Friday, June 03, 2011

Blogging Is Not A Matter Of Life And Death...Unlike Pneumonia

Relax, I'll tell you where I've been, just calm down. I've just returned from spending 11 days on a 10 day trip to England the U.K., which followed directly on the heels of spending the bulk of two weeks visiting Hell Illinois Masonic Hospital, where they were holding my beloved roommate the bartender in a thankfully successful attempt at making him not die, which nearly killed him in and of itself.

I'll explain that shortly, but let's back up a minute.

What now seems like many Thursdays ago, I was in my usual watering hole doing my usual have dinner with my roommate and then drink a beer while antisocially playing games on my iPad thing, when a pretty looking boy began admiring my very pink hair and asking my advice on how he could do something similar to his very brown hair. I have had this conversation many times, and now that I have an iPad, I can augment it with Facebook photos of my coiffure's previous incarnations. He was impressed, deemed me artistic and started showing me some of his design portfolio, including some work he'd done for a motorcycle club. In turn I showed him the results of the Super Secret Project. It was the most stunning transformation I've ever seen: he was having a normal, relaxed, easy conversation with me and then as if I'd flipped a switch he suddenly became so nervous that he literally could not complete a sentence. He eventually took several deep breaths and managed to choke out enough words for me to understand he was asking me out. It's not like I could say no - he was adorable and there was a strong chance his head might implode from a rejection, so I gave him my e-mail and made vague plans to "eat something and watch the hockey game" on Saturday. In retrospect, it seems hilarious to me that I thought there was any chance I might wind up in some sort of normal situation.

The bartender had not been feeling well, so when he came home from working Friday night at 4:30 a.m. sweating and out of breath I was concerned. He asked me if we had an accurate thermometer (we didn't) and then said the bone chilling words that would kick off a terrifying saga: "I think you need to get dressed. I need you to take me to the hospital." The bartender doesn't really "do" hospitals. Despite that fact, he'd just been to the ER two weeks prior to that due to excruciating back and chest pain that was diagnosed as walking pneumonia. He was given antibiotics and sent on his way. He felt better after a few days, went back for a follow up a week later, was pronounced healthy and sent on his way. Two days later he had a fever of 102.2, couldn't breathe and wanted me to take him back to the hospital. Not good.

We got there and did the whole ER routine: triage, get in a room, vitals, talk to a nurse, talk to another nurse, wait for a doctor, explain everything again, wait some more, repeat everything again for a medical student, then a third nurse, get some blood drawn and then finally they took him away for a chest x-ray, which is when I checked my voicemail and realized I'd missed a call from the comic the night before explaining that he'd been randomly punched in the face. None of my boys were doing well, it seemed. I texted the only one who was (the boy from Thursday night) to inform him that I would not be making our date that afternoon and rescheduling it for Sunday. A doctor came in with the bad news: the bartender's pneumonia had not gone away at all, but rather seemed to have gotten worse. They decided to admit him for a couple days. I texted the newbie and rescheduled our date for early the following week, then went home and fed the cat.

When I got back to the hospital the situation had gone from bad to worse. A CT scan revealed that in addition to the pneumonia worsening, his lung was also being collapsed from the outside due to empyema. He would need surgery, but they didn't want to perform it until they got the infection that caused the pneumonia in the first place under control. They started throwing every antibiotic they had in their arsenal at him hoping something would work. None of them seemed to help, and after two days of this with his condition continuing to worsen it was becoming clear he had some sort of antibiotic resistant super bug and that they couldn't wait any longer to do the surgery. He went under the knife that Tuesday, while I paced the family lounge, tweeting what little information I had and postponing my date until the bartender made it home.

I was wholly unprepared for the scene that greeted me when they allowed me to see him in the ICU after surgery. IVs in both arms, a breathing tube down his throat, oxygen, catheter, epidural, three chest tubes snaking out of his back and his arms strapped down as a precaution because people coming out of anesthesia have a penchant for trying to rip their breathing tube out when they come to. He looked terrible. "You look good," I told him, which he obviously didn't reply to because you can't talk with a breathing tube stuffed down your throat. The anethesiologist came in to check up on things. His name was Dr. Dieter, but he looked less like Dieter from Sprockets and more like The Dude from Big Lebowski. He was also hilarious. "I was only in there for the important part," he said. "Basically, we cut you open, drianed the pus out and then took a garden hose to your chest for about 20 minutes."

Having cultured the fluid to get a better idea of just what the hell had made him so sick in the first place, they put him on an appropriate antibiotic that we hoped would clear up the infection once and for all. In the meantime, breathing tube removed, the bartender was free to insult his oh-so-witty surgeon when he came in each day to pull out the chest tubes one at a time. "I promise you, I won't feel a thing," the surgeon said as he de-Borged my roommate, which earned him "Dick" in response. On the day the final chest tube came out, the plan was that he would get out of ICU, go upstairs for observation for a day and then finally go home. Obviously this scenario was not in the stars because when everything else has gone horribly wrong, why not just pile it on?

As it turned out, after a day and a half on the "right" antibiotic to treat the infection, it was discovered it was the wrong antibiotic for the bartenders kidneys, as they had begun to shut down. So began several stress filled days of constant monitoring in an effort to keep the treatment that was saving his life from killing him.

Finally, FINALLY, he was well enough to leave the hospital and I took him home on Tuesday afternoon, 11 days after I'd driven him there in the middle of the night. I spent the next three days hovering over him and carrying things around because he wasn't allowed to lift anything at all (and couldn't have even if he'd tried). Then on Saturday, at the bartender's insistance, I finally left for my long planned trip to England which I had resigned myself already that I was going to miss, sending a text message to newbie postponing our date until June in the cab on the way to O'Hare.

So yeah. Sorry about the long break from blogging. I WAS BUSY.

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