Monday, April 30, 2012

22- Endurance Training



It must be about seven in the morning because it looks like the bustle of a shift change.  Just like working in a job in a bar or restaurant, people are soon leaving and others are just getting in.  So, for a little while there are too many people.  

Its the usual start to my day now.  "I'm going to turn this big, scary light on.  OK?"  That's ICU speak for, "Bright Light!  Bright Light!"  This always causes me to pull my blanket to my face quickly.  Its almost like I were to give a wedgie to a seven foot tall person.  Pulling the heavy drawers right up to my chin.
 
I think I've been using five blankets lately.  These suckers have to weigh at least eight pounds a piece.  They make it really hard to move, yet I'm still cold.  Immediately, the nurse folds down all of my blankets near my waist.  My entire torso is exposed to the frigid air.  At least they gave me this gown as thick as a dryer sheet to keep me warm.

Exposed to the elements, the staff checks my sheets for any over night mishaps, and move the icy blood pressure cuff up my skeletal arm.  With a clamp on the tip of my finger, and a lazily placed thermometer in my mouth, they ask me what I want for breakfast.  I find this to be an odd question because they never ask, or when I do they say that I can't have it.

However, my server looks at her menu for me, and discovers that mine is predetermined.  Quicksand grits, no pork (too salty), some jello, and their finest hospital bed coffee.
They bring my breakfast and I know I have to eat fast.  The physical trainer always arrives on my second bite of a meal, without fail.  Hmm. 

Here she is, and she still has the obnoxious get up and go attitude about her.  I understand its her job to get me excited, but that doesn't make our meetings any more pleasurable for me.  
"I just got my breakfast.  I'm hungry.  Can you come back?"
"Come on, Sweetie.  It will only take a minute, then you can eat and relax when you get back."
She's lying.

My pseudo-breakfast will be cold and congealed by the time my feet hit the floor. 
 I won't be the only one getting a workout because someone has to get me in and out of this bed. 
There is a system to getting up.  I have to scoot my rear-end up and let my feet dangle at my knees.  In the meantime, I have to make sure I don't snag any of my numerous IV's, and electrode wires as I bare witness to my possession of an eight year old boy's junk.

All of my helpers are on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what comes next.  I slide forward to get my red-socked toe on the cool tile.  There's one.  I pull my left leg inward with my right hand, and slide down.  Two feet on the floor.
Now, stand.

Although I'm using the full strength of my arms and legs, I can't get all the way up.  This is so much harder than last time.  Did I get more ill?  I'm supposed to be getting better.  Now, Richard Simmons wants me to stand all the way up and straighten my back. 
"Come on!  You can do it!"

With all of my strength I push myself up far enough to lock my knees and elbows in place.  One of .the nurses looks up at me and says, "Wow.  I didn't know you were tall."  I'm guessing she is about five-three.  She's been looking me at her level because my bed is above her waist.

As I'm waiting to be strapped in, I start to roll back on my heels.  Whatever.  The bed is right here.   I could just sit back down.
Nope.  Not allowed.

Just as before, I'm in a Jane Fonda workout video, and everyone is smiling except for me.  Once again, my tormentor tells me, "If you're going to fall, fall forward.  Don't fall back.  You may get hurt."  I'm starting to think these words might actually be of some use in real life, too.
 Its time to move forward.  One person grabs the bag o' urine, another grabs my Christmas tree on wheels, each bag of medicine sweeping back and forth.  They hold up my tubes and wires, and we're off.

As I move forward, I am immediately hunching over because this walker is too short.  I never thought I would be using a walker.  Not now.  Not ever.  Yet, here I am.  I think this jalopy needs a wheel alignment when my front right wheel catches the door jam.  I'm trying to go straight ahead.
Now, my coach wants me to back up to try to get through the doorway again.

The last time we played this game, we shuffled down the hallway to the nurse's station, turned around, and came back.  That's about twenty five meters.  Tops.  
When we are almost to our turn around point, we stop for a moment so I can catch my breath.  
My trainer taps her fingernail on the glass window in front of us.
"You see that?"
"What?"
"That hallway on the other side of the courtyard.  That's where we're headed."
First, I don't think I can make it that far.  Second, I have to walk back.  No way.  
We're off to the races as we walk by other nurses with smiles that say good job. When we are down the hallway a bit, I get to stop.  I'm breathing like I just ran a quarter mile sprint.  There was a time when I could run that distance in about 65 seconds.  That just took a very long twenty minutes.
"Alright!  Great job.  Look you can see outside," she smiles.

She's right.  It is gorgeous out there.  On the other side of the glass is an ocean-blue sky, and the courtyard is drenched in sunshine.  Its early November in Charleston.  Even though I am indoors, I can still feel the nearness of the Atlantic Ocean.  My emotional attachment to the salty ocean air ranges somewhere between really happy and absolutely outstanding.  
"Now.  Let's head back."
My response is one syllable per breath.
"O...K..."


21- Alcoholic Egotism


Egotism can be described as arrogance, bullheadedness, overconfidence, self-absorption, and pride.  The habit of valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest.  
Selfishness.
Alcoholism and egoism walk hand in hand.  Our decisions to do things are for us.  An alcoholic frequently skips over any thought that their actions would cause another harm.  Whether physical or emotional, the alcoholic's wants are priority.  Thoughts of consequences of our actions typically arise too late or not enough. 
It is impulsiveness to live in the moment in an inflated Carpe Diem manner.  
The words, "Fuck It." come to mind.  
"If they don't like what I'm doing then they can get lost."  Being in control of situations are the comfortable place to be.  Its a be happy now and worry about the price later mantra.
Alcohol depresses inhibitions which otherwise would result in more concern for someone besides oneself.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

20- Perscription of Courtesy


After my friends visit, the night shift isn't any different.  I'm still in the ICU.  I don't know if its the same room because everything seems dark now. The walls are more of an earth tone khaki color. 
 I don't have an inkling where the new window came from.  There is one in the door now.  I don't recall that being there. Still that doesn't mean it hasn't been
The usual window is still here.  This fenestration has a network of chicken wire fence locked inside, like the one that the Indian gentleman bashes through in One Flew Over The Coo-coo's Nest.  
There is a lighthouse glow coming through.  On the other side, there is a kiosk, or a nurses station.  It looks like an information booth for tourists.  
The person minding the newsstand continuously has their back to me.  Of course, I still need water.  Every time one of the staff approaches the hostess, I wave my hands to try to get attention.  The unmannerly tweaks pretend they don't even see me over their peer's shoulder.  
Hello.  I'm thirsty.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Elusive Slumberland



Autumn 2011
The nightmare is trying to fall asleep.
Another day has gone by with nothing tangible to show for it.
Being loved, liked, and known doesn't matter when you're alone.
I told myself that I would begin to fix things tomorrow.
I say that every night. Every night for as long as I can remember.
If I had just used my college degree.
If I were not so impulsive.
If I had spent all of this time and money
on bettering myself, instead of vodka.
I would be a millionaire.
No. I wouldn't.
I would have enough money
to finish the job.
Success would mean death
But then what is this?
I live in the fast lane
Constantly creating laughs
To make up for the pain.
In order to start
I have to stop.
I just need three
three sweaty hours of sleep.
Dreams are so happy
I don't want to wake up,
If I sleep all day
Nothing will happen
Good or Bad.


