It’s Been a Rough Few Weeks

It’s been awhile since I posted anything on here, but this time I have good reason. A few of them, in fact. It has not been great since at least August, where our story begins…

So I posted last time about working third shift and having Fridays off. This in turn meant Friday mornings are spent drinking beer. Then I would get up in the afternoon and get more beer. More beer on Saturday and Sunday, and the weekend was complete. Of course, with all that barley and hops, your idea of healthy food goes out the window. So eating pizza or takeout Chinese for three days seems like a great idea when there’s 12 bottles of beer swimming around in your belly.

I felt like something was wrong on August 17th. I felt a sharp pain every time I tried to sit down. I thought it had something to do with my steady diet of liquid wheat and processed foods. I finally made my way to the doctor that Wednesday, and they sent me to Wilmington Surgical. I went there Friday, and they confirmed it was a deep rectal abscess.

Now if you are a dude and have dude friends, you know how other dudes are about anything rectal. We are relentless in the ballbusting and picking. I was more concerned with having my first surgery ever. After working at the hospital for so many years, soon I would be a patient.

I was scheduled to have a CT scan of the area that Saturday. My wife went off-script, taking me to the ED instead. Dr. Bebb happened to be the surgeon on call, and within a few hours I was in and out of the OR and in a room on the 4th floor.

Being a patient in the hospital gave me a different perspective. All of my nurses and caregivers were very kind and helpful. Their every four hour rule keeps you from getting too much sleep. After surgery, I rested due to the pain and the location of the wound. I went home after a little over a week, only to resume my steady diet of doing absolutely nothing. I could hardly walk to the bathroom without being out of strength. So I rested up, and that’s where I went wrong.

That Friday morning, early, I woke up to use the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I hobbled out of the bathroom, probably ten pounds lighter. I tried to make my way to the couch in the den, and felt dizzy. Then next thing I remember was waking up face first in the couch. I got myself up and laid back down, only to find out that my heart was pumping in overdrive. There was an extreme tightness in my chest, like two giant fists were pressed together just above my heart. Having no experience with it, I assumed it was a panic attack. I tried to slow my breathing, but it would come back faster every time. Mom was up by then, and she gave me two Valium which did nothing. Terry was up, and she called 911. EMS and a Fire Crew came. Apparently they knew I was 6’4″ and 350 so they would need help. I tried to get up on their gurney, only to faint again. It did nothing for my heartbeat, as it stayed at 150. It scared Terry, as her father was hauled out of their house with a diagnosis of cardiac arrest.

The paramedics worked to get my heart rate down in the truck, to no avail. I did breathing exercises that were also no help. So away we went, off to the ED. The only thing I could think about wasn’t my heart or breathing, but my sore ass riding that unpadded gurney and hitting every bump on the way.

Once we arrived, I was brought right in and placed in the treatment room immediately. The doc for my section started treatment, and I was covered In electrodes as they attempted in vain to run an IV in my dehydrated blood vessels.

Somewhere along the way, the doc theorized that I had an irregular heartbeat that he could jumpstart with something called a cardio version. It’s basically like jumping a car. You have two large electrodes that they shock you with, in the hopes of rebooting your heart back into the natural rhythm. It helps that you’re high as a kite while they do it. They use a sedative called Ketamine for this procedure. For those that don’t know, ketamine is used to sedate horses and other farm animals.

So they hook you up to the sedation, and after it takes effect, you have no idea where you are. You just kind of drift out there, in space. It turns black, which I assume was the shocking part because my chest was hurting. Then I see darkness with a shadow in front of me trimmed in neon green. I hear lots of laughter, and as I drift back to reality, I realize that the shadow was the overhead light in the treatment room. All I could think about was the song by Afro Man. “I was gonna make my heart better, but then I got high.”

So the cardio version was unsuccessful. The doc sent me for a CT scan close by. After this, he sees that there is a saddle clot in my pulmonary artery. It is the worst kind of clot. Suddenly surgeons appear and want to shove a catheter in my groin to access and remove the clot. I am against this for a very specific reason.

When I had the rectal abscess surgery, a side effect was swollen testicles. It got so bad that the two became one, about the size of a medium baking potato. They in turn enveloped the penis, so that it could not be located. I had to pee using a large bedpan in the front so I didn’t get a urine bath every time. Hence my reluctance to go that route. I had visions of a giant pair of testicles with legs and a head.

Nevertheless, they were all discussing it. Next thing I know, they pump me full of clot busting fluids. I am taken to PACU which also houses STICU. I am pumped full of Heparin along with fluids to keep the blood thin in the hopes of the clot dissolving and moving on. I stayed there overnight, and then was moved up to the 10th floor. The penthouse. Moving on up. I was visited by all my friends during my time there (thanks to you all), and I left that Monday. I had enough of those white walls and the same 18 tv channels.

So after the second stint as a patient, then came the doctor appointments. I was set to attend a few, but then came the Hurricane. A so-called Cat 1 that destroyed our region with wind and rain. We were lucky. Some people lost whole houses, furniture, cars, and 40 years of keepsakes. Our power went out, that was the worst for us. Terry and I spent our anniversary in a hot and sticky sweaty haze waiting for the power to be restored. It finally came back on after a week, and we were all ecstatic. At that point, I would have slept with the power guy if he turned the power on.

So here we are now. I’m waiting on my posterior wound to heal so I can return to work and the hell that awaits there. Things are getting back to normal in town, as most places have reopened and stores are restocked. Gas stations don’t have mile long lines. I can get through the store without passing out. And Terry has an art show at Going Local in Front Street tomorrow evening. Check it out

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