was a clear indication to the Jamaican doctors that what they diagnosed me with previously, was not anything near to what I had.
After leaving Jamaica to go to Miami, I moved from one hospital bed to another.
Receiving an ultrasound, and being fascinated by the process, I couldn't understand at the time why the ultrasound technician kept going over the part of my stomach that hurt so much.
Seeing my mom burst into tears once they told her the news of my condition, I remember patting my mom, and telling her,
“It will be okay mom, it will be over soon.”
At this point, we were in Miami’s best children’s hospital, and I recall seeing every member of my family bringing gifts, and teddy bears for me. I felt so loved, and special, completely naive to the situation.
What the doctors in Jamaica failed to see, was I had a ruptured appendix, and with a probability of having less than 5% chance of living, I was sent in for emergency surgery.
The two weeks I spent in the hospital only caused my condition to worsen. Toxins spread throughout my organs, slowly spreading pus, and wastes around my body, leading to the deterioration of myself as a whole.
The chances of me living another week were slim at this point, as my organs began to fail, and my physical appearance began to deplete to the point where walking began to feel as if it were impossible.
My dad would come in, and out of the room crying, or with red eyes.
When I was lost, or scared, I would scream for my “Gung Gung”, and “Popo”. My grandparents at the time were in Italy visiting the Pope, and somehow they managed to have him say a prayer for my recovery, and healthy well-being.
After my surgery, I was so happy to finally eat real food, and play with the toys the hospital had.
This experience impacted my family, and myself in ways I can’t believe a near death experience could have ever done to me.
Today, I’ve created a path of success for myself with the help of my family, now enrolled in a double degree program at the University of Waterloo for a Honours Bachelors in Environment Science- International Development, and a Honours Bachelors in Arts- Legal Studies.
I also have intentions of going to law school, and becoming a lawyer in the next few years.
Some days, I look at my scars, and remember how 15 years ago my family would never have thought I would be where I am. Yet, here I am.
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