Friday, April 27, 2012

19- Three Ring Circus


Its another day in the ICU.  Accordingly, I'm still jumping through hoops to attempt to stay alive.  I think one of my visitors said something about the Skinful Halloween Party out on James Island.  I've never been to one, and this year was to be the first.  I don't know if its tonight, or last night, or a week ago.  Regardless, I'm going to have to take another rain check. 

All of my friends tell me that it is a gorgeous autumn day outside.   Allegedly.  I'll have to take them at their word.  It doesn't matter.  I still have my powdery fluorescent lights, and all of the alarms that go off occasionally to remind the staff of something.   Those noises used to freak me out.  Now, I don't even flinch.  The hall sounds of children running in the halls, the nurses joking around, coughs and the occasional wail, and company.  Lots and lots of company.

In  the afternoon, a group of my friends pays a visit.  It seems to be abnormally crowded this time around.  Not only are there more than two or three of my friends here, but the speechless, Pink Floyd faces are here.  They are rarely around when my friends are present.  My brain is extra scattered when they are all together.

My companions are close to my bed, and the unwelcome are hovering over my buddies' shoulders.  I know enough to realize the strange ones are not real, yet I don't have the concentration or skill to control my reactions to them.  
The taller Lurch-looking fella is standing about six inches behind one of the girls.  He is definitely a threat , and I have a few words for him.
"Hey bud.  Back up.  Get away from her."  

My friends continue to be understanding as my eyes dart.  What I can only describe as dead people, can not be left unattended.  I have to stay vigilant and keen.  The little and bald, white carny looking guy is here, too.  He is wearing the stereotypical wrestling uniform, again.  He's the one that is the most irritating.  Not only, will this guy not listen to me, but he seems to do things for spite.  I don't need his shit.

My friend pulls up a chair, and leans in to tell me he loves me.  With everything I can muster, I look him in the eyes and say, "Thanks, bro.  Can you get me some chocolate milk, then?"  "Whatever you need DWT.  I've got you."  

As  I continue my attempts to have a conversation with the milk man, I can see the little carny man out of the corner of my eye.  As soon as I let my guard down to shake my buddy's hand, he has the gremlin's bald head rubbing up on his elbow.  Nuzzling upwards, like a dog that wants to be scratched.  
That does it.

I swing my elbow quickly, hoping to smack this insect in the ear with it.  I come up short, and catch only air..  Little Baldman is gone in a flash, and I'm left there to explain myself.  I look up at my pal, and he still has a smile on his face.

"Dude.  I'm sorry.  There are people here.  Dead people.  I see them."
"I know, Donnie."
"No dude, listen.  It sounds crazy, but they are here."
My friend puts his right hand on my left shoulder with a squeeze.
"I believe you, DWT.  They're OK.  They're not bothering any body."

My friends stay for quite awhile, but I'm not sure that they have always been the same ones.  People are here on a constant basis, yet the conversation and environment changes.  Some of them say there are people waiting outside to see me.  Apparently, they can't come in until some leave.  It would be too crowded.
"That's exactly what I've been saying!"

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

18- The Creeper

This is an Older Story - I Sold The Van April, 2012

The Creeper came to be my transportation after finally crashing and totaling my last possession of any tangible value.  Another get out of jail and grave card that was just lumped in with the rest of my alcoholic mishaps.  The HCV (Heinous Crime Vehicle) was a 1999 Chevy Astro Cargo Van.  The Raper Van had no windows on one side, and no seats in the back. 

The molestavan had no A/C, and an eardrum piercing AM/FM stock radio.  My step father used it as a bread delivery truck.  His route included Beaufort, Hilton Head, and even Savannah.  At times, he would have to go to Savannah and Hilton Head more than a couple of times a day.  Therefore, The Creepster had over 200,000 miles on it.

On the other hand, my step dad was kind enough to give me this van to use for transportation.  Point A to B.  Since, I rarely drove more than ten miles at a time, this would be perfect.
 Sure, I made light of it, and picked on myself for driving it.  Driving that vehicle was just another chink in the armor, reminding me of another preventable mistake I had made.

 My vehicle before this was a 2004 Pontiac Vibe.  With all the stock bells and whistles of the 21st century, I loved this car. Cooled off in the Charleston summer heat with glacial air conditioning that would give me goosebumps.  It had a beautiful sea blue exterior, and a more than ample stereo for any rock and roller.  Add, the sunroof, and about 40,000 miles...etc.
I crashed that car. 
A two by four came within 18 inches of my face when I dozed off at the wheel.  With little sleep and a solid buzz under my belt, I nodded off and sideswiped a trash pile on Spring Street.  The speed limit was only 25mph, but it came with a customary Charleston width,  Pre-Civil-War width, therefore there was not much room for error.  

I was shocked to attention by the loud scraping noise, and stake of tinder in my face.  So, with no headlight, and construction scraps in view, I continued on.  Needless to say, I was in a bit of shock.  After heading over the Ashley River, I pulled over at the next street.  I tugged on the wood, and succeeded only in gathering two hands full of splinters. 

My destination was near, and my friend was waiting, so I ventured on.
I pulled into The Tin Roof parking lot, and drew in a deep breath.  Its time to face another embarrassing moment with my caring friend, Bunny Valentine - that's right; nickname and middle name.  When I slip into the bar, I ask her if she will come outside.  Once there, it is the moment of truth, and a look of absolute disappointment and concern.
The words "Damn it, Donnie!" flow off the tongue veritably poetically, and tonight is no exception.  "You need to call the cops", she says.
"But I..."
"Dude, seriously.  We're calling the cops.  Don't worry about it.  I'll talk to them."  

In view of the fact that I needed to make sure I didn't hurt anyone, I surrendered.  When the officer arrives, BV sweeps into action, pointing her finger at me with command, "Stay."  She approached the police officer to intervene.  For starters, she says that she is talking to him instead of me because I'm having anxiety.  The officer goes along with this.  Not unlike all of my girl friends, she is attractive, friendly, and witty.  Regardless of some folks' opinion, I believe this makes a difference.  On top of it all, she has a tow truck on the way for my poor car.

Bunny relays the approximate location of my latest carelessness to the officer.  He will need to call for a patrol to sweep Spring Street to be sure there are no injuries or property damage.  Thankfully, there is no visible damage or reports of an accident.

