“I couldn't live a week without a private library
- indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor
before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.” ― H.P. Lovecraft

Whistling In The Graveyard

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Well I'm goin' to Columbus
and I'm feelin' all right
I got some money in my pocket
and I'm not too uptight
Well alright,
I said we're goin' to Columbus tonight
Well alright,
I said we're goin' to Columbus tonight.


Song: Goin' to Columbus
Artist: The Reverend Nick Barry
Album: America - Land Of The Free


I wonder where Nick is? I haven't seen him in years.

Anyways, that musical interlude did have a point. In a mere seven hours I'm turning my wheels towards the city of Columbus Ohio with the goal of finally getting this gaping hole in my midsection repaired and getting my life back on track.

If that's too unrealistic I'd like to at least get it as firmly off-center as it was before all this shit happened.

And the more I write about the shit that happened, the more I realize that many of you haven't heard the story, and those of you that have haven't heard the whole thing. So hunker down, here it goes.

I was working at my former job. In fact, I had been there for three days straight because they did four-day shifts and you have to sleep there at night. You were never allowed to leave unless you were transporting one of the juvenile delinquents that were housed there.

I'd been feeling like shit for days and after getting bitched at in a meeting for the mistakes of my co-workers (one bitch in particular) I went into the bathroom and passed out.

An indeterminate time later I woke up on the floor.

So thinking that I just couldn't physically handle the job (no sleep, no privacy, constant physical effort) I went to the office and tendered my resignation. They explained to me that if I wanted to go back to my old position I'd have to give them two weeks. I agreed.

Later that day they tell me they need me for another month if I want my old position back.

See, when most people quit that lousy job they just left. And most people DO leave that shitty job. That's why they decided to stick my fucking legs in the fire over it.

And even later in the day they tell me that they need me to stay indefinitely till they find and train my replacement.

Bitches.

So figuring I had no choice, I withdrew my resignation.

Later that night I was having extreme abdominal pains. Basically, it felt like my intestines were filled with double-edged razor blades. So I called my supervisor and explained things. Now, my supervisor knew only these things:

#1: I was extremely stressed out.

#2: I wanted out but they were fucking with me.

#3: I wanted my old job back so I wouldn't just quit.

So it looks to her like I'm bullshitting and I just want to leave my shift a day early. Technically, since I was working with children and they had to maintain so many staff members per child on campus (a rule they routinely broke when it was convenient to them) I could be prosecuted for child endangerment had I left without permission.

For some strange reason she gives in and I leave for the emergency room.

After waiting for three hours in extreme fucking pain the emergency room guy tells me that it's pulled muscles and stress. He injects me with a painkiller and a muscle relaxer (both of which did feel pretty damn good), gave me a prescription for Vicodin and told me to take a few days off and if the pain comes back to "Pop a few pills and sleep it off".

Feeling a little better I go home without filling the Vicodin prescription. I didn't want to start on that shit. I worked with too many people that were addicted to it. There were more substance abuse problems in my fellow staff members than in the kids we were keeping our eyes on.

Anyways, already feeling like a wuss, thinking that my job was kicking my ass, I decided to man up and work through the pain.

And for a few days I felt pretty good. Tender, but not like I had been.

New Years Day, 2000 I wake up in more pain than I ever thought possible.

I found myself wishing that I'd filled that prescription.

I rolled over to reach for the phone to call someone. I didn't even know who I was going to call, but I couldn't think straight. When I roll over I feel something in my midsection pop.

Even in the state I was in, I knew that couldn't mean anything good.

I managed to get to the living room and into a chair. Fortunately my roommate Nate was awake and I got him to call my Mother who then drove me to the hospital.

Things get fuzzy after that.

I remember telling Mom over and over that I was OK, even though I knew I wasn't.

I remember the doctor coming in and saying that I had air in my abdomen and we needed to get into surgery immediately.

Next thing I remember I'm waking up in recovery.

I could barely move and I was thirstier than I had ever been. I wanted water badly, but nobody would give me any. I guess I got a little snippy about it.

Several of my friends and family members were there. I guess I was talking and being a smart-ass, so it sounds like I was feeling good, but I don't remember much of that either.

Then my chest got tight. It felt like pressure on my lungs. I calmly told the doctor "I'm having trouble breathing." The doctor calmly told me "Just take a deep breath."

So I breathed in as much as I could, which wasn't much, and breathed out.

Then I tried to breathe back in.

Nothing happened.

I tried to sit up, because it felt like the thing to do, and I was pushed back down to the table.

