DEFCON 2

Hipstamatic makes everything look cool, even a sign at a hospital

The virus, flu, whatever it is, took a big swipe at me last night. I rarely get fevers, but it was 101.6 on the radio dial, not that there are radio dials anymore.

Why does bad stuff always happen in the dark of night?

The fever came with chills and an elevated heart rate, SOB, and pulseox of 90, 91. Tylenol knocked down the chills, but not the temperature, and I got as close as you can get to going to the ER. The temperature settled down when I cooled off, letting me sleep for three or four hours. I woke up in a wet sweat. And nauseous, which is sometimes a sign of a collapsed lung for me.

I emailed the doctor and he ordered an x-ray. Three hours of my day burned going to, at, from the hospital. No pneumonia, no pneumothorax, no hospital stay – yet. Then home for a weekday nap, something I take every 5 years. Work got cancelled, too, which made me uncomfortable and behind on my projects.

It hurts to cough, which amazes me, as I cough all the time. Virus-aftermath coughing is different, more painful.

The question now is . . . will I move to DEFCON 1 and go to the hospital, or will I escape? I cannot think of any examples of escaping this strong of a virus in a long time. But who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky. I’m on oral cipro, Cayston, and inhaled Tobra. This trio of heavyweights better keep me out of jail, or I’ll be pissed.

Shallow thoughts from an idiot purple sheep

[WARNING: Adult language, themes, and childish thoughts – a bad combination. Read at risk to your mental health.]

The big monkey pays a visit

Life disguised as King Kong took its giant monkey hand, paw, whatever it’s called because I’m too lazy to Google it, and picked me up by my ankles and dipped me headfirst into a gas-station toilet. Then it slapped me to the ground like a wet fish and called it a head cold.

I have a bad case of mascot head, big and stuffy. My chest is congested, too. It’s not looking good for staying out of jail. I should know better than to go to the mall in March without a space suit – and one for my daughter, too. The term for “Mall” in my language is “Casa de Virus.”

Read the instructions on the soup can and follow them

Soups don't burn people, people do

I read the instructions to cover the soup bowl and let it sit for a minute before removing it from the microwave. But I didn’t let it sit or stay covered – hence the accurate title of this blog post. Instead I pulled it out and peeled away the plastic covering.

The escaping steam burned my middle finger, bad. Bad enough to override my mental ability to turn pain into pleasure, which makes me sound like I’m calling 900-numbers nightly to speak to dominatrices. It’s not nightly, just once a week, but even this level of pain overrides my amazing ability to withstand pain, which was honed by dozens of hospital visits and the hospital workers who think smoking crack and showing up to work is a good idea.

And, if Lizippy’s brilliant theory of “Google-search-word pervs” is true, I should get some new readers with this post. Welcome, slaves. Now sit down and shut up and beg for your beating.

“Leather-whip to the ass” fans aside, I will be borrowing my wife’s Vicodin, another key search word, so I can once again flip off Walmart when I drive by it. My thanks for selling me $5 rubber-hard pillows that make my head bounce up and down when I’m sleeping. Or, is it my rubber neck? Hmm, I did look at the accident on the freeway the other day.

Making a correct decision doesn’t mean a warm fuzzy feeling in return.

Yes, I made the correct decision not to go to Jersey yesterday. Still, today I stayed away from the knife drawer and was thankful California has a waiting period for handguns. Not a good day. The work team is in NJ and I’m not. Once again CF isolates me from the clan . . . of the cavebear – (more disappointed Googlers). CF has a way of doing that – for my entire life. I’ve always felt apart from others, someone who doesn’t belong, a purple sheep.

So, between my cold getting worse and not being able to travel, I’ve done a fantastic job of feeling sorry for myself today. I want a gold star and a meaty rib from the Woolly Mammoth we killed together, as a work team. We worked together to kill it. Go, Team Cavebear.

Guys, why am I by myself? Hello? Anyone? This cough isn’t contagious, you stupid fucks. Come back here.

Scare the people who knock on your door – if they’re not kids selling cookies or chocolate bars

Someone came to my door today selling steaks. Steaks? Are you f’ing kidding me? Who thinks of something like that? I know who – the guy who passes out on the couch with his hand in the front of his jockeys after drinking the entire 12-pack of Schlitz. Yes, my dad.

A dim Christmas bulb blinks while he’s sleeping it off, and he dreams: “I can sell steaks. I can sell steaks door to door. I’m a fucking genius. No one sells steaks door to door. I’ll be rich just like the person who glued sleeves on a blanket.” No, you won’t, Dad, because they sewed the sleeves on. My apologies to those Googling “selling steaks door to door,” but not to my dad.

The next time someone comes to my door selling shiate I don’t need, I’m going to put on my McDonald’s bag, or better yet, wear a bandanna, western bank-robber style. I’ll say in my happiest of voices, “I have highly contagious TB,” and ask them to feel my forehead to see if I have a fever, just like my mommy did. I’ll ask them if they’d like a whip to the ass, too.