My car is pulled onto the flat bed with about 22 payments left, no insurance, and my ex as a co-signer.  In the meantime, the officer has me sit in the passenger seat of the patrol car, so we can have a chat.  I tell him how I was freaked out, and wanted to call the police to make to double check for any destruction.  Fortunately, all of the breakage is to my car and my ego. I know that he can smell day on me, but the patrol car pulls away while I thank Bunny.  She has more than a few deserved comments for me.  After all, she is my friend.
Once again, I'm off the hook thanks to a good friend, and more unwarranted luck.  
Chance Number -- Too Many

Anyhow, today was the end of an era.  I sold The Creeper today.  Its been in Kevin's driveway on James Island.  For more than the 191 days since my years-long alcohol abuse almost snatched the life out of me, The Creeper has sat.

Just like the other dozen cars that I have owned, there are plenty of stories.  There are the numerous times that I was offered pizza and beer on moving day from people who otherwise didn't call me..  There was even a move to Anderson, SC (obviously a close friend).  Also, there was the memorable trip to dinner with a friend, and some of the girls.  Two guys pulled up in that van with a couch in the back, and three pretty girls sitting on that couch.  They were dressed in their evening attire with hotness as they rolled out of the side door with a clown car feel to it.

 I also have the many naps I took in the back in between shifts or just to sleep some off before a drive.  Often, I would just lie on the clutter from previous moves, drenched in perspiration from every pore. Thrown in, is a two month stay on Folly Island receiving no tickets, tows, boots, or attention in general.  There was just the occasional comment from locals, "Hey dude.  You're van's been on Folly for awhile."

To the bitter end, The Creeper was a thorn in my side.  When I went to Charleston yesterday to have it removed, the company had me wait for close to three and a half hours instead of the promised sixty to ninety minutes. They were not showing, and not answering their phone.  Irritating.
Eventually, the John's Islander answered my call.  He tells me that the tow truck is broken, and he's having a hard time communicating with the driver.
"He had to go to the dealership.  There is a vacuum hose for the pump that pulls the cable.  You know?  It might take a minute."
No kidding.

I tell the friendly and talkative man that I have to return to Beaufort.  When I tell him I can leave the title with Kevin, he asks me if I can trust the guy who has continuously taken care of my ass - The Lifesaver.  I trust him.
This morning, Thursday April 26, 2012 The Creeper moved on.  Most likely, it will be used for parts, and find many homes..  
Thank you Creepy Molester Van. 

17- Unsympathetic Wellspring


Day something or other in ICU and my appetite for this food is dwindling.  However, I've developed a seriously constant craving for peaches, pineapple, and chocolate milk.  No matter how much I beg for water, the staff still won't give in.  I know I have a saline drip, but I yearn for an icy cold plunge of water to comfort my esophagus and stomach. 

These tiny little bottles of H2O are nothing, if not cruel and unusual punishment.  I'm starting to get the feeling that there is a miscommunication here. 
Recently,  I asked a nurse, "Please, can I have something to drink?"
She looks over her shoulder and scoffs at me, "No."
I don't get it.  "Please, I am thirsty, I need a drink!"
"You don't drink anymore.  You can't."
Crap.  "No, no, no, no.  I mean, water.  I don't want booze.  Please!"
I still can't have water, either.  All of the water that I'm consuming is just going straight back to my abdomen.  There could be another tap coming soon.  
Awesome.  Can't wait. 

The nurse is heading out for awhile, again.  Now, is my chance.  There are a couple of swallows of  water and saliva. The remnants of the nearest bottle on the bedside table.  With the power of thirst, I am able to reach it.
 
Situated on the far end of the table, is another morsel of water.  The prize is dripping with condensation, as I lick my chapped lips.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few obstacles to manage, but I'm going for it.
 All I have to do is, is weave through all of the wires hooked to my chest, stomach, and head.  I have a new wire connected to the top of my ear, as well.  I don't know what its for, I just know I'm not supposed to pull on it.  A device the size of an old Sony Walkman cassette player connects all of the wire. 

I need to shift and twist under my forty pounds of blankets, and reach over the bed rail.  I'm stretching with painful effort when my elbow slips off of the table.  I swing and miss while trying to right myself with my other hand.  Instead, I snap onto my plate of uneaten dinner.  Two hour old food flies into the air like I just pulled the rip cord on a parachute.  

I'm hanging over the edge now.  My hands are pointing toward the floor while I look outward to see my unattainable Styrofoam cup leaking on the floor.  In utter disappointment and out of breath, I slunk back onto my bed.  
And,what do you know?  I just shat myself, again.  Here, come the orderlies with their never ceasing smiles.  
"How you doin', Mr. Donnie?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

16- The Spark Plug



I've been hearing murmurs and rumors of a physical therapist.  My legs could stand a good stretching out.  I think atrophy is settling in.  It has to be.  This shouldn't be as bad, since I was tapped. Getting all of that fluid out of me will make more room to breathe.  

My food is here, and they're starting to feed me things with substance.  No taste.  I can't have salt.  Not to mention, having a big appetite is not on my medical chart.  When the food comes, I have to get myself in an upright position using the power of the bed, and my paper towel tube sized arms.  This is a project in itself, and I always need help.

 We usually end up situating the bed in a flat position, while I try to pull the head-rail behind me, and push with my feet.  All I need to do is slide my head to the top.  There is nothing in my way except for my own body-weight.  Consequently, an orderly ends up helping, pulling my arms until my head is at the end of the bed.  As we move the bed back to the upright position, the orderly puts one hand on my chest.  

Provided that, I won't slip back down to my rag doll state.
After rolling the food in front of me, and 15 irritating minutes of getting it ready, she's here. She's in her twenties, she's fit, and she has the typical blond, Carolina bob, covering her cranium.  No, I'm so hungry.  Urgh.

She comes into my room, slapping her hands together like a praying mantis.  
"Alright, Donnie!  Are you ready?"
Does she know me already?  Have we done this before?  The answer is yes, when she tells me its just like last time.  I have to try to use the walker, so I can start getting mobile.  Crap, we have done this before."
"OK.  Let me eat first", I say.

She tells me we'll only be a minute, and I can eat when we get back.  My belly's grumble is as loud as my mouth's, and I am cranky.  By the time I get back, this even-par food will be hospital cold when I return.  
The nurse begin to get me in position.  Move down this way as far as you can.  Farther. Farther.  I lift my arms so they can strap the amply sized nurse to my back.  It seems rather impossible that she will fall if I do.  I hope she doesn't.

Now, I stretch my left foot down to the floor with my safe red sock.  Then, I follow with the right, falling onto the walker, but I am somewhat upright.  Today, I have to make it to the nurses station that is a long 10 meters away.  Presently, I am only holding myself up with those flimsy arms, and they try to nudge me forward.  My knees buckle immediately, but I'm strapped in.  The alcoholic myopathy has definitely taken hold.

