Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alex - Pneumonia and Bloody Phlegm

Alex popped in here Wednesday at about eight in the morning looking like a wreck. He sat on the couch complaining that his head was pounding. I took his temperature and he had a mild fever. He coughed incessantly. I got out my stethoscope and listened to his lungs. His left lung sounded as though it was filled with fluid. His right lung sounded like pneumonia - crackling, popping and gurgling. He said he wasn't going to work and was going to stay home and rest. I asked him if he wanted to get into see the doctor. Although we was reluctant, he agreed to go at 2 in the afternoon and asked me to wake him up. I made the appointment.
When two came around, he of course didn't wake up. It took me fifteen minutes to solicit a response - which was that he wasn't going. OK - pneumonia can kill you, I said.
Friday morning at 8:30 Alex called again. He said he was coughing up blood. That's not good. His cough was railing and sounded like rhinitis in a way - coughing coughing and relatively unproductive. He asked what he should do. I said, are you ready to do what you're told - as in following a doctor's orders. He said that he would rather follow both of our orders and so we went to the Doctor. We met at Mocha and Java's and then drove over to Dr. Roger's office. He had no temperature but the Doctor listened to his lungs, checked his throat and ears, lymph nodes and such. Alex described the blood he was finding in his phlegm - red spots of blood or pink in color. The doctor was concerned, asking him to stop smoking at least until he was better. He gave him a long cycle of Zithromax, a steroidal inhaler and some codeine cough syrup. His insurance - unfortunately - had a $500 deductible which was as yet unsatisfied - and so I paid for the visit and the medications. I'm not sure what I think about that. It's probably his parents responsibility - or his. But seeing as he had no money and finding his parents to step up would just further delay his recovery - and maybe make things worse. I'm happy to do it of course.
He's a ticking time bomb Bronwyn says. Sure enough - all of the efforts of whatever kind seem only to delay or slow the inevitable, or to leave the premonition of some forthcoming calamity. Alex is determined to die young and he makes no bones about it. He's going to have fun until it's over - he says with a laugh, assuring me he will be smoking a cigarette on the way out the door. Perhaps one day he will surrender the things of youth and find a more righteous and less threatening path.

The latest update - it has been four days since he has had a cigarette.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brian Carlisle, San Marcos, Texas

This past Friday night I went to a gathering at the Boruff's house in celebration of the twenty ninth birthday of their son Jeff. There were not too many people there - maybe twenty - and this kid walks up to me and introduces himself. I say kid - he was probably twenty nine as Jeff would have been. He says is your name Carl? Did you used to be a cop? Yes I say. "I don't know if you remember me or not but I used to work at Wendy's when I was in High School. You used to come though there now and then and we would talk. You got me a job at Outback." And then it came to me. This fellow was trying to make a living and just wasn't. He was nice enough and was trying to work himself into a better life. This was probably fifteen years ago. Anyhow, I was able to get him hired at Outback Steak House as a cook - which is what he wanted to be - and that was that. But it changed his life and he got more hours, leaned more things and made more money. I remember stopping in there as well and would stick my head in the kitchen and say hello when he was working.

It's a small story, but he still remembered it and thanked me again.