And Now, A Happy Christmas Eve Memory from 2007 in ICU.

Other than having an overabundance of snot and snot-related products in my head, I’m doing okay at 0500 EST, 24 December, 2012. I’m lying here in my bed, underneath a green NyQuil fog, and the cat is beside me, keeping my elbow warm. I try to be good about taking “one day at a time.” I often fail. For some reason, I’m great at marking off anniversaries of things. The past couple days have been–and the next few days will be–a bit odd for me. Five years ago right now–Christmas Eve morning–I was doing the same thing I’m doing right now: writing a blog post (also, secondarily, trying to find my missing sense of style and cadence). That world was Vox, may it rest in peace. I didn’t have many friends on here, for I was a blogging newbie. For two years after I “went to that special resort ;-)”, I couldn’t write more than a check. I missed it so much. Then my friend Ali (ama_duende) forced me to sign up for Vox. I met a few people through her, then moved on through friends-of-friends of hers. The neighborhoods. Damn. I don’t know how many people I now count as good friends, even though I don’t know our blogs collided back in Vox. I digress. This is what I wrote five years ago this moment. To everyone who sent me kind words–or an extraordinarily kind video (you know who you are)–I thank you. For all the thoughts and prayers and “healing light,” I am grateful. Tonight, I still have bad depression and a cold. Five years ago, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be around Boxing Day. I made it to Boxing Day and beyond, thank God, and I’m glad to be with you still. Here’s what I wrote five years ago this moment. Sorry about the typos in the title and the body: I was trying not to die at the time. In 2007, Christmas Eve early morning was Sunday into Monday, btw, and I think I might have started this at home before I knew for sure I was going to the hospital. I was pretty out of it, so I just picked back up apace. Anyway, I wish you and your loved ones–human and non alike–a very safe, healthy, and Merry Christmas. Love, ts)

I shalll keep Christmas in my heart, if I ever get out of St Anthony’s ICU

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2007 by tomzone

It started with the fever, and I battled it back with NyQuil.  It broke on Tuesday, only to be replaced by something more horrible: cellulitis.  Cellulitis is a rather vile infection of the skin, and it usually responds fairly well to treatment.

Or it doesn’t, and you end up having to have big parts of your carcass pared away like a Thanksgiving turkey.

So now I have the fever, and this massive infection, which not only hurts, but also requires that I take Levaquin, a drug that rivals NyQuil for intensity of coma-dreams.  Add the fever the NyQuil and the Levaquin together, and I haven’t had a sane thought in the past 36 hours.

Except when I heard the helicopters buzzing my bed.  Turns out that was actually real–they were spraying the mangroves out back.

Late Thursday night I was walking down one of those grimy dream streets, and the devil-bitch (my ex) was berating me for something, when lo and behold Cap’n Crunch came to my defense.  He gave her a stern talking-to.  She rolled her eyes.  He drew his sword, tapped her with it, and she disappeared with an audible “pop,”

…as the poison released and the swelling in my lower body grew unbearable, and finally, I acquiesced and went to the emergency room.

“What’s the matter?”
“Bad cellulitis infection; going septic.  Here’s my information form.  I’m going to pass out if I don’t sit down.”

Lots of people in scrubs take information and fluids from me.  Other people in scrubs put pills and fluids and new information into me.

I’m taken in to another room.  I just want the hurting to stop, the poison to flush away somehow.

In this last room it’s very cold and bright and clean, and I can only see people’s eyes.  They put a mask over my face, and the air gets fake fresh & flowery like a used dryer sheet.  I wake up and they’ve cut away lots of the bad parts, like the burnt part on toast or a charred hamburger pattie.  How do you feel? I feel better, thanks.  Are you sore? Yes, ma’am, could I get a Motrin or something? Push that button if you have pain, and it’ll put stuff into that tube in your arm.  What stuff? Dilaudid.  This  button was it? And I push and I feel better, like when I click on one of those websites and give some homeless family 50 lbs of cornmeal or a pig, or a can of dog food to an animal shelter.

A sporadiic parade of people in scrubs and masks come in and introduce themselves to me, as if I can see anything to remember them by.  “Remember me? We met while you were lying in a hospital bed, tripping on Dilaudid? You had a giant open wound, and I was completely covered from head to foot in green cotton.” One man comes in and gets angry looking into my giant open wound.  He points out just where the other surgeon should’ve carved more of the burned spot off the hamburger, more of the mold away from the cheese, more puss-oozing necrotic tissue away from my little hellpit.

