I spent a couple days home in bed, just resting and waiting for the fever to break. It’s been a long while since I’ve had so much uninterrupted quiet time. I caught up on some TV, smoked four or five joints, and took about twenty naps as a result. I woke up in a sweat about an hour ago, and no longer feel like warmed-over death.
“Hope everything comes out okay!”
Or from my boss Eva, the delicate German flower, “How’s the poop-chute, Charlie?”
As age 55 approaches, I have had to make concessions about staying young forever. My youthful smile is now 75% prosthetic, my formerly twelve-pack abs are now holding a forty or so. My hair is mostly still red. In order to keep this old ball a rolling, I have to stay ahead of the game. Hence, preventive medicine.
Doctors have been coming at me with the garden hose for five years now. “Let us have a look up there?” I have had no symptoms or history, but when Obamacare kicked in, and I could start doing some of these things regular people do? I jumped on the chance.
Did I say jumped? More like I stepped up cautiously…
Welcome to math class! Today we will be discussing subtraction. Specifically, the equation above.
In May 1996 I went to Providence Emergency, after collapsing at the bus stop, unable to breathe after walking two blocks. When I checked in, they weighed me on the freight scale at the clinic.
528 pounds. I had a meat-apron that hung almost to my knees, boobs like Aunt Jemima, and each leg was bigger around than the waist of my current girlfriend. I gurgled when I breathed at night. (*When* I breathed at night.) Sleep apnea was a big issue; my nighttime oxygen levels dipped into death territory. Time to turn things around.
I went in for a check-up the other day. I hadn’t had my diabetic numbers looked at in a couple years; I wanted to make sure I wasn’t undoing good work with my imbibing of cookies and ice cream. My number came back 5.2. 4-6 is normal. 7.0 is diabetic. 6.9 was my number in 1996.
I killed diabetes!
The doctor, reading my chart, marveled at my weight-loss numbers. I’ve lost 48 pounds in the last year. And not a speck of meth!
I must confess, I was disappointed when the scale stopped at 216. I wanted to be under 200, but I will take 216. At one time that’s probably how much one leg weighed. The fact that I can look down and see my ‘leetle frenn’ is a big reward. The fact that others can see it is probably close to a miracle.
I have lost a total of 312 pounds. That’s two fully grown adults.
I’m keeping my pass aboard the health-train. Gonna get ‘scoped here soon. No one has looked up my ass since the teen years when I got arrested. I’m going to let someone with a little more business up there take a look this time. I’m sure I’ll share the gory details.
And… My new doctor okayed a test-drive of Viagra. After an amusing question and answer session, she said I am good to go. (Or come, actually.) I just got to make sure I don’t piss Rain off when I take it. That’s not the kind of stiffness in the joints I want to use to score pain pills…
“I love ’em! They take a bit of getting youthed to…”
For the last couple weeks I have sounded like everyone from Patrick Starfish to an inebriated Stephen Hawking with a cleft palate. Getting used to dentures seems more of a challenge than getting dentures, but I’m playing along and following the rules.
My biggest problem has been keeping the goddamned things in my mouth…
I have been accused of flashing a fake smile at work. I no longer have a choice. Like the Nightclub Store, my fake smile is now 24/7.
After months of preparation, cleaning and extracting, the last of my upper teeth were removed and I received dentures. Walton Goggins I ain’t. They got the size right, as well as the shade. (I have a grayish tint to my teeth, the assistant said.) I’m smiling pretty big, but that’s due mostly to drugs. After a brief chat with the dentist, she upped my Vicodin dosage. (“Just take two. The extra-strength pills are out-of-pocket. Insurance covers what you’re taking.”) I was happy about this at first, and grateful by the time we were finished.
I wish Stephen King were here to ghost-write this for me. Horror is his genre, mine is ‘musings of a smartass grocery clerk’. I found Mr King’s horror stories inspirational as a teen and beyond, and loved how he could make me squirm. I hope you channel that feeling as you read this, because there will be squirming.
