I hope this the end of my hospital/near death stories. You probably hope so too! This is to update those of you who are interested on a few things that I omitted in my earlier facebook posts.
I went to the ER after a week on antibiotics from my personal physician that didn’t seem to help. I foolishly took time to make that decision a week to see if the medicine worked. It didn’t. It was procedure time, and when I went into the hospital, they were on me like bees on syrup. My kidneys had shut down, my heart was in constant arrhythmia and the docs later told me that I probably would have died had I waited until Monday like I first thought.
I had been having problems with urinating for a few months earlier but put off seeing the doctor until it was more convenient to me. Yeah, I know. Stoopid with a double oh. So, the night before I was going to call the doc again, in straining to pee I could feel I broke something, and finally told Snookums to drive me to the hospital.
The doctors were on me like bees in a hive. The ER doctor hovered. The urologist on- call inserted a large foley catheter, as I howled in pain. The Cardiologist on-call was on the spot and had me hardwired into the shocker. I am happy to report that I didn’t trigger the shocking machine.
They debated much on the medications I was given. Some of the cardiologist’s meds were at odds with the urologist and vice versa. They rinsed my bladder for over a week or two, but since I lost all track of time, I am sure I got the sequence and times wrong.
But to continue. You know you are in trouble when you see nothing but doctors around your gurney saying OMG! Huge clots flowed out of the Foley and into the bag. The doctors sounded like fishermen comparing the sizes of their catch as each stream of clot oozed out into the clear tubes. They couldn’t believe that I waited that long to come in.
I hovered between deep sleep and periods of lucidity while my bladder was rinsed of blood clots and other detritus, and somewhere in all that I went into the cath-lab for four stents. It was painful as all hell which was unusual for me. My other balloons and stents didn’t hurt like that. But what I thought was indigestion for the last many years was angina. Finally, after years and years, success with that!
I was then wheeled out to the recovery room in intense pain where the nurse offered me Tylenol® and I went off on her. I feel a bit guilty of that now, but I felt that my pain wasn’t being addressed. Finally, the Cardiologist gave me fentanyl and the pain sort of subsided to the back of my mine but didn’t totally disappear. To this point, the doctors don’t think that was from the cath, but that’s where it started, so I am assuming they bruised something near the backbone. They gave me topical pain killers, but they didn’t stop the discomfort. But in time, that did go away near the end of my stay.
Then I forgot how to breathe when I fell asleep. I have suffered for years with night paralysis, but it never effected my breathing. But waking up trying to remember how to breathe frightened me. They put me on a CPAP breathing machine, and that solved the breathing problem, and the heart pain. I haven’t had that happen since I left the hospital, though, but a Sleep Study looms big in my future.
I was discharged two weeks later and have felt pretty good except for a time when the Foley was clogged, and I went to the ER to have it changed. I failed the pee test and I expect that the old Roter-Rooter of the prostate also looms in my near future. I can’t say I am fond of that idea, even though I have been assured that it is relatively painless. Doctors seem to have a different standard for ‘discomfort’ than I do.
Physically I am very weakened. Just the 30’ walk to the kitchen tires me. Recovery in that area is going to be a long time routine, and I am not so sure that I am up to it. I am tired.
So, thanks for the prayers! I couldn’t believe how many people where praying people, including a couple of nurses! I am sure that is the reason I have come out of the experience reasonably well.
Thank you all!!
We can only tell so many near death stories without bad luck catching up to us. I dodged that bullet that had my name on it again.
I originally wanted to describe an event that happened to me when entering the hospital. I wish I were an artist and could paint the picture that is in my head because I can make the words describe that sublime moment of humiliation. I manage tragedy with gallows humor, and that is very disconcerting to other people, so I save that sort of humor for a few people that I know can handle it. I have decided to break the tale down into short essays and see if I can return to the original story with a freshened view. I really want to tell it, but it must be more polished before I post it.
It is not a very sanitary story, so if bodily processes and gore upset you, go no further. You have been warned.
The Scrub Down
I had been in the emergency room around three hours as doctors irrigated out blood clots from my bladder. My body was shutting down when the ambulance brought me in. I was not aware that I was in such serious trouble. I just thought I was having the usual male curse of a swollen prostate.
Several doctors were standing around commenting on the huge clots. You know you are in trouble when one of the doctors say, “Oh my God!” as each huge dollop of clotting exited into the plastic bag hanging off the edge of my gurney. I was a star. Everyone stopped by to see the fluid draining. They had never seen that much clotting before.
But the release of the pressure was a blessed event, right up there with an epiphany as I laid there on the hard pad of the ER gurney. The doctors were still busy figuring out how to restart the kidneys and fighting the arrythmia in my heart. It appears the treatment for the two problems were in opposition to each other, and they were doing a ballet dance of controlling medicines and reacting to lab results. When I was stabilized some six hours later, they transferred me to their Level 1 Intensive Care where each patient had their own nurse, and the rooms were large enough to allow several medical specialties room to work on the patient at the same time.
