So many drugs coursed through my body, so many faces and voices passed in and out of awareness. My closest friends, my magazine editor, the mayor, and the mayor's spokesperson had all converged on the hospital and were sitting sentry, worrying. Of the 19 people shot, my injuries were the most severe, and my prospects for survival were not good.
The bullet had landed in a place the LSU surgeons nicknamed the "Soul Hole," because most people who catch a bullet there don't survive. To worsen matters, I'm told that I repeatedly refused to give the hospital consent to operate. I don't know why I was so obstinate, but somehow my friends were able to convince the hospital to override my objections and perform the life-saving surgeries I needed.
I stayed in the hospital just shy of two months, enduring 12 surgeries and losing a whole lot of body parts, along with my entire recollection of those first few weeks. One of the major life-saving surgeries I received was a Whipple procedure, a complex surgery normally given to people with pancreatic cancer, in which several organs are removed and the remaining organs are reconnected in a way that allows the patient to live. Today I walk among the rest of the population minus a colon, a gallbladder, my right kidney, a portion of my pancreas, a bile duct, a duodenum, and two-thirds of my stomach.
I'm also missing the bullet, the 9mm scrap of metal that caused all this damage. Immediately after I was shot, the surgeons didn't want to risk digging around looking for it, so they left it there. A year and change later, I eventually entreated one of them to remove it during one of my numerous surgeries, as it had wiggle-wormed its way closer to my skin surface and was practically poking out under my rib cage.