Bird Flu the Coop......
The star of the show was Vanessa, of course. She was nervous as a cat about her little speech, and showed us a short professional video from the orphanage, plus some of her own snaps of ''her boys''. What came through was her perfect devotion.....she glowed with enthusiasm.....and, no other word for it: love.
Wow, how corny. Even so, it was the perfect Christmas present for me, and I think for everyone else. Vanessa is the real deal: caring, smart, dedicated, spiritual, funny. Did I mention beautiful? And possibly even changing the world......
And the Cachagua Regulars ponied up $800, plus loot.... for Vanessa's Boys......It was nice to see the old axiom proved true: To give is better than to receive. Yes, Virginia.....there is a Santa Claus......Well, a Ms. Claus anyway.
Friday marked Brendan's return to the public after his ordeal......What ordeal, you say?
Well, BE AFRAID, people.....BE VERY AFRAID. If you thought Katrina was an example of grotesque mismanagement of a completely predictable event.....stay tuned.
When last seen, Brendan and Chloe were hanging out with the King of Thailand's entourage.....signing autographs, posing for fan pictures.....Paris Hilton style.....or Bankok Hilton style, anyway.
On the long flight home, Brendan started feeling bad. Then, very bad. Migraine, stiff neck, lungs filling with fluid. Fever. Cough.
He somehow endured the 15 hour flight, coughing and shivering. He got off the plane, got his luggage, went through customs, and got on public transportation for The City.....all the while shivering and sweating like a heroin addict and a coughing up a lung.
Remember how there is a special quarantine facility at SFO for incoming sick patients from Asian flights? How the airlines identify sick passengers, and the customs, and airport officials, etc and intercept them before they.......get on public transport and get into a big city?
I picked him up in San Jose at a buddy's apartment, painfully ill and still with a violent cough. I spent the two hours driving back to The Peninsula trying to find a doctor to see him.....and failing. He took an Imitrex and some Vicodin and started feeling better.
I had done a drop-off at CHOMP earlier that day, so we had to go back and pick up the mess. I tried to talk Brendan into going into the ER while we were there, but he just wanted to go home and sleep. He did go into the hospital to pee, though.
When I came back with the mess....the motor was running in the Jag and the heat was blasting. Brendan was shivering like jello....completely exhausted from his jaunt through the hospital to pee. We jammed home, stopping only for chicken soup at Safeway.
At The Casa, Brendan took a bath and faded. The peace lasted only a couple of hours. He was in a lot of pain. A lot of pain. All the hot water, Imitrex and Vicodin in the world could not cope. His fever hit 103.5....and he was sweating through his sheets.
Back to the ER at CHOMP.
Where they freaked out. Thailand, fever, headache, cough. They called in their on-call infectious disease guy. Gave Brendan IV morphine for the bonebrake fever.
First diagnosis: Dengue Fever. At this one, my girls were freaking out....regular readers will remember my crew trying to call in sick with Dengue on a Monday Night. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Dengue beyond fluids, rest and morphine. Keep the boy away from mosquitos so it doesn't spread. Like there is a mosquito withing 500 miles of Carmel in December.
After a few hours, Dengue came up negative. Influenza came up positive. Uh oh. Bird flu?
So they rushed him into the Isolation Room of the Intensive Care Unit in the Brand New $750 million dollar wing of CHOMP. Fired up the super anti-septic air filtration systems.......or not. When they pushed the buttons, nothing happened. So they ran around and found a HEPA filter and put in the room, and said: Everything is Fine.
I have a HEPA filter in my room at The Casa.....and I don't have bird flu. I got it at Costco (the filter, not bird flu), and it was significantly cheaper than three quarter billion smackers.
Still, everyone wore masks and plastic garments they burned upon leaving the room, and there was an air-lock and all this. Plus a flat-panel HDTV!! Well, way up in the corner of the room, and not actually quite pointed at the guy in the bed, so it was hard to see....but, hey! If they had gone the whole BILLION......
By now it was late Friday and I had been working a party. Somewhat stressed....no sleep. The hostess was worried as well, and poured me a fatty giant glass of champagne to ease my cares.....and another. And I might have had a sip or two of another along the way. At midnight, I finally arrived at the hospital, and set out to find the ICU.
I found a friendly security guard, and the two of us spent some minutes searching through the new wing for the ICU. We got close, and he bid me adieu. I spent another 20 minutes or so wandering through labs, empty operating rooms, a surgery center, some hallways filled with expensive equipment. I asked several people in scrubs where the ICU was.....no one knew. Eventually I found another security guy, who brought me closer. Eureka!
No one was about. I looked at all the patients.....none seemed Brendan-like. Lo...there in the corner was The Boy. I barged on in.
"Dad!! For fuck's sake you have to put on all the shit!! You just went through the wrong door! You have to go in the little room and put on all the shit and go through the other door!"
Too late now. I went back out the wrong door and into the little room. Put on a hat, an overgarment and a mask. Upside down. I may have torn the garment in a few places. Thumbs were involved in the sleeve part. Forget the gloves...well, I got one on. I went back inside to see The Boy.
''Jesus Christ, Dad. Everyone has to wear this stuff to keep the bugs from spreading. Or getting it yourself." Three hours of being coughed on in a Jaguar.....I figure I am already there.
The charge nurse came in. I mentioned that I hoped we weren't being charged ICU rates for a broken room. "Oh, no sir. We called the contractors....you are only being charged the floor rate. Don't worry." He didn't notice my face mask was upside down, or the Michael Jackson one-glove thing. He also didn't seem curious as to why there was an elderly drunk in the ICU isolation room at 1am in torn plasticware....or even who the fuck the drunk was.
On the way out I swiped some outergarments.....Maybe I could get the girls to wear them....never mind.
The next morning Brendan started freaking out about the $11,000 a day room charge at CHOMP and decided to leave. The nice nurse got his stuff and signed him out: they were not treating him with anyting buy morphine anyway....so why not?
Meanwhile his labwork baffled the hospital lab....so they sent it to Monterey County. They had never seen this before either, so they sent it to the state. Who scratched their heads and sent it on to the CDC in Atlanta. The CDC identified it as from the bird flu family, but deferred to the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Brendan was driving home to Carmel Valley....still coughing.
A few hours later, it dawned on the on-call doctor guy that his highly contagious patient with the yet undetermined bird flu like influenza had flown the coop. Oh, well. Friday had been his last day anyway, you see. He had resigned from the hospital and was moving to Seattle. Maybe we could call Brendan's family doctor if we had questions.
Anyway.....it turns out that Brendan lived through it: seriously ill, very uncomfortable, very weak.....but basically fine. It turns out that the most basic protective systems supposedly in place to protect the rest of society from contagious people.....not so great. Complete failures, actually. We Beta-tested the system....and to use the Katrina metaphor: everyone in New Orleans drowned.
And.....the WHO eventually told us that indeed it was the right family.....just one clone off from the fatal, person to person bird flu we are all anxiouslly awaiting.
And finally....in the ultimate absurdity: my late ex-landlord's family had hired to do his memorial service on December 30. Yesterday, a full day after Brendan and I had successfully passed the official quarantine period for bird flu.....the family called to cancel our participation in the event. They were worried that the grandkids might get the bird flu, two weeks from now.
Actually, I don't mind. The landlord, John Waldroup of The Barnyard fame, was a souless, bloodless cocksucker who in his time ground countless small businesses into dust and drank their blood. He gorged on dreams and ruled a kingdom of shabby pennies and I would much rather piss on his grave than serve food to anyone shallow enough to actually show up for his wake.
Bird flu would be an improvement on his bloodline.
But that is just me.