Rumors of my death have been greatly …

OK, there probably were no rumors. But I did feel close to death over the last few days, and for a while there I would have welcomed the Grim Reaper. On this last post on Saturday afternoon I had just been back from the ER after treatment for a fracture between the right floating rib and a lower vertebrae. I thought the worst of the ordeal was over then. W-R-O-N-G.

Just a couple of hours after that post, breathing became very difficult. Which was one of the signs the ER staff had warned me about. So, back to the local ER, back through a CAT scan machine, and by the time they had read the new data I was writhing in agony despite more than a milligram of Dilaudid. I remember the painful main events of being put on a cold, hard gurney locked in the back of an ambulance, then riding with the lights and sirens going full blast. I recall being wheeled in to another, larger ER and having my clothes cut off while a team worked on me. After that it gets hazy for a couple of days.

But one strange experience I wish could be forgotten: I was delirious with pain, sobbing like a little kid as an ER nurse was swabbing down my back with antiseptic for a chest tube procedure. I was begging her to give me more painkiller, knock me unconscious, induce a coma, or just kill me. It was that bad (I’m just astonished at how much pain the human body can produce, intelligent design my ass). And then a freaky thing happened then. She put her hand on my shoulder and said “Jesus HEAL this man.” And then crossed her self or whatever they do.

The reason that was horrifying was in part because it didn’t do a damn bit of good, no surprise there. But also because it hit me: there I was, surrounded by enough drugs to knock down a herd of charging elephants at the nexxus of all the medical technology a level 1 trauma center can offer, and the best immediate option that poor gal had on hand to shut me up was amateur faith healing. A cynical little smile managed to part my bone dry lips for a split second, before the grimacing took over again.

Later I found out the lung had almost totally collapsed and some other, savage complications were starting to crop up. It’s probably a  good thing I decided to head in and get it checked out. Hopefully, the worst really is over now and things will get back to normal around here.


  1. fastlane says

    Ouch. I had a friend that suffered a collapsed lung (spontaneously, in the middle of a volleyball game). Healing is going to be slow.

    Take care and heal up.


  2. says

    Oh my! That must have been awful all around, and having someone pray over you would be remarkably *not* reassuring. Ugh.

    Get well soon.

  3. sithrazer says

    I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically (maniacally?) at the ‘amateur faith healer’ line.

    I am a horrible, horrible human being.

    Looking it up on wikipedia, the dilaudid may have been given as a cough suppressant rather than as a pain reliever. I don’t know about in the case of a collapsed lung, but sometimes they (medical professionals) don’t want to knock a patient out or numb them up too much in a medical emergency, for responsiveness and ability to give feedback I would presume.

  4. raymoscow says

    Hey, you’re alive. Jesus healed you!

    (Please ignore, for the purpose of delusion, the extensive medical technology involved with actually saving you.)

    I’ve never had a comparable injury, but it sounds extremely painful.

  5. Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew says

    Yeah, later I was told they didn’t want to give me too much until they found out what they could about exactly what was happening. A decision was being made about taking me into emergency surgery and opiates are nortorious for depressing respiration, which could have screwed up that assesment in the sense I would have had unnecessary major surgery. And in retrospect it makes complete sense, a patient howling in agony is a patient who is obviously breathing well. A quieter patient doped to the gills might be sedate from the meds and be totally fine, or they could be in the early stages of respiratory arrest and/or bleeding to death internally.

  6. Ophelia Benson says

    Eeek! Yikes eek eek. I had a badly bruised rib once and just that was plenty bad enough. I didn’t know what it was at first because it hurt mostly in front, I thought I’d punctured a lung or something; after giving it half an hour to settle down I called the nurse practitioner and she said as she made notes “Pain radiating from the front” and then it dawned on me it was a rib. Duh.

    Anyway it hurt like fuck. Sorry, sympathy.

    Julia Galef is in a burn unit having spilt hot oil on herself.


  7. memsomerville says

    Wow, that’s a scary story–in more ways than one. Seriously. I’m glad you were able to get competent treatment. Take care of yourself.

  8. mscrazypants says

    I must say I wouldn’t be amused by someone invoking religion on me in the hospital. I want to know the truth of what’s going on. If I’m not supposed to have more of something and I just have to “suck it up,” then I’d rather be told that than have faith healing. From faith healing, I wouldn’t know if they just don’t know what to do, or if I’m doomed and there’s nothing else they can do. That would completely freak me out, and I’d probably get very pissed off. I would be also offended that they just assumed I was Christian, or religious, or even believed in faith healing. When I was a Catholic, I believed in going to the doctor and getting real medical treatment, not faith healing.

  9. Francisco Bacopa says

    Did you get one of those thorax valves like in Three Kings?

    Sounds like you had a brush with serious disability. Hope you recover fully.

    But you see what I mean? Messing around in fresh water and amateur boaters will kill you. Come down to the coast. I can recommend some beaches where the locals who live in beach communities go to get away from the crowds. And sharks? No big deal. Drought year with few tropical storms. The water is clear so the sharks can see you are not their natural prey so no “test bites” in murky water. In clear water a shark will at most bump you. You can even pet them.

  10. unbound says

    Glad to hear you are okay.

    My own experiences with Dilaudid were underwhelming as well. First time I had a kidney stone, they gave me that and it did absolutely nothing. With surgeries and such later in life, it was actually handy to know and tell doctors that I would like any alternative other than Dilaudid.

    Fortunately, in my multiple experiences in hospitals, I haven’t had anyone try to faith-heal me. Not sure if I would have been yelling at the person myself, or laughing hysterically.

  11. Woof says

    Oh yeah, Dilaudid is most wonderful. I met it 3 years ago after breaking my pelvis in 3 places. Highly recommended.

    And to get back to the main point, back in January I got trucked to a Catholic-backed hospital (no, they didn’t ask) after I tipped over due to an upper G.I. bleed. I got to hear the morning prayer over the P.A. system in the E.R. Had I been able I’d have tried to walk out. Next day the chaplain came around and tried to debate theology with me… Do these people have no shame???

  12. Aquaria says

    I’m getting dizzy at the thought of that much pain. I’m a total baby, and would have been screaming for drugs, too. Good thing you paid attention to the doctor’s instructions, eh!

    Take care of yourself!

  13. Aquaria says

    Eeek! Yikes eek eek. I had a badly bruised rib once and just that was plenty bad enough.

    I’ve had kidney stones. I’ll take broken ribs and collapsed lungs any day over that. Passing a kidney stone felt like someone had taken my innards, twisted them, wrapped them around a brick, then started pounding a steel floor with ’em.

    It’s so bad, you start thinking that labor wasn’t so bad, after all.

    It’s a tossup if they’re worse than cluster headaches. Passing the kidney stones stay in my memory more than the cluster headaches do. So I’m going with the kidney stones as the worst.

  14. Woof says

    Oh yeah, kidney stones are just fantastic, especially those last few inches. You get the pain, the tink of rock against ceramic, you suck all the room air into your lungs… then it’s over. I’ve got a drawer full of my babies right here, one of which (from a few months ago) I’m expecting a card from next Mother’s Day.


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