A near-death experience


By Max R. Weller

I picked up some sort of intestinal virus at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless (the filthiest homeless facility I’ve ever seen) last Tuesday morning (I certainly didn’t contract it at CU’s Norlin Library nor at King Soopers, which are kept very clean), the same day of my last post here. By Wednesday morning, I felt so weak that I had difficulty standing when I woke up at my campsite at the usual time shortly before 5AM. I even fell once on my way over to wait for BSH to open at 6. I was so out of it mentally that all I could do was sit in a chair in the day room. I didn’t feel like showering despite my fastidious nature, I didn’t have my daily cup of lukewarm instant coffee, and I forgot about refilling my water bottles for the day ahead. I ate nothing, and had no appetite. I remarked to a couple of friends there who asked that I was very sick. Strangely, there were no symptoms of the oncoming dysentery-like sickness I was to suffer — just the physical weakness and confusion.

After a while, I staggered back over to my nearby campsite and crawled back into my burrow; the next time I left my campsite was yesterday morning, and from that Wednesday morning until Saturday I couldn’t even stand up. Consider the implications of this, when I tell you that the waves of diarrhea struck me with a vengeance on Thursday morning. It’s most unpleasant trying to crawl out of the way of your own filth, and not succeeding very well at all. I tried to ration myself to a few swallows of water I had on hand for emergencies, but it didn’t seem to stem the tide.

Thursday night through Friday were the low point, and I really thought I was going to die. I don’t own a cell phone to call 9-1-1, and somehow my two friends from BSH had gotten the idea that I was over in Longmont with other friends or at a motel, so they didn’t check on my welfare.

Sometime during this utter low, I had the most vivid dream I can remember in my 58+ years among mortals: it was like a movie inside my head with bright colors (but no soundtrack, which I found pleasing), interesting characters and snappy dialogue, and a great plot. Details are already fading away in my memory . . . When the dream ended, I felt totally at peace in a way I haven’t in decades; my body relaxed completely, my heart rate and respirations slowed greatly, I FELT NO PAIN, and I knew I was drifting off into the unknown. I was ready.

Then, on Saturday morning around 9AM I awoke to find some of my physical strength returned and much of the fog in my mind gone. Although it was too late to make it over to BSH which closes at 8, I tested myself and found that I could once again stand upright, although in an unsteady manner. I enjoyed a can of Campbell’s Chunky Italian-Style Wedding Soup and a handful of cheese crackers, the first solid food I’d eaten since Tuesday morning. I waited for Sunday to make my move at 5AM, per my ordinary routine.

When I got over to the shelter yesterday morning, I was still weak as a kitten, and thankfully almost nobody was there to see my filthy appearance and smell my severe case of interfeminium putrescat — as I’ll refer to it in order to spare my readers’ delicate sensibilities. I managed to shower all over, and remove the greatest amount of crud from my body. Hurt like blazes! (This morning’s shower completed that process, and I may buy a small tube of Neosporin at King Soopers to be on the safe side, as my tender tissues continue to heal). I took my pants and T-shirt and stuffed them down into a trash bag which I sealed up tightly, before putting that bag at the bottom of a trash can. I also spent yesterday eating a pint of ice cream and three pieces of fried chicken, which was all my shriveled stomach could hold. In addition, I made a determined effort to REHYDRATE by drinking almost 1 1/2 gallons of water, cranberry juice, and cherry-flavor 7-Up; didn’t have to pee until this morning, so that tells the story of how dry I was after my ordeal.

I’m still feeble, and it may take a few more days to complete my recovery . . . As I look back on my near-death experience, I can only wonder:

“Can you believe the Boss wanted me to waste my time picking up this crippled old fool? I reminded Him that He delegated responsibility for death to me, and I wanted a more interesting, attractive individual. The old guy I can collect at any time.”


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