Bleeding Orange, Blue and Red

The Tower of Terror ride at California Adventure hoists you up, up, up until the ride comes to a sudden stop and double doors open to the outside world and an amazing view of the park and Disneyland in the near distance. Just enough time to take a breath of California air before the bottom drops out of your world and you plunge to the ground, taking away that last breath and leaving your stomach behind. Screams fill the elevator shaft.

That’s what coughing up blood is for me. The bottom falls out of my life in milliseconds. Hope, stability, calm – they leave me in the time it takes to snap my fingers. It’s amazing how so much chemical reaction can take place in the body in such a short period of time, elevated blood pressure, panic, adrenaline and sweat all mixed together in a nice “fight or flight” cocktail – connecting me to my prehistoric brothers. But this ain’t no Woolly Mammoth hunt. The enemy twisting me into knots lives inside and is microscopic. I’d rather face a furry elephant and take my chances with a spear.

When I look at the red blotch on the paper towel, I wonder where this event is going to lead me. Hospital? Cipro Rx? What is the first step I have to take? Email the doctor right after I put the blood through a series of questions.

Is it new or old?

Pure or mixed with mucus?

Volume? Teaspoon or tablespoon? More? These the questions the CF team will ask.

Lesson I’ve learned: get to the Ativan bottle immediately. If it’s a bad bleed, my rising blood pressure becomes a water-filled garden hose left out on a 100-degree day.

One week to go. Enjoying every day until the game. Pissed about having it in NJ. The NFL made a bad decision having it there.

One week to go. Enjoying every day until the game. Pissed about having it in NJ. The NFL made a bad decision having it there.

The scales of my life needed balancing this week. I was too happy thanks to the Broncos returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 years. There’s a lot of orange and blue in our house right now and we’re preparing for the big game. Should I paint my face? Color my hair orange? These were the tough questions being asked before I sprung a leak.

There is good news. The bleeding stopped the next day and has stayed away. However, it creates a mental state of waiting for it to happen again. Every cough is processed carefully before I get the courage to look at what I coughed up. So far so good.

I just have to make it 8 days to see the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Eight days.

The detritus of my life

Clean-up needed in aisle 7.

Clean-up needed in aisle 7.

Empty CVS-labeled pill bottles, blue-topped nebulizers with teeth marks, plastic Xopenex vials and “X” twist tops on the floor.  I step on them and curse my laziness yet leave them for the next time I step on them and curse my laziness (my Broncos trash can is two feet away but “da shit” has a way of hitting the edge or catching some invisible air current and going off target.)

My lungs depend on a red Symbicort inhaler that isn’t glazed with rainwater or beside the white chickens.

Measuring devices: Pulseox on my treadmill desktop, FEV 1/6 meter, peak flow meters aplenty – my gift at each hospital stay I’ve had, and a sign of my disobedient nature as a patient – I refuse to use it, I tell the RT, because it’s a crappy measurement of my true lung function. Bad patient, I am.

Colistin months include syringes, half-full bottles of sterile water, empty pink 0.9 saline vials and little glass colistin bottles littering the kitchen table.

Cayston months reveal themselves in tiny beer-bottle brown, sharp metal pull-tops similar to what soda cans had when I grew up, and more empty plastic vials that get squeezed into the brown bottles.

Empty M&M’s Minis packages wait for Cali to steal them from the trash can. Depending on the day it might be an empty chocolate-covered gummy bears container, or the chocolate-covered pretzels I ate that were my daughter’s – I didn’t know at the time, but have no guilt just the same.

And then there are the boxes of hypertonic saline, the sinus flushes, the oxygen tubing I step on in the dark of night on the way to the bathroom. And the grossest of the gross: phlegm-soaked squares of carefully folded paper towel I forget to throw away. Lifeless around the edges, the bacteria glows gold and grows crusty, making me think, this is reason for all of this crap in my life. How is this possible?

I wish for laser eyes to shoot it when I toss it in the air like a skeet, small yellow flames falling to the floor. I hope bacteria scream.

Ah, the mystery. The horror. The mess. The constant need to throw shit away. La Vida Loca, baby.

Broncos beat the Chargers and my daughter calls me a . . .


That’s what she called me after the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers. We were eating dinner and I was giving instructions to both her and my wife to remember exactly what they wore during the Broncos game so they could wear it again the following Sunday for the showdown with the evil New England Patriots.

You know you have the best wife ever when she makes a Broncos pom pom for the dog without a Broncos collar. Love.

You know you have the best wife ever when she makes a Broncos pom pom for the dog without a Broncos collar. Love.

“What? You want us to wear the same thing we wore today?” she said, as if I’d just asked her to eat kale at every meal for the rest of her life, which is funny because it feels like a lifetime from the moment we ask her to eat her kale to when she actually takes a bite.

“You’re a whack-a-do,” she said.

“Is that good or bad?” I asked.

“Well, it’s better than a cray-cray nutcracker.”

Tweener code, it’s never boring. I rue the day she calls me a cray-cray nutcracker, a term her friend invented for who knows what reason.

I need to order a tweener decoder ring on Amazon.

Regardless of my daughter’s protest, all three of us will be wearing the same clothes on Sunday at noon when the kick-off takes place.

Fortunately for the ladies of my house, they will get to wash their clothes before the game. I, being an OCD purist, will, with the exception of my Labrador boxers, be wearing the same clothes in their pristine, unwashed condition: my old Broncos t-shirt under my orange Manning jersey, Broncos lounge pants, vintage Broncos logo hat, and orange-trim running shoes, no socks.

Yes, whack-a-do sounds about right, whatever it means.