Monday, September 24, 2007

The Coiled Dragon

Dear and Gentle Reader, I regret that I haven't been by our little cyber-bar in awhile, but things, as they so often do, have intervened. I have been ill. Very Ill.

Vikkitikkitavi mentioned recently having a horrible cold that drug on for three weeks. I think I caught her cold. The runny nose I could handle, but after waking up Thursday morning to find my lungs lined with cement blocks I felt much worse. Not only did I have a bad cold, I could only take in thimblefuls of air at a breath.

On Wednesday, the day of my last post, my oldest stayed home from school because she had caught a "stomach bug" and was sick to her tummy. She stayed home Thursday too. Friday she went to school, but felt a little puny when she got home.

What I did not know was she had contaminated our house with the infamous COILED DRAGON.

Friday night I was up and down with coughing spells and an unquenchable thirst. Somewhere near 4:30 Saturday morning I got up for another drink and my stomach felt a little off. I put it down to the chili, but decided to have a glass of milk this time to settle it down. I went right back to sleep, but I kept dreaming of shifting sand and turbulent waves.

I awoke later that morning and went to do my first chore of the day. Half way there I quickened my step. I arrived in time.

This is when the COILED DRAGON first made himself known. This was no "how do you do" and shake hands. This was open warfare.

I could feel him there at the pit of my stomach settling in and digging in his claws for a nice long stay.

"Ha Ha" I cried, "You think you are so clever, but I have modern science to combat you! I have medication that will render you harmless and weak!" I fished around in the bathroom drawer and pulled out a bottle of anti-nausea meds and ate one. I knew these to be top notch.

I felt it hit bottom. I could hear his snarl and I burped a small puff of his smoke. He dug his claws in deep and I clutched my gut in pain. He and the pill began their twenty minute battle with me as the ring announcer, and sole audience member.

In the end, the pill won. My magic pharmaceutical talisman had protected me. No longer could he force his vengeance upon me like that again, at least not for the next 4-6 hours.

This didn't sooth the savage beast however. He gathered his strength and plotted a new attack.

I got ready and went to work with a nagging pain in my stomach and feeling a quart low. Saturday is the biggest day of the week in the bakery, plus I really have to hop to, as the I have to work with the boss. I took my first break a half hour before I normally do. I guzzled water and tried to catch my breath. I was in a clouded haze. Every twenty minutes, that old reptilian bastard dug in his claws a little deeper and held on just a little longer than the last time. I took my lunch early and came home and slept. I could barely drag myself to the Jeep to return to work but I had to. If I called off one more time before Oct 22, I was out of a job. Period.

That wiley old serpent had only been biding his time. He had figured out that the Northern route was blocked and he couldn't strike at me there, but that simply left the Southern pass wide open for this marauding, evil lizard.

He turned my innards to water and let gravity do the rest. I've read somewhere that the human body is 90% water. I know this to be true. In the small span of an hour I witnessed 43.7% of mine. Montezuma was a pussy.

At 5 0'clock I collect the baked goods that we have for sale at the little cafe at the front of the store. A pound of muffins and doughnuts had me groaning under its weight. I shuffled back to the bakery with ragged breathes. I got behind the counter and tossed down the muffins and stretched my hand out to steady myself as I felt woozy. The long black velvet curtains fell in from the sides of my vision, and for a moment, I felt at peace.

I opened my eyes to see florescent lights above me and my coworker staring at me as if I had sprouted a large dragon head next to my own. The next few minutes are hazy. I'm trying to answer questions from the manager. My mouth is sandpaper and my lips are sticking to my teeth. The cement blocks I'd been lugging around all day in my lungs went back to wet cement. I was mildly incoherent. I kept mumbling about how I had to put the doughnuts away and how I couldn't miss any more time. My vision slid in and out a bit, and sometimes there was a cool hand on my face. At some point the shift commander of the local fire department showed up and gave me the once over. Thank God Above they took me out the back door and they let me walk to the ambulance. I got on the stretcher in the back, they strapped me in and we sat there. They asked for my drivers licence and proceeded to quiz me to ascertain how "with it" I was. I recited numbers and addresses as well as cracked jokes between gasping. I told them what you have just read. They didn't get any of it right, so I had to tell it again.

I tried to convince them to let me go home. It was a cold and a "stomach bug" that had laid me so low, there was no real need to make the trip to the hospital. I just needed bed rest and lots and lots of water.

The COILED DRAGON listened to all this, and fearing more medicine, redoubled his efforts and added his bite to his clawing attack.

I couldn't talk them into letting me go. So it was off to the ER. Whee! Lights, Sirens, and wheezy witty banter at a brisk 60 mph. They wanted to start an I.V. and I said no. One, I hate needles, and two, I refuse to have them administered at 60 mph. I signed and initialed a form to that effect.

