I’m a Statistic

I’m a statistic. Saint John's Hospital, Santa Monica

I know, we’re all statistics in some way and many ways. We’re all plugged in and dotted and numbered and pinned to various charts, squeezed into various reports, rattled off as if it really means something.

But I’m a statistic that really means something to me and to my doctor. That’s because this statistic should be dead. This one should not be writing about it. “Very, very few people make it through with the amount of infection you had.

It began with an innocuous headache, maybe a three on the 1 – 10 pain scale, that wouldn’t go away. No matter the over-the counter pain medication I took, it just stayed there. I went to bed with it and I woke with it. My mistake was that I thought it would go away. Every headache I’d ever had before had always gone away. Slowly the intensity rose up the pain scale 5, 6, 7. I finally did something about it when it got to nine.

The diagnosis: Sinusitis. I was given some medication. Three days later the medication was having no noticeable effect and my entire head was throbbing at a 10+. Somehow I got to the ER. I was delirious and could barely function. I didn’t recognize my daughter. I was incredibly irritable.

A long ambulance ride took me to another hospital, where I was operated on. My sinuses were completely filled with bacteria and mucous. Some of the bacteria was either seeping into or threatening to seep into my brain. After the operation and after everything they could clear out was removed I felt much better. My head felt heavy. I still had headaches, back down on the scale to about three.

They kept me there four days, and then sent me home with an assortment of medications to fight the four bacteria that had run out of control. One of the medications was a derivative of heroin. Yes, I did hallucinate. I’ve talked with my daughter and son-in-law about it and still have difficulty believing that the world the heroin built up around me was not real. I have a couple nephews who’ve been heroin addicts. I feel very, very sorry for them.

At this point I would say I’m back, but I’m not out of the woods yet. I still have three more weeks of treatment (no heroin). I still get dizzy and lose my balance at times. Hopefully, that’s not going to be a permanent thing. I moved too fast yesterday and slammed my face and knee into a sidewalk. Yes, I do look like I got into a bar fight… and it was a good one, too.

So, that’s where I’ve been since the middle of January… living in too much pain and lethargy to accomplish much of anything. I’ve tried a few times to write something, but found it difficult to write more than two or three sentences. I might be writing again tomorrow, maybe not. It will depend as much on tomorrow at it will depend on me.

I don’t yet know what changes this illness will lead to in me or my lifestyle, but now it seems I need to slow down a little and simplify some things.

I am grateful to the many doctors, nurses, and so on that put up with me, helped me, guided me and got me through this thing. Obviously, without what they my statistic wouldn’t mean much at all.