the 2 fat Firefighters

3 AM on a Monday. I awoke to the most intense cold I’d ever experienced. I was shaking violently, uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering so badly I feared I would break a tooth. I was on the couch where I had fallen asleep watching the game. I frantically grabbed for my blanket. Covering myself, I begged aloud for it to stop. It was no relief. I somehow mustered the strength to get up and trudge up the stairs, hoping my bed would provide some relief.
I was beyond cold, I was scared.
I crawled into bed and wrapped myself in the blankets, everything had to be covered down to the last toe. The trembling continued for what seemed an eternity. I had never experienced anything like it. Finally, it stopped.

Cold. So cold. The thought of a finger or a toe escaping my cocoon absolutely terrified me. I knew this wasn’t normal, something was terribly wrong with me. I needed to yell out to my mother downstairs; I needed to reach for my phone to dial 911. I needed to do something. But I didn’t. It was just too overwhelming and so very, very cold.
You may die, a voice in my head persisted.
“I don’t care”, I fired back.


“Bill, you need to wake up! You’re going to b e late for dialysis!” my mother said in an elevated, scared voice. I faintly recall her doing this several times. I vaguely remember sitting up once in bed, when my blanket fell off I grabbed it and fell back into bed. The next thing I remember was 2 heavy Firefighters carrying me downstairs.

The next thing I would remember was waking up in the ICU. Struggling to focus through the bright lights, I saw several nurses bustling about the room and my mother and ex-wife in the back, chins on hands.
“Where are the 2 fat Firemen?” I croaked.
My Mother joyfully exclaimed to my wife “Yup, he’s fine.”

In the 6 days I spent in ICU and the 5 spent on the Cardiac floor I had plenty of time to gather the pieces. I was haunted by the grim faces of my family, by the cautious explanations of the medical team. I had a feeling that I had been to the 9th gate of Hell and no-one was telling me how bad it really was. I knew that I had lost 2 full days and I wanted answers. Fortunately, my ex-wife stepped up to the plate.

I had gotten an infection in the dialysis port in my chest.
I had gone on 2 ambulance rides. One to the local, useless hospital that was unequipped to treat me. They iced me down to control my 104.9 degree fever and shipped me 60 miles to a better hospital. I don’t remember one second of those rides.
I had been sedated with a breathing tube and catheter as antibiotics were pumped through me.
The port in my chest had been surgically removed and I had been given dialysis through a temporary access in my groin. You would think I would remember that.
At one point I tried to rip my breathing tube out of my throat. It took a team of very strong nurses to restrain and sedate me. I did this in front of my entire family.
My wife was preparing to tell my children that I was gone. My DNR had been discussed. It was that close.
I had Sepsis, at a 104.9 fever a man my age has a high risk of brain damage. When I asked where the 2 fat Firefighters were, I had proved that I was indeed fine.
Last, and perhaps most significant, and I say this without drama…I almost died.

In my 11 day stay, I was haunted by the unknowns. When my ex filled me in on all of the unpleasant details I had more questions than answers. Sure, the doctors told me the essentials, but I’m thankful for family for telling me the truth and for their support.

Once I was alert I began my recovery. It’s what I do. The doctor’s were astounded at how fast I bounced back. I don’t know what the expected recovery time is, but I beat it in street shoes. After 8 days in bed, I was told that I would be working with Physical Therapy to see if I needed to go to a Rehabilitation center.

The next morning I was asked to get out of bed and try to walk. It was amazing the amount of strength it took just to sit up. I was in a complete state of Atrophy. With the assistance of 2 therapists, I attempted to walk the hallway. I was weak, dizzy, unable to support my own weight. I made it 6 steps before needing a wheelchair. It is astounding how much strength I lost by being bed-ridden.
I was told that my going home was contingent upon my physical strength and ability to walk out of there.
By the end of the day I was able to walk the hallway 6 times unassisted. The PT Therapists were floored. I was sent home 2 days later.

I have been home for a week. Recovery is slow. I’m weak and still haunted by how close I came to a dirt nap and by the unknowns. I have no memory of almost 3 days and it bothers me deeply. However, nothing bothers me more than being visited by my Mom’s best friend, who was at the hospital with my Mom when I was admitted. Her first words to me were,
“I have to tell you, I never thought I’d see you again.”

Yeah, that’s not something you hear often. Nor do you want to.



36 thoughts on “the 2 fat Firefighters”

  1. I had nightmare visions from watching my brother-in-law come out of a double by-pass operation. He struggled like hell to rip the breathing tube out of his throat ,,,, hey, I wrotea piece about this at the time. I’ll see if I can find it and post it. Glad you got through, Billy πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh!! That is the scariest shit EVER!! I’m so glad that you pulled through. There is to much havoc to wreak on this old world for one gal aloneπŸ˜‰πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WTF Billy! How in the world did that port get infected? You are one lucky sonofabitch, that is for sure. Hopefully the Red Sox will give you something to look forward to and smile about as you go about getting your strength back. Glad you are still with us

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that is scary! I’m so glad you are home and well now. Coming close to death causes some weird reactions by people around you. Your sense of humor survived I see. That’s great news right there! Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dammit, Bill, don’t do that! Please?

    So glad you’re well enough to do this voodoo that you do so well. I gotta tell ya, I took your words and put them in my Word program to get a count because it seemed so SHORT a read. I thought “my writing needs to be more concise, like Bill’s, so it’s not imposing on the reader.” Your word count? Almost exactly the same as my last one. 😁

    It’s not the word count. You are just a riveting storyteller. It flies right by!

    What I’m trying to say in all this is, thank you for getting well. Thank you for coming back. We missed you. Now don’t do it again!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s good to be back Tom. To WP and the world in general. I had one of those experiences that changes you forever. I guess I’m too tough for my demons right now or I’m supposed to be here a while longer. It was that close.
      As for my word count, I always try to keep it as concise as possible for the readers sake but it’s always high. So I try to keep it interesting πŸ˜‰
      Thank you for the good words Tom, it means a lot

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow Billy, I knew you’d been sick but damn! What a terrible ordeal!
    I’m so happy that your fighting spirit kicked in – what a badass that guy is ;O) Seriously, take it easy – sending you huge virtual hugs :O) xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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