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March 08, 2008

"You ate HOW MUCH bacon?"

Hey everyone. Did I miss anything while I was gone?

Seriously, before I get started, I should thank all the morons who offered best wishes during my hospitalization. Especially commenter Michael & his lovely wife Cathy, who sent me a flower bouquet, which came with a teddy bear and a (remember this because it will seem REALLY ironic later) packet of Hershey's Almond Kisses. You guys/gals are the bestest pretend interwebthingy buddies a guy could have, and your best wishes helped me rise and walk away from my sickbed.

(UPDATE: Wow, I should have thought twice before putting this monster right after Ace's little "Lighten up, Frances" message to all the wimmenfolk. Or maybe I could have written the whole thing in LOLendocrinologist:

I kan haz cheezburger? Yah, butt no fryzz, an thro awa 1/2 the bunn.

im in ur pantry, pissin on all the bred )

I'm gonna put the whole story in the extended entry, because of my stream of consciousness writing style, but the summary is as follows:

Russ was sick. Russ went to doctor to get antibiotics for bronchitis. Doctor freaked out when Russ' blood tests came back. Russ flat on his back in hospital with nurses jabbing his fingers for blood every hour for 24 hours straight. Russ discharged after 2 days & visits endocrinologist. Russ go to Maid-Rite for a sandwich & onion rings. Russ come home & sleep the sleep of the dead.

OK, as I mentioned in my last post, I was feeling sickly before the 2008 First Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. I thought it was just bronchitis and maybe a bladder infection, so I soldiered on & finished "in the top third" at the Bacon Eating Contest (even though there were 250 people at the Bacon Fest, only about 16 of us were daring enough to enter the contest). Up until the contest started, we weren't sure exactly what the rules were, but it didn't matter, since we were all happy sitting in the bar, eating bacon & drinking beer.

The bacon eating contest was supposed to kick off at 1 pm, but one of the organizers came around telling us that it would be delayed 20 minutes so that they could cook up some fresh bacon for us to gorge ourselves on. Then they told us that we had 10 minutes to get ready for the contest outside in the beer garden of the bar. It wasn't that cold last Saturday, probably between 40° and 50°, so it wasn't a problem to go out in our shirt sleeves. They had us stand around the patio furniture tables (rules were: no sitting) waiting for the bacon, while the organizers set bottles of Pepto and a big family-sized thing of antacid on the tables in front of us. I had an agreement with one of the two guys I went to the Fest with, that they would keep me supplied with water while I ate, but the organizers were giving us mixed signals on the water. The glasses were the usual cheap bar/keg party 24 ounce plastic, and one guy said "One glass is all you'll get", while another guy said "No, you can get one refill". I decided to operate on the assumption that what I had was all I would get for the duration.

About 1:30, they brought out the bacon. Each of us got a platter, approximately the size of my head, which was said to be 5 pounds (pre-cooked weight) of bacon. We were told to eat as much as we could, and at the end of 5 minutes, the person eating the most would be crowned "King Glutton". The group eating (approximately 16 of us) were mostly male, with 2 diminutive women thrown in. My buddy Dave and I were talking to the brunette before the contest, and she seemed really cool, for a hot little piece of college tail. We reassured her that she shouldn't be worried about the contest, just relax and enjoy the free bacon. Nobody in the group was a complete disgusting widebody (I'd guess the biggest dude there weighed almost 300), so I wasn't sure who would be the one to beat. After the 10-count, we started eating, and I was in the thick of it.

My working plan was to fold up the bacon and stick the whole piece in my mouth. Bad idea. The bacon was the extra thick kind, and they cooked it more crisp than rubbery, so it was fairly hard. It's one thing to eat bacon in your kitchen with an eye on the clock, but when you've got people standing six inches behind you shouting "EAT THAT BACON YOU FUCKING PIGS!" every ten seconds, that sort of throws a wrench in the works. The organizers were mixing around, watching for cheating and announcing the time remaining, and at the two minute mark, I realized that "I wasn't competing for first anymore".

What made me say that to myself? The sight of the guy across the table from me eating bacon like he's been living in an Islamic country for ten years without access to pork products. He was about 170 pounds, with a bodybuilder's frame, and he looked quite a bit like that actor Jason Scott Lee who played Bruce Lee in "Dragon". Before the contest, some of the competitors were jokingly referring to him as Kobayashi, and he was sure as hell trying to live up to the nickname. But he wasn't my immediate worry: I was worried about the guy next to him. Tall, glasses, and developing visible tremors in his hands as he gorged himself on bacon. I made some mental calculations, and moved my plate six inches to my right, to avoid what I figured to be the "splatter zone" when he finally let go.

When we hit 3:30 in, I decided to coast and just finish with my dignity. My stuffed sinuses were giving me trouble, and the slightly overcooked bacon was cutting the bejeezus out of my tongue and gums. At the ten second mark, I put down the bacon, and used the remainder of my water to wash down the three or four strips worth of chewed-up bacon in my cheeks. I could tell that "Kobayashi" had me beat, and I was cool with that, since I felt no urge to vomit or crap my pants.