"Keep your head up.  Lean forward so you don't fall on your back.  Head up.  Lean forward."
I can't make it.  My strength and balance are wasted, and I get a reprieve.  I can eat now, but I'm breathing like I just finished The Cooper River Bridge Run, side by side with a Kenyan.  No eating for me.  I just need to sit, and lean back for a second to catch my breath.
"Mr. Todd, you're going to feel something cold go into your arm.  Its to help you relax."
I say OK, and blink my eyes.
I just missed lunch, again.
Morale boost.

 About These Stories

Monday, April 23, 2012

15- Precious Memories

This Story Refers To My First Visit Back To Charleston in April 2012.


Until this past weekend, I had not returned to Charleston for anything more than to visit MUSC.  You know, the normal everyday visit to find out if the hole in your esophagus is still closed.  I've missed all of my friends and so-called(s), but I really haven't been healthy enough to just go and hang out. 
My mother was scheduled for a trip to Myrtle Beach to update her optician's license, so I could just hitch a ride with her.  We originally planned to  just stop by Kevin's place along the way.  I used to live there with him, but I hadn't seen it since my long term alcohol use suddenly set off an M-80 in my throat.  

However, the night before we were to go, Kevin got word at AC's that they would need someone to set up the bar. He could leave when another bartender got there.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but just like everything else since October, this is not the norm.  Since, my mom was on a restricted schedule, that would put us on James Island at about 10a.m. 

Kevin wouldn't be done until 11:30 or so, and that would result in 90 minutes of alone time for the apartment and I.  The thought of this didn't sit well.  A surge of gripping anxiety rushed up my shoulders into my chest almost immediately.  I did not want to confront those demons unattended.
  
The memory of my blood spraying out of my mouth is still very alive and vivid.  I had yet to see where Kevin found me.  So far, we only spoke about that afternoon in a general way.  Without saying so, I think both of us thought it better to have that conversation in person.  Showing an absolute trust in her son, or making a terrible mistake were laid out for my mother.  With that trust she would drop me off at Kevin's work; the bar where I used to work.  Kind of a big deal.  

After Kev had finished up we went to grab a bite, and he started to reveal what he saw.  I knew the general scenario, however it was much different seeing and hearing him describe it.  He began with finding my door locked, but went into detail about what went on for him.  

After he called for me, and there was no response, he made his way to the bathroom door that led into my bedroom.  He started to push on it, and it felt like the door was dragging, or something was lying against it.  This is when he saw my foot.  He began to talk of the first glances of my twisted body lying around what he could only describe as bile. 
He wasn't sure what it was because it was unlike anything he had ever seen.  It turns out, the nastiness was all of the blood that had been flowing into my stomach.  He slid his way through the small opening of the door, and began to yell at me.  He was shaking my body, and yelling at me as I lay motionless and unresponsive.  He called 911, but feared he was too late.

The ambulance came, and then the police.  The paramedics and the police wanted to know if I was on any drugs.  The paramedics needed to know for health reasons.  I imagine the police were wondering if that were about to have a drug related death on their hands.  Kevin told them that he knew that  I drank, but he couldn't tell them with one hundred percent certainty weather I was doing drugs or not.  I could have been hiding something, as far as he knew.

As the paramedics manipulated my already stiffening body, the cops began ransacking my bedroom.  Kevin describe a furious search for anything and everything.  By not means were they putting stuff back where they found it, of course, and my bedroom became even more messy than your usual addict.

They approached him with a shoebox filled with 24 empty mini-bottles (airplane bottles).  The most disgusting aspect of that is that I thought I had been throwing those away.  I didn't want a bunch of liquor bottles lying around when this day arrived.  I just had a feeling that fateful day was going to be sooner than later.  
I drank anyway.  A lot.



14- Tapped, But Not Tapping Out


I'm still breathing, but today its a full time job.  It seems the cirrhosis has enabled my liver to hold back water like the Hoover Dam.  My portal artery is continuously leaking fluid into my abdomen.  They say today is the day I will receive some relief.  They are here to bring me down further into the hospital, and I sense that this ride is not going to be a warm one.  
Before we even start moving, the nurses have to get me from my hospital bed to a rolling stretcher.  At any other time in my life,  I would just push downward on the bed, and slide over.  No big deal.   Well, that was then, and everything from here on seems to be post-alcoholic coma.  I still haven't regained any strength.  That's not a surprise, since my body had to use almost all of my muscle tissue, and some bone to keep my formerly drunk ass alive.  My weight has not been lost it has been moved.  As a matter of fact, my skeletal remains are very light, but my abdomen adds a new level of cumbersomeness to the whole situation.

Picking me up by my feet and hands is outright impossible from the shorter female nurses.  My ass never leaves the mattress when they try to lift me.  After doing their best, and breathing hard, the ladies call on what must be the Linebackers on the Intramural football team.

After much debate from my end, the nurses have given me another catheter.  While the men lift me, the line leading toward the old draft beer bag catches my moo moo and pulls it up to my chest.  Humility is very useful during this stay.  Finally, they get me on the rolling bed, and its time to move.  As we spin around to get a move on, my toes drag across the corner of the wall.  "Oops.  Sorry.  Watch your feet."  Not unlike my hospital bed, this one falls a little short, too.  I'm not that tall, people.

So far, as we travel further down into the hospital everything is as expected.  Bright florescent bulbs hum straight above me, as the cold breeze sweeps up my gown and blankets.  A short descent in the elevator, and it opens up to a half lit area, with a receptionist, but all of the waiting area chairs are turned upside-down.  Through the last door on the left is the relief I've been searching for.
 Inside an attractive young girl who asks me if I'm cold.  She has a heated blanket for me.  I love her now, with her fresh out of college look, and warm blankets.

Yet, my new crush has turned on me, and bares my flesh-colored igloo.  The gel for the ultrasound is frigid, to say the least, as well as the paddle that she begins to rub over me.  I can see the monitor of my insides, and I see people in it.  Here we go again.  The crush gently pushes on my stomach to try to move the fluid around a bit.  This gentle touch feels like she has threaded a stick through my entrails, and she turning it clockwise.  Finally she sees a spot that she likes, and marks a perfect X with her Sharpie.

The doctor enters, we say our hellos, and he asks my if I've ever had a Paracentesis.  He holds up about a six inch long needle with a shunt attached to demonstrate how he is going to tap the fluid.  He sticks the needle into my abdomen and it is hot.  X marks the spot.  Then, he points out that the completely dark areas on the monitor are fluid.  The rest are my guts.

As I look at the monitor, and the fluid sprays into a bottle, this aqueous mass starts to get manipulated.
There are the faces again, and as Doc moves the needle  around, and changes the shapes, the needle moves from one party to another.  In groups of two or three, they all have drinks, and seem to be having a blast.  They look like snapshots passing by, while I continue to think about how long it took me to get to this moment.  When I was pumping my abdomen with vodka, I was setting myself up to get "tapped".

