Things stayed pretty much in that vein for a few months. I had little energy or motivation for extracurricular activity but I was able to do a decent job of things at work. Everything else fell by the wayside...I kept my nose as much to the grindstone as I could,working on and off on my altworld Hendrix novel and developing the instrumental lines for the “Astrology”tune. My home-time was at this point about two hours daily,due to the walking and bus-riding I had to do to get back and forth. That left about seven and a half hours for sleeping. You do the math.
Anyway,things were keeping on keepin on,and finances were beginning to look doable. Then I caught what I thought was a cold. A bad one. Had me hacking up a lung at work one day,four days after the illness started. Couldn’t afford to take any time off though,so in I went the next day. I was so sick that night that I went straight to bed without my supper.
The following day,Wednesday,I managed to shower and dress,but couldn’t bring myself to get on the road. Denise took a good look at me and suggested I dial emergency. It was February 16 @8:00 am.
The paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. My vitals and condition were bad enough that the decision was made to take me to UMC. They stood me up and walked me out the front door and the front gate,into the vehicle,popped an oxygen mask on me,and away we went. I remember arriving at the hospital,and then I have very little recollection of anything at all until sometime in late March.
For information about events during that period,I refer you to the Knittingkitties blog.
To make a long story short,I had caught pneumonia,which behaved in old-school fashion and developed enough complications to nearly kill me. It was touch and go the first weekend,or so I’m led to understand. I had been placed in a drug coma-with enough opiates and sundry other preparations to keep even an old warhorse like me off the trail.
I’d arrived with the afore-mentioned pneumonia and a corresponding condition known as pneumothorax. The resulting lack of oxygen and systemic trauma led to other complications as my body had expelled the original virus/bacilli and was now attacking itself. I had developed a condition known as ARDS. ARDS is no joke. It killed Muppeteer Jim Henson some years ago,and actor Jeff Conaway passed away because of it just recently.
My kidneys shut down. My heart followed,then resumed in an offbeat rhythm. I grew anemic. I was looking at the light,I suppose.
Denise started reading to me,at a doctor’s suggestion. Roger Zelazny’s The Doors of His Face,The Lamps Of His Mouth (a recent collection including the famous story) was the first. My heart resumed normal rhythm. Thanks,Roger. And of course thanks to Denise.
I recall a drunk with the dts in the first room I was in. I remember the bunny Nipit being brought into the ICU. The next thing I remember is part of an interview with Wade Boggs,the former Bosox third sacker,which had some footage of a townhouse he owned.
That was probably Sunday,the night they took me off the drugs,and the beginning of a four-day nightmare ( cue Beatles tune). Yeah,cold turkey,that’s it. I made like Crawford Tillinghast,couldn’t tell if I was awake or asleep except that every time I awakened it was in a different room,in a different location,though the same small picture window showed a bit of the Catalina Mountains,and the hallway outside the door teemed with medical personnel.
A vacant apartment above a tavern in Westmont,Il was the first spot I woke up in. Something in there so terrified me that I actually got up from the bed and took a couple of steps before realizing that I couldn’t walk and propelling myself backward onto the bed. The bed was what is known as a motion bed,and the thing rippled with activity-I took that to be mice. The bed creaked too.
The mice didn’t bother me near as much as the hordes of nightgaunts and other translucent menaces,though I was terrified of the motion boot (meant to exercise my lower leg muscles),amd kept wondering when the mice down there were gonna bite. I woke up in Boggs’townhouse,in my bed,immobile as ever. A respiratory tech had come in to give me some treatment. I took him to be the homeowner and informed him that I had hitchhiked to that location (I supposed),and would he be so kind as to help me back to my room. He went and fetched the overnight duty nurse,possibly to find out what I was on about. I came to in an interstellar craft (the stars were not familiar constellations,though the mountain view remained). The overnight nurse came in to turn on my feeding tube. I thought it was big jar of brown mustard and refused. One night I was being moved from my room to somewhere (I don’t remember where) when suddenly I COULD NOT BREATHE.
Immediately,swarms of white coats surrounded me,poking and prodding and trying to help while generally making things worse by making me ANXIOUS AS HELL. One overzealous RT decided that I needed albuterol puffs and actually kneeled on my chest in her eagerness to help.
Out of the corner of my eye,I saw the instrument that measured my blood oxygen saturation. The number was steadily getting smaller as I lay there (by now I was on the floor) gasping. When the RT was on my chest,I saw that go down to 55. I couldn’t talk-said to myself “you’re killing me”- and threw the woman off of me with a tremendous heave. At that point I weighed all of 150 pounds and was weaker than a kitten. But I wanted to LIVE.
Another tech tried to give me puffs. I clawed at her with my two-month-grown fingernails. A nice black woman with very smooth skin leaned down and informed me that nobody there wanted anything other than for me to breathe.
I glared as fiercely as I could manage and sent telepathic messages that I’d breathe just fine if they all just BACK THE FUCK OFF OF ME.
Deep breath,through the nose. Purse dry lips. Exhale as much as possible. Do it again,do it slowly. Again. Again. That worked. I was stuffed back into my jerry chair and taken wherever I was off to in the first place.
I awakened back in my bed,in a different room somewhere else in Westmont. The rest of the stay in the hospital was uneventful by comparison,though I clearly recall the snafu that led to me having a picc line put into my right elbow on the day that I was being released.The next part will have to do with my stay in a convalescent center.