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7:30 am - Friday, Jun. 16, 2006
Little Jimmy's Big Hospital Adventure (The Explosive Conclusion)
Weds 6/14/06 (5:12 p.m.)

Little Jimmy’s Big Hospital Adventure (The Explosive Conclusion)

While I was in the hospital, my biggest fear wasn’t ending up with thousands of dollars in medical bills. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to take time off from work for my recovery. It wasn’t even that I’d be leaving Cary to deal with substantial expenses.

That all kind of got “situated” fairly early on (I’m assuming the disability stuff is going to be hitch-free).

The biggest fear I had to get past in the hospital was the fear that “It’s happening...”.

What do I mean by that?

When I worry sometimes that I’ve “waited too long” to try and make it as an actor out here, it’s only partly about “age-ism” and the time it takes to establish yourself, and the shrinking number of roles for “old folks”; the other part of that fear has been that as I make this steep uphill climb, my aging body will start betraying me, pulling the rug out from under me as I try to progress towards my goals.

But you can’t worry that your body is going to “betray you”, and just assume there’s nothing you can do about it. That you don’t have any responsibility for taking care of yourself. Not when you’ve still got a job to do.

And one thing a week at the hospital did for me was prove I could live without Diet Coke, or Doritos, or Little Debbies, or what-have-you (Haven't had a Coke since I've been home, by the way. I'm not saying I'll never drink one again, but we're definitely "taking it off the training table").

And it seems a little extreme, but it occurred to me that while in the hospital, existing on IV drips and clear fluids, I was getting a jump on getting some pounds off, a “jump” that might not come my way again, a “jump” I should take advantage of.

Anyway...blah blah blah, turning point, etc and so forth. Instead of looking back at this experience, and saying “That was the beginning of the end for me...”, and the start of health issues that derailed my career before it began, I want to look back and say “That’s when I turned things around, and really started caring for myself”.



Absolutely miserable 24 hours or so...

Dealing with some wicked gas pain. So much so that my “exercise” today has consisted of pacing the length of my apartment, from my bathroom sink to my oven, much of the time mooing like a friggin’ cow.

I called Dr Hunter’s office today, to see if there was anything I could do for relief, and whether I could buy some over-the-counter anti-gas product. Ended up talking to a nurse, who recommended lying on my left side, which did help some (No one ever called me back regarding buying some Gas-X or what-have-you. And I’ve been in such pain most of the day that getting dressed and walking the three blocks to Walgreens was just not in the cards; any break in the clouds where I felt okay was time I was trying to sleep).

Donald, a friend of mine from the ArcLight, called today, which (Beyond the fact that I was sleeping at the time) was a very happy surprise.

He said when people started asking about me at the theater, management said they didn’t know anything. Which is why ArcLight people who wanted to visit me in the hospital weren’t able to (He said what had gotten out “through the grapevine” was that I was in a hospital somewhere with pneumonia).

(For the record? In my back-and-forth with managers and supervisors during this experience, I not only told them where I was, but on at least one or two occasions, I specifically asked them to let people know what was going on with me, if anyone was wondering.)

I haven’t eaten much today, as you might imagine.

The doctor didn’t send me home with any "dietary restrictions" or recommendations–Just the words “as tolerated” are in that space on the release form–but I’m wishing he had at this point. I think I may have assumed "normal eating" a bit too soon.

But anyway...

I’m still thinking a lot about my week in the hospital...

Feeling that I’d “fallen outside of the world”–There I was, and all my friends would go on just fine without me, and JS and his operation would go on fine without me, and Brett and the ACG would go on just fine without me, and ditto for the ArcLight (Though in one conversation with a supervisor, you wouldn’t have known that–Two days out of surgery, and he was trying to talk me into coming back in two weeks, when the Doctor had given me a 4-6 week time frame for recovery. I wanted to say, “Tell you what, Mark. Let’s plan on me coming back when I’m ready to come back, if you don’t mind”).

But the most interesting thing about that, to me? That feeling–that nobody really needs me–wasn’t a totally bad thing right then. Once it looked the the money stuff was going to fall into place, it was kind of relaxing–at least for a moment or two–that I didn’t really have to worry about anything but getting better.

In the meantime, everyone would get along fine without me.


Even though at no time would I have defined my hospital stay as “fun”, there was a sick little part of me that was enjoying at times, if that’s the right word, being “attended to” or “taken care of”, or whatever you want to call it.

Though at the same time, one thing that was really tough for me that week was that absolutely nothing felt good, physically. It probably wasn’t till my first “clear fluid” meal–Of grape juice, chicken broth, hot tea with lemon, lemon gelatin, and cherry sherbet–that I felt a moment of genuine pleasure (I remember actually turning my tv off, so I could concentrate on my wonderful meal).

“Simple pleasures” indeed...


I thought this was maybe the most intersting thing that happened to me...

By and large, I didn't spend much time worrying whether I would "make it" through the surgery. I just assumed the odds were pretty high in my favor. I worried about recovery and whatnot, but not about dying.

But it did pop into my head while I was being wheeled down to surgery--"What if they put me under...and I don't come back?".

And surprisingly, that didn't make me think about heaven and hell or any of that; I had just two very clear thoughts, which were 1)It would suck that I died before realizing my dreams, and 2) That I'm not ready to die, by any stretch, but as deaths go, slipping away under anesthesia wouldn't be a bad one.

And that's that.

I keep thinking of this experience, in many regards, as a "preview to old age"--I'm moving slowly, with some difficulty, wishing for a solid bowel movement, boring people with my health woes, and I feel eager to get past it.

But it'll take as long as it takes. I plan to do my best to take care of myself, and to try and think of other things to say in here than "I've got really bad gas..." and the like, but this is what I'm dealing with right now.

And with that, I'm going to go back to bed...


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