Main | Wednesday, April 06, 2005

BlogDaddy, Part 3

continued from Part 2

The next day, I got more information.

Vasco had indeed rolled on his back and vomited into his lungs. His breathing had just about stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital. He was in a coma, his breathing being done via respirator. Condition: still critical.

And it turned out Vasco had not been at a sex party, he was at a pre-Alegria cocktail party, and that his ex WENT to Alegria after taking him to the hospital. And it wasn't logical, but it made me even madder to hear that his ex went dancing, not knowing if Vasco was dead or alive.

After work I headed down to the hospital again. I knew Vasco was still in a coma, but I just wanted to go in and hold his hand, say something to him. As I walked up to the 12th Street entrance of St. Vincent's, I ran into my friend Stephen, a fellow blogger and also a friend of Vasco.

Stephen looked ashen. "Joe, it doesn't look good. You better prepare yourself."

"OK. Do you want to come back in with me?"

He shook his head, "No, sorry. I...can't."

I watched him head down the subway stairs. Later that night he made this post.

When I walked into Room 1042, Vasco's sister and aunt were there, from Brazil. I made a little small talk with them before I dared walk around the curtain. His sister spoke a little bit of English, his aunt none at all. His sister was friendly enough, but his aunt seemed displeased to meet me, which seemed fair enough considering the circumstances. I was thinking she probably wasn't loving the gays right then.

After shaking their hands, I said to his sister, "So, what happened?" I wasn't sure what they knew.

The sister said, "He drank something," making a drinking motion with her hand.

I nodded, "Right. Can I say hello?"

She nodded, "Yes, yes," and waved me towards the curtain.

I held my breath and stepped around the curtain. Vasco face was dark and swollen. His chest rose and fell with the steady whooshing of the respirator, a large tube down his throat. There were several various IVs and hoses attached to him. I wanted to take his hand, but I hadn't washed mine since I'd arrived, and I didn't want him to get any germs from me.

I spoke to him. "Hey buddy, it's Joe. How are you doing?"

OK, that was stupid, I thought. I tried again, leaning in closer.

"Hey Vasco! Wake up man, I need some help with my blog!"

I stood there for a couple of minutes feeling useless, then walked around the curtain and made my goodbyes with the sister and the aunt.

The next day I sent out an email to everybody that I knew was acquainted with Vasco, advising of his condition. Days went by, and as others visited him, they did the same. Eventually, I had about 10 guys on my list. We all kept each others spirits up, but none of us had anything positive to report. We learned from Vasco's sister that the doctors had placed him in a medically-induced coma, in order to both maximize his potential to recuperate, and because (as they put it) he would be to "in too much distress" if he were to awaken while on life-support.

Over the next few weeks I visited Vasco again and again. Once, I took my friend and neighbor Rich, a former nurse. Rich took Vasco's hand and spoke softly to him while I examined various cards and notes posted around the room. One of them said "Congratulations! You did it!", a hopeful message for Vasco to read should he awaken. Rich looked at the medications being fed in via the bleating machines and mused, "Man, they really have him under."

At the end of September, I visited Vasco with our friend Erik. We stood there and made silly small talk to him with his aunt looking on. Erik went home and made this post.

More weeks passed. Everytime I visited, I spoke more and more to Vasco's aunt, who was becoming very nice to me. Not speaking Portuguese, I communicated mostly through pantomime.

Somewhere in the 5th or 6th week, Vasco developed a terrible infection in his lungs, doubtless from the inhaled vomit. The infection ate away at his left lung and it developed a leak and the respirator blew air into his abdomen, which swelled up grotesquely. The nurses kept an electronic cooling blanket on him to quell his raging fever. His lower legs were wrapped in compression stockings to prevent blood clots from forming.

Only the aunt was getting information from the doctors and she relayed the data to us as best she could. The doctors had changed Vasco's condition from critical, to "stable, but guarded." The hope was that the infection would subside, and they could slowly bring him out of his coma, and begin to assess what brain damage there might be.

Week 8, Halloween weekend. My buddy Eddie and I went down to see the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which Eddie had never attended. It was a beautiful night and the crowds were massive. Somewhere around 7th Avenue and 16th Street, we gave up trying to push through packed sidewalks and decided to blow off the parade and find a bar.

We were somewhere near 14th Street when I said, "You know, we should go in and visit Vasco as long are we're right here."

"Is the ICU open at this hour?" Eddie asked.

"It's pretty much open all the time, no matter what the visitor's hours are, I think. I guess they feel like people who are near death should be able to be seen at any time," I guessed.

We pushed through the streets and made it to St. Vincent's in about 10 minutes. The front desk attendant hardly looked at us when we came in, she was used to seeing me. We didn't see Vasco's aunt in the waiting room, nor was she at her familiar position at the window in his room. The beeping and whooshing of the machines seemed especially loud.

Eddie and I took position on both sides of the bed, and I was about to say something to Vasco when Eddie spoke.

"Hey, why is the TV on for someone in a coma?"

Vasco opened his eyes and looked at us.

-To Be Continued-

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