|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
May. 18, 2005 - 1:02 p.m.
It's been a rough couple of weeks up in DangerLand.
When I wrote my last entry (1996? 97?) NewWifey(tm) was visiting her sister, brother in law, and their two hideously Aryan kids down in Charlotte NC. It was supposed to be a one week vacation before she plunged back into the world of degrading gainful employment.
Three days after she left, my phone rang.
"Hello?" says I.
It was Wolfman Jack, calling from the grave.
"...Uuuhhhhr........*GRAAAAAAAAAKK*...Hey, how *cough cough* ya doin?...*CAAAAAA-HAAAA..(gasp)..GRaaaaaaaaaaAAK*...."
"....Dad? Is that you? Did you come down with TB?"
"GRAAAAAAAAA-HACK-AK-AK...*gasp*....AAAAAK! No, you idiot - it's your wife! BRAAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHH!"
NewWifey(tm)? Aside from the Jiffy-Pop cough, she was now speaking in a rich baritone. I was very jealous.
"Oh! Hi Pookie, how's the vacation going? Sounds like they have you...sulpher mining? Eating nothing but salt? Undergoing daily tonsilectomies? Seriously, that's some impressive expectorating you've got going on. What gives?"
Another two minutes of nonstop hacking explosions followed from her side, then she managed to croak "I'm sick"
"No! Do tell."
I'll spare you the details, but in between wheezing, gasping and rib tearing coughs, NewWifey(tm) managed to convey that the day she arrived at her sister's place the kids came home from school with what turned out to be Whooping Cough ("pertussis"). And they generously shared it with all who were domiciled with them.
Now, we have one iron clad rule in our marriage (beside the "no Cheetos during porn" rule), and that is: No one with a throat malady is allowed inside DangerHouse. I'm not kidding about this (or the "Cheetos" rule for that matter). I talk for 48 minutes every hour, 7 hours a day, 6 days a week at my job. What would be merely an "annoying" sore throat to the 9-5 cubicle ferret becomes a valid excuse for self-immolation when I get it. A "slight tickle" becomes "PCP addled weasles rending my throat with flaming box cutters" before the end of my first shif, and it goes downhill from there. So...no one with even a sniffle is allowed past our driveway.
NewWifey(tm) knows the drill. If she's home and feels something's amiss, she phones me at work so I can make plans to stay elsewhere while she sweats it out. Likewise, if she's away from home she stays put - or finds alternate lodgings - until whatever ails her is long gone. It may sound drastic, but it's certainly effective. In the almost 11 years I've been at Souless Radio Corp., I've only ever called out sick three times. (And two of those times were *cough cough* to attend Devils' playoff games. Unless my Program Director is reading.)
This time was no different. Without my needing to ask, NewWifey(tm) volunteered that she would impose herself on Sis & Co. until her sputem didn't cause Petri dishes to spontaneously combust.
Which, after two weeks, it showed no signs of doing.
Starting the third week of self imposed exile, NewWifey(tm) called and announced she could take it no more. Sleeping on a fold-out futon in their family room, with her extended clanmates hacking and wheezing non-stop 24/7, no wine!....she wanted to come home, Rule or no Rule. Nothing I said (or threatened) could dissuade her.
The good news (for me) was that she was barely able to go more than 5 minutes at a stretch before doubling over wracked with chest spasms. Her drive home would take three times longer than usual, giving me enough time to partition the house into "My Side, Your Side" before her arrival.
What's that you say? Why didn't NewWifey(tm) just go to a doctor and get some prescription panacea?
Here, go read this little missive then come back.
NewWifey(tm) does NOT suffer doctors gladly, if at all.
She was gonna drive herself home if it killed her, literally, so she could recoup in her own bed, surrounded by her own homemade remedies.
Well, four days later, after driving 15 mph under the speed limit, stopping on the shoulder every 30 miles to spew, and sleeping fitfully in the back of her SUV at truck stops along I-95, she made it to Dangerhouse.
I didn't see her pull up, but I sure heard her. It had taken every drop of her redheaded stubborness to make it that far, and when she was finally reached the goal line her body just pitched forward and she blacked out, her right boob mashed against the horn.
Despite my misgivings about handling lepers and SARS patients, I hustled down the stairs and gently pulled NewWifey(tm)'s head off the dashboard.
