Past The Finish Line


by Scott Lew 7/23/10

I remember paramedics
 rushing me out the door
 past my brother, dad and in-laws


Wake-up in a dark room
 hear my wife introduce me
 to the doctor who will do the tracheotomy on me
 I can see him but not her
 some guy’s breathing me with an ambu bag
 he’s got it jammed in tight
 I taste blood in my mouth
 Need more air 

Finally, I see Ann
 got her no-bullshit game-face on
 I love that

Blackout, again

Wake up and where am I?

A hospital room
Ann and my dad, a nurse, people in and out
Everybody seems relieved
Find out, I almost died
Paramedics said I was 10 minutes away
I’m lucky to be here 

I try to talk
I try to move
I was a quad before last night
 but now I’m weaker
 can barely move my head
And there’s a new pressure in my neck
 from where I’m breathing

 they suction my mouth and trach
 come up with
 loads of blood and gooey-tissue stuff

Holy fuck do I feel beat up
 I can’t tell anyone
 but they know

The doctor arrives
 he’s worried about my heart, lungs, kidneys and infections
 the pneumonia that put me here
 plus a bug I might’ve got in the operation
 my white blood cell and blood sugar counts are astronomic 

I’m there at least a week
Maybe two
Laid up

Ann brings a letter chart
 So I can say words by blinking
 Like that guy in The Butterfly And The Diving Bell
 But it’s slow and confusing
 Annoying everyone and me
 So I say as little as possible

Night brings no sleep
I doze off and wake up
Feel like I’m drowning in saliva
No one around to suction me
 So I just drool
4 a.m. nurses come in to give me a bath
 Don’t mean to abuse me
But they don’t know how fragile I am
Leave my arms dangling
Ankles and knees crunched
My head twisted back and to the side
I’m frozen in pain
And can say nothing about it
5 a.m. X-Ray Man rolls in
Throws me forward
puts a plate behind my lungs
throws me back to take his shot
throws me forward and back again
to retrieve the plate
I’m like a broken marionette
6:30 and a 20 year old girl comes to draw my blood
Sticks me 5 times but can’t find a vein

I’m screaming soundless for her to stop
But she won’t look at my face
Keeps sticking

I’ve never felt more trapped
Manage a laugh to myself
My life right now would make an excellent horror movie
Misery meets Johnny Got His Gun

I can’t shake this feeling
I should have died 

8 years into a disease that was 90% likely
To kill me in five
I’m way past the finish line
Still trotting like some eager horse
Who doesn’t get the race is over

I think about my life experience
The boys
My super hero
My amazing family and friends
Who showed me so much love
And made me feel so good
I can’t even describe
My professional accomplishments
I’m a legitimate one-hit-wonder
All those places and stories and adventures enjoyed

Maybe that’s enough
A life
I’ve done it

Now I’m just a burden
An exhausted blob
sucking the life out of people who love me 

or at least that’s how I feel
at night

8:45 and I’m saved by Ann
She adjusts me out of my torture pose
so I’m comfortable

Gives me The Cute Report
 About Rocky and Roman

Makes me feel better

Days go by like this
These thoughts I don’t tell anyone
I live for those Cute Reports
But I hate the toll these hospital trips
Take on Ann
Friends come to visit
My dad, brother, father-in-law, cousins
I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open
Feel like a shit heel
Because I can’t express anything 

One week goes by
They say I’m not getting better
Have a new infection
A test of my trach on my home ventilator
Sends my blood pressure 200 plus over 100
My head feels about to explode
Ann is yelling at the nurses
I’m going to stroke out
But it’s 20 minutes before
the Person with Authority
comes to take me off 

I’m shaking
With a skull-splitting headache
But better for it
I don’t just want another Cute Report
I want to get out of that room
And see my boys

whenever the race is finished
I’ll know
I won


1 Comment

Filed under ALS, ALS Poetry, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Poetry

One response to “Past The Finish Line

  1. Susan

    I wish everyone in the world could read this.

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