Waiting around the bed were six nurses, each armed with an orange scrub brush mounted on the end of a short handle. I was very unsanitary at that moment, and I was really humiliated at the body filth. But this small squad of petite scrubbers did their work over every inch of my body with military-like efficiency. When finished they all turned at the same time and exited single file from the room. It felt good laying on the soft mattress and clean sheets, and I let my humiliation slowly bleed out. Modesty and dignity had to go into storage.
A bright day awakens me this second day in September. I turn off the cassock filter, lower the bed, turn off the portable AC and plod into the bathroom for the morning ritual. It was empty, and I knew it would be. Annie always waited in there for her morning breakfast and would greet me as I came in to share her space with her. But I had steeled myself and knew she would not be there this morning. Still, the daylight was a bit bleaker, and I paused to let the moment wash over me.
And such is life. As it is for the pets I have loved, so it is with us humans. Dogs don’t sit around like I do and muse over the fate of their kind. Each day is each day, and unlike me, they greet the day as it comes. They don’t tick off the days as they pass. Some of the Holy writs mention that the animals know God, and they thank him for every act of kindness. Even in the meanest of circumstances, they never complain to God that life is unfair.
Do pets go to heaven? Frankly, I don’t know. The writs are silent on that point, but I have my doubts that they do. We have them while we have them, and when they are gone, they are gone. And Heaven mourns their passing just as we do.
Mankind suffered the same fate as animals after Adam’s poor choice. And I believe that is why God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins. Adam became equal to the creatures he once ruled over. To the animals, Adam was the same as God. They didn’t know the difference between Adam and God when they looked upon Adam. But now Adam was like them, and they didn’t see God when they looked at him. He was just another animal to be feared. Man’s life was transferred to blood, and blood returned to the ground. And so did man, just as the animals.
But there is a deep and arcane mystery in all that, and it is a musing for another time.
Some of you may not want to read this. I am not going to gloss on about euthanasia or offer up any gentle platitudes concerning it.
Annie-Annie. Or Annie as we normally called her, came as a stray puppy who was abandoned and lived off night crawlers and bugs. She followed Linda and Sherry home one day while they were walking the neighborhood. She was emaciated, and I didn’t think she would live a week then. I was not for keeping her, but the women persisted and so we slowly brought her weight up. She had a lot of problems with her knees and had surgery on all of them. I think it was because she was thrown out of a car. People do that down here. Drive out into the country, throw the dog out and drive off.
Like most labs, she was stoic and seldom complained. Watching her these last few days when you wonder if it is time or not was hard. She can rest ok but moving is painful and slow. We just could not let her continue to suffer and made the decision to call the vet and make that last trip. It is almost time to bring the car around and load her as I write this, and I swallow hard, press my lips, and force myself to do what needs to be done. We already received more time with her than we originally thought we would.
Thanks to Sanchia and her generous giftings of CBD oil which I am convinced gave us those precious months, but it is time.
It is something I never get used to. My other dog owning friends talk about euthanasia as something peaceful and even beatiful. But for me it is anything but peaceful or beautiful. The vet comes in, the vet assistant holds the dog, the vet sprays the site, inserts the needle, and the shot is given, then everyone tries to gently lay the dog down as it relaxes from the lethal compound. Her ears went up, the doc listened till the heart stopped, seconds later she weakly tried to howl twice in reflex, but didn’t have the strength, and once again the doc checked her eyes for reflex. She was gone. It was over in ten long seconds. I killed her.
Yeah, it was necessary. It was time. But it wasn’t easy, and I don’t think it is supposed to be easy. I don’t feel like I was there for her. I don’t think she crossed over any rainbow bridges into that beautiful dog park in the sky.
4:35 PM Wednesday, September 1, 2021, I killed my beloved dog. Humanely.
“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.“
This is one of the more mysterious passages in the Book of Revelations. It was the first passage that captured me at the beginning of my walk of faith, and still calls to me almost fifty years later. It says of itself that it is a summation of everything for the saints. I chose the King James version because it is the most common version, and not necessarily the translation I think is the correct one.
It has been translated many different ways, and each translation believes it is closely adhering to the original. Even among Bible expositors that I admire there is much debate. When a passage of prophecy is obscured such as this one is, I believe that it points to a future time and is a prophecy for those people at that time. None the less, I ponder it. I mull over it. I have dreams of it.