"Hi honey, I'm home" she whispered. "What did you make for dinner?
Good ol' wifey. You can break her body, but not her appetite.
I could tell the 30 yard trek from Ford to front door was beyond her capacity. I sighed, and holding my face as far from hers as possible I draped NewWifey(tm) behind my neck like a ghoulish boa and carried her seemingly boneless body up the stairs.
I'm a pretty big guy, but hardly in my prime anymore. It's been a few years since I set up a cot in one corner of my gym, only emerging to work or phone Vinnie's Pizza Stop. So even though pressing a hundred and twenty pound wife over my head was still possible, I'm embarassed to say that I had to stop every third step and let my screaming quadriceps rest. I made it to the first landing in about 10 minutes, took a 5 minute breather, then started the final assault on Mount Doorknob. Edmund Hillary had nuthin' on me - he had oxygen, a Sherpa, and no apoplectic wife.
Six feet from the summit disaster struck.
I was mounting the second stair up from the landing, right leg bearing the full weight of NewWifey(tm) and myself as I pushed off with my left foot, when I heard a loud, ripping craaaaaaaaack! and the step gave way beneath us!
That step collapsed so fast I didn't have time to even throw myself forward on my chest. Just WHOOOMPH, straight down.
It would have been a 15 foot drop or so to the ground had a wooden cross beam underneath the staircase not stopped me. I caught it with the front of my right foot, which immediately folded up so that the top of my toes hit my shins. But at least I didn't continue downward, where with the weight of a redhead on my shoulders I would have been pile-driven into the ground like a railroad spike. It hurt like a bitch though, and I could feel the ankle starting to swell inside my fuzzy Powerpuff Girl slipper.
Meanwhile, NewWifey(tm) hadn't stirred the entire time. I carefully twisted my body around, sat on the third step, and gingerly leaned back until she rolled off my shoulders onto the top landing. With that, she opened her eyes.
"Are we there yet?"
I nodded dumbly. She staggered to her feet, opened the door, and plopped down on the recliner.
I sat with my leg dangling out in space for a good half hour until I could feel my foot again, then bunnyhopped on my left foot the rest of the way up the stairs and into the house. I dropped like a lox onto the recliner next to NewWifey(tm). Damn the germs, they can have me.
I slept that night on the futon in our guest room, my right foot swaddled in ice packs held in place by Ace bandages and duct tape. That seemed to help, as the next morning it was still ginger but at least could bear weight. I shrugged it off, toughed it out, and in general decided to be a Manly Man about it and ignore any lingering pain.
Meanwhile, in an earthshattering reversal of Formal Policy, two days later NewWifey(tm) called me to the recliner where she lay almost transparently pale and coughing like a metronome, and asked "Could you call the doctor and see if you can set up an appointment for me? I think I may need some stronger cough medicine that this cherry flavored crap."
The doc decided to squeeze her in that afternoon after hearing she'd been living with a family of Whooping Cranes for two weeks. I rigged a hankie-lined muzzle contraption to NewWifey(tm)'s face for the trip (can't have her contaminating the inside of the Mighty WRX) and sat in the car while she was inside getting her diagnosis. (Do you know that doctors' waiting rooms are full of sick people?? It's a big scam: the doc cures you, but as soon as you're well the person who drove you to her office comes down with whatever the 10 year old sitting next to them in the waiting room had. Talk about job security! It practically guarantees perpetual billing.)
And the diagnosis after an hour of poking, swabbing, and bloodletting (and not the good kind)?
Verbatim: "God...who knows?"
Ok, not fair. That was not actually a verbatim transcript of her pronouncement. But after all the post-exam waffling, that's what it boiled down to. Some symptoms pointed to pneumonia, but the x-rays showed a clear chest. The whooping cough test took several days of incubation before delivering a verdict. Everything else was just plain inconclusive. So the doctor thrust a fistfull of prescriptions guaranteed to kill a variety of noxious bugs at NewWifey(tm), and told her to call in a week if she was still alive.
Meanwhile my own malady was starting to drive me to distraction. Mostly because I was finding it hard to drive anywhere, distraction included. Pressing down on the accelerator produced waves of blistering pain coursing from my aggrieved ankle all the way to my hat. Before it got to the point where I was gonna have to reach down and press the gas pedal with my right hand every few seconds in between steering (like when I was 9 and used to hotwire my mom's Volvo wagon) I decided to get to a doctor for my own dose of poking.