I lost more air.

I redoubled my efforts to sit up.

They called more staff into the room to hold me down.

For those of you that don't know me, I'm a large man. I'm six foot three, around three hundred pounds, and while I'm a lot fatter than I'd like to be a whole lot of that weight is muscle. In my best fighting shape I could bench-press three hundred pounds.

Needless to say, holding me down wasn't easy. It took five or six guys.

As they wheeled me back out of the room I was blacking out. They told me later that in my flailing I knocked one of the orderlies out cold.

Last thing I heard before I went out was code blue, cardiac arrest.

Next thing I knew I was on the beach.

I couldn't remember where I had just been, just that there had been some sort of confusion, but now everything was cool.

I couldn't identify the beach I was on. It looked like all of them and none of them at the same time. It was bright and sunny, but I didn't need to shade my eyes. The white sand gleamed, but it didn't burn my feet. The water was a perfect blue, the dune was a perfect contour, and it was all framed by a perfect sky.

Behind me was a cliff face. Set into it was a white door. When I looked forward again there was a cafe' table with an umbrella and two chairs in front of me.

Had it been there a moment ago?

I decided to have a seat.

Just watching the perfect waves roll in.

After a few minutes, or was it days? I noticed a drink on the table beside me. There was an identical glass on the other side of the table. Accompanying it was another set of hands. I couldn't see the face of their owner, but I got the impression that he was a pretty cool guy, so I accepted the drink.

I was never really a martini guy, but I'll be damned if it wasn't delicious.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered having been thirsty, but I couldn't focus on it.

Watching the waves, drinking my drink, we had a wordless conversation about the nature of the universe and it all made sense, such perfect sense. Everything was as it should be. Everything had a purpose, and everything was going to be all right.

Then my attention was drawn back to the door.

Back to my place in the universe.


I woke up three days later.

Everything hurt. Especially my chest. Those heart paddle things that George Clooney uses hurt like a son of a bitch.

Apparently I had been awake and talking to people for three days and I just didn't remember it. They say I was rational and making perfect sense.

It figures that I'd be asleep for the one time I made perfect sense...

I found that I had my large intestine now ended in a hole in the lower left side of my abdomen and an 18 inch incision from my waist to my sternum seemed to be stitched together with boot laces. The two-inch holes between stitches were left open. Something about having to let the wound heal from the inside out. Did you see DiNiro in ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’? It was kinda like that, only more gruesome.

It seems that when I was in recovery I was bleeding internally, and six pints of my blood ended up on my diaphragm making it impossible to breathe. They credit my physical strength for being able to go on as long as I did. I understand that my heart didn't quit beating until it was out of blood to pump.

So I had IV's and drain hoses and bells and whistles and MORPHINE.

I tried to stay away from the Morph as I then had a superstition about painkillers (I wonder if it has anything to do with the realization that if I'd popped those pills I never would have woke up again?). Only time I used the Morph was when my Mom accidentally hit the button half a dozen times thinking it was the nurse call. Now THAT was a fun ride.

Anyways, my life since then has been one long rebuilding process. 12 days in a hospital bed with no food but an IV drip doesn't do much for your muscle tone.

My asshole employers cancelled my health insurance the day after I got sick, so I've been fighting both of them to settle some uncovered $60,000 worth of debt. At this point I've gotten all but about $3,000 taken care of. And I've been fighting surgery related health problems. They seem to be all under control except for this soccer-ball-sized hernia that I'm going to go see the doctor about.

Yes, my asshole is back where it belongs. It took eleven months though. And while it's true that I can't do much, at least I'm not in pain and I'm happy.

Though I'm sure the heroin is partially responsible for that...

With any luck, the surgeon will schedule my surgery sometime within the next three months and I can finally get all of this shit behind me.

Full recovery is on the horizon.

Hopefully, it'll get done soon and without incident.

But if something does happen, my life has been good. I had damn good friends from before that have seen me through and I've met many more since, and all of you have helped me get to where I am now.

Regrets? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

So don't worry too much about me.

Worst case scenario: I'm going to the beach.

The world is like a ride at an amusement park.
And when you chose to go on it you think it's real,
'cause that's how powerful our minds are,
and the ride goes up and down and around and around
it had thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored
and it's very loud.

And it's fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time
and they begin to question: "Is this real?"
"Or is this just a ride?" And other people have
remembered and they come back to us and they say:
"Hey, don't worry and don't be afraid, ever,
because this is just a ride."


~ Bill Hicks 1964-1994

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