This continues for about 20 minutes as they fill three and a half  liter-bottles of the fluid into glass bottles.  The watery jet looks like a perfectly healthy persons urine.  A perfectly healthy man does not have urine exit through his side.  My kidneys still work, but you can't get power from a dam without some flow.
I will count this as the longest leak I've ever taken.  I can breath without effort now, but I'm dizzy and whipped.  Just get me back to my icebox,



Sunday, April 22, 2012

13- Could Bounce a Quarter off that Belly


 A brown shirted, husky fella brought me some jewelry, today.  Its looks like another medical bracelet, but there is no writing on it.  Another new accessory to complement my new knee high, noisy socks.  They're not a noisy color, they make an air compressor sound.  The socks are lined with air bladders. 

About every twenty seconds, they fill up and squeeze my calves and ankles.  They are to get blood and fluid moving.  Normally, moving around keeps everything from pooling in my legs and feet.  Well, I haven't been on my feet, or had any use for my legs at all.  My feet are super fat, and I look like a hobbit.  Happily, I don't have as much hair, I'm tall, I'm not very jolly right now, and I don't wear jewelry.  Other than that, I look like a hobbit.

Even if I needed shoes, I wouldn't be able to wear them; not my shoes.  I have some socks with gripped ridges on the bottom, just in case I ever stand up in here.  I think I will be walking around in a couple of days.  I just need my strength, balance, and sense of direction to get back to normal.   All of the other patients have socks on, too.  Out of curiosity and noticing odd things, I ask one of the nurses why all of the socks are different colors.  There are brown socks, some are yellow, and a few are red.

The brown means your stable enough to stand on your own without much worry.  The yellow means that there is a chance you will fall while trying to get around.  The RED means, if this guy stands up, be ready to catch him on his ride to the floor.  That's ok.  I didn't like the yellow or brown ones, and RED looks good on me
Now, I'm lookin' good.

 I have my fabulous, high fashion socks in fire-engine red.  They complement my new emo ankle bracelet, and my soccer player, shin guard, knee high knickers.  As your eyes scan upward, you can see some of the large purple and yellow bruises on my thighs.  If you're real lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of sac with a wine cork balancing on top of it.

I keep moving upward perusing over my latest hospital formal gown.  It looks like there is a basketball underneath it, along with the little spot where my bellow button used to be.  This sexy appendage will make you want to ask me if I know the gender or if its going to be a surprise.  Mash that button, and the mouth says a curse word.

Slowly move upward and catch a glimpse of my skeletal fingers that look like they belong on the witch in Looney Tunes cartoons.  He, he, he, he.  Next, is my bracelet.  I know this because my name and birthday are on it.  (Damn.  That was on the quiz.) 

The blood red plastic tubes that match my socks, are accessorized by sparkly silver needles that twinkle in the post modern florescent light.  And next, a beautiful purple and yellow bruise that looks like someone fired the fat side of an LSU football at me.  This flows up to my neckline where you will find multicolored wires protruding from what seem to be six icy cold nipples running along my ribs and faux-pectorals.
A nine day growth of neck hair precedes my Skeletor face, topped with the shiny tumbleweed of hair that looks better in Gary Busey's mug shot. Snap on a bull ring, and put some jumper cables on my skull, and I'm ready to go.

After all of this, I still think the nurse could be interested in me.  Weird.

They tell me that they are going to tap by abdomen tomorrow to alleviate the ascites.  I'm not lying when I say that ascites is of Greek origin, and it means sack.  That is no sack.  The massive excess of fluid is so voluminous I'm having difficulty breathing.  My diaphragm simply can't make any room for my lungs to fill with air.  They want to rapidly extract almost all of the extra juices. hey are going to "tap" my abdomen, a method called paracentesis.  I don't know if I want them to tap my belly, and they say I will be awake for it.
Outstanding.


Friday, April 20, 2012

12- What a View

           Rap, rap, tap.
 "Mister Donnie, its time to wake up.  Just for a minute..."
"Ummf, I know, so you can check my vitals, thank you.  That's alright, I'm hungry anyway. And yahh,  I'm hurting."
  Every time I move, my abdomen rages and fights itself.

 My mouth is as dry as a spoonful of cinnamon, and my water bottles keep getting smaller.  I'm pretty sure that's not me.  I could be wrong, of course.  My bread basket looks more like a potbelly now, and it is excruciating.  The cirrhosis isn't going anywhere, yet the ascites is accumulating rapidly.  My guts have to make room for this molten fluid. The shifting of my stomach, colon, lower intestines, and diaphragm, is causing me relentless pain.  I need to speak up. I don't know when the nurse will be back.

"Nurse, I'm in heaps of pain.  Can I have meds, soon?  And, what's your name?  I forget."
 "Its Gina. Where does it hurt, on a scale of one to ten?"
I take the abundance of cargo in both hands.
"Eight, when's dinner?"
'I'm sorry, but you missed dinner.  Kitchen's closed.  I'll get you some medicine, though."
"Thanks, Lisa."

I missed dinner?  I just closed my eyes for a second.  What time...Ah, crap.  Its not 2 pm, its am.  I did it again.  I'm not going to eat until seven.  Urgh.  I swear Doc Brown's flux capacitor is stuck on my bed somewhere.


I'm in a different room now, and they gave me a window.  All the same, that window is so they can keep an eye on me.  They keep watching me, like I'm up to something.  I just have to sit back, and soak in the view of another piece of the hospital. 

I still don't know where I am, and I'm seriously confused and bothered about it.  I repeatedly have a ludicrous memory of how I made it to this room.  In this silly memory, I am pushed in a wheelchair across East Bay Street somewhere near The Custom House.  On top of that, this 'new wing' of MUSC opens up into a courtyard, with the kind of stairs that are normally hitched to the wall of a castle.  No handrail, just stones.  We manage to make it, but I don't remember trying.  Furthermore, MUSC is supposed to be on the other side of the peninsula; by the Ashley River.

The nurse comes back with my treats, and asks if I need to pee before she steps out for a little bit.  I tell here no because I still have the catheter.  Why does she care?
She stops at the door, and asks one more time.
"Are you sure?  Because if you pee on the bed again, I'm going to put in another catheter."
"No,no,no. I already have a catheter."
Nurse Lisa, or Gina or, whatever her name is, takes a deep breath and says, "No, you took that one out."
What is she talking about?  She's the crazy one, now.  "I didn't take it out."
She sounds snippy when she echos me. "Well, I didn't take it out."

I lift up the blanket, and its gone. So I have been peeing on myself.  Yet, as I look down, I have a flash memory of watching it come out, but I don't remember doing it.  Bah.  Crap!  My penis is gone, too!  Oh wait, its still there, but its the size of my thumb.  I guess my body needed those nutrients from those tissues, too.
Now, I totally feel like a screwy six year old, with a drinking problem.  Great.  That will assist me during my schizophrenic episodes.
"Well, I better pee before you go."
EVERYTHING'S COOL.  everything's cool.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

11- Building Blocks

Autumn 2011


Even before I woke, I had people who I had never met praying for me.  Ed had already assembled a sizable crowd of caring people I had not met.  Yet, they came to Charleston to pray for me while I was comatose.  They were there to do God's work, bring a message of love and healing. 