If by no one other than me, as I remember the tray of sharp objects and the masked women…
DIY is big in Portland. That’s why I decided to pull my own tooth.
Full disclosure: The dentist did offer to pull it a couple weeks ago, when I had several back teeth removed. (More on THAT later.) But I didn’t want a Goober-gap in front, and it didn’t hurt too bad. I wanted to do the manly thing.
I shoulda listened.
A lot has happened this summer. It has been a great year, despite a couple setbacks and some rocky romantic times. I have been meaning to document as I go, but life has been a whirlwind.
I’m putting my best foot forward these days.
Normally this is where I would make the jump, and you would read the rest of this post. Well guess what? I’m saving the jump for last, much like a hesitant suicide. Drastic comparison? Maybe, but wait until you see the pictures. It looks like a stunt pussy from Girls & Gore, or like a baby zombie used the top of my foot for a pacifier.
Yes, I’m having medical issues again. SPOILER ALERT: I live, and it’s almost all better. So I can gross you out o’plenty without you worrying if I lose a toe. Relax, I’m not a member of the Nine-Spot Club just yet.
Only because I am blessed. Thank you, Providence Portland.
It started with what looked like a pimple on top of my left foot. It grew, and I couldn’t tell if it was a boil or a spider bite. (I am a member of the Save the Spiders gang. Unless they’re in bed with me, I catch them and take them outside.) Rain has been sleeping with me, and any bugs in my bed would be met with a comic horror reaction worthy of America’s Funniest Videos. So I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bug bite.
When I got home and looked at it, the main sore spot had formed a head. I squeezed and met resistance. I know better than to force matters, so I left it alone. As I stared at my foot, I watched a white spot form a few inches away from the sore spot. That’s not good.
I felt chills, then fever. I knew what was coming. I curled up in bed and made phone calls as soon as Providence opened Monday morning. Could they see me before work, pop this THING, and give me some antobiotics? Simple, right?
Not so much.
As the day moved on and the doctors conferred, it appeared that I would not be going to work. Since I hadn’t ate, they could get a podiatrist to take me to surgery and do it right. Would I mind? I might miss a couple days work, but it would probably have to be done anyway.
Let’s do it. They gave me pain meds and told me to watch TV for a while.
Wish I’d known I was going to be gone overnight. I’d have brought a book, or my laptop. As it was, I was stuck with cable TV and old issues of the Wall Street Journal. Oh well, I had pain pills, and tincture! I went to my jacket and took several drops.
My nurse came in ten minutes later. “Let’s check your blood sugar. Oh, hmm. It went up twenty points. That’s odd.” She made a note. So did I. Note to self: No more tincture while they’re monitoring blood sugar. The stuff is straight glycerin, tastes like honey.
After a whole night of no food and delays, I got pissy. “I hurt from laying in bed. I’m going for a walk!” I put my vest (with all its stashed goodies) under my hospital gown and went to the hallway, pondering where I could sneak a quick puff.
As I chose a direction, a nurse told me, “You might want to go this way. Security is busy down that way.” I heard yelling from down the hall, and people with restraints were heading that way. Security is busy? Oh-kay!
I went to the smoking area, took two fast hits and popped three sticks of gum. I smelled like passionfruit when I made it back to bed. Security had contained its problem, and I was ready to watch TV for a while.
I killed time by talking to Rain, whom I’d left sleeping. Her intent was to meet me at work Monday night, but since I wasn’t around she just stayed put. I’d been thinking I needed to trust her more; no time like the present. She knows I won’t be home anytime soon, so I can assume she now knows EVERYTHING about my private life.
What did she ask? “I know you don’t want me to mess with your stuff, but I could clean the fuck outta this room while you’re gone.”
If I’d been there to supervise, I’d have let her. There is almost nothing hotter that Rain running around in panties and a wifebeater, cleaning house. I will have a fetish about that someday. I wasn’t worried about her finding anything, in fact I thought she’d be relieved that she didn’t find more creepiness. I am more normal than I appear.
