A year ago today I called 911 because the man I love was dying in our living room and spent the next two months fighting for his life, on a ventilator, and proving every diagnosis and doctor wrong…Right now, he is sitting on the couch, drinking a beer, laughing, and watching Eddie Izzard with Michael Rahmberg and I…every time I think that this year has been a bitch financially, stresswise, etc…I need to think about this evening and realize, it’s been a fucking great year.
Still so impossible to believe what we went through. For those who don’t know, in 2011 I was working at Hamburger Mary’s Portland because the owners had heard about me and all the amazing shit I had managed to accomplish at the Mary’s in KC from the owners of Hamburger Mary’s corporation. So they asked me to come up and see if maybe I wanted to become their executive chef and move up there. So I went and at first it was incredible, then it got ridiculous. 7am-3am shifts, not kidding at all. No place to sleep so often I crashed on the floors of employees or, fun fun fun, in an alley. I couldn’t really afford to eat and they charged employees for meals, which was a no go since I was saving every penny for an apartment, which I did eventually get and a nice one to boot! However with my diet consisting of coffee and at the time cigarettes (Thank fucking GOD I quit) and the extreme lack of sleep, my little cold turned into pneumonia. My knee got knocked out of socket and I was too sick to work, so they shit canned me and withheld my last check. SO The Bubba found a way to afford a ticket back home to KC. I got back, happy to be with my man again because our break up destroyed us both as we’re fucking destined to be together.
Back home in KC my pneumonia, which I still called a cold, got progressively worse and worse. No amount of OTC medicine was cutting it. Things progressed to the point that I looked like a skeleton and one morning I got up, came out to our living room and just..lay down on the floor to die. The Bubba for some reason hadn’t left yet for work, thank God, and called 911. After that I remember nothing for a few weeks, but apparently I died in the ambulance. I wasn’t cogent for a few weeks, but from what my nurses told me The Bubba never left my side, they had to encourage him to go get food and drink as well as to go home to sleep. Hell, they said that he was there for me more than some heterosexual couples were there for their spouses. I was in for a long time. Died again once but my nurse saved me and yelled at me to never die on her again. I had a tracheotomy installed in my throat, which has left a pretty nasty visible scar, and two chest tubes on my left side, which also left huge nasty scars, to try to save my lung. It didn’t save it by the way. I had to re-learn how to walk, eat and talk.
This is me and my baby brother Justin. The first time I had seen him in ten years since leaving home and swearing to never see my family again.
Me after getting my trach removed, I got stronger pretty quick. I’m hard to kill, hard to drug (They usually had to use 2-4 times the amount of sedation and pain killers on me) and easy to motivate.
The doctors told me a lot of things, primarily that I should have died and they didn’t know why I didn’t. They also told me a whole list of things I would either never do again or would need help with. Walking, breathing, taking care of myself. This really really pissed me off cause I would be goddamned if I was ever a burden on my husband. So I proved them wrong. I walked despite an agony so intense I couldn’t put it into words and my vocabulary is extensive. I breathed completely on my own, which blew my respiratory doctors mind, though he was so very happy to have been proven wrong. I learned how to eat and drink in record time. Pissing me off sparks me to get shit accomplished.
The whole time though, my poor husband stood by my side through the horror of watching me fight for my life, dying twice and being out of my mind with sickness. He comforted me through the terrors I suffered when I wasn’t cogent. Held my hands down when I was confused and tried to rip out my tracheotomy tube and chest tubes. He was proud of me when they told me all the things I’d have issues with and I said “Oh fuck a whole bag of this”. He proved that love doesn’t fit into categories. He demonstrated attributes that some would attribute to heroes. He proved what it meant to be a husband. He saved my life because it was him I refused to die for. I couldn’t tolerate the idea of this wonderful, funny, intelligent, charming, sweet and fucking sexy man being alone; and I certainly couldn’t stomach the idea of him with someone else. I’d have had to haunt their ass.
I’ve been in the hospital with pneumonia again recently, though not as bad as the first time, but I’m on track and now thanks to being destitute I get my HIV meds, which previously were too expensive to afford. Who can afford $7500.00 a month? I still tire easily despite getting stronger every day and I’m in agony pretty much single every moment of every day, I’m still on disability because my doctor is adamant that I’m not strong enough to get back in the kitchen and I know she’s right when though I fucking hate it, we’re poor and struggle to make ends meet though we manage, we always have; but I have The Bubba and that makes my life so fucking good. He’s my heart and I’m thankful for every moment we’ve had, the good, the bad, the ugly and the terrifying.
Recovering but still not perfect. I’ll be myself physically again one day. Plus the big ole hole in the neck and suture scars around it make for interesting conversation!