Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Tell The Story 2 (As Opposed To Toy Story 2, Which Is More Appropriate For Children)

I am lying in a hospital bed, which offers every imadginable position setting but “Comfortable.”  I dare anyone to find an adjustment that does not cramp up your back, or offers the possibility of sleep.  Although, in a hospital, a good night’s sleep is, curiously, not an priority, as… you know the drill – there are interruptions by “Nighttime Visitors” every four hours, checking your “Vital Signs”, emptying your – with apologies – “Pee Bottle”, and once, for me at least, changing the bedding.  At three o’clock in the morning.  It was on his “Duty Schedule”; he had to do it.  Losing my contact lens in the process.  But what they heck – I had immaculate sheets.

Here’s the thing.  When you’re that level of sick, you are kind of “out of it.”  Which in a way is a blessing, because otherwise, you’d be fully alert, and if you’re anything like me, you’d be going,

“Oh my God!  I’m sick!!!

“And I’m in a hospital!!”

Hold on!  I gotta go back.

(Note:  My mind is a little unfocused.  Not then; still, now.  The consequence is that at this moment, my thoughts are jumping around in my brain, yelling, “Tell me first!”  and I am not yet strong enough to keep them under control.  Imagine, my thoughts are stronger than I am.  And I cannot get them to behave.  My apologies, therefore, for being scattered.)

When I was first admitted to the hospital, being at least semi-delirious – I am not aware of the “dividing line” on that one – “He’s one-fourth delirious.”  “And the other three-fourths?”  “Oblivious.” – Because of my position on the “Consciousness Continuum”, I kept mistaking my diagnosis in my head:

I believed I had malaria. 

Even though I’d had no recent encounters with tsetse flies.

As far as I knew.

Although at that point, I did not know much. 

Having malaria kind of appealed to me.  It seemed exotic. 

Conjuring exploratory safaris up the Zambezi. 

Pit helmets and poisoned darts, don’cha you know.

Or, changing fantasies, defending the Khyber Pass, against the dreaded…

…people who had a more legitimate claim to the Khyber Pass than the defenders did.

To me, if you get a sickness, it may as well be a cool one.  One that, should you pull through, commands attention at gatherings.

“Stop bragging about your movie deal.  This guy had malaria!”

Placing me in the spotlight. 

And taking the sting out of my not having a movie deal.

At first, it appeared, I had not contracted something particularly noteworthy.  I had come down, it was believed, with pneumonia.

Ho hum. 

(Although not necessarily.  When we called my older brother to alert him I was in the hospital with what I was originally informed was “Walking Pneumonia”, drawing on his cyber-condriacal tendencies – he surfs the web looking for health scares – my brother warned me that “Walking Pneumonia” had led to the unexpected demise of Jim Henson. 

Hey, then.  Maybe pneumonia wasn’t so pedestrian.  I could already see the headline:

“Obscure Comedy Writer Succumbs To The Same Affliction As Muppet Genius.”

(NOTE:  Through subsequent research, my brother determined that it was “Galloping Pneumonia” that took Jim Henson.  If your pneumonia justs walks, it is apparently not as serious.)

As it turned out, however, both my “presenting symptoms” (which I shall attempt to describe next time) and subsequent blood tests revealed a diagnosis, which, though not as exotic as malaria – or even Beriberi, which, if they had ruled out malaria, I would happily have settled for – was nevertheless rare, and, in terms of its severity, nothing to casually shake a stick at.

I was informed I had Legionnaire’s Disease.

Which I have learned from various sources, can – correcting my ignorance on the subject – be contracted individually.  Still, less than twenty thousand Americans are diagnosed with it annually, the odds of getting it being considerably more than one in ten thousand.

Talk about winning the “Legionnaire’s Disease Lottery”!

Unaware of its seriousness, the revelation of my condition left me inappropriately amused. 

I had contracted something unusual. 

And that definitely made me special.

Didn’t it?

My excitement, however, could not match the ebullience of my primary care physician.  He had suspected I had Legionnaire’s Disease, and he had turned out to be correct.

The doctor could not have been more jubilant.  He was virtually dancing around my sickbed. 

“I nailed it!”

An odd juxtaposition – a seriously ill patient, and a celebrating doctor.


Dr. M remained with me as long as she could. 

But finally, the lights were out, and I was alone.

With my Legionnaire’s Disease.

And a bed that defied me to fall asleep in it. 

Oh, well, no big deal.

Someone would be in any minute to check my blood pressure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you're on the mend Earl. I've had malaria three times from where I work (Papua New Guinea), you're not missing anything, trust me on this.

However, on the upside you have a regular reader from a country that is often considered primitive and exotic, so there's that.

Am I the only one that is intrigued and want to see more unfocused Earl posts?

Glad you're back Earl, but take it easy please.