Its these types of selfless gestures I want for the happiness of my family.  As they were praying, I was nowhere to be found, suspended in a bizarre state of confusion, and completely unresponsive.
I was so far gone that the doctors and nurses would actually spread my eyes open, and yell at me to wake up.  

I had been lying there for two days, and when my mother walked in, I opened my eyes.  This apparently had a great affect for many of the nurses, and friends who had been there with me.  Positive energy was flowing through the room
.
People always like to use the term "rock bottom".  Rock bottom is defined as the very lowest level.  That definition only makes this phrase more generic.  While I was drinking a lot, and things "kept happening to me", I wondered if I had hit that rock bottom, yet.  However, this did not "happen to me".  I did this, with a blatant disregard for consequences, I brought this on. 

Even with the fear of leaving my family behind I continued my patterns of self destruction, I should have done something about it in January when I knew something was up.  Yet, those doctors were going to tell me to stop drinking, and I wasn't in a hurry to join that kind of project.

Alcohol is a monster, but I wanted to keep him.
 Why didn't I die?  I was spent and used up, for sure.
 I survived because I am here for a reason.  That's a phrase that gets heavy use.  I've been brushing off that statement for a long time, but now I have a new perspective.  
God is all that is.

My old argument against religion also focused too much on a white bearded man in the sky, vengeful with a superior authority.  We are the ones who perceive God in our own image.  We are the ones who are violent, judgmental, with a male oriented anger.  Each and everyone has their own perception of God, and all of these perspectives are undeniably valid.  We create our realities through our own perceptions. 

Maybe Jim Morrison from The Doors, was onto something, Albeit a psychedelic vision of the world, it was his perception. How we perceive God, is God to us, and it is as valid as anyone's.  We create our realities with our own perceptions, and this is the reality that we experience.

When I speak of us not being "top of the food chain", its more than that.  What are we, if not a part of something larger?  Cells are the building blocks of tissues, and those tissues come together to become organs.  Organs are just one small part of life in general.  Then there is our spot in the universe. 

We are one planet with one moon, racing around a single star with seven other planets and 177 more moons, along with five dwarf planets.  There is order in that.  Our solar system is a mere speck in our own forever spiraling galaxy, multiplied by the countless amounts of galaxy's colliding with each other.  Something as small and seemingly irrelevant process that allows two hydrogen atoms to fuse into one helium atom.  This enormously important action is what fuels the sun.  We wouldn't be here without the sun, yet we can't see those atoms. 

So, are we only to believe things that we see?
God is All that is; all that is in the clouds, the trees, the oceans, and even our nuclear warheads and computers.  If everything exists, then God exists.  Hence, God is in the mirror, as well.
I am just a gadget in the great machine of life not using the tools I was given.  Even though I was given countless amounts of chances to straighten up and fly right, I kept on being me.  Just me, self-centered, with no special effect to the greater good.

It took this monumental slap in the face, to knock me down, and pull me back up.  I've been given all the right devices for goodness, and happiness, but I seem to be hell-bent on fanning the flames of destruction in the wake of a trail of tears.

Its me.  I'm doing it.  Only I can fix it; creating happiness and cheer, instead of worry and sorrow.  Therefore, in a long-winded tale of my awakening, I do matter, I am matter, matter is God, and God is all that is. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

10- Ethnocentric Zealotry



The concept of organized religion has always been lost on me.  My argument, if I chose to discuss it, has always depended on logical thinking, and disbelief in ghost stories and fairy tales.  My way of thinking, typically involved encyclopedic accounts of violence, persecution, and cruelty.

I've always been quick to site examples such as The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, The Salem Witch Trials, and The Persian War to explain how this savagery has been prevalent throughout history.  In addition, the patterns of bigotry and hatred that remain in our lifetime. The ugliness of The Holocaust during World War II, and our more politically correct descriptions of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and more recently The Sudan.  To top it off, the actions of 19 Jihadists, with support from Osama Bin Laden that led to the devastation on an otherwise lovely Tuesday morning;  September 11,.2001 only hardened my opinions of the negative impact of religion.

However, it should be no surprise that a sudden proximity to death can make one step back a bit.  It is true that I have received more medical attention in the last 10 days than the past 10 years.  Nevertheless, a spiritual inventory, open-mindedness, and willingness to explore the positive aspects of religion is due.  I feel like I'm missing something.

When I was a teenager, atheism made the most sense.  In my defense, with no implications of a poor upbringing, I never went to church.  I didn't understand the point, and I wanted no part in it.
Later on, atheism seemed to defy logic.  It seems rather egocentric to think that there is nothing grander than I.  The idea that I am "top of the food-chain" is rather obtuse.  All the same, I began to think that there is good in religion.  Anything that promotes, love, compassion, and forgiveness can't be all bad.
Now this.

This is more than just a wake-up call.  This is a second chance.  A countless number of things had to happen for me to have a chance against the slew of body blows I had inflicted upon myself in the name of fun..
For starters, Kevin found me.  In the grand scheme of things, this was paramount and imperative to any chance of survival.  I was already on that floor for two days.  If Kevin doesn't find me, then this is a different story.

 First of all, a child is not supposed to pass on, and leave their parents behind.  There is an expectation that children(no matter how old) will  outlive their parents.  The thought of my mother having to take the reins of her first son's funeral is nothing but awful, if not nightmarish, and unfair.  I love her too much to be the cause of so much grief.  She doesn't deserve that.

My younger brother, Tim would have been in shambles.  I know this because I would be terrifically rattled if I lost Tim.  Our father already suffered an early death in a single car accident involving alcohol.  Losing a father and a brother to alcohol would be absolutely devastating

Less importantly, I wouldn't be writing these words  and you wouldn't be reading them.  Yet, I did not die, and I am here confused and befuddled.  My chance of surviving those first four days were minimal, at best.  Where is my logic, now?  I was at the lowest of lows with nothing to offer.
I can say beyond any doubt that my perceptions and antagonistic views of religion have changed completely.
So, who(or what) is God?

About These Stories

Natural Euphoria



Feelings take part
Real affection
Innervation
Everlasting
Never ending
Dedication


Drugged by happiness
Without obstacles
Takes ones breath away



9- Not As a Button


When is the last time I showered?   I didn't shower after work Monday night/Tuesday morning.  I don't know if they washed me while I was having my emergency room cat nap.  That means I still have the bar on me.  I feel verminous and soiled. I get spot cleaned between my knees and my navel on a regular basis out of necessity. 

My bowels are moving , and  they're not calling to borrow the creeper. I have no say in this matter.  The catheter helps. At least I'm not lying in what looks like a bag of hot, three month old, draft beer. 

