It’s been over a week now since my early-morning trip to the ER at Vanderbilt. I ended up going because after one of my coughing fits, there was a thirty- to forty-second period that I was not breathing. Out or in, not a single breath. I had been having some coughing that I had to gasp afterwards; a slow, loud intake of air that took at least half a minute to just get back enough air to feel like I could still breathe. But a week ago, it just stopped. I didn’t really panic, although I got to the point that I wondered if Carmen would have to do something. I firmly believe that if I had passed out, the spasms in my throat would have ceased, and I would have started breathing on my own. Dialing 911 would have been silly; where we live is far more than three minutes’ ambulance time. Carmen knows how to navigate vocal cords if she had to intubate, and we had just been given a big promotional drink cup from our friend Roger, who occasionally wears the big hundred-dollar bill suit for First Tennessee Bank. The cup has a huge straw that would hurt going in, and likely damage my vocal cords, but I don’t sing for a living. I do breathe for a living, however, and that is far more important than my singing talent (I’m currently back to the “Lou Reed” vocal category). What bothers me more is that when I asked her exactly what she’d do, she immediately said “trache you.” Yep, put a knife to my neck and cut a hole in it. That’s what she thought of first. I think that redefines the “affinity for the macabre” appellation she had been given earlier (not by me, either, mind you).
So it’s the night before I go back to work after having been off an entire week sick. I’m forty-one, and I have never been off an entire week sick. I haven’t taken five sick days over the past three years – seriously. After my hernia surgery, which was on a Thursday, I was back at work the following Monday, and flying to Albuquerque the following week (the location is apropos of nothing, except that I think that’s the trip where I heard Scott say “now, she’s kinda young…”). Anyway, I went in to work today just to get some stuff straight before Monday and I don’t know if it was just that I haven’t been eating well, or that a lot of what I’ve eaten lately didn’t stay down, but I ran out of energy after two hours. It was all I could do to drive back home. I had an energy drink on the way home, and that helped, but it was a far different thing just being at home on the couch than behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle. Fortunately, the radio was playing the new AC-DC album “Black Ice,” which I will be buying.
Anyway, Pertussis. Whooping Cough. And not the good kind of “whooping” like “whooping it up on a Friday night with the guys” or opening a can of “whoop-ass” – although there were days that it felt like the Bordetella Pertussis bacteria opened a can on me. I never got the results back from Vandy (the lab said they “couldn’t complete the test” – no idea what that means), but I fit every symptom, and it’s what the docs in the ER said, not me. So if I’ve had it, have I built up enough antibodies to be good for a few more years? Will I have to get a booster shot, like tetanus? Is this all because the world is taking antibiotics for every little thing? I’m having to eat the probiotic yogurt to, um, get things in order again after rounds of Azithromycin and Levaquin. Whatever the plan of action, whether well-prescribed or ill-advised, I don’t want Pertussis again, and trust me, neither do you.