And now, they took away my Dilaudid button, because I wasn’t using it enough.  I don’t understand.  But I’m sore from Dr McGrumpy poking around my woundpit, so I ask Nurse Dolores to bring me a Motrin or two.  She comes back ten minutes later with two Percocets.  Docter Nice Guy doesn’t want you to have any NSAIDS before tomorrow.  Tomorrow? Yeah, tomorrow at noon, remember? That’s when they’re taking you back up for more surgery.  Christmas Eve knocked out, carved up, then brought back here to my new home in the ICU.

The night nurse brought me two more Percocets and a ham sandwich.  No food or drink after midnight.  There’s a packet of mayo–fat free.  Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll have my Dilaudid button back, but they don’t want me to have regular mayo? God bless them, anyway.  My eyes are tired after watching Spiderman 2, which I enjoyed more than Carrie tonight.  Then again, she wasn’t on Percocet.  The nurse took my sandwich wrapper and left me half a pitcher of water.  “I’ll take that at midnight, so make sure you’re all done.”  After midnight, no more food or water until after…
noon, more fake fresh flowery air and cold, and more abrupt waking from a dreammless sleep.  And then more poking and prodding, just to see whether they got all the really nasty bits.  To see if I might be alive to see New Year’s Day.  Melodrama sucks, but the lead surgeon told me that.  “If you’d waited even another 24 to 36 hours before you came in, you wouldn’t have been saveable.”

Merry Christmas from ICU.  Pulse: 69; Resp 17.  O2 Sat: 98%. BP: 118/65.  Small lighted tree: 1.  Somehow this makes me happier than anything else because my friend Bill brought it up here.  Lots of friends and family have seen my tree today.  It makes me happy, the tree and the people and the idea that hopefully someday next year or two, I will still be around to take a little plastic tree to some poor schlub friend of mine stuck in the hospital on Christmas Eve.


10 Responses to “And Now, A Happy Christmas Eve Memory from 2007 in ICU.”

  1. Wow. I’ve never spent Christmas in a hospital, but I have had a couple of one-week stays (Dilaudid is good shit–IF they keep you supplied with it!) and I know what a drag it can be, on top of the physical malady that put you there.

    Glad you bounced back from that harrowing experience, even if Christmas 2012 seems to have plonked you into a different version of misery. Wishing you a surge in immune response, and the appropriate neurotransmitters, in hopes that this holiday doesn’t have to be a total dud!

  2. Yeah, like Scott said, wow. Incredible tale. I can’t imagine the pain and the fever dreams. Thank god for good drugs.
    I hope your snot clears up and you can breathe easy for the holidays. Big hugs, Tom!

  3. This post was my first exposure to the Tom zone, since I followed another peep here those five years ago. The little Christmas tree looks like a burning bush, but to me signifies your blazing spirit all year long. I’m ever so glad you made it through that Christmas, and to this one.

    • I’m so glad, too, Laurie. 🙂

    • The tree was behind my bed, maybe 10 or 12 feet away. I took that picture from my bed using my old Motorola Razr phone. I uploaded the image to my PowerBook, then messed with the settings, jacking the saturation all the way up till it looked like a burning bush. That was sort of how I saw it: not just like a small tree with white twinkle lights, but something powerful and almost Holy. (nb: I was very high at the time, and my brain was probably still a bit cray-cray from the infection)

    • I met a lot of new Voxers during my hospital month, some of whom–you, e.g.–became very good friends. Others, I’d known casually–like Gunderson Bee–but we became much closer during those days.

      (As yet, you are the only one with whom I’ve shared the perfect scallop.)

  4. Sometimes Christmas trees are meant to be shared. Intended to heal and be healed.

    Part of me laments why can’t it stay the same forever and the other part thanks God it doesn’t.

    • I lament the same thing sometimes. Mostly, I’m glad we move on: even though that part can be difficult and painful, I think that’s where we learn important truths.

      I’m about ready to STOP learning important truths, if that’s how we have to do it, but still…

      I watched that video over and over those lonely Christmastide nights, and it made me smile and tear-up at the same time. I don’t know how long you thought about that, or if it was just spontaneous, but the repercussions were amazingly good.

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