I’d arrived about noon on Monday. Tuesday night about 9 PM I was taken to the basement on a gurney. I’d been waiting on the specialist to make an appearance for a day and a half. He came in, looking haggard and unamused, took a fast look and said, “We’ll slice and power-wash, give you some antibiotics and get you on the road again.” His exact words.
I sat in a room with the anesthesiologist, who updated me on the process. “We’re gonna use Propofol. We don’t want to put you completely under if we don’t have to.”
“Isn’t that the stuff that killed Michael Jackson?”
“When we administer it, we monitor you and use a drip method. We stop the drips when we are done. They were hitting him with large doses and leaving him alone. He was so sedated he forgot to breathe. Common in a lot of overdoses.”
“Doesn’t it look like milk?”
“Yes. We call it milk of amnesia.”
We talked a bit more. I blinked. The room seemed different. I looked around. I saw a bigger bandage on my foot. “Are we done?” I asked the anesthesiologist.
“We are done. There was a substantial pit of infection, but we cleaned it all out and packed it. The doctor will fill you in.”
I was still impressed with the Propofol. If the decor hadn’t changed I’d never known anything was done. Literally the blink of an eye.
The drugs. Aah, the drugs. I’ve been cautious in my use of opiates over the years, if for no other reason than to have something to fall back on when I’m old and want to get high on something new. (Or manage that whole pain thing.) This night’s narcotic dinner started with Dilaudid. I waited until it quit hurting, then asked for a little bit more. They wouldn’t give me an unmanageable dose, and I ain’t gonna get any of these drugs if Rain gets there first. Opiate vacation!
After Dilaudid came morphine. Both kept me warm and relaxed, but the nurse kept offering oxycodone. I held off, going for the IV drugs. Since I’ve had this goddamned needle in my arm for two days, might as well work it.
Then the nurse told me, “We can’t send you home with IV drugs. If you can take the oxy and the pain, we can pull that rig out of your arm, give you a bag of pills and send you on your merry way.”
“Well, let’s give them pills a shot, missy!”
My hospital room nurse, a self-deprecating Asian woman of about 25, came to me. “I just want to say that you have been an angel to take care of. You’ve shown incredible patience waiting so long, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate that.” She looked like she was ready to cry.
“Well, you haven’t given me anything to be upset about. You’ve done everything you could to make my stay an easy one. It’s been as pleasant as it could be, thanks to you.” That, and the way she took an extra long look at me when I was naked, then apologized. If I’m doing well enough to get a second glance from someone whose seen it all? I’ll take it!
I lost count of how many saline bags full of antibiotics were run through me. I felt bleached from the inside, like I’d been drinking gin for a couple months. The sickness had faded, I had a giant bandage on my foot that needed to stay on for three days. It seemed kinda loose, but the doctor knows what he’s doing, right? I left the hospital, caught the bus and planned to meet Rain downtown. She’d escort me home.
I transferred buses downtown, and made my way to Dr T’s store. He’d left for the day, so I grabbed a free soda to wash down a couple oxys and limped toward the bus stop.
That’s when the bandage came off.
So, there I am, standing in front of a cannabis clinic and sex club, in broad daylight, unwrapping, repacking and rebandaging my fresh surgical sore. I tucked the packing tape in best I could, wrapped the ace bandage in a way that it wouldn’t fall off after three blocks, and limped on.
If you limp on both legs, do they cancel each other out?
Dr T had given me the rest of the week off, so I went home to bed. I had a follow-up appointment on Friday. The doctor checked my bandage, rewrapped it, and told me not to change it until Tuesday, when I did a follow-up at the clinic with a nurse.
I made it almost to the bus stop before THIS bandage fell off.
I repacked with a piece of gauze, jamming it into the sore as best I could. Three days, huh? I managed to bag-and-tape securely enough to shower. That would be enough to keep Rain from moving out on me.
The nurses were horrified when I told them about the bandages, and my homemade packing job. “Well, you did fine, considering.” It looked like a Molotov cocktail sticking out of the top of my foot. “You need smaller packing tape, we don’t want the hole that wide.” I watched as she did her thing. “Would you like to come in and have us do this, or do you think you can handle it?’
