The Defining Moment of a Lifetime

The stories of never

We have all read stories, books, magazine columns, and articles about the horrible and treacherous experiences of others. A hurricane that rattles Texas, a mother who is killed in a horrific vehicle accident, a newborn baby that is abused by its parents to the point of death. They are sometimes unimaginable stories. Ones that we cannot even fathom, and ones we sometimes even question because they sound so unbelievable. But for every one story that has been told, there are a thousand which have not. The quantity of stories on the Internet pales in comparison to the number of stories missed. The biggest reason? Not everyone survives to tell them.

A quote from the popular Netflix series, Narcos, comes to mind.

“The men of always aren’t interested in the children of never.”

If those who have died could speak, what would they say? What would be their story?

There was a time I believed that was going to be me. In October of 2016, I became suddenly and mysteriously ill. I was 26-years-old, 6' 2" and 160 lbs. I had no prior health record or any health issues of which to take note.

In four weeks, my colon had suffered irreparable damage. A series of infections traveled through my bloodstream and produced septic shock. Other life-threatening infections went untreated for prolonged periods of time by hospital staff. I lost one-third of my total body weight, eventually ending at a skeleton 109 lbs. Crucial tests were lost. Hospitals left me to starve and suffer with no medical treatment for weeks. It became obvious they wanted me to die. In fear of litigation, I was forcibly removed from one hospital by security, while in critical condition, in nothing but a hospital gown and socks. Only days from certain death, my colon was removed from my body. If only that was the bottom.

In the coming months, it was discovered my condition was mistreated. By then, I had already lost my ability to walk. My fat and muscle had deteriorated to almost nothing, and continued to do so even months following surgery. Crippling arthritis virtually paralyzed my legs and the pain was nothing short of excruciating. Much of my hair fell out. Heart problems, breathing problems, skin problems, urinary problems, eye problems. One after another. Boxes full of pill bottles. I was not a cancer patient but was treated as one. The question of my survival stayed in question. I had to abandon all of my personal belongings. The business suffered. But we were past that. For a while, I lost faith in humanity. I lost trust in doctors. I lost some friends. At one point, I lost hope.

At one time, I thought, “There is no coming back from this. There may not be a tomorrow for me.”

This may be the end of the Michael Brook story.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.

I plan to expand on this story in the near future and generate it into a series about not just my experience, but also lessons I have learned and some more global trends around healthcare and the medical system, from a practical viewpoint. If you would like to follow along, please follow me here on Medium @ Michael C. Brook or on Twitter to receive updates and follow my journey. You will have my undying gratitude.

I am more than the sum of my colon.