19. (People… ♫)

If this turns out to be a piece of sentimental drivel (♪…people who need people…), you have my permission to take the pistol out of my glove compartment (♪♪…are the luckiest people…) – the pistol I bought for people who wait until they get to the drive-up window to fill out their deposit slips –  and use that pistol on me. (♪… in the world.) Because everyone knows this about me: I don’t do sentimental drivel.

I also don’t ordinarily spend three nights in a hospital with absolutely no memory of what put me there, and a diagnosis of a temporary but serious medical condition that is fatal 45% of the time. But that’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago.

Quick summary: Carole came home and found me on the floor, unconscious; I was taken in an ambulance to ER, diagnosed with a urinary tract infection that went into my blood stream and became septic; and I then experienced brief AFib while in hospital. They fixed everything, and I was released after three days. I’m now fully recovered.

I didn’t die. I didn’t even get to the part where I was walking toward a bright light.

All that medical stuff is not what’s important here. What’s important is the fact that the Barbra Streisand “People” song is now embedded in my head, perhaps for the rest of my life. How did that happen?

My first memory is in the emergency room. Doctors and nurses and machines and tubes, all moving around, over and into me. People were asking me questions, questions I couldn’t answer because I had no idea what had happened or where I was. And I could barely put syllables together to make words, much less words to make sentences. Amidst all this chaos, the one thing I knew was that all this was not real: it was a dream. And I was going to wake up, realize I’d had a bad dream, and be very relieved. What told me it was a dream was the fact that Carole was not in the room. If I were really in the ER, Carole would be there, too. No Carole, no reality. Simple as that.

Of course, it was not a dream. They wouldn’t allow Carole to come in. She – and our neighbor, one of the two friends who arrived before the paramedics – were in the waiting room, while the doctors worked to stabilize me. When they finally let her come in, that’s when I knew it wasn’t a dream. She brought reality in with her.

Another memorable part of my hospitalization was the roommate I had for one night. They brought him in late the second night, and he left the next afternoon. I never met him – the curtains were closed – but from hearing his voice, I imagined him to be 50 or 60-something. As the nurse completed his check-out procedure, she asked who was picking him up. Nobody, he said. He’d call Uber.

That got my attention. He had just spent a night in the hospital, and there was nobody in his life to come pick him up. I felt very fortunate. I not only had a person, I had people in my life. That’s when Barbra began singing.

What I learned from all of this is something I already knew, but rarely thought about. And that is how much I – we – take for granted. Carole and I know that if one or both of us have a problem, we first of all have each other. And then we have other people and resources around us who will help us get through whatever. I had phone calls and e-mails and text messages and cards from people concerned about my health. Most of our friends know that they, too, are surrounded by people who are ready to help.

People. Family. Friends. Neighbors. They all – we all – would drop whatever they’re doing to help a friend, neighbor, family member, even a stranger. Most of us won’t need to call Uber to get home from the hospital.

People. People who need people. Are the luckiest people in the world.

Okay, sorry. You have my permission. The gun’s in the glove compartment, passenger side, black Toyota Avalon.

17 thoughts on “19. (People… ♫)

  1. Grateful to hear that you are ok. What a scary ordeal for Carole!
    I hope you had some amazing nurses who were able to humor you every now and then. Keep an look out for that A fib — once it’s shown its ugly face, it’s likely to show up again at some point.
    You have more people who care about you than you realize.
    Love, Tara

  2. Michener, you are f***ing brilliant…and you ‘write it down’ pretty darn well, too!

    Now, I, too have Barbra’s rendition of ‘People…’ as my new earworm! Thanks for that.

    With (ah, or without) your permission, I am going to copy your #19 & share w Family & Friends. I have a son who would probably tell me to order my own Uber😱! But I have friends & Chicago daughter who would ‘be there’.

    I am today, spending 3 hours waiting in a library for my friends’ surgery center to call that she’s ready to go home from a minor procedure- she wouldn’t allow me to wait there for her.

    Chicken soup is in a cooler for her first meal tonight.

    You are sooo lucky to have ‘your Carole’…..I enjoyed getting to know her sooo much!

    How r your knees treating you?

    How come I haven’t been receiving notice of your ‘regular’ blogs when they are produced?

    More later, friend for life…glad you chose to stick around🤩.

    Hugs, Suzie

  3. Larry – You cannot leave! I’m not done with you yet. Truly, I am so glad you are all right and that you do have your dear wife and support PEOPLE around you. I, too, feel very fortunate in that respect. Just had surgery, cannot weight-bear and they have all been my rocks. Food, knee-scooter, wheelchair, cards and prayers all appeared from seemingly nowhere. And most knew that my being so confined, so soon after my loss, was going to be very difficult. Now that damn song is in MY head, thank you very much. See? I’m a people who needs people…

  4. Larry
    I hope your recovery continues quickly. I am glad to see you posting again. I miss that wit.
    Please let me know if you need anything.
    Thanks Bill

  5. I binged on all 19 blog entries and what a closer! I had no idea you just went through all that. So glad you are OK. Life is so fragile and random–you never know what is around the corner. There is no “prep” work. The special blogs for me were the ones on the old house (we still live in one) and “Sound of Music,” my favorite musical. I rewrote “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” for our middle son’s rehearsal dinner. Thanks for sharing your life.

  6. Great story telling about the fragility of life, good medical care, and the value of friends. And thanks to you for your friendship and support.

  7. Ho-ly shit, Larry! I let this sit for a couple of days while I did other stuff (planted the patio pots, ran errands, etc etc) because I knew that I would want to take my time and it would be one of your chatty old guy things……Wrong! I am glad that Carole found you – in time. And that you had someone coming home to you…. I too felt a twinge for your
    Uber-ing roommate.. Hope to see you – and Carole? – at the reunion.

  8. This blog really hit me. I have tears in my eyes. We are very lucky to have such wonderful friends in you and Carole. You are always there for us and we will always be there for you. I’m so glad you’re doing well and back to your usual obnoxious self.

  9. So glad you’re back in business Larry! You’re one tough dude. And having Carole at your side most certainly helped in your recovery. I happen to like Barbra, so I appreciate the sentimentality.

  10. So glad you are OK…those UTI’s can be very dangerous “at our age”.

  11. Sooo glad you are well again because I am hoping to see you at the reunion and I REALLY enjoy your blog/writing! I want to ditto all the Marion said about you, your roomy & developing friendships. And, you know me, I love sentimentality and cried tears through this account.

  12. Wow. Way to bounce back!! And as for Uber, I might call for a ride in order to spare friends I love the total grief of fighting DC traffic, esp. at rush hour.

  13. So glad you are better and feeling good and ready to take on different situations. My heart goes out to your roommate in the hospital. Everyone should have friends and work towards that goal. You always have worked towards that goal. It sounds as if your roommate hasn’t. Maybe his friends were not around him and he didn’t want to bother them. Hopefully he has people he can depend on when he needs them. Whatever it is sad that didn’t happen. Hopefully he had enough money to pay for his ride home. Friends take work and time. Maybe he learned something.

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