By Collin Snyder, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist
Continued from Part 1: A Dark Road
That night, after running to the bathroom for the upteenth time, I looked in the mirror and could barely recognize the frail body in front of me. I could see every rib, my eyes were sunken in, and I felt as bad as I looked. At this point, I could barely lift my girls, hadn’t been on the bike in over a month, and could barely muster a few laps down the hall without feeling exhausted. I was so weak, and nearing a month since my first day in the hospital with no improvement, I knew what I had to do. I had to accept my fate. Although it was less than an ideal outcome, it would lead to a path of healthiness and out of this hospital.
Surgery went well. My surgeon said that my colon was one of the worst he’d ever saw that didn’t rupture. He said that if I wouldn’t have had the surgery, it probably would have ruptured within a week and sepsis could have set in. The next day when I woke up, I felt as if a cancer had been removed from my body. Everyone who saw me that day said I looked a million times better. I started to have hope.
A couple days later, the first complication arrived. I started to get extremely nauseous and then started vomiting everything that I had ate or drank since surgery. That is when they found out I had an ileus. At the basic level, its a side effect from surgery where the guts just go into this dormant state and there is nothing they can do about it except to wait it out. While you wait for your guts to wake up, they put a tube down your nose, into your stomach to suck out any stomach acid and bile that gets produced which would lead to further vomiting. This meant no fluids or food until it was removed. They placed me on IV nutrition to slow my starvation process down. I kept losing weight along with my spirit. I was down to 116 lbs, about 50 lbs less than my race weight. At one point, both my parents and wife were scared I may not make it.
This continued for weeks. There would be signs that my guts were ready to wake up, only to go back to a dormant state. Online, everything says an ileus should last for 2-14 days. Mine lasted for 3 weeks. Going that long without food makes you feel less and less human. Nurses who were on vacation would come into my room and be surprised to see me saying “you’re still here?”
During this time, there were so many dark and depressing days. You become bitter at those who eat and drink garbage, while I lived a clean life, yet I’m the one sitting in the hospital. It’s hard when you go from a top local cyclist to someone who can barely get out of bed. Luckily I have an amazing wife, parents and friends who would visit me daily to keep me going. My “Monday Night Crew” who I’ve ridden with nearly every Monday for the past decade decided to surprise me and ride to the hospital one night for a visit. So many people from the cycling world would text or call me asking if there was anything they could do to help. Any visit would momentarily take my mind off the reality I was living. My number one dose of hope was the visits from my two year old daughter who was always happy to see me. Without the amazing people in my life, I’m not sure how I would have gotten through this dark time.
Check back tomorrow for the last chapter in my road to recovery.