Doc the Halls


Christmas Eve 2020 and not a critter was stirring, including myself who laid semi-passed out on a bed. An ambulance med tech guy had the nerve to interrupt my slumber to ask me what month it was. I would have thought he would know without having to visit my house. Also, the question was unfair since there are 12 months to choose one. I guessed correctly but that did not prevent him, and his co-workers, from hoisting me away toward the ambulance.

I probably should have figured earlier in the afternoon when I suddenly began shaking with chills that something was wrong. Whatever it was, I reasoned, could be cured by simply resting for a while. It did not work. For many Christmas seasons there would be the experience of driving up Canal Street to see the lights. At this moment I was back on Canal Street but the only lights I could visualize were blinking. I did not realize that they were blinking for me.

I guessed correctly again when I was wheeled into an emergency room. ”Do you know where you are?” someone asked. Truth is, I wasn’t sure, but even in my stupor I reasoned that the numbers were on my side by saying “Ochsner.”

To date, I have been very fortunate about having spent little time as a patient in a hospital. I was expecting a prescription of maybe two aspirins and some chicken soup, but a nurse saw it differently. She was arranging for a room.

Christmas Eve in the emergency room: There would be more blinking lights and noise when I was wheeled in for an MRI. Fortunately, I was too sick to feel claustrophobic. Results revealed some good news. I had nether a stroke nor COVID-19. As I was rolled to my room, we at least knew what the malady was not, we just didn’t know what it was.

Christmas Day in a hospital ward: I had been looking forward to this particular Christmas, not just for the family, fun and festivity, but also because the Saints were playing in prime time against the despised Minnesota Vikings.

I had especially been anticipating snacking on leftover turkey, sipping a Sazerac and contemplating the pecan pie while watching the game.

Peggy had spent most of the day with me and brought gifts and joy. By game time, however, the hospital had been cleared of visitors. She would be at the family gathering where I wished I was. Instead I settled in the chair alongside the hospital bed.

I remember seeing the teams line up for the kickoff. Game on.

“We need to do another blood sample,” a nurse who had entered the room said.

“Oh good, something else to stick in my arm,” I mumbled silently. That’s when I realized that I had dosed off and missed the kickoff. I wondered how many seconds had passed and then I heard the announcer say something that stunned me. “Final score, Saints 52, Vikings 33; and how about that Alvin Kamara who scored six touchdowns!” I was so medicated that I had slept through the entire game, but at least I would know what my cholesterol level was.

On the day after Christmas a committee of doctors and nurses came to the room. They had examined me every way possible and concluded that I had a bacterial infection. But they still did not know the cause. I would be released from the hospital, but I should visit my own doctor soon for a follow-up. Within the weeks and months to follow I talked to several medical people. The consensus, though not unanimous, seemed to be that antibiotics should be taken before any treatment, such as teeth cleaning, which could cause a cut in the skin. I have since abecome a big antibiotics fan.

Christmas season has a spiritual bend that, beyond the festivity, endears charitable deeds such as visiting the sick. I can respect that, only I didn’t know that I was the one who was going to be sick. It could have been worse: Somewhere in Minneapolis there was no doubt some guy alone in a hospital who was a Vikings fan.

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