LIKE many people my age, I never really thought bad things could happen to me when it comes to my health. It wasn't that I wasn't concerned about my health or wellbeing, I just thought serious health problems were something to be concerned about when I got a bit older. I'm a young person, and young people don't get sick.
That naive idea was completely shattered last week when one of my close friends had to have emergency surgery, and found himself in the intensive care unit of Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
He came home from work one day with a bit of a sore back. He didn't really think anything of it, but it persisted. One of our mates is a physio, so my friend went and got some treatment, but the pain didn't go away completely. To his credit, he went to the hospital, but they just gave him some painkillers and sent him on his way.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until he came home from work with a fever. The next day he woke up and couldn't move his legs. Within hours he was rushed to hospital and had an MRI, which revealed a large cyst that was putting pressure on his spinal cord. As his fever worsened, he had emergency surgery to remove the cyst, and since then has been in ICU.
When I first heard the news from another close friend, I struggled to make sense of it all. It was as if a vacuum had opened in my chest, and I was in freefall.
Bad things like this aren't supposed to happen to someone as young as that.
I made the trip up to Brisbane to visit him last weekend, and it was a struggle to see him sedated in a hospital bed, breathing tubes down his throat and a cobweb of wires and electrodes covering his chest. Seeing him there in the ICU was difficult, and I had a hard time controlling my emotions. I was scared for what could happen, and afraid about his recovery. I worried for his parents and all of our friends, and how they were coping with this sudden and dramatic condition.
Also, as I watched his chest rise and fall with the aid of a breathing machine, and the heart-rate moniter pulsed with every beat, it made me think about how fragile our existence is, and if we don't take care of our health, both physical and mental, it all can be taken away from us.
Thankfully by Sunday he had been brought around and the breathing tube was removed. His fever had dropped, and he was conscious and responsive, which was a giant relief, to say the least.
It was a huge elation to hold his hand and to hear his voice, even if he was asking what it felt like to be purple and telling me about the secret women who run the hospital.
Whatever drugs they had him on there, they were top drawer.
While my friend is still recovering and has a long way ahead of him, it's a reminder that we can't take our health for granted, as we never know what's around the corner.
There's been a number of times where I've felt less than 100per cent, or noticed a pain where there hasn't been before, and failed to act on it. This experience has made me think twice about that.
Just because you're young, doesn't mean you're invincible, and it doesn't mean that bad things won't happen. It was only a few months ago where the passing of Holly Butcher shocked the Clarence Valley, and indeed the world, after her final letter went viral, and she was no older than I. Twenty-seven is young, but it's certainly old enough for tragedy.
So give your grandparents a call and ask how their day was. Tell your parents you love them. Let your friends know you appreciate them for being your friends. You might not know when it's too late to do it.
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