Then I’ll call Mistress Honey with the news that some salesman who looked like my father dropped a box of $2 llama steaks on my porch. She’ll be angry because I’ve been bad again. Yes, I have.

My head cold goes south; I stay West

Everything was going fine this morning preparing to leave for my trip until I coughed a dry cough – red alert. It was a clear sign my cold had crossed the imaginary barrier of my throat and entered my chest – chest cold, red alert.

The monkey tossed a wrench. But was I reading the sign correctly?

I don't know why, but this photo seems appropriate. (Creative Commons: soldiersmediacenter)

I went through my routine. And when the driver knocked, I hugged my wife and left. And the first thing I did when I got in the car was take a Xanax. But it was too late. Each suppressed dry cough was like someone shaking me to wake up.

The closer we got to the airport, the greater the thought of “turn around” became. Turn around. Turn around. Go home. Do not go, turn around. TURN AROUND. BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.

At least a dozen scenarios played through my head of what might happen – what I would do when I got to New Jersey and this chest cold turned worse. What would it be like to be in the cold weather, a hotel room, sick? What would it be like to have a dry hacking cough on the plane and have people stare? What would it be like to go through security and have to open my bag of CF paraphernalia and explain it?

How would I get home? How would I get home?

Too overwhelming, go home.

As we exited the freeway, I felt warm.  And as we got closer, hotter. When we were about a mile away, I knew I couldn’t get on the plane. My face was flush, my heart beating in an uneven drum beat – hard beats, ready to release blood into my lungs.

When the driver pulled up to Terminal 1, I told him I was having a panic attack and couldn’t get on the plane. I asked him if he could drive me home or send another car to pick me up. He was very nice and said he could drive me home. But he suggested we wait five minutes, take a deep breath and see if I changed my mind. I called my wife and told her I couldn’t get on the plane. I had made my decision. No sense waiting five minutes.

The driver took me home. I handed him an extra 40 bucks. And in the dark of morning, I wheeled my suitcase into the house.

Now had I written this post this morning, the title would have been: This blog post written by the world’s biggest idiot. I felt that way for making the decision not to get on the plane. Wimp, wuss, were a few of the words I used. However, the cold worsened throughout the day. I’ve had a dry cough and been out of it, tired, groggy from the stress and the virus.

But, for once, I made a correct decision. An uncomfortable decision, but the right decision. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but it does now. I’m fighting a chest cold, which may put me in the hospital. I have no doubt had I gone, I would have been in deep s**t with this thing.

So, the part of me that felt like a complete wuss at the airport for not getting on the plane, now feels good because I made the difficult decision not to go and to ensure I was in the best position to fight the cold and, with luck, stay out of the hospital. That is yet to be determined. It’s 50/50 at best right now.

Here’s my last thought tonight: I hate cystic fibrosis. It can kiss my ass.

Packing Day

I miss the days when packing for a trip took 45 minutes, not all day, and didn’t feel like defusing a bomb, hoping not to leave anything critical behind. I did exactly that in Hawaii a few years ago when I showed up without eFlow nebs. I felt ill when I realized they were sitting on the counter back home. And our trip budget took a hit with overnight plane delivery on a Sunday. (Yes, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts can sustain you for a week, but you’ll never eat them again.)

Count 'em out, ride 'em in, Ride 'em in, count 'em out, Count 'em out, ride 'em in, Rawhide!

There are a lot of meds and devices to keep track of, and it’s taking all afternoon to round them up and triple check them.

We’re officially on East Coast Time now in my house. Dinner will be at 4:30 PDT today. Bed by nine or ten, not midnight. Transportation will be here at 4:45 a.m. I have to wake up at 3:30 a.m PDT and do meds.

I started cipro today. No streaks, but I’m not taking any chances. I decided to fire the gun at the enemy first and not wait for it to surprise me – yes, I could be President one day with that preemptive skill.

Theme of the day: Travel light. I bought a new, smaller suitcase at Target, and I removed all ballast from my backpack: coins; old receipts; individually packaged hospital meds I never took; and limited clothing.

Part of my green initiative is wearing the same clothes for a longer period of time before changing and washing them. I wear the same T-shirt, shorts and underwear all week. Remember, I can go three weeks in the hospital without showering. So, wearing the same clothes for seven days . . . piece of cake. The world can thank me in a few years for all the detergent I saved from the ocean, and the energy to run the washing machine and dryer. Just don’t sit next to me on day six.

I fly to AZ first. I chose the close layover so if something bad happens on the plane, I can drive home or go to a hospital there. I’m comfortable with Phoenix and know my way around. It’s also not far if my wife has to travel to see me.

With luck, my next post will be from a hotel in NJ, which is what we once code named the hospital when my daughter was young. “Daddy’s in New Jersey for a week.” Now, it’s where I’m really going, though given the choice today, I might choose the local hospital. At least I don’t need to board a plane to get there.