The organizers proceeded to weigh our plates, and I had eaten 14 ounces of bacon (I think. They weren't too forthcoming with the final results by the time I'd left), which translates to approximately 35 ounces of precooked weight. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to win. Kobayashi ended up tied with Mr. Shakes, and after a quick huddle, the organizers decided on a two-minute "sudden death" overtime for the two of them. I stayed at the table to watch the overtime, and Kobayashi kept his regular pace & drove Mr. Shakes into the ground.

Yeah, OK, cool. Now let's fast forward to Tuesday morning. I called the Hospital clinic Monday morning to set up an appointment, and when I showed up they gave me the usual tests. My BP was good (I'm blessed that way), and I didn't have a temp, but one of the nurses came back from the lab with a piece of paper for the doctor. Once she read that paper, the mood in the room changed. "Bad news, you've got a blood sugar reading of 700". Well, it wasn't quite that blunt, but close enough. I went from a quick visit to the doctor to pick up a script for antibiotics to being admitted to the hospital with a massive IV drip of insulin.

Anyone here ever been hospitalized for high blood sugar? Especially in a smaller rural hospital? They were pulling my blood every hour to check the sugar levels, and I quickly ran out of un-punctured fingers. By the time they let me out, I felt like I'd been juggling porcupines. The worst part of the first day? Even though the IV fluids fixed my feelings of dehydration and stopped my excessive drinking that caused me to piss every 45 minutes (try getting a good night's sleep when you're getting up on the hour), the hourly blood tests kept me from sleeping. Fuck high blood sugar. Try going a week & a half without getting any serious sleep.

So I'm flat on my back, with a needle in my arm, and I start running into everyone I know who works in the hospital. They all drop in to say "hi" and console me on my new diabetes. The nurses were even more friendly. I ran into the wife of one of my old employees, who's gone back to nursing school in a career change, and a young nurse who took dance lessons in high school along with one of my second cousins (her brother even dated my cousin for awhile, talk about your small world!). Me? I'm just wanting to freakin' sleep. My eyesight blurred up a little in the two weeks leading up to my hospital stay, so I'm running the TV remote with no idea of what channels I'm on. I'm just guessing based on what's on each channel.

I get multiple visits from the hospital's chronic disease coordinator (diabetes is her biggest bag), the nutritionist, and even a doctor. Not the doctor who I saw on Tuesday (she left for a vacation in ....Belize.... on Tuesday night), but another doctor who I've seen in the past for a small ganglia cyst. He sits down to talk with me about my health, and proceeds to tell me that not only do I have high blood sugar, but my LDL reading are way high. I told him about the 2008 First Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest, and he damn near falls out of his chair laughing. To quote him: "You know, I get a lot of stories from patients like "Doc, my readings are just high because I had a big breakfast", but you're probably the first patient who's actually given me a plausible reason for high readings. He decided to re-check my blood in a month to see what it looks like out from under the shadow of bacon.

On Wednesday morning, since my blood sugar had consistently stayed below 400 since midnight, they decided to take me off the insulin IV drip and space out my blood sugar tests to every two hours. This means that I can get a little sleep. Not good sleep, but any sleep will do in a pinch. They start giving me injections of long-lasting insulin, short-acting insulin, and even a daily pill for my cholesterol. OK, now we're talking.

I'll skip past the second night in the hospital, my trip to Des Moines to visit the endocrinologist, and my trip to the Merle Hay Mall food court for a Cheez Rite with onion rings to get to the final verdict: I've got high blood sugar. Is it diabetes? The Winterset hospital freaked out and kept telling me that I'm probably going to be on insulin for the rest of my life, but the endocrinologist took one look at my charts & family history & pronounced me "type 2". I guess general practice doctors have to be wary when they run into a high reading like mine, but I was damn sure glad to visit the endocrinologist & get a more optimistic opinion. She prescribed 60 units of insulin daily plus a couple of prescriptions to try to kick start my pancreas until we find out where my blood sugar readings stabilize at.

You know what? I've gone on too long already. Let's just say that I know the following things now:

1. My sickness wasn't caused by the Bacon Eating Contest. Bacon has no carbs, so a diabetic can eat a whole railroad car full of bacon without fucking up his/her blood sugar readings. Now cholesterol? That's another story, but the doctor seemed to be willling to believe that my cholesterol was an abnormal spike. I may have slightly high cholesterol, but nowhere near as high as what came out on the tests.

2. All those pr0n movies about what happens in the hospital at 3am? VERY exaggerated. My nurses were mostly hotties, but none of them came in to give me a "very special sponge bath" the whole time I was there. I guess you've got to be on a better insurance package than what we have to get THAT sort of treatment.

3. I guess I've got to modify my diet now. The dietician kept talking about limiting my carb intake to 60 grams per meal, but that SUCKS. I can drop candy, no problem, but what's life without bread? Oh, and speaking of my diet, thanks to Michael & Cathy for sending candy to a diabetic in the hospital. Now that they've sent me my little bomb, I'm sure they're going to top it by sending a Joy Division CD & a pocketknife to someone on suicide watch.....or maybe by sending Sen. Robert Byrd (D, Klan) a CD of "NWA's Greatest Hits".

Anyway, that's it for now. My wife's got the pictures of the Bacon Eating Contest somewhere in her computer, so I'll post them as soon as I can get them from her.

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 08:27 PM

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