One of the views is that it is best translated, “Those who lead others into captivity must go into captivity: Those who kill must be killed.” I do not reject this view entirely, but it is problematic to me. There is no doubt that the church today has little, and we hold fast to what little we have. We certainly do not labor with the power of the first century church. I attribute that lack of results to apostasy and unbelief. So in essence the church today is blind, and it leads the blind. And we all know the proverb about that.
Another view is translated, “Those who are destined for captivity will go into captivity. Those who are destined to die violently, will die violently”. I am more in accord to this view, but still not totally wed to it. Still, we have been compared to sheep being led to the slaughter. Slaughtering, no matter how humanely done, is a violent act.
So I wander from one pole to another, and read the news. I believe this mystery will be revealed in the days of most of my readers. The fulfillment of prophesy lies at our door. We are not living in blessed times ….
Woke at the crack of ten a.m. this morning. That is not normal for me, but my body seems to really appreciate the break. Bright day with bright blue skies with a low for us humidity of 47%. And it won’t go over 100° today. It has been a very mild summer by Texas standards.
Watching Annie, my black labrador-something-or-the-other and her battle with bone cancer in her front legs. Today, she is really struggling to get around, and I am reminded that I will eventually have to make that hard decision. But she still rests comfortably, and is still happy and alert, so as long as the overall quality of her life is good, I am spared that decision. Still, I must steel myself for the eventuality.
The eyes seem to be healing nicely after the cataract surgery, though it is maddening that one day I have very good vision, and blurry vision on other days. I was told to expect that, but it would probably settle down. I hope it does, because in six days I get fitted for specs. This day I am far sighted and gaze around a neighborhood that I had not watched grow. New outbuildings on some lots, tufts of weeds in lawns, all flood my eyes. I have really missed seeing. Now to get the hearing working again …
I shut my mouth on Afghanistan. What more can be said that isn’t? The newsfeeds are ¾ Afghanistan, and ¼ a chronicle of a world gone mad. So the days go by, marked by pots of Snookums perfect coffee.
The world has gone full tilt crazy. The question now becomes how does one keep sane and safe in an insane world? To be either a sheep or a wolf is two of the avenues that my religious colleagues have chosen, but either choice is fraught with peril. And if you are a person of faith, wearing the beast’s uniform or putting your hand and mind to his will cannot shield you from the insanity either. They will find you out.
Up to this point, I was a wolf, and studied the ways of arms and combat to protect my family. It seemed more noble to me to die in a hail of gunfire than to be beaten to death by the mob. But I am old and feeble now. I can still shoot reasonably well, and still train my mind in threat management (i.e., take out the major threat first), but the truth is that when the enemy come to harass me, I am toast. As the indignities of old age increase, I will become less and less of a threat. The day will come when I take to my bed, and my warrior days will be over. I will be a sheep.
I am reminded that my Master also became a sheep, and they did to him as they wished. Why would I think that I am fiercer than He? So, I ponder growing old. I will not march off bravely to war with my comrades anymore. I will not fiercely fight off Marxists from my front porch in the future. I am just an old man who remembers a time when he was proud of his government and proud of his country, even when the opposition was in power. Not so today. The government has become the enemy, or in the words of Pogo, we have met the enemy, and he is us.
I see no cure on the horizon. We are doomed to devolve from that bright and pure line the founders laid down for us. There are no visionaries around today with the founder’s dream. There are only detractors with slogans and demonstrations. There are too many. I cannot hold them back.
And so I return to the words of my Master. T’shuvah. I must turn back to the beginning. I must be safely hid within Him, and he must safely be hid within me, and he awaits me at the fork where I left him.
And this day I ponder that idea.
I expected her to show up, but still started a little when I caught her unblinking glare from atop the monitor.
I glared back at her
She glared back at me
I returned to my writing
I couldn’t concentrate on my writing, though because I can’t break free of the catastrophe in Afghanistan. The magnitude of events in Afghanistan are incomprehensible to me. The CIC’s decision in simply closing the door and leaving Afghanistan is incomprehensible to me. The media’s reaction to the CIC’s tragic decision is incomprehensible to me. And those glittering eyes at the top of the monitor were disconcerting.
Biden caved. The media caved. I caved.
There she sat balanced on the edge in her tatty wool pencil skirt. That skirt should have been retired when she retired. And that was back in ….
“Yeah. Go ahead and say it, hero. You aren’t looking so spiffy yourself. What has it been now? 31 years that you have been moldering? And get a damned haircut! You look like **** with your six hairs streaming down your neck!” She started in.
“I wasn’t going to say anything!” I shot back.
“Then don’t!” She said smugly, knowing she got the last shot.
I went on, vainly trying to stay ahead of her, “I am just so emptied at watching the events in Afghanistan. I remembered Saigon and how the House Democrats pushed that off on President Ford. Joe Biden was in on the loop when that went down. He was a 35-year-old Senator then. I was a 32-year-old bartender then and disillusioned with government that was left after the failure of my own President. Yeah, I had voted for Nixon, and that wasn’t the only shortcoming I had. I feel the same hopelessness with government now that I felt back then.”
