By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/23/2021
Occurred: 7/3/2020
Topics/Keywords: #Coronavirus #Maui Page Views: 306
In another reality, I died last night.

Today, after I was moved to another room, it occurred to me that, barring an arguably bizarre set of circumstances, I very likely would have died yesterday.

But first, let me describe my first room. Located on the Haleakala side of the hospital, I was afforded a beautiful view of this part of Kahului, Maui's largest city, which included a limb of the great volcano.

Even at night, the view was amazing. As much pain as I was in (they had to give me morphine), the view provided a comfort.

But in the morning, Paul, my day nurse, apologized that they were going to have to move me into another room across the hall.

Although this was a double room (my previous room was not), there was no other occupant. It was almost as if the extra bed were just being stored there. I assume they were also storing chairs in the bathroom, unless the previous occupant had found it necessary to hold meetings in there.

So that brings us to today. The antibiotics have started winning, the redness and swelling in my leg has gone down, and my appetite has started to return. Outside my window, I was now looking in the other direction, toward mysteriously beautiful Iao Valley. Today, heavier than usual rainclouds made it look more mysterious than ever.

There's a TV in the room of course, but I haven't turned it on. I have my phone, and a cool book I'm slowky making my way through (The History by ancient Greek author Herodotus). But I also have my thoughts. As a computer programmer, it;s normal for my brain to put things together to see how they're related, if there are any patterns.

Nearly a year ago (in October, I think), I noticed a staple coming up out of my ankle. This was from my previous bout with necrotizing fasciitis, which, to be sure, began as a simple case of cellulitis. I'd been told a decade earlier that this might happen someday, so I wasn't worried. Even though the presence of something that clearly didn't belong there was a constant irritation to my (mild, Google-diagnosed) OCD.

My doctor in Hana, Dr. Wolfgramm, spotted it on my first visit to her and wanted it removed, but didn't want to do it herself; and since I wasn't concerned she didn't give me the referral to someone who could remove it.

Now, it appeared that the staple might have provided an inroad to my leg, thus causing my current infection.

But here's the thing. That staple began to erupt last October or before, when I still lived in Mesa, Arizona. That's where I lived when I had my last case of cellulitis. I made it to the emergency room of Banner Desert Hospital, where they kept me in the waiting room for thirteen fucking hours before I was finally seen. By that time, the cellulitis had turned into necrotizing fasciitis, also know as flesh-eating bacteria. I was in a coma for two days and nearly died while they removed all the skin and half the fascia from my lower left leg. I spent six months in the hospital that year, in three separate visits.

(I tried suing the hospital later, and found they had retained every law firm in Phoenix so none could take my case.)

Okay, here's the realization that hit me:

About the same time the staple began to erupt from my leg, my daughter, Jenny, purchased the property in Maui I now live on. Keith and I were excited about the upcoming move. At first we thought it would happen in December, then January. There were hold-ups on the construction of what was to be our bamboo hut. February went by. I began to hear rumors of some kind of super-flu coming out of Wuhan, China. By the time we got to the beginning of March, I already had tickets for us to go in April.

But the new coronavirus was started to kill a lot of people, and countries were contmeplating shutting down their borders and imposing curfews and the like. Hawaii was among the places considering shutting down their borders.

As it happened, Jenny and her kids had flown over here for Spring Break, intending to stay two weeks. I found myself desperately wishing to see the toddlers in the Maui environment. In fact, it became an obsession. I could think of nothing else, but to get to Hawaii, even without Keith, before the babies left at the end of their vacation.

So I moved my ticket up a couple weeks.

By the time my flight day arrived, Hawaii was seriously planning an imminent shutdown. We moved Keith's flight up as well to one week later, so he could ship the dogs to me. As I've noted in earlier entries to this blog, I was frantic that he might not be able to get here before Maui was shut off to any new arrivals. He was literally on the plane while the Shutdown was announced. I was quite a wreck before he finally appeared at the airport.

But suppose that hadn't happened. Suppose I hadn't had such a strong urge to leave earlier than planned. Hawaii is still shut down to visitors. Keith and I would never have left Arizona; we'd still be in our apartmwent at Indigo Springs. And I would still have that staple sticking out.

So, I would very likely have still come down with cellulitis on June 30th. But I'd have been in Mesa, where they would have taken me to Banner Desert. But as it happens, Arizona, thanks to its Republican governor who is in lockstep with the Bloviating Orange Pustule that stole the White House, is one of the three states with the most new cases and deaths due to COVID-19. The hospitals are full. The Emergency Room would never have gotten to me. (After all, I waited 13 hours there, last time, when there wasn't a pandemic.)

In that alternate reality, I would surely have died, yesterday.

But I didn't. In this reality, Keith and I escaped in time to Maui, almost as dramtically as the infant Kal-El being flown to Earth in a rocket just as his home planet Krypton exploded. I feel like I have a new life ahead of me now, and I feel the need to find a new purpose for this new chapter of my new life.

That's not something I will rush. For now, I'm content to heal from this latest life-threatening illness and watch the clouds pour into Iao Valley.