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Nausea to Death

Lindsay Wilkins

There is a standard medical form that must be signed before entering surgery. The form warns patients of the effects of anesthesia and possible outcomes of surgery. October 3, 2008, was the first time I signed the “nausea to death” form, and I would have to sign it four times after that. My second day as a sophomore in college I received news I would have to withdraw from school, move out of my apartment, and move home because of a  tumor…

Symptoms and Outcomes May Include:


___ Nausea
I felt this symptom when a biopsy showed the mass had eaten away the majority of the bones in the left side of my face and was originally believed to be cancer. The nausea struck every time I would sit in the waiting room of my doctor, a distinguished Oral Maxillofacial and plastic surgeon in Denver who diagnosed me with a large, benign tumor.

___ Extended Hospital Stay
I was in the Intensive Care Unit for three days following my initial surgery. The procedure was nine hours. The tumor was removed along with the entire left side of my jaw bone and four teeth. In its place was a large metal plate, multiple screws and one of my ribs. I had 32 stitches around my ear and a four inch incision along my chin line.

___ Excessive Bleeding and Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis
My bleeding was minimal because of the hundred or so internal and external stitches. However, I developed a blood clot in my calf that was cured by giving myself injections of blood thinners under my skin.

___ Risk of Severe Drug Interactions
Morphine made me itch and Vicodin caused me to dream of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast… for three weeks.

___ Limb Damage
The following four surgeries were reconstructions that all consisted of taking various parts of my hips and putting them in my jaw. Between my second and third surgery, I fractured a part of my hip which prolonged the next procedure. I have three scars across my torso from the bone grafts.

___ Nerve Damage
Physically, the areas around my scars and jaw are temporarily numb. Emotionally, I still get nervous when I have to go to the doctor for follow up appointments.

___ Risk of Severe Scarring
I have six scars on my body from my tumor reconstructions. I missed a semester of college, was forced to stay in bed for months, and could only hear about what my friends were busy doing while I was recovering. The new scars on my body are a reflection of the emotional scars that have taken place in the past two years.

___ Death
In the list of my symptoms and outcomes, death is last. It was the last thing I thought of while drifting under anesthesia and my absolute last option when choosing to recover from my experience. I was nauseous, nervous and now deeply scarred—death was never an alternative.