Short answer, everything’s okay. Long answer is that next year, all I want for Christmas is nothing that makes me say “Oh shit” and hop in the truck hauling ass to South Carolina at any point. I don’t mind going to see my relatives, but I’d like for their to be no catastrophe involved. No near-death experiences, no medical mishaps, nothing that could remotely smell of tragedy. Just wanted to log that request early. It will be made often this year.
So if you’ve been reading here for a while, you may remember that last year on Christmas Eve my brother’s house burned to the ground. Everything he owned was destroyed, and his two adorable little dogs were killed. We as a family had a pretty craptacular Christmas, and spent a large portion of the first quarter recovering from that financially and emotionally. I want to take another quick second to thank all of you who gave me cash to give to him, it meant the world to me, and to my family, that you guys stepped up and lent a hand. If you ever need me, I’m there.
There will be no asking for donations at any point in this story, that’s another bit of good news.
So let’s hop in the Wayback Machine and go back to the beginning of the month. While I was getting a nice buzz in Las Vegas, my oldest brother was getting a nice buzz off a morphine drip from his second knee replacement of the year. Apparently they both wear out at roughly the same rate, and it made the most sense to get one done in June and then get the other one done in December, so he’d only have to hit one deductible this year. Makes sense to me, right? And the first one went off without a hitch, so I wasn’t worried. I think it was several days later before I even checked in on him. All was well, came the report, and I returned to the bar.
And all remained well as far as we knew until he went back to the doctor a week or so later. There was a little inflammation, and some swelling. The doc gave him a shot of some hefty antibiotics, and started talking about re-admitting him. Well, my brother Bob is a silver-tongued devil when he needs to be, and he really didn’t want to be in the hospital, so he persuaded the doc to let him go home. The doc reluctantly agreed, and checked in on him the following day. The knee looked a lot better, but the doc wanted to check a lab result or two.
Then they told him to get ready for a long stay and at least one more surgery on his knee, because he’d contracted MRSA and they were going to have to go back in and clean the incision. And remove a plastic part of the prosthetic knee. And probably go in again to clean it in a few days. And he was likely going to be in the hospital for at least a week. Maybe up to four weeks. And the antibiotics would be about a twelve-week course of treatment.
Merry Christmas, Bob! They did go back in and clean the wound, and replace the part that potentially had the bacteria living in it now, and they sewed him back up. I rode down to the hospital and took him a bag full of books (if there’s one thing my brother and I share aside from snark, it’s a love of reading). I hung out for a couple of hours and was there when the infectious disease specialist came in to talk to him. He had good news – the second drug they tried on him was “exquisitely effective” against this type of bacteria, so there was almost no chance that it wouldn’t eventually kill off the whole thing. The likelihood that they would have to remove his prosthetic knee entirely was down to around 5-10%, and he would be well enough to go home in a few days. If the insurance company agreed to allow him to administer the drugs at home.
Apparently the antibiotics he was on are incredibly expensive, and the insurance company typically thinks that if you’re so sick as to require that level of medication, that you should be in the hospital. There’s a logic there, but there’s a flaw or two in it as well. But this isn’t a state of healthcare post, so we’ll just get to the rest of the story.
Long story made slightly less long – he went home a few days after I went to see him, which I take full credit for. He still can’t really travel, and because he has a serious (read – can f’n kill you) infection that he’s fighting, he shouldn’t really be around too many people. So he and his family didn’t make it home for Christmas for the first time in my thirty-eight years.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! IT SLICES, IT DICES, IT DELIVERS BABIES!!
There’s more coming, but this is running long. I’ll leave you with a spoiler pic –
And God no, it’s not mine. What are you people, crazy?