“I’ve already done it twice on the sidewalk. At home, with proper equipment, oughta be a piece of cake.”
She fixed me a giant to-go bag of gauze, tape, saline, q-tips and another scrip for oxys. “I can’t believe he had you wait three days to change the gauze. It should be done at least once a day, maybe twice. And the wrapping! This is your foot, dude!” She was righteously pissed for me. I like that in a caregiver.
I returned a few days later. The nurse watched me unwrap, dress, pack and bandage my owie. “You’re an old pro. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and call if you have concerns, or if it starts acting up. Otherwise we are done!”
It’s been about a month, and I still have a bit of a hole. I’m down to my last two pain pills, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting any more. (Not unless I want my chart flagged as an abuser.) It’s cool; if I get much more attached to these pills I’ll be spoiling my moments on the porch. You know, when I’m the eighty-year-old guy on his last leg. I want some of that good dope to get me through those golden years….
Now, for those of you who think you’re tough enough, here are those pictures I was telling you about. I would not recommend looking right before an Italian dinner…
We’re almost there.
Since the beginning of December, I have been dealing with intestinal issues. Specifically an inguinal hernia, its side-effects and the operation to cure said hernia. The path to normal function is opening up, and I can see the highway from here.
In hindsight, I *could* have gone back to work three days after surgery. (And would have, had the state not been so kind as to pay for my down time.) Instead, I got a bit of quiet time. How quiet? I made it work for me.
Physically, I am feeling okay. I get a bit of soreness once in a while. The bruising has gone away. Rain told me a cute story: When visiting the homeless shelter, there are a bunch of old gals she calls the Golden Girls. They were snickering about something, so Rain pulled out her phone and showed them my picture. Then she told them about my operation, then told them about my spectacular bruising. “Yepper, he was an honorary brother for a couple weeks!”
Romantically, I am back in the saddle again. Things are working well, in fact I think I had a growth spurt. Once I knew for sure things would work, ahem, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Rain, adventurous as she may be, kept me at bay for a few days. (Her wanting me to spill my guts usually involves how much money I have on me, not a splattery gorefest following rambunctious sex.) We started slow and easy…
I have another doctor’s appointment, just a feel-good checkup to make sure I’m not missing anything, that it’s all where it should be, etc… I am ready to be done with this. I am ready to start flinging myself around with abandon. I want to pick up girls. Literally. Throw them onto the bed and pants them and, well, you get my drift. I am tired of behaving like an old man. I have wild oats to sow!
I’ll get on that, right after work…
I worked right up to the date of surgery. Early in the evening I received a call from the anesthesiologist, who reminded me not to eat or drink anything past midnight. Great. Dinner was some chicken meat I *was* going to make a burrito out of when I got home. Oh well, get used to being hungry.
I did eat some medicated candy toward the end of my shift. I figured it would help me sleep, and calm some of the pre-surgery jitters. I was relaxed, but the mind did tend to wander toward dark thoughts. Would some sweet chicken thigh be my last meal? I made sure to visit Meg, but not before Rain shanghaied me into a dark secluded place and gave me a clandestine romp to remember. My Alien Baby hurt much less after her magical pressure release. I felt loved. I could bravely go forth now.
A while back, in an unnamed place during a spontaneous moment, Rain slid her hand into my pants. As she got familiar, she looked up at me, “Ain’t you got no drawers on?”
“Of course I have pants on,” I replied.
“You aren’t wearing underwear?”
“Uh, no. When have you ever seen me with underwear on?”
She thought about it.
“I haven’t owned or worn underwear since 1982.” I grinned a deviant grin.
She pulled her hand out of my pants like she’d put it into a bowl of cold spaghetti. My laughing didn’t help the situation. “What, you were expecting, Fruit of the Loom?”
“You a sick and twisted individual.” Her mock disgust made me laugh.
For the second time in a month, women were hinting hard that I should wear underwear.
I’ll think about it…