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Page 48

to comfort her and ended up sticking my tongue down her throat- or so Iím told. Some things I would like to conveniently forget.

Later that evening I crawled into bed between Shawn and Mary and collapsed into a besotted sleep. Other party goers reported to us later that Mary had been sick and rolled out of bed, leaving Shawn and I together in bed alone. When I woke up, Shawn was kissing my back and saying, "I love you, Mary." He leaped from the bed when he realized the enormity of his error.

Upstairs in my own apartment I started another Jose Cuervo bottle collection. However, it was never to reach the immense proportions of the Yakima collection. My body stepped in and told me that it had been subjected to enough abuse. At best my breathing was ragged and my lungs began filling with infected multi-hued gunk.

Jeff and Dorinda decided they had enough of each other and Jeff moved in with a Cinabbon teenager he met at work. She was no doubt impressed by the fact that he was old enough to buy beer.

Without her husband there to focus on, Dorinda elected herself to take care of me. She made me food, saw that I was taking my medicine and generally coddled me. I appreciated all the effort she put into seeing that I didnít die hacking up a lung in the bathroom. For me, it was as though a surrogate Mom had stepped in and seen to the welfare of her child. For Dorinda, though, I suspected her feeling were of a different nature.

Despite Dorindaís best efforts, the infection was too severe, and a dose of weak prescription drugs was getting its butt kicked by my sickness. I landed in the hospital, severely ill. Each breath was torturous and I found myself wishing that it would all end. I hoped that I would die and that my death would relieve me from my miserable demi-existence. Living like this was not living at all. I had gone to hell, and there seemed to be no reprieve.

I spent three weeks in the hospital on trains of industrial antibiotics and steroids. Hourly, I sucked in vapors from an aspirator- a tube like apparatus that vented frothing white air that helped clear the lungs.

Heavy medication and aspirators were not enough. On top of this, I endured vibrator therapy and back pounding; all of this was designed to help knock the crud loose from my lungs.

To keep my strength up- so that I had the energy to cough out this loosened phlegm, they had me on a steady stream of IV bags that kept me nutrated and hydrated.

I did this for three weeks and the doctors decided that I was well enough to go home. Though I was sent home, I was by no means in any semblance of health. It was just that the doctors felt I was well enough to go home and rest in my own bed instead of the hospital bed.

They sent all the comforts of the hospital along with me. I had a pick line embedded in my arm. When I medicated Iíd hook up the plunger to the catheter and dose myself with whatever drug I was taking at the time. Or I would tack an IV bag to the wall and let the contents drip into my veins.

By this time my employment at Olive Gardens was ancient history. They werenít interested in employees who had to take a month and a half off for medical reasons and I canít say that I blame them. Thatís just a fact of life that Iíve learned to live with. My employment generally dries up about the time that my health heads south.

Dorinda saw that I was fed well, and eventually I was able to have a few hours in the afternoon each day when my lungs cleared out enough that I didnít feel too badly.

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