Hospital, ER, bed 12, the same one I had last time, and a quick report from the firefighters to my nurse to bring her up to date on where I stood. I'm not certain the COILED DRAGON made it in the initial report, but the cold-blooded lizard kept making himself known with scratches and bites. I was carpeted with electrode sticky-pads and got my I.V. from a gentle male nurse named Dennis, who got my blood samples all in one fell swoop. (Small piece of advice, should you ever be a patient in the ER, God Forbid, always remember the name of you current nurse and use it when you speak to them. You remember who they are and they remember what you ask for, this helps with waiters/waitresses also, but at times like these, a pillow, a pain med, or who you talked to last might rate a little higher than a correct drink order for a party of ten and where your cheesecake might be.) I started my first bag of saline solution and snuggled under my prewarmed blanket and went to sleep, knowing that the lab boys wouldn't be getting back to me for at least two hours. If you have ever been in the ER, you understand how hard it is to sleep there. In ten minutes I was out. The COILED DRAGON gathered these new fluids and awaited his next strike.

I awoke to the alarm on the I.V. pump telling Johnny, my new black female nurse, that I was due for my next fill-up. I slept for another hour and then just settled into a quiet twilight state as I listened to the elderly woman in the next bed get her psyche exam. She had not been abused as a child or used illegal drugs, but had gotten married, had children, and started getting nutty from there. At 83, she seemed to have it down pat.

At 10 o'clock the Doctor came to tell me what I already knew. She blamed it on dehydration, a weakened constitution from my cold, a loss of electrolytes, and a possible potassium imbalance. She just couldn't bring herself to call the monster by name, and I'm sure it is because she feared his wrath as well. She would send the discharge papers by and I would be free to go. They unhooked the four hundred wires that held me in place and I traded my backless gown for my T-shirt. I pulled off the electrodes and wiped the conductive jelly off on the sheet.

At this time I was still unaware of the opium-like effect of being a few gallons shy of a full tank. I didn't realize I was still in a Dragon induced fog. I used the hospital phone to call Flannery. She would have been looking for me at 8:30ish. I followed the instructions for the hospital phone and dialed the correct numbers. I got SoandSo Automotive. I tried again. SoandSo Automotive. The third time I let him get to Soan- and I hung up. I got my discharge papers and headed for the parking lot. I thought I knew where I was and started off. A half a block away I realised I was walking the wrong way and had to double back. I knew now that I had to keep the freeway on my right until I got to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, then make a left, walk uphill for a couple of blocks and turn right on Broad. This was the highlight of my weekend.

I made the trip on an empty sidewalk, but I was not alone. The COILED DRAGON kept me company. I walked and mumbled curses at him the whole way home, like some adle-minded vagrant. I made it home at eleven and Flannery asked me where I'd been. I wanted to tell here the whole story, but I just said the hospital and went to bed. She brought my the other talisman, Immodium, and the beast was caged for the night.

The next 24 hours passed in a fever sweated mist. The clawing continued but I had him bottled up and kept trying to drown him in endless cups of cold, cold water. At some point I spoke to my boss who told my she would use some of my paid holidays to cover my absence. I didn't know I had any paid holidays, but I croaked out my thanks and went back to my unconscious thrashing and calling out the names of dead ancestors.

I spent all of Sunday like this. At one point I felt that Death was upon me. I pictured my wife and children crying in the rain over a fresh grave. I wondered aloud what could be taking him so long, and then, in a small moment of clarity, I remembered that it was Sunday afternoon and the Browns must be playing. Death wouldn't be here until after the game. After all, he is a sucker for the hopeless and lost causes of the world.

Monday I felt weak as a kitten, but alive and grateful. I rested all day and played with the little one. I went to work with a sore gut and the sweating, but the worst had passed. I stopped after work and got a sandwich. The first real food that I was going to eat in two days other than two mouthfuls of noodles on Sunday.

I got home and opened the door to see Flannery with a pleading look in her eyes. I hadn't killed the dragon.

I had passed it on.

Stay Well.



  1. Yikes! Hope you are both feeling better. What a story!

  2. Great story, and glad you're okay! But, I'm going to have to try to block out the part about the Montezuma's revenge next time I visit a bakery. Kinda takes that hankerin' I've had for muffins right away.

  3. We will have to start calling you Typhoid Doc! Glad you are doing better.

  4. Great story, Doc, your mind is in full bloom. There has to be a nicer way to harness the creativity that comes with a fever than having to wetnurse a coiled dragon for most of a week. Take care of Flannery.

  5. that coiled-dragon-in-th-stomach biz reminds me of that scene in Poltergeist III where the dad throws up some sort of legless demon...

  6. You know what kills that dragon, don't you?

    Beer. Lots of beer.

    And extra-greasy sausage.

    I hope you're feeling better.

  7. Chris, a big, greasy piece of pork fat served up in a dirty ashtray works well, too!! >:)

  8. Well, that sucks! Hope you're all back to normal soon. Whatever normal is.

    I hate the ER. But I will say that the NYU ER is just like the TV ER...full of strangely beautiful people who seem like they know what they're doing, but upon further inspection, maybe they really don't.

  9. Chris, I think tequila works better than beer. I know it kills The Revenge, and I speak from experience.

    Can't you fix yourself Doc? ;)

  10. Damn, Doc, you are one tough bastard to have stood up to and eventually conquered the Coiled Dragon. You're our David with a slingshot.

    So sorry you were so ill -- and so glad you're back among us mere mortals.

  11. That was so well written!

    I'm sorry about the Dragon. It is the absolute worst!!

    Take care of yourself and yours!!


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