Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett explains why there haven’t been any columns for a couple of months.
There haven’t been any new Confessions since the last one was posted back in July (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy-- The ‘Most Unexpected Cartoon Character of Them All’ Returns”) for a very good reason: I’ve been physically incapable of writing one. I didn't think much about it when I start falling for no apparent reason a while ago. Being incredibly clumsy I've always been considered something of a "fall risk" (which is apparently a thing now). And according to the Internet, people over 50 are expected to start losing their balance so I just took it as yet another indicator of imminent old age. But I must confess I became a bit concerned when after a particularly nasty fall I landed on my left arm, leaving it almