|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
May. 15, 2004 - 8:20 a.m.
Do you ever have stretches where it seems that, ye verily, the gods themselves conspire against you?
After my recounting of the vulture attack I was all jazzed to give you sordid details of my IV insertion and bedpan habits. But that very night Northwestern New Jersey saw the firmament rent asunder, and we were subject to three days and nights of Biblical proportion thunderstorms, complete with Power Company killing lightning.
"Power Company" may be granting the hamster wheel generators that supply us with juice a bit too much gravitas. We get written warnings not to walk across carpets in our socks, or rub balloons on our hair, because the static buildup could trip all the circuits and plunge our grid into another Ice Age.
As it was, the day after returning from the hospital, Dangerhouse was mired in a cycle of Power/No Power/Power/No Power for 72 straight hours. Two of the three mornings when my (battery powered) alarm clock buzzed at 1:30am, we had no electricity. No water (electric pump drives the well) meant no shower or shave, and no lights meant I had no idea what clothes I was putting on. Until I got to work, when every one of my co-workers took delight in telling me. "So...are you doing all your shopping at the Salvation Army now?" I've said it before; I'm glad I'm on the radio, not TV.
Intermittent power also meant no computer for three days. I suppose I could have updated yesterday when the storms finally abated, but there the gods conspired to keep me just plain tired.
HOPEFULLY this will be the last unscheduled interruption for a little while. All further interruptions will be scheduled.
Oh, and thanks for all the notes and e-mails during the past two hiatuses. If I haven't left you a return note of appreciation...it just shows a basic lack of decorum on my part. Plus, y'now, vultures...power...stubble...tactless co-workers...I just haven't been in the mood to surf the web much. Just accept my blanket "Thanks, yo!", and I'll try to get back into the swing of socially responsible blogging from hereon in.
That ends my attempt at pretending to have a sense of ethics. We now return to our story, already in progress.........
After being loaded into the ambulance face down on a stretcher, it was a bumpy 20 minute ride down my mountain into Warwick New York to the MASH unit tent that serves as hospital for that rural community. At triage the doctors agreed that my injuries weren't caused either by irresponsible use of a milking machine or a drunken shotgun blast, and so they weren't qualifed to treat me. Back into the ambulance for a 90 minute ass-in-the-air ride to Mountainside Hospital in Montclair. Mountainside doctors were apparently up on all the latest treatment options for vulture attack victims because they admitted me immediately.
Or rather, they admitted me to the Accounts Recievable desk of the hospital. Although you could see lung tissue expanding and contracting through the tears in my back, I wasn't gonna get so much as a Children's Tylenol until I could remember my insurance information, sign five waivers in triplicate should they fail to cover vulture wound treatment, fill out one Consent-to-Treat legal form and SEVEN Consent-to-Hold-Blameless forms. I tried not to get too much blood on their pen.
To their credit, their first action after deeming me not a payment risk was to administer painkillers. In this case, Demerol.
Let me tell you right here, I've never used drugs. Ever. I mean, the non-FDA Approved ones. I've never even tried cigarettes. Perhaps growing up the son of a research hemetologist impressed upon me early the stupidity of introducing unregulated substances into the blood stream. But whatever the reason, I come by my brainlessness naturally. This also makes me particularly responsive when legal drugs are introduced into my system. I have no built up immunity whatsoever. Slip one Flintsone's Vitamin into my Shirley Temple and you could do an hysterectomy on me ten minutes later, without me even noticing.
So when 60cc of prescription strength Demerol was injected into my left arm, the needle wasn't even out before I started hallucinating I'd been chosen to be the next Dali Llama. It was amazing - instant pain relief, instant drool production. I closed my eyes and dreamt of saffron robes....
Ten minutes later the first of several doctors who would eventually lend their healing touch to my body looked at my chart. Noting the pain killer, he said to the attending nurse, "Hmmmm. A big guy like him probably needs more than 60cc of Demerol. Better make it 80." He made a notation in my chart to that effect and continued on his rounds.
Meanwhile, the nurse hearing this was not the same one who gave me my initial dosage, and assumed I hadn't recieved any Demerol yet. She didn't check the cart. Why should she? The doctor was right there.
So...out came the syringe, 80cc of prescription strength Demerol were drawn into the barrel, and just as quickly injected into my left arm. At the same time the wheelchair arrived to take me to X-ray.
I now have 140cc of uncut Demerol swimming merrily in my O-positive. Within seconds my field of vision narrowed to the size of a dime, and sounds became both amplified and muffled at the same time. I couldn't feel anything - it was like watching a jumpy 8mm home movie with crappy sound from a sensory deprivation tank.
Here's what's bad about being totally insensate to pain or an other stimuli: I had no idea that less than a minute into my wheechair ride I was vomitting all over myself and Bubbles the Powerpuff doll (NewWifey(tm) had placed her in my arms for moral support (really).)
The nurse quickly pulled a U-turn and sprinted back to my cot, calling for the doctor ("Stat!"). I have no idea what happened after that, what sort of treatment was administered, or who cleaned up the vomit from my body, since the next time I opened my eyes it was 17 hours later in my new semi-private room. NewWifey(tm) had been home for 16 1/2 hours.
My roomate "Larry" was a 19 year old black guy who's appendix had burst while he was in his kitchen making a sandwich. His mom came home shortly after and found him lying there, but he'd turned so white she didn't recognize him at first. "She said she thought Carrot Top had broken into her house and passed out drunk."
We traded war stories for a while, but both of us were too weak to keep a conversation going for more than a few minutes so we basically each just shut up and watched our little TV's. At 7 o'clock they came in and gave me a sleeping pill.
Much like the Demerol, the sleeping pill started to take effect before I'd even swallowed it. I drifted off, still on my stomach, to dreams of ravishing hairy footed Hobbit maidens. The usual.
Then sometime around 3am an incessant, peculiar, soft, slapping sound broke through my dream crust and dragged me back into awareness. I couldn't tell what was going on - the room was dimly lit by LED's from monitoring equiptment, but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The sound was still there though, and it seemed...it seemed like it was coming from my roomate's cot on the other side of the curtain. Was he dying? I debated pressing the button to the Nurses' Station.
However, now that I was more awake I could also make out his voice. He was speaking in low, almost whispering tones. Slowly, silently, I pulled back the head of the curtain a few inches and peered through. There was Larry, eyes closed, a cellphone to his left ear and his dick in his right fist, pumping it like a Super Soaker. All the time spewing out a stream of both obscenities and endearments to...girlfried? 53 year old bored housewife with a 1-900 number and a credit card machine? Mother?
I'll never know. Five minutes later he finished with a stereotypic grunt and I was able to go back to sleep. When I woke the next morning just before noon, he'd already been discharged and was on his way to hopefully more personal encounters.
I wonder if Carrot Top at least told him to use 1-800-DIAL-ATT?
Did you know that vultures are fastidious birds? Because they derive most of their nutrients from carcasses of beasts, and those carcasses have not passed food safety inspections while lying out in the sun and dirt for several days before being consumed, they've had to develope evolutionary strategies to deal with the myriad of bacteria and other pathogens they ingest. Most of you know that they have naked heads so that blood and attendant diseases won't stick to their feathers as they bury their heads into body cavities. But did you know that they've found out vulture saliva contains powerful antibodies to keep them safe from whatever is swallowed? Amazing birds, just amazing.
I am not a vulture.
One of the main concernes for the doctors treating me was not so much the wounds themselves, but the host of bacteria that may have been injected into my back by the repeated piercing of the vultures' beaks. These bacteria don't hurt the birds, but we humans are really pussies when it comes to fending off anything that hasn't been soaked in Clorox and then microwaved for 45 minutes first.
Basically what they had to do was MAKE me a vulture. So for five straight days I was hooked to an IV bag which administered a constant drip of antibiotics into my right hand around the clock. I didn't have to eat, either, since the cocktail was mixed into a glucose solution and kept my blood sugar on an even keel. Ijust had to lay back and think about preening my feathers.
After five days they uncorked me. The doctor said, "Now listen Danger, we've lobbed some pretty powerful artillery into your system. So powerful that not only did it kill the bad bacteria, but it also demolished lots of GOOD bacteria too. Consider it biological collateral damage. You won't be able to eat anything dairy for a few days - maybe weeks - since the bacteria that normally lives in your gut and helps you digest all that Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey (how did he know?) has died along with the enemy. So no cheese, milk, flan, creme brulee, Milkbones, milktoast, or anything else that's been squeezed from a cow."
That night they brought me my first solid meal in almost a week. I don't think I need to detail the culinary crimes inflicted on hospital patients, it's been beaten to death by comedians since before the mic stand was invented. I knew what I was in for, and I wasn't disappointed.
But what DID suprise me was the dessert they provided. The little indentation in the upper right corner of the tray held a plastic up filled with yogurt.
Yogurt? Wasn't yogurt made from...milk? Like, "squeezed from a cow" milk?
I asked to speak with the hospital dietician, who told me "Don't worry - the process that turns milk into yogurt makes it safe for you to eat. Enjoy!"
AS it happens, I do enjoy yogurt. Given the green light from Someone Who Knows then, I tucked in.
An hour later I was folded in half with abdominal cramps, perched on the bowl shitting out a nonstop stream of undiluted blood. I hit the button and a doctor was summoned.
"What did you have for dinner?"
Um...Mashed peas...mashed carrots...mashed turkey...and yogurt.
"Yogurt? Why the hell did you eat yogurt? Didn't I tell you no dairy?"
Yeah, but...the dietician....
"I told you NO DAIRY. We're gonna have to keep you two more days for observation now. And the IV goes back in to pump your fluids up."
I feel much better, although my back itches where the angry red weals are starting to scab over. The doc tells me that there should be hardly any scarring, although with my mohair rug of back hair you wouldn't be able to tell anyway. They wheeled me out to the front gate in a wheelchair, Bubbles back in my lap, to NewWifey(tm) who took the day off to drive me home. She actually seemed happy to see me, despite the constant barrage of jokes she'd had to endure once her friends and family found out her husband had been hospitalized by a bird attack. It was just another in a long, looong series of indignities she's had to endure since saying "I do". I think she was finally becoming immune. In fact, she handed me a paper sack as soon as I got in the car.
"It's ice cream!" she chirped. "Welcome home!"
So, here I am now. For the most part all is back to normal. My back has healed up remarkably well, I'm shitting out stuff that's meant to actually be shit out, and I don't have to sleep on my stomach any more. NewWifey(tm) is buying Toffuti instead of ice cream - for the next several weeks, anyway - but otherwise nothing I ingest is causing undue bloodshed.
Meanwhile, I return to walking Casey the Corgi starting tomorrow. But if we see any wildlife, even a chipmonk, he's on his own. Even Steve Irwin wouldn't dangle his baby in front of an angry vulture, I bet.
Crikey, it's time for me to leave - stat!
Have a nice weekend kids. Don't get your feathers ruffled....