“Well, write about that.” she replied
“I can’t. I am just as empty now as I was then.” I bleated
“Well, what can you write? On second thought, cancel that question!” She snarked.
Snark. Humorless humor invented by left wing comics to convey their smug opinions, as if they were beyond question. But I ignored the jibe and went on, “Coffee posts. Inane meanderings while I munch cookies and absorb strong bitter coffee. I am so sick of that level of writing.”
“It is writing, though. You aren’t exactly Ernest Hemmingway, you know.” She went on, sensing she had the upper hand.
I ignored that jibe too, and went on, “Yeah. It is. But I am beginning to see why comedians want to play villains. Treacle becomes very tiring, and I do have my dark side. I want to play around with the primal urges, but when I do, I scare the hell out of everyone.”
“You have your hidden site still. Do you remember the password?” She suggested a bit more seriously
“Yeah, but the truth is I am not someone who writes for themselves. I like being read and I need peoples’ reactions. Even negative ones. The secret site has sat unused for at least a decade or more now. I lead a very sedate lifestyle today.”
“You are a bit staid.” She replied, stroking her chin a bit too thoughtfully. “Perhaps you could just write coffee posts until you feel like doing something different.”
“I tried that. But when you are sipping coffee in a perfect world every morning, it is hard to punch it up into something interesting. I have a few fans who can tell me how many perfect pots of Snookums coffee I have helped empty over the years. (14,890) But most don’t care.”
“Maybe you can have a fantasy about the two of us!” she said brightly, changing one knee over the other and exposing the tops of her stockings again.
I averted my eyes again. My dark side isn’t that dark. “I think I’ll do a little challenge to write three or four 500 word pieces a week. I dunno. Maybe six weeks would be the end point?”
“I’ll be here” she said, recrossing knees.
“I was afraid of that” I said, again averting my eyes at the flash of white skin above the hose.
Of blessed memory
Ms. Becks of Beck’s Kitchen fame posted a brief bio of Madam Jeanne Louise Calment on facebook who was known as the longest living woman. In it she had several quotes such as “I’ve got only one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.“, “I’m in love with wine.“, and “I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but everything’s fine.“
Becky went on to say that Madam Calment reminded her of my Muse. Mz Muze. An imaginary woman who is a composite of several people I have known over a lifetime. She was
stolen appropriated from my favorite journalist and curmudgeon of all time, Gene Amole, of blessed memory. His muse was called the idea fairy and perched on his typewriter wearing a pink tutu. He would have conversations with her when the news cycle was slow and the Newspaper Editor was breathing down his neck at deadline.
Mz Muze is a dated bleach blond of indeterminate maturity. She normally wears a too small brownish woolen pencil skirt and a pink rayon blouse. She is a bit vain, but not stupid, and hates bullpucky. She is intensely interested in my writing, and tolerates my poor spelling and grammar, but is quick to point out clichéd and trite opinions that I have
stolen adopted. And she is the angel of death when I get lazy and cite talking points as my opinion.
When my hearing and eyesight started fading, I lost interest in reading and writing .. it was just too much work and yielded too little satisfaction. I am more of an essayist than a writer. Which means I hate editing my work. I want to sit down and let the wisdom flow and get very impatient if the verbiage goes nowhere. So Mz. Muze went into the dust bin of past icons.
Now that the cataracts are removed, and a whiz bang set of new hearing aids sit in their plastic box on the desktop, I have been feeling the urge to write. But all that consumes me now is the bumbling idiot we have asked to execute the laws of the land totally fails in every task we have given him and succeeds in tasks we haven’t given him. I am aghast. And I’ll just leave it there.
So, the suggestion that I resurrect Mz. Muze from the dust bin is a good one, though I expect she is going to be a bit peevish …
The decision to write every day fell, then the decision to write every other day followed. Now we are down to once a week. Maybe.
Two of my sisters are down from Colorado to visit. It is a bit sobering to think this could well be the last time we see each other. And time sure has put its mark on us. I see my dad’s face in both as they talk, and I suppose those genetic markers will continue for generations to come with their children, and their children’s children. I muse. And so, time goes, strewing its bits of DNA hither and yon.
My life, as insignificant as it is is still my life, and we retell stories of our life while sitting around the table. We tell the stories that shaped and molded us. Those bits will also echo down the generations. There was laughter. Sadness. Regrets. Resolve. And maybe even some remorse. But it was our life.
And I think of my passing …
Regrets? Yeah, I have a few. And while I am not all that enamored with the ride on Charon’s boat upon the River Styx, such is my fate. I can only hope to accept it with grace, and maybe a bit of stoicism.