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How I went to bed and woke up 5 days later with a partial beard and my crotch shaved.


“I went home with a waitress,
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the Russians too.”
W. Zevon

There are places in my head that are greyed out now – like real city places where things have happened, and talks have talked – all things that should be memories but are not. When I try to pin these things down with words, they escape and bounce away as if greased pigs fleeing the horror of a wayward children’s zoo. They are things just outside of sight, outside of the patterns of my mind --they are places that I’ve been or are going to, or maybe omens and portents – it’s hard to say, but like the auras that precede a seizure, this where the road to nowhere begins for me.

These are the dreams I fall into shortly before I lose it. The fact that they are too vaporous to describe with words concerns me, but it seems important to try because flashes of them happen to me many times a day now. At work, they come when sitting at my desk looking at a monitor, in cars when I stop between stops. They come unbidden as if waiting for the right time – like a software update looking to load during a slack time. The problem is that I can’t remember where the individual pieces go, or even identify the parts of them at all. This stuff seems to be off-memory and not available for access, by me anyway.

Maybe it’s better just to describe things in a beginning to end narrative. For a novel, this would be easy and fun – I can be the unreliable historian telling the tale, and by including official hospital documents, you could actually track the progress of my delusions. The problem comes from this being more of a documentary with limited paperwork. It’s the stuff of madness, so why not tell it as I maybe see it in the order I mis-remember it:

I went to work on a Thursday and felt funky most of the day – no locked in a vault kind of stuff, but feverish and missing noticeable pieces along my timeline of reality – as I said, kind of funky.

I got home about three in the afternoon, a couple of hours before Mary, as usual. I remember feeling hot, so wet a dish towel and wrapped it around my head like a modified white guy doo rag, but less stylish. When Mary got home, I remember making excuses and going to bed. I woke up in the hospital sometime on Saturday, kind of confused. I had an IV in my left hand, a heart monitor with other dangly things connected to my chest, and my crotch was shaved, both sides.

I was found mentally out of it, in bed and non-responsive, by Mary. She called her sister, the doctor--and 911. An ambulance took me to Good Samaritan Hospital. Because I have a permanent pacemaker, they thought this might have failed me, or that perhaps I had bad heart beats that might need an implantable defibrillator. One of the many tests was in the cardiac catheterization lab – that’s why I was shaved. I also stank like a hobo and had the meaty beginnings of a half-assed beard.

By Sunday I was getting better – I have poor memories of the day, but do remember parts of it – visits, partial conversations with doctors, and a lot of people stared at me in a funny kind of way, but I’m kind of used to that. On Monday, I was good enough to send home. (I’m good at faking sort of normal, so getting them to let me go wasn’t that hard.) Also – they were not sure who would pay them for their services, that helped.

So, in the week I’ve been out, I feel sharp – my sense of humor has come back, and my ability to write in complete sentences seems unimpaired. Physically, I’m better than ever, walking more and continuing to lose weight. They discharged me without a diagnosis – other than vaguely blood pressure related stuff. I’ve followed up with my regular doctor, whom I love, and the VA seems willing to pay for my hospitalization.

Everything has played out better than I have any right to expect. But the auras continue.

Update a week later -- the auras have gone, and I feel pretty normal, or normally abnormal if you prefer.

Found a great article that seems timely about post hospital syndrome.


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