Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Flat on My Back

If I'da had a blog back in 2005 - before they were invented, I think - this bizarre story would've made it on there. This happened about a month-and-a-half before I actually was hospitalized with a severe lung infection. But at the time ...it just seemed like a funny story.

Dateline, Saturday, Labor Day weekend. We left the Michigan State game at the end of the the 2nd quarter and the kids were asleep before we even got off campus (my kids were 2 1/2 and 1 at the time). The wife and I kept driving and headed up north to her parents' place at Canadien Lakes.

My nagging cough continues to get worse. But I am just plugging through.

All five of Kathy's brothers and all their kids were there and we celebrated Jimmy's 1st birthday and had tons of food and cake. It was great. All (15) nieces and nephews, my two kids, all the brothers and their wives. Busy, busy. All but four of them stayed the night and we had a great campfire. Marylin, quite simply, LOVES her cousins and at age 2 1/2, she thinks she's a 5 year old when they're all around. It's very funny to see her "act" older.

Sunday we went to the beach for hours, played in the water, relaxed. The beach is a great place for a 2 1/2 year old and a 1 year old. You plop 'em down, keep an eye on 'em, and you tie a string around their leg so when they fall in you can pull them out and they won't drown. But mostly, they keep themselves entertained the whole time.

Sunday night, everyone left, leaving only Kathy, me, and the kids for one last night. The evening was great ...but ...when I went to bed, my mother-in-law set me up on a "magic fingers" foam mattress enhancer. I told her it was not necessary and I'm always more than comfortable on the fold out without it. But she insisted. She bought it special for me. "OK," I said. What I didn't detect when I first laid down was that she had a queen-size version on a regular sized bed. She had folded it in half(ish) for extra thickness, but not completely in half. Only about 2/3rds of the way. So, I actually fell asleep on a ridge - at 11pm. Fast forward to 2am. I woke up PARALYZED!!! OK, so not really paralized, but I WAS in so much pain that I passed out while trying to roll out of bed and crawl down the hall. My back was spasming like crazy and I felt like Mike Tyson himself had punched me 20 times in the shoulder blade. I came-to about 2:20am. Yes ...read that again ...I passed out cold due to the pain. So I know I passed out for 20 minutes. Luckily, 1-year-old Jimmy didn't wake up - he was in the playpen near the couch - Kathy was asleep comfortably in another bed with Marylin. As I laid there, face down, with my back spazzing over and over and over again, and the pain of the Tyson-force punches still radiating just below my shoulder blade, I realized I had pissed myself upon passing out.

Have you ever wondered how much pee is actually accumulating in the toilet bowl while you're peeing? Well, I can tell you ...ALOT!!! I would say I was laying in a puddle of my own piss equivalent of a 20oz bottle of water. And it smelled like piss.

So, now, I'm face down, in major pain, laying in my own piss, and I still can't move because of the pain. And, for some reason, I still feel this responsibility to let my kids and in-laws sleep and I didn't call out for help.

2:35am ...I've had enough. My brain has decided that we're moving my body. I attempt a push-up. I nearly pass out, again. I start a coughing jag which causes more spazms. I'm in a half-kneel push-up pose, wincing, soaked in piss, and coughing like an 80-year-old man with emphysema. TRULY a site to behold. But I fought on.

Slowly I start crawling towards the tiny bathroom which I know has towels. Hand. Pain. Hand. Pain. Knee. Pain. Knee. Pain. And on and on for the 7 feet I had to traverse.

I'm not kidding when I say I was halfway hoping to pass out again and to just sleep it off.

I get to the bathroom pretty quickly and use only my arms to pull myself to a kneeling position in front of the sink/toilet station. I try to use as few back muscles as possible, but here's the thing ...human's backs are very important to almost everything a human does.

Like when raising an arm. Back muscles. When kneeling. Back muscles.

OK ...I'll post my exo-musculo-skeletal summary some other time.

Amidst all the pain, I'm able to get 5 towels onto the floor and somewhat clean up my mess at 3:05am. I think to myself, "I'll get back in bad and lay down."

I do. I immediately diagnose "the ridge" as the cause of my pain. And the bed, now, seems like a medieval torture device ...if a torture device would be a bed positioned on the ridge of a rooftop on a golfball.

3:10am I decide the ONLY way I'm going to even possibly get comfortable and get some sleep is to crawl into the bed with Kathy and Marylin ...a real bed. Off I go ...crawling again ...dragging myself on the ground, over the piss soaked towels, down the hall, through the room where my in-laws are sleeping, and out onto the additon/porch where Marylin and Kathy are sleeping ..warm and comfy.

I manage to crawl to our suitcase and get some dry-non-piss-soaked clothes out and then begin the near-impossible task of undressing myself while dealing with near-blinding pain and spazms.

Of course, Kathy wakes up as I'm butt naked on the floor next to the bed and she is like, "AHHHHHHHHH" ...(but in a whisper) ...and she asks me what the hell is going on?!?!?!?!

I respond with "COUGH" and "COUGH" ...then muster, "I'm ...para..." *(WINCE IN PAIN)* "...lyzed." But in a whisper ...*COUGH* *COUGH*.

Kathy rolls outta bed trying not to wake Marlyin, she doesn't know if she should be worried or mad or what. I try to explain what's going on, but we're both whispering and then I just beg her to help me get dressed and into bed. I tell her I'll explain in the morning.

It was then nearly 4am. I was dressed in fresh boxers and a t-shirt. I struggled mightily to get into bed and find SOME position that's comfortable. I'm not sure I slept more than 15 minutes at a time the rest of the night. I sat in one-spot for most of Monday while wearing a heating pad, coughing, and spazming. Kathy drove home. Spazming subsided. I was much, much better on Tuesday but still made a date with my doctor.

Isn't that fun.

Epilogue. One-and-a-half-months later I was hospitalized for 5 days with an advanced lung infection that had filled my lungs with fluid and pushed against my spine. I got better. I will not poo-poo such warning signs in the future.

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