Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

And it’s not even over!

We were only six days into it when a delegation from the Crybaby Party paid a visit to the Capitol and whined and blubbered and generally threw a tantrum worthy of a bunch of two-year-olds. The building is still standing. So far.

Then on February 19th I went to the Vancouver Clinic for a CT scan, and had a heart attack while I was in the machine. They told me to hie myself across the street to PeaceHealth hospital and tell them I was one sick puppy. I hied, but hoed back home first so Lee would have the car.

The sawbones quickly determined that my heart was far too screwed up for a stent, so on the 22nd I went under the knife and they did four bypasses. I hadn’t even known there were four things to bypass!

Home after a few days, to begin a month or so of having to lift myself up from bed without using my arms. Remember, they had sliced me open like a fish, spread my sternum wide enough to pull my non-beating heart outside my body so they could work on it. They put me back together with staples. Too much strain on those staples and I could see myself popping wide open and spraying blood and guts across the room like John Hurt in Alien. I didn’t want to subject the nurses to that, so I let them (mostly tiny little women from Mexico or the Philippines) lever me into a sitting position before I could stand erect and walk (well, shuffle like an octogenarian, which I almost am) a few yards to the toilet. There are probably more embarrassing things than having a nurse wipe your ass, but nothing comes to mind at the moment.

A word of thanks here for nurses, and for this nursing staff in particular. If you pray, you should always include them in your prayers. We don’t pray, but endeavor to always hold them in the highest esteem. I didn’t have a single grouchy old grump like you see in the movies. They were always there when I needed them, ready to do what needed to be done. This, during a time of plague when they were putting themselves in danger every day, and working much longer hours. All hail!

Then it was home, and coronary rehab classes, thrice weekly, where I spent half an hour on a machine that simulated rowing but didn’t get you anywhere, followed by another half hour of whatever torturous exercise they had devised for us that day. I had flashbacks to C.O. Wilson Junior High. That was the last time I did any exercise at all, when I was fourteen. The coaches despised us all except for the football players, but they hated me in particular because I was 6’6”, didn’t get the point of basketball, and couldn’t run, dribble, or shoot. A triple threat!

But I readily admit that the therapy did me a lot of good. I regained most of my strength, and there was every hope I would gain more. Things were looking fine, and I have learned that is exactly when it tends to all fall apart.

Nineteen. COVID-19. Shaken, not stirred

Please don’t think I’m one of those muttonhead tools who refused the vaccine. Lee and I got both doses as soon as they were available, back in the days when you had to make an appointment and stand in line for an hour. What we both got now was what they call a “breakthrough” case. This is what killed Colin Powell, who was not a dunderhead, chowderhead, or muttonhead, a few days ago.

Lee was sick, but got over it in about a week, probably because she actually does exercise (a little) and eats a healthy diet (intermittently). That was not the case with me. For two, maybe three weeks I coughed up enough phlegm and blew out enough snot to sculpt a life-sized statue of Donald Trump to put in Walt Disney World. (Sorry for the imagery, but you didn’t expect a description of a bout with the Plague to be pretty, did you?)

But I finally stopped hacking and resigned myself to exercise again and regain my strength. Neither of which happened. More on that to come. But first …

I was in the hospital for two nights. And just like a few months before, there were no visitors allowed. I found I quite liked that. I know there are plenty of people who feel neglected and down in the dumps if their room isn’t full of well-wishers assuring them they will be better soon, but I’m not one of them. For future reference, if you are visiting my room to say howdy-do, ten minutes is about right, then I can go back to sleep.

It was reasonably quiet for a place where dozens of people were coughing themselves to death. I suppose it was the ventilators shoved down their throats, and the doors which were kept closed. But the first night was awful, as I had a roommate, Mark, who was even sicker than I was. We kept each other awake most of the night in alternating coughing fits.

But I did get to sleep for a while, until I was awakened by the creaking of a wooden wagon being pushed down the hall. And some guy with a bell was shouting:

“Bring out your dead!” … clank.

“Bring out your dead!” … clank.

I didn’t want any part of that. But when the wagon came by the next night I remembered how that Monty Python scene ended, and wondered what they would do if they were running short of beds. I decided to skedaddle the next morning.

I dunno. Maybe it was just a dream.

I was exhausted, literally, just by turning over in bed, and too weak to arm-wrestle a jellyfish. But it would get better, everyone assured me. Except it didn’t. Well, you need to exercise more, they said. I tried, but I honestly could not walk from one end of the house without sitting down and huffing like a glue sniffer for five or ten minutes before standing up and facing the incredibly long trip back down the hall. This went on for weeks, with no discernable improvement. I decided there was something else wrong with me.

They sent me for a chest x-ray and sure enough, I had pneumonia. The bacterial variety, which is afraid of antibiotics, not the viral type, which fears nothing. Had it been viral I would probably already have been dead, an outcome few physicians look forward to … though I wonder about the doctors who treated Trump.

I was given three pills to swallow over the course of five days. One was just one more white lozenge like three other pills I take every day. But one was a lovely bright blue-green capsule. It was so pretty I had to admire it for a few minutes before tossing it down the old pie-hole. I guess they make pills so dull so they won’t attract children. It’s a shame.

I remember, many years ago, I was given a bright green capsule with a bright red band around it. I remember thinking it would look nice with a tiny bow around it. I swallowed one, then was worried I might have been given a reindeer laxative by mistake. But I didn’t spend the next day dashing, dancing, and prancing around the house toward the toilet, so I guess it was okay.

I don’t have the bottle near me here but to the best of my recollection the ones I’m taking now are Placeboxydrine, Oxyplaceboxicillizole, and Cryptosporidiosicil, which I was already taking. Added to that was my daily dose of Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Quick-Dissolving Fast-Acting Pleasant-Tasting Green and Purple Pill. If those bad boys don’t KO the bacteria, nothing will.

I feel pretty confident that I will survive this. I’m much less certain that I will recover my already-depleted physical faculties. But I try not to worry about that. So in that spirit I’ve devised a little game. Since it’s beyond question (in my mind, at least) that my trials are not over, I asked my old friend Job (not Jobs) what sort of disease I might encounter next as I wend my way through this vale of tears. We came up with a short list of eight. You may feel free to vote for the one you think most likely, or you may pick out your own. There are thousands of them! Voting for “disease-free” is not allowed. After 2021 so far, I simply wouldn’t believe it.

Pediculis pubis
Lou Gehrig’s disease
Bubonic plague
The Heartbreak of Psoriasis
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Legionnaire’s Disease
Ring around the collar

I’ll announce the winner in a later post. Assuming the later post doesn’t kill me.
Stay safe and get vaccinated!!

Vancouver, WA