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The Thaddeus Gazette



Unwell, actually. For the first time in my adult life, I'm stuck in a hospital.

"Adult" here translates as "since I had my tonsils out when I was six and I still miss them." Never throughout my glib and gladsome body parade of time/space persistence have I had to sample the dubious pleasures of Le Hotel Bedpan. I've torn ligaments, sprained muscles, ripped great gouting holes in my epidermis and suffered through seemingly neverending coughs, but nothing was severe enough to land me in the pink clink. I always put it down to luck, a modicum of good sense (yeah, right) and my Mutant Powers Of Instant Healing (when I was working handyman, my usual response to great gouting holes in my epidermis was to wrap them in toilet paper and duct tape and get back on task, and a week later they'd magically disappear).

I've been egregiously stinkin proud of my repulsive good health, in particular since I entered the Age of Age and all my contemporaries started dropping like flies. I didn't exactly stand around chanting NEENER NEENER POO POO while they booked their extended tours to scenic Allopathia, but I'll confess to a kind of restrained hubris expressed in crinkle of eye and twitch of lip. Bless me doctor, for I have sinned. It has been 60 years since my last confession.

What finally dragged me kicking and cursing in from the cold started its career in crime as chills and a 102 degree fever visiting me upon a Wednesday early early. Grudgingly staying in bed for a day, I arose next morning and visited my primary care clinic. They assured me that I didn't have a UTI, my first candidate for concern. Emboldened, I spent the day in gainful activities, even though a persistent pain in my leg had me wondering if the severe shakes the previous day had managed to jerk a tendon.

Then in the evening, I watered the dog, brushed my teeth, pulled off my pants to go to bed and screamed like a little girl.

Sometime during the day, my leg had transmongrified into something out of a horror movie, and not one with particularly tasteful art direction. Modesty and a respect for the tender sensibilities of my audience reserves me from more specificity than "rash," which sounds kinda wussy. Let it only be said that it was fierce enough that when Ada, already groggy, roused herself to insist that we hie ourselves to an ER, I only protested once. That's pretty prescriptive — if you know me.

The Jolly Jolly Chase To The Emergency Room is one I've had a rather wearying amount of experience with in the course of my coexistence with two special needs wifies and a few special needs friends, but this was the first time I was the featured attraction, and it didn't sit well at all, no, Precious. Fortunately, it was the deserted-1am-ER and not the 10pm-Saturday-night-ER-and-all-the-wonders-thereof, and I was talking to the admissions nurse before A got back from parking. I said "fever," "chills" and "rash" and she nodded, pulled down the intercom mike and said "Triage!" It all happened like a dream or a Penthouse Forums story (I never thought it could happen to me...), and next thing I knew, there I was comfortably ensconced high in an iso room with a four star view at Swedish First Hill, a plague dog with room service. My first admission, my first power bed, my first intravenous antibiotic (ouch).

Around four in the morning they finally let me go to sleep. Around 630 they were back with more tests. They pummeled and prodded, stuck insultingly large needles into what seemed to be every available vessel and extracted vampiric amounts of my tainted blood, then hung me with bags of bitter herbs to drive the demons out. I accused them of leechcraft in reverse. They laughed.

Lemme just pause right now to give a big ginormous shoutout to the dedicated staff I encountered, professionals one and all. I did my best to stay upbeat and cheerful and to thank each and every one of them for their service, as well I might. I know which side my rash is bashed on. I also did my best not to succumb to the wiles of the endless cafeteria tray, with food at least as good as the best restaurant in Mudbucket, Arkansas (hopefully Red isn't running the hospital kitchen. Or if she is, that she doesn't read this). I did sink to ordering a kindergarten lunch: tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to dip in it. My ER doc friend from high school assures me that being a patient is an open invitation to indulge in rampant infantilism.

The good news is that, properly intervened upon, what I have (cellulitis, as it happens) isn't especially life-threatening. The bad news is that I'm stuck being just a gigolo while life goes on without me, with the added prospect of what I used to call Prognosis Limbo back in the Sandahbeth days: you'll be free to go back to being alive, but we don't know when. Well isn't that special.

After the first thrill of a new experience wore off, turns out being on the business end of a hospital room is a lot less creatively stimulating than I had hoped or imagined it to be. I'm pretty sure I'm walking in the footsteps of masters here. I had A fetch me down my laptop and kept abreast of a few jobs, but I looked at all the music and video editing software in the dock of my MacBook and turned on Netflix.

One of my friends reassured me that it's all for the best. "You'll write a great Thaddeus Gazette about it!" I replied that I hoped not, that nothing was more boring than a detailed account of your hospital ordeal. Still —"Nothing bad ever happens to a writer. It's all material." — Garrison Keillor

Tell it to my leg.

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