My face is as oily as a 14 year old boy, and I had already skipped a couple of haircuts before this went down.  I am just fine without seeing a mirror.  The reflection of a frail, shaking, pregnant zombie would not bring a morale boost.  I have no muscle left, and I'm gonna need a word stronger than 'weak' to describe myself.
Be that as it is, I am alive.

I need an interpreter, but even my brother can't tell what I'm saying.  I can't focus on the task at hand, and there seems to be a lack of communication between my brain and my mouth.  This is not serving me well right now because the rep from medicaid is here.  She needs to sit in front of me, point a few things out, and get some initials and signatures out of me. 

The government never fails to make paperwork or waiting periods.  They sure do pay attention to deadlines, though.  Specifically, deadlines that we have to adhere to, not them.  So, we need to get this done ASAHAP, as soon as half ass possible.  Thankfully, Tim and Julie are there to help me decipher the whole situation. 

If there is more than one thing going on at the same time, I'm done for.  Unless I'm mistaken, I believe I attempted to fill some of it out, and we just resorted to my signatures instead.  At one point, I tried to write my name and it came out on a lower corner incline with some numbers mixed in with it.  I think my noodle is overcooked.

The nurses are in cahoots and super sneaky.  They hit me with another pop quiz on the date, but I have a trick up my sleeve.  They catch me looking over their shoulders at the dry erase board.  I read the date, but they tell me I've cheated, and we move on to something else.  Just a couple of minutes later, a nurse comes out of nowhere and asks me the date again.
"Come on.  I just told you."
"Tell me again", she says.
"November 4th?"
"Nope."

It has to at least be November 3rd this time.  Wrong again.  Its still October, and its time to try to eat.  I thought breakfast was coming, but its lunch.  No matter. Besides, I've developed a ravenous appetite for fruit, especially peaches.  I appear ungrateful when anyone brings me a fruit cup with melon in it.  Apparently, I heard somewhere that it was tainted.  With all the things going on with me I remember  "don't eat the melon."  Go figure.

The concept of getting rest in a hospital never seems to work out.  Every two hours, no matter what, they have to check my vitals.  It doesn't take long and it is important.  Honestly, I'm still a stones throw away from the reaper. They check my blood pressure and pulse, temperature, and listen to my lungs and heart.  I still haven't figured out the contraption on my finger. 

I thought it was to check my pulse, but the blood pressure collar does that.  The little bugger can check how much oxygen I'm absorbing.  Ninety four percent.  Is that good?   But the time in between those two hours is what really keeps you awake.  There is always someone taking blood, changing the urine bag, or just about anything in general that doesn't involve sleeping.

Whenever, I drop something on the floor, its like taking candy from a baby.  If I drop my pillow, phone, or the television remote I can't reach it. And the remote is hooked to the wall, but I still manage to lose it. I can barely lift my shoulders off the mattress, much less, reach waaaay down there on the floor.  To add to my weakness, I feel like I have 50 pounds of blankets on me.  I argue with these a lot when I try to move, but I won't let the nurses take any away from me.  My hands are like ice, but I still cover my nose with them to try to warm tat up.  This hospital isn't nippy, its downright wintry.

Before I lay my head down, I have to take my meds.  There are about 12 pills, one liquid(lactulose) that's like nitrous oxide for your colon, prenatal supplements, 3 diuretics, oxycodone, attivan, niacin, thiamine, b-complex, nexium, and a laundry list of stuff for the detox.  Good thing I have about 3 swallows of water left. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

8- 182 & a Half

This Story Is Six Months After The Call To 911

Hi everyone.  I just wanted to step back into the present for a bit.  One hundred eighty-two and a half is a significant milestone.  A red letter day, if you will.  It has been six months (give or take a couple of hours) since the lights went out for a few days.  This is constituted of several smaller milestones.              

1.  I haven't had a drink and six months.  True.
2.  I probably won't be able to take care of myself.  False.
3.I won't be able to communicate like I'm used to.  False.
4.  I am in end of life stage at 6 months.  False.
5.  I'm closer to my family and friends, than I've ever been.  True.
6.  I am honored to have all of your support.  True.
I'll add that I started this blog on a whim 7 days ago, and a lot of you have gotten behind it.  I find it all very encouraging.
In this time, I've already had the opportunity to reconnect with some of you through The Internet, and even talking to you on the phone.  I know.  People still talk on those.  Its been ten years since I've connected  with some of you, and it feels like yesterday.  The days may drag by, but the years fly by. 

I suspect there is extra truth in this for parents.  Its actually kind of mind blowing if you really stop and think about it.  With advances in social media, and gathering and sharing data on The Internet, the possibilities seem to be endless.

Back to point, during this first week I have been asked a lot of questions privately.  Just remember, that virtually no questions are off-limits. 
Here are some of the things I've been asked.

Q:  How do you get to the point where you wake up and need a drink? Do you remember when and why you did so? I like to drink and have since I was in high school but can't imagine waking up and getting "right".

A:    I just got wrapped up in it.  I was having a great time (bozze, beach, and women) and lots of it, but it always involved alcohol.  It wasn't until the very end that I got real bad like that. I think it started to progress more when I didn't have to go to work until 8 or 10 pm, and I had all day to do whatever I wanted.
I used to get shaky hands after a real bender, but I think once my liver was seriously damaged, I was drinking more to try to get right.

 My tolerance was quite unreal to say the least. It wasn't uncommon for me to have about 10 to 15 drinks in a day. That includes beer, wine, cocktails or shots. It just sneaked up on me. A couple of drinks and a shot or two at lunch. Shots and a drink as soon as I got to work, and even when I was at the door checking Id's people constantly would buy shots, and bring them to me. Once the doors closed and everyone was gone, it was time for the staff to do shots again. It just added up on me, and I just got to where I felt horrible if I didn't drink. Feverish, nausea, loss of appetite, you name it. 

Q:  It sounds like you've had an amazing spiral into a sad and lonely place.  While I am concerned for your physical health, I worry more for your mental health. Did you doubt your worth? Did no one tell you how important you are?  How did no one notice?  Were you really that sneaky?     I was in Charleston 2 weeks before your liver kicked your ass. I ate at SNOB, had drinks at the Gin Joint, danced and played all around AC's and never went in.  But so what?  Would I have noticed? Would I just laugh it off?  Stupid but, it makes me angry with you. It pops the bubble.  You live in my mind as the guy I could talk to, who almost always made me laugh, who may not know what the fuck he's doing with his life but, knows who he is. Even when he sucks, he's still Donnie. So, now I wonder what happened in the last 8 years. How did you get THERE?  I'm sure I'm not the only person who has asked that.  I don't get it and, I doubt you do either but I hope you will work to find out.

A:   I think, maybe so far, I've given the wrong impression.  The only time I beat myself up was when I was alone.  However, weather it was on purpose or not, that didn't happen often.  I was not totally depressed.  As a matter of fact, I was living the life I thought I always wanted to.   Plenty of free time, very good close friends, and many that weren't as close.

  Six years ago, I was engaged, but I called it off because I wanted to be impulsive and do whatever I wanted.  I used to say with pride, 'Yea, I haven't had a girlfriend in 5 years', but when I was alone, I had no company and started to wonder why.  I haven't been seeking out a relationship, and generally start to freak out when I'm in one after awhile, and this is a college town.  They're all here for awhile, and then they are gone.  If I ever mentioned that to any of the boys in this town, they would tell me I have it made.  However, I always responded with, "Be careful what you wish for."

I lived 4 miles from the beach and not much further from my hometown.  There is something about Charleston that I can't shake, and I am blessed to live there  .My job was fun(but difficult), and I really enjoyed it. For better or worse, I'm widely known throughout Charleston, and it really showed when I fell ill.  I was completely caught off guard by how many people came to see me, and how often. 

I never doubted my worth.  I've always been able to accomplish anything I put my mind to, and had a 3.75 in college.  Ironically, I had my biggest troubles with shit that hadn't even happened yet, always wondering where I was going to end up.  I do not regret leading a bachelor's life, although it can be lonely sometimes.  I was never starved for attention by any means.  I'm still known as the funny, kind, and caring smart ass that I've always been.  I am often told of people speaking highly of me.  Of course, I've heard some not so flattering things, but that doesn't count.

Aside from my family and close friends, no one took special notice of my drinking  because I was always surrounded by people who were drinking. Unless, you saw me on a day to day basis or were one of my close friends or family, you would not have noticed.  I never got out of control.  I did my job well, and never got into any trouble because of my drinking. 

It was towards the end when I started to notice the dependency that I was beginning to face.  I didn't give any reason for people to be excessively concerned for me.  I was just a guy who liked to have a good time.  I'm still that guy.  If you had told me that I was going to fall out like that, I never would have believed it.
I am doing surprising well mentally and physically,  I could have easily just given up and just lied on the couch feeling sorry for myself, but I didn't.

 A lot of people just say fuck it and keep drinking.  They have the "I'm going to die soon anyway" attitude.  I don't.  This experience has given me a second chance, and now that I've gone through the toughest part of quitting, I never want to do that again.

Deciding to write this blog has been exceedingly well received, and that makes me feel great.  I'm still not able to work, but I am not on my death bed like they thought I would be.  To look at me you would never guess that I was using a wheelchair in December.

I still don't know where my life is going to lead me, but I only see positive and bright things on the horizon.  These past six months were a speed bump, and a wake up call. 
Alcohol is a depressant, and any unwarranted guilt probably extended from that.  Poor judgement and alcohol go hand in hand.
I apologize for being so long winded, but thanks again for reading.  All you guys are making me smile a lot.

 About These Stories

Monday, April 16, 2012

7- Phil Connors


Life is starting to resemble the movie Groundhog Day.  Every couple of hours, someone in my medical posse is asking me what my name is.  When is your birthday?  What is the date?  I really don't know, and for whatever reason, I've been saying November third is the current date. 

I've been saying that from the get go, and without fail I'm told that its still October.  I just know that I'm right, and I think the nurses are messing with me.  I know we just had the Harvest Moon, and that is the last Full moon in October.  The closest we've come to agreement is, 'What are you talking about, sir, and what is harvest moon?'

 Surely, they remember Halloween was last week, so it must be November.  In view of my acceptance that I've guessed the wrong year a few times (I've guessed 2010, and 2012), I shouldn't be surprised that I am wrong.  There are no windows in this place, and I can't tell whether it is A.M. or P.M.  I'm awakened every two hours to have my vitals checked,  and I  don't even know if a whole day has gone by.  I'm so spent that I sometimes sleep through the nurse drawing blood.  My mind is slipping further and further down the rabbit hole, and I have no say in the matter.

Now is when I'm meeting the detox head-on. The sudden removal of alcohol from an addicts bloodstream is sometimes likened to the withdrawal effects of heroin,  although it is less painful.  The two can lead to physical dependence, and painful withdrawals such as changes in sleep patterns, nausea, vomiting, aching muscles and bone, convulsions, and heart failure. The obvious difference is that alcohol is socially accepted, and often encouraged. Its lucky that I am already hospitalized while going through this because it is extremely dangerous to try this detox on your own.

I'm starting to have the most realistic hallucinations that I've ever experienced.  I have dropped acid (LSD), eaten mushrooms, and rolled on X(or E). Yet, none of the hallucinations I experienced with these hold a candle to the experience I'm having now.  Not only are there people around, its unquestionable that I am the only one who sees them.  I really can't decide on a face, but somehow I find them all unattractive. 

There is some rationality left in my brain telling me that they are not real, but it makes no difference.  I can see and feel them, and I've really had enough of them being in my room.  There are several moments that I've had confrontations with these uninvited guests.  I am never afraid. I am just down-right annoyed and put out by there presence.  Sometimes I yell at them, and I have been busted during some of my tirades. These people, and these strangers both have their eyes on me.

A few of these episodes really stand out in my mind.  Most, but not all these occur when I am alone.  For instance, during one of my trips,  Lance, and Mandy  come to see me, and two guys are already here.  They haven't said a word. and they keep their backs to me.  I am being ignored.  Even when Mandy and Lance are here, I feel like one of these dicks won't make room for them on the couch.  I don't remember if I've mentioned this to the friends that came to see me, though. 

When visiting hours are over, these two punks in their goth outfits act like they didn't hear its time to go.  
They are both wearing black trench coats, and long, straight, jet black hair.  It looks like they brought a wooden cross the size of the desk in the corner. They are leaning their heads on it as if  they are praying.  When, I look at them long enough they both turn into a whirlwind of black sand.  One is vacuumed up into the middle of the cross, and one starts to get sucked into the wall.  If I turn my head away from them, even for just a moment, they are there again. 

I'm starting to get upset with them because the nurse has told me time after time that I am not allowed to have my friends visit after-hours.  I ask them repeatedly to 'please leave'.  'The two of you don't know anyone here, and I'm I would like to be alone.  This is my room.'

I begin to yell at them as if I'm clearing out the bar at the end of a busy night.  At the top of my lungs I scream,
"PLEASE LEAVE, NOW!  GET OUT! HEY, YOU TWO! GET OUT!  PLEASE, DAMN IT!"
My nurse comes in, and starts to tinker with one of the machines in my room.  Without even looking in my direction, she casually asks me who I'm talking to.

"Those two right there," I shout.
 "There's no one there Mr. Todd.'"
As I adamantly point to my left I say, "Those guys right there.  You don't see them?  You say, there is no one there?"
 "That's right, Mr. Todd?"
She's gotta be fucking with me, again.  "It looks like you're going to have to get another brain scan tomorrow", she says. 

Urgh.  Why me?  Stop messing with me.  Its November third, and there are people in here.
I fib the next day when the nurses ask me if I'm still seeing monsters. 'No', I reply. (They're people.)