No one lives forever

Par-a-noia strikes deep
into your life it will creep
it starts when you’re always afraid
step out of line the man come and take you away
Buffalo Springfield

I look better in black and white

I have a plane reservation for Monday. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve flown. A year? Over a year?

Travel with cystic fibrosis hasn’t always been kind to me – hemoptysis over the Atlantic Ocean, German hospital; collapsed lung over Texas, chest tube and chest tube redux; and half-a-dozen or so travel episodes of coughing up blood, even in Hawaii – how screwed up is that?

And recently, I’ve had two embolizations and unpredictable moments of bleeding, sometimes due to exertion.

So, the thought of getting on a plane Monday scares me. It’s fear, pure, simple.

It bothers me to realize I’m afraid of something – deeply afraid.

Bad things happen when I travel.

If my lung bleeds on the plane, how much will it bleed? Will I be able to walk off the plane? Or, will I be carted through the airport to a waiting ambulance, my shirt Rorschach-red, people staring?

My crows fly wild, agitated, noisy.

The icing on the cake of indecision is the head cold I’ve been fighting with nasel irrigation, tea, vitamin D and M&Ms. The decision may not be mine to make after all. The cold may force me to stay home in what I like to call a “career-limiting move,” as if I had a career. But I have job, with health insurance. I’d like to keep it.

There is also the voice inside I like to call the “Train-wreck Watcher.” It gives me courage to go, to get on the plane, and see what madness might play out – to witness a possible derailment: a hospital in NJ; coughing up blood in front of my co-workers; or dealing with breath-taking stress and feeling trapped.

Train-wreck Watcher says: Is there anything the disease can throw at you that you cannot manage?

I don’t know. Is there? Roll the dice, sissy boy. No one lives forever.

Three Days of the Dada

Thank some god for mall food courts. I cooked there with my wallet while my wife was away. Three nights of pizza, Brazilian BBQ and Sushi. Yeah, Baby, this is living large. But I don’t think I could do a fourth night. I’m “mall-fooded” out.

Palm trees in a California mall. Makes sense to me.

My wife is in the air. Her plane was delayed and she’s arriving late tonight. I can’t wait until she gets home. I’m going to stick out my hand like a tag-team wrestler, tag her, and head to the dog couch.

I’m tired. I’ve been getting up early to do treatments before my daughter wakes. Less than six hours of sleep each night.

If I were grading this week, I’d give my daughter an A-. She was great. If she could drive a car, I could have slept in. She put together her breakfast each morning, got dressed, and brushed her hair.

I should have worn a chauffeur’s outfit. I drove her to school and picked her up. And paid for her meals. Pretty simple, Simon.

I’d give myself a C+. Maybe B-. I realized today she hadn’t taken a shower since her mom left. Oops. My bad. That brought my grade down.

We watched American Pickers two of the nights, breaking our “no TV during the week” rule, though we have been watching American Idol this season. (We only watch shows with “American” in the title.) So, my grade goes down for the nights we were couch potatoes.

My daughter complained about a sore throat tonight and was tired. A cold coming on? I hope not. Stress from having to do all the work this week? Maybe.

My three days is about up. I’m pretty sure everyone’s good vibes kept the wet dynamite in my chest from exploding. It’s good to have friends you’ve never met. My humble thanks.

If, by chance, we ever do meet, the mall sushi is on me.

They know me at this place. "Norm, Irasshaimase."

Letter to my daughter, 03/22/11

Dearest Daughter,

We’ve spent two days together while Mommy is away on business. Thanks for making my life easy, so far. But there’s always tomorrow to change course and wake up in a foul mood and fuss about putting your shoes on. We’re not home free yet.

I do, my wonderful daughter, need to share an observation with you I noticed this week: You’re Fox’s child, not mine. Yes – you are.

This became very clear to me the first morning when I had an epiphany and saw your fox tail showing.

Here’s how I knew: How many years has Mommy brought you a heated blanket in the morning, carried you to breakfast, and sat you on her lap feeding you?

Hmm, I wonder?

Then, when she’s away for a few days, and I’m here, you manage to get up without an alarm clock, put together your own breakfast, eat it in record speed, and have 30 minutes to get dressed and ask if you can play Pokemon.

And no blanket or sleepy-head look? Very interesting indeed.

You see, I now know your secret – you bamboozled your mother! All these years and you kept the act up. Well done, my child. Well played, young lady. Well. Played.

I will keep your wicked little secret when Mommy gets back, and let you have your pack-mule moment of being carried to the table. It makes your mother happy, though she’s having a hard time carrying you now. How old will you be when you exceed the maximum weight limit for that ride? I’m sure it will be sad for all of us.

From this point forward, each time I see her lugging you like a heavy bag of groceries, I’m going to have a huge smile on my face watching you, Baby Fox. Yes, you.

Enjoy your trick, honey, because before you know it, you’ll be carrying your own daughter to breakfast wondering when she got so heavy, and wasn’t she just a baby a few days ago, and where did the time go?

Where did it go?

And you’ll remember, at that very moment, what I once told you in a blog post – you blinked.

With all my love,

Daddy