Aisle Of Wit

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The Longest Shortest Day

Two years ago today may have been the shortest day of 2019 for the world at large, but for me it turned out to be the longest day of my life.  And almost my last.

Two days previously, as I was packing up my office at Sony for a holiday move down the hall, I felt the most intense shaking pain I had ever felt in my life.   For nearly 45 minutes, in a otherwise barren corridor, I convulsed in agony, unable to stop quivering and literally seeing my life flash in front of my eyes.

When I finally stopped shaking, my only thought was to get home.  I drove the short distance, where upon arrival I was summarily dismissed as overreacting, ordered into bed and then ignored as I writhed in continued pain.  When I was too loud for the room, I was banished to our lumpy couch, where thankfully our cat attempted to calm my nerves and ease my pain.

After two nights of continued pain, unable to eat, I finally summoned the courage to ask a doctor friend to look at me via FaceTime.  He noticed my skin was yellowed and suspected jaundice.  He implored me to get to a hospital.  Despite mocking derision that I “couldn’t afford an ambulance”, I consented to that sage advice.   I was instructed to order an Uber; the priority of discussing Lady Gaga’s latest tour was deemed more urgent than even being driven to the emergency room.

As night descended upon the shortest day of the year,  I laid out in the back seat of the compact uber in increasing pain, wincing with every bump.  I arrived at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, out of network but perhaps the only facility I would trust with my life.  I staggered into the emergency room, was immediately put on a gurney and had my vitals taken.  For nearly six hours I laid on that gurney in a freezing hallway, shivering both from the 45 degree chill and my own body going into what I later learned was septic shock.

When an attendant finally came by he immediately handed me an admittance form.  I asked, “I’m not going home”?  He gasped and read off my diagnoses.  AKI- Acute Kidney Injury. Cholangitis.  Severe sepsis (JHCC).  Cholecysistis.  Arterial hypotension.  White blood cell count 42,000.  “No, sir, you’re not going home tonight.  Hopefully, you’ll eventually leave here alive”.

Until the morphine drip they quickly administered sent me to sleep I laid on that gurney with the weight of those words weighing on me with the gravity of 1000 Earths.  I was 60 years old, clinically obese, clinging to my career, in massive and mounting debt, without a single person even willing to hold my hand as I for the first time ever truly saw my own mortality in front of me.

The next few Le Blogs will focus on what the balance of that first week of winter was like for me.  Suffice to say it wasn’t fun.  But every journey begins with first steps, even if you’re lying on your back with tubes sticking out of you.  I hope you’ll allow me to take you on it.  Spoiler alert:  I’m WAAAAAAY better now.

Until next time….