|Back in our day . . .||
According to our little counter, we get a slow but steady stream of visitors here, and It has occurred to me that some of you may be wondering why we haven't had a new post since back before Christmas. So I'm going to tell the whole sordid story here, and maybe we can get back on our semi-schedule.
Christmas evening I started showing flu symptoms. I had shaken it off by the next day, but it came back again harder just before New Year's. I was scheduled to be off because of the holidays anyway, so I just loafed around the bed thinking "this is unusual" for
a couple of days, and it broke again. I returned to work, and it came back worse than ever on a night shift, the 6th, with almost nobody around, and I could feel it getting worse by the minute. I made the 25 mile drive home, and I don't remember one thing about it. The next day, evening I guess, it was to the point where my wife and daughter took me to the ER. They put in an IV, but it wasn't doing all they wanted, and they decided I needed a "pic line," sort of a super IV. I remember them explaining it to me, nearly every word going right over my head, and them asking if I wanted that treatment, I remember giving a very weak nod, and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital three weeks later. I had contracted the "ordinary" flu, whatever that is, H1N1, and pneumonia simultaneously; I didn't think that was possible, either.
They had placed me in a medically induced coma, and loaded me in a brand new, almost experimental device called the Roto-Prone bed. Once strapped into this thing, you are rocked, inverted, and spun (gently), as they use gravity and centrifugal force to draw the fluid from your lungs. It apparently works, as my presence here attests. They also cut my throat and put in something called a trach-line (root word, trachea) to help me breathe; I
never actually saw it, but it drove me crazy, and they tell me I bent every effort to trying to get it out. Fortunately, I was unsuccessful.
Having now experienced a coma first-hand, let me tell you what it's like in there. Your mind, normally a very busy place, is floating, unoccupied, in a black void. I imagine it's close to what sensory deprivation is like. Desperate for anything to occupy itself, it will seize on any little pixel of information that finds its way in, and construct a whole narrative around it. Since you are aware that you are ill, in pain, restrained, and whatnot, that narrative takes that into account, and creates a series of nightmares that seem to go on for days without letup. In one, all the doctors that I could hear talking were metal-voiced robots who were waiting for my wife to come so that they could kill us; motive unknown, but when you
believe something like that, you just believe it. In another, I was a British sailor (I've always been something of an Anglophile) stationed in Singapore. A buddy and I were lying in ambush in a shot-up shipyard waiting for the Japanese to try to cross from the mainland so we could engage them in a firefight. They never came, but for four days, dream-time, we laid on concrete, moving as little as possible, concealing ourselves under rotten shrimp cans, dead fish, twisted through fallen girders, and so forth. I could "feel" the presence of another Brit, but we never spoke and I never saw him, so I don't know whether he was someone from my real life or not. What broke this was an Asian-accented feminine voice (one of
the nurses, no doubt) clearly asking if I wanted a bath. She was present in the dream, though I couldn't see her either, and I began to frantically warn her away: "There's going to be a battle, you're going to get shot, you have to get out of here!" and other things along that line before my brain caught up with my mouth, and I suddenly said, "A bath?" Warm cloths descended on me, pulling me out of that nightmare and setting me up for the next, which
thankfully, I don't remember, and hope I never do. My advice to anyone who chances to find themselves in a bedside vigil with a coma victim is don't make a sound. No talking, no singing, no wind chimes, no nothin'. The less information that trapped brain gets to work with, the better.
They tell me I was in the hospital for 35 days, but I don't remember much of that, just flashes of lying in an uncomfortable bed. February 11th I was transferred to a rehabilitation center where I found that my legs were virtually paralyzed. The doctor had some fancy name for it, and said it's common among people who are bedridden for long periods. He said it can take a year and more to recover. The nurses were fabulous, seeing to my every need with smiles on their faces, no matter what the task was, and through the efforts of a brilliant young physical therapist named Eric, I graduated from barely being able to stand, to a walker, to a cane, to walking on my own in two and a half weeks. They discharged me yesterday, and I'm back home with a walker just in case. I'm nowhere near where I was before all this happened. I'm shaky, weak, and have no stamina, but every day brings
improvement. Couple that with my natural determination (read "stubbornness"), and to quote from Roots, "Gonna learn to run!"
And that brings us up to date. So, how were your holidays?
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??