Image by theG™ via Flickr
Hey folks, I'm finally feeling well enough to make a post, although I think it'll be a quick one, since my stamina still leaves much to be desired. Three weeks after being hit with this somewhat mysterious illness, I'm still running a low-grade fever, and my energy levels are quite low.
First and foremost, I'd like to deeply thank all of the wonderful people who have sent healing messages and well wishes via e-mail or comments on this blog. Although I'm not usually at a loss for words, I truly cannot express how deeply your expressions of concern are appreciated. When I started this blog a little over a year and a half ago, I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would attain the popularity that it has, and I'd like to thank each and every reader for your input and support through good times and bad. Although I have not been able to spend any time on the computer, I have been able to read e-mails on my phone, so your messages have gotten through, each one a drop of sunshine in an otherwise miserable experience. Unfortunately, I've not been able to respond to these e-mails because I rely on voice recognition software to "write" my responses, but as soon as I'm feeling up to it I plan on answering each e-mail individually. Please be patient, though, as my reduced energy levels and the sheer volume of e-mails that need responses will make this a slow process.
In a nutshell, three weeks ago today I was hit with a fever of unknown origin. Though both my blood and spinal fluid have been cultured for infections, none has shown up. Despite this, my illness has seemed to respond favorably to antibiotics, which further deepens the questions surrounding it.
I spent five days in the hospital, and yes, much like my last visit to the hospital in July, I did again have a very colorful roommate, who I'll write about in a future post. While in the hospital, my fever spiked to 102°, which is quite high given that my normal body temperature is about 97.2°. Needless to say this was scary, but large doses of ibuprofen managed to get the fever under control. As all of you with MS are aware, fever sends MS symptoms into overdrive, making such episodes all the more frightening. Worse yet, the nursing care at the hospital was in a word deplorable, as the ward I was in was understaffed, and the staff that was in place was simply overwhelmed by the volume of patients they needed to attend to. Still, the constant struggle trying to get nursing attention for both my roommate and I did nothing to alleviate my intense discomfort, and was frankly enraging.
All the more frustrating is the fact that the hospital I was in, Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, has a "VIP" floor (click here for details) on which patients have beautifully appointed rooms, individualized nursing care, gourmet meals, extra accommodations for family to stay with them, and even afternoon tea service. Naturally, all this comes at a steep price, starting at $400 per night for a "standard" room, above and beyond the regular exorbitant hospital fees. Of course, no insurance plan will cover such expenses, so these elite services are the province of the very rich, of whom there are plenty in NYC, who can afford to pay such prices out-of-pocket. Since my pain management doctor has his offices on the opposite end of that same floor, I've seen some of these facilities firsthand, including the beautiful dark hardwood floors (as opposed to the institutional tiles in the rest of the hospital) and the uniformed concierge ever vigilant at his desk. Yes, here in New York City, often called the capital of the world, the very rich get extraordinary care in the same hospital in which regular folks can't get a god-damned nurse or nurse's aide to give them their medication on time or to help out a roommate who is violently throwing up. So much for the myth of a just society…
Okay, that's it for now. Before I blow a gasket, it's back to bed for me. I promise to fill in the details in the coming days, not all of which are quite so dreary. Even in the most troublesome days there are reasons to laugh, and concentrating on just taking it one day at a time, along with the constant acknowledgment that we are all just bit players in a huge theater of the absurd, goes a long way in making things bearable. As Nietzsche said, that which does not kill us makes us stronger, but as a friend of mine responded, that which does not kill us can make us pretty damn sick.
My deep thanks again to all of you who have reached out in support, and a special shout out to my wife Karen, my mom, and the rest of my family, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in caring for an ailing kamikaze…