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Saturday, June 2, 2012

My L.A. Odyssey Part 3: Seismic Jolt in California

Make sure your hands and feet are secure as well as any personal items.  This rollercoaster ride is intense.  After being inspired by Steadman Graham to play up my own quirky individuality in one of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard, I can no longer contain the bubbling, straining sickness in my gut.  Something I ate for lunch is unhappy being cooped up in there.

While everyone else stands to clap, I hurry for the door, but James says they will interview Mr. Graham.  Damn! I hate to miss that.

I only make it as far as a trash can where I throw up.  Classy.  At least almost everyone else is still inside.  Back at my room, I get sick a few more times.  Knowing how fast and serious it is for a kidney transplant recipient to become dehydrated in this situation, I have the hotel call paramedics.  This will take IVs to fix, no matter what it is.

Minutes later, I’m seeing the bright lights of L.A. on a Friday night from the back of an ambulance on my way to Marina Del Rey Hospital, the nearest one.  The next few hours are a blur of throwing up, listening to other patients on the other side of the curtains, pricked fingers, high blood sugar(!) and insulin injections.  It doesn’t take me long to realize something’s wrong with my pancreas.

They admit me to the hospital, perform several tests: CAT can, X-rays, an untrasound on the pancreas.  Between all that are more finger sticks followed by insulin shots.  I’m told I have several gall stones.  There’s a slim chance this is causing the elevated blood sugar.

I’m missing the last half of the conference.  That feeling of being on top of my game, of it all coming together like magic has been replaced by dread.  I’m in a daze at how fast it happened.  To go from such a pinnacle to a failed transplanted organ is a huge drop even by my standards.  Mostly I just sit in the hospital bed without the TV on.  I’m trying to listen to my body.  I’m trying to listen to God.  All I can ask is, “Why now?”  Not even “Why?” but “Why NOW?  When I’m on the verge of telling my story to millions of people and helping millions of people.  If it’s what God wants me to do, then wny one more obstacle?  Why one more delay?”

My consolation in all this is the excellent care I get at the hospital.  The absolute nicest doctor to ever treat me is there.  They call him Dr. H because his name is hard to pronounce.  The caring attitude of the nurses and everyone I encounter puts me at ease.  Yes, it sucks being in a hospital a thousand miles from home, but they are making it much easier.

On Sunday, I miss my scheduled fight home.  I was looking forward to sitting with my friend, Kim, on the plane and talking about the conference.  All those ideas I had, knocking down the door, will have to wait until my latest health crisis is behind me.  It’s frustrating.

On Monday, a woman with a thick “Fargo” accent tries to explain the talking glucometer.  I can understand her accent, but she has a strange way of phrasing her words and it sounds like gibberish.  Finally, I think I get it. 

I’m back in the world of the diabetic.  For fourteen years I was a fugitive, though I thought I was a legal parolee.  This time, I’ll be a diabetic with worse vision than before and with a transplanted kidney to take care of as well.  This realization weighs on me.  It starts to draw me under.

I came to L.A. thinking I would be different when I returned home.  I was right, but this part was totally unexpected.

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