Happily, I guess, my diagnosis was much less ambiguous: a torn ligament deeep in the recesses of my ankle. I was fitted with a soft cast, to be worn everywhere except when driving or showering for the next six weeks. So much for my nascent racing season.
Back on the homefront, NewWifey(tm) was feeling better by her second day on meds. I know she was feeling better because even though she was still coughing with almost every single breath, when I walked in the door her first words to me were "Let's fuck!"
Now I had been spending my nights since her arrival on a futon in the room farthest from her bedroom in an attempt to insulate myself from her WMD breath.
Needless to say, with NewWifey(tm) coughing explosively every 4 or 5 seconds, one of her three orifices was effectively off limits unless I wanted to be blown up like a balloon through a very short valve. So that left two gaping Survivor finalists.
It finally came down to Face Time. As in, I didn't want any.
So, "Bite the Pillow" it was.
AND IT WAS GREAT!
Here, let me show you:
Jam your thumb up your butt, and then cough. Hard. Repeatedly.
IS THAT AWESOME, OR WHAT?
Of course, I wasn't using my thumb. Or own butt. Which made it EVEN BETTER.
(You were. So that makes you gay.)
Lemme tell you, the next three or four days were some of the happiest of my life.
After that....well, after that the sphincter spasming coughs remained unabated (yay!), but all her other previous symptoms started returning also.
And then on top of everything else....
*ring! ring!* (Well, *blink! blink*. Radio studio phones don't ring, for obvious reasons.)
"Good morning, Dangerspouse's studio. How can I help you?"
It was NewWifey(tm).
"Honey...I...swallowed a tack."
"I swallowed a tack! One of those pushpin things. I was using it to pinup my schedule of meds when it slipped from my fingers straight into my coffee mug. I reached in to fish it out, but it was too hot. So I went to get a spoon but the phone rang and my mom kept me on for an hour and I forgot about it. When she hung up it was time for my next batch of pills, so I popped them in my mouth, grabbed the mug, and washed them down with the lukewarm coffee. It wasn't til I put the empty mug back down on the desk that I thought 'oh shit!' and looked inside. The tack was gone! I swallowed a thumbtack!"
After the usual "are you sure?" "yes I'm sure" "are you SURE?" "YES I'm sure" "are you suuuuure?" "if you ask me one more time I'm changing the locks" routine, I determined she wasn't kidding. I told her to call the doctor and tell her of this new complication. The doctor wanted to see her as soon as possible.
So...back to the quack.
Who at least by then figured out what the original problem was.
Unfortunately I don't remember what it was, since all it had was some long Latin name and I don't speak Hispanic.
But it sounded impressive. And expensive.
And determined, too. The antibiotics, steroids, ground bear spleens, and whatever else NewWifey(tm) had been taking merely made the germs doze off briefly. When they woke up, rested and hungry, they tucked back in to NewWifey(tm)'s lungs and bronchial plumbing with admirable gusto. Heavy ordnance was called for to stem the invasion.
But the pushpin seemed to cause even more concern than the organ eating aliens.
"You know" said the doc, "if she doesn't pass this thing naturally - and soon - it's going to require major surgery. That thing could pierce the wall of her bowel and cause a massive infection. We're not meant to be walking bulletin boards."
So NewWifey(tm) was admitted to Saint Anthony's Hospital in Warwick, NY. They drained a bucket o' blood for tests, took a CAT scan of her head (found nothing, heh), and spotted a suspiciously pointy object nestled in her stomach on her x-ray. They decided to wait a few days to see if the pushpin decided to complete it's journey. In the meantime she had to poop into a cheery pink basin so a lucky Nurse's Aid could root around and look for it, just in case.
"You've always been very tacky" I told her in the examining room. "Look at those slippers. They don't match your bedpan at all."
"Oh shut up. That is such an obvious joke."
They hooked her up to a bunch of IV bags and oxygen nose tubes and steaming medicated inhalers and brought her bland food and generally told her to shut the fuck up and lie still for three weeks.
Oh, if only I had that power over her. She complied with every order.
Every day she while she was there I would work all night, race home to feed the dog in the morning, watch a quick porno, then shoot over to Saint Anthony's to sit with NewWifey(tm) until Last Call at 7pm. I was starting to wear the bottom of my cast down to gauze layer.
(By the way, I have to mention something here about the menu items offered to hospitalised patients by the highly trained dietician staff at this facility. Each night you are presented with a choice of foodstuffs available the next day. Generally there are three options for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner each. The first day she was there NewWifey(tm) chose "Egg Over Easy" for her breakfast the next morning. And it was just that - one egg, over easy. One egg is hardly enough to start saliva production in a person. So that night she saw the menu said "Egg" and under it, "Bacon". Thinking the cafeteria staff had finally come to their senses regarding human sized portions, she circled both...only to be told by the nurse that she could only have one OR the other. For variety's sake then, NewWifey(tm) went with bacon. She figured they'd probably just give her one strip of that, also.
The next morning NewWifey(tm)'s plate had EIGHT strips of bacon on it. Along with an English Muffin and TWO tub-ettes of real butter.
I guess their cardiologists are hurting for work.)
On my fifth visit I stumped down the hall, past the Nurses' station, and into Room 126. NewWifey(tm) was lying back in her Universally Loathed Hospital Gown(tm)...but her IV wasn't hooked up.
"Pookie - are they taking you off meds already?"
"Close the door."
I closed it, the colorful Byzantine crucifix on the back swinging against the heavy wooden door with a thud.
"Now do me. PLEASE! I am going out of my fucking mind with boredom!"
"Um...honey....these doors don't lock, you know."
"Don't worry, I've got their routine all figured out. My respiratory therapist just left five minutes ago. The nurse's aid came by right after that to ask if I needed anything. So the next intrusion will be at 12:05 when they bring lunch. So HURRY! We've only got 22 minutes. FUCK ME FOR GOD'S SAKE!"
I've gotta say, I have developed a new appreciation for those back-ventilated hospital gowns.
She still had her cough!
That was pretty much the highlight of her stay (I hope). The only thing that came close was when the very next day, when I walked in to her room and she said, "C'mere, you've gotta see this!"
I walked over to where she was propped up in her tilt bed. She reached behind her then thrust a pink bedpan under my nose. It stank.
"Do I have to? My eyes are tearing...."
"I said LOOK!"
Fighting every primal urge to run that was welling up inside me, I squinted down at what seemed a rather prodigious ammount of fecal matter for one lone redhead to produce.
And there, in the middle of the pile of half melted Baby Ruths, sparkled the plastic end of a bright green push pin!
"Get it!" she said. "I wanna save it as a souvenir!"
No way. No fucking way.
Fortunately I was spared having to explode in a tirade of fuscia faced protests - and the subsequent humiliation when she forced me to back down finally and retrieve the pin - by the chipper little nurses aid who walked in right at that moment.
"Oh, I see you've passed the tack!" she said brightly.
And she reached in with a latex gloved hand and plucked it out.
"I'll wash this off and put it in a jar for you, just in case you want to keep it as a souvenir."
She skipped back down the corridor, the smell of NewWifey(tm)'s large intestines wafting in her wake.
NewWifey(tm) looked up at me with a smirk.
"I was NOT going to reach in to your shit to get a fucking push pin, you know."
"Yes you were, and you know it."
"I was NOT. I don't care what you say, even I have my limits. And reaching in to a fresh mound of human excrement - even your excrement - just to retrieve a 1 cent green plastic push pin is where I draw the line."
"Honey....Pookie...do you ever want me to cough again?"
Well, I thought I had limits. But I guess every man DOES have his price. Next time she passes a tack, I'm goin' in. Cover me.
So to wrap things up, NewWifey(tm) is home as of yesterday. Finally. She's still not 100%, but the doc was worried that she was being exposed to more contagions in the hospital ward than she would be at home, after seeing what some of the other inmates at Saint Anthony's were there for. They loaded her up with a bunch of high octane CDS's, a few reams of insurance forms, and an asprin.
But not, unfortunately, one of those great back-ventilated gowns.
And now here we sit, day after day, her zonked out of her mind on various large animal tranquilizers and me with my leg propped up on the coffee table. Hour after hour after hour after hour every day for the next four weeks, at least.
And to top it all off -
She's stopped coughing!
Damn. It's a good thing I didn't retrieve that pin.
I have a funny feeling that these people would not hesitate to jump into a loved one's pile of manure to extricate a pin, or anything else for that matter.
Be good to your friends. They're the shit.