I was being wheeled down the long hallway I will never forget. I saw someone who looked like my dad; his eyes looked scared, which made me terrified of what could happen next. My blanket was starting to feel like an oven. The doctor told me to stay still, but I tried to jump out of the stretcher. Then I remember feeling the mask on my face and then blackness.
Hi. My name is Eshaan Vasisht, and I have severe scoliosis, skeletal dysplasia and arthritis. Scoliosis is a disease that can be fatal if untreated. I was born with it and if I hadn’t been treated, I could be bent over or worse, paralyzed or dead. When I was 2 years old, I was a lot shorter than most people my age. My parents wanted to find out why, and thank God they did.
They went to Dr. Feldman, one of New York’s top doctors. He diagnosed me with severe scoliosis and skeletal dysplasia. He couldn’t operate on such a small body so we waited till I turned 4; I then had my first surgery on my back. That was in 2005, and it has been 10 long years; I have had 14 more surgeries since.
I’ve lived with the constant threat of a surgery coming up. Every time I feel back to normal, I get slammed with another surgery. I have not been able to do things that most people take for granted, such as running, bending, or even getting up after sitting on the floor. This makes life complicated, as I have to worry about the logistics of moving instead of focusing on whatever I could be doing. My life has always been affected by all of my challenges, which a lot of people don’t understand.
In February 2015, I went to Dr. Feldman for my biannual checkup. For the past two or three appointments, he had decided that I didn’t need a surgery. I expected him to just say again, “Everything’s fine, see you in six months.”
The appointment was only about 20 minutes, but what he said changed the entire course of my immediate future. He studied my X-rays, slowly looked up at me and said the words that I didn’t want to hear. “You’re going to need to fuse the rod.” The statement caught me totally off guard – this is a big, final surgery.
The surgery was set up and I left the seemingly darker building. All I could think about was the surgery. I only had a week and a half to mentally prepare. I tried to slow down time, tried to focus on school, but my mind was on my surgery the whole time. On the last day, my friend in school said something so socially incorrect that I still haven’t forgotten it. He said, verbatim, “Enjoy your surgery. Kappa.” I laughed for a while, and then said, “I’ll come back.”
On the day of the surgery, I remember wishing it could all be over. Soon, my wish was granted as a nurse walked into the waiting room and mispronounced, “Eshaan Vasisht?” I got into the stretcher and headed down the infinitely long hallway. I felt like I was committing suicide. Then, gas mask, and blackness.
…To be continued.
When I woke up, a memory that may or may not have been real ran through my head. I was in the operating room, and Dr. Feldman asked me to bend my toes. I complied, and then the blackness enveloped me again. When I regained full consciousness, I noticed my mother sitting around 4 feet away from me, reading a book. I managed to form the words, “Is it over?”
At the moment, the pain hadn’t really sunk in, but then I remembered. I had been in the operating room for 12 hours. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “The pain hit me like a brick wall.” I don’t think most people know what that actually means. This was the most intense pain I had ever felt.
The nurse told me to try to turn over, and I thought I was going to black out from the pain. I thought my parents would intervene. When they were silent, I protested and tried to describe the pain I was in, but I was so delirious that I failed to even hold an argument. I woke up the next day after about two or three hours of sleep, and realized that the rest of the recovery would be like this.
The next week felt like a year, but finally, it was time for me to go home. The drive back felt even longer than the week, but I was so happy that I didn’t care. At last, we pulled into our driveway. I felt the most grateful that I’ve ever felt in my life.
At first, when I got home, I was bored. I could only do all of the things I could do in the hospital: lie in bed, watch TV, and eat. However, my parents decided to surprise me and move the Xbox into my room. From then on, my life was full of Netflix, YouTube, and Need for Speed. I had so much time alone that I was able to do the most thinking I had done for a while.
I realized how many upsides this surgery was giving me, and a lot of my pain was starting to fade. I was still feeling more pain than a lot of people will feel in their entire life, but it was getting easier.
The rest of recovery moved smoothly, and the most important thing is that everything is over. I can finally get some peace that I will not need another surgery soon, and I can live life how I want to live it.
Dr. Feldman’s office was packed, as always. “Eshaan Vasisht?” We walked into the room, and waited for Dr. Feldman. He walked in, took one look at the X-Ray and immediately said, “You’re fine.” Before he left the room, he said “Eshaan, you still have two things to do. Step 1, friend me on Facebook, and Step 2, write about this.”
Now, I have done both.