On Monday, July 25th, I circled the drain.
Tuesday: I wondered, “Whose feet are these?” I stared at bloated flesh topped with stubby sausages for toes.
Then, I fell in love with a girl named Maureen. No, that’s not right. Her name was Morphine.
By Wednesday morning, we were going steady.
Accomplises delivered her to my room. All I had to do was ask.
On Thursday, perceptions improved.
The ICU: a catheter drained my bladder. IVs taped to each arm fed antibiotics and saline to my body. A nasal cannula delivered oxygen to my lungs. The dread of breathlessness lay like a lead blanket across my chest.
Cloudy memories prevail, like the x-rays of my lungs: two bellows clogged with the sand of bacteria. I swear to no degree of accuracy.
Yet, I remember:
Asking my wife to call an ambulance.
Six men crowded in my bedroom, adept at EMT tasks.
A needle poked into my left arm that drew blood.
A full mask of forced air, blessed oxygen, covering my nose and mouth.
Radios that growled and squelched; voices communicating with the hospital.
A gurney arriving to wheel me through the house.
Outside, several men lifting me into the ambulance. Me, extending an arm to my wife. Her, reaching out, holding my hand for a reassuring moment. Letting go and the doors closing.
At the ER, my doctor plucked me from the whirlpool.
I’d screwed up … bad.
Patients with Multiple Myeloma know that one of the ways it “gets” you is through opportunistic infections. MM is a cancer of the immune system. Vulnerability to the bacteria in our environment means we must assert ourselves when symptoms appear. I didn’t. The result: seven days of hospitalization.
I am home. I improve. I am walking the waterfront again. It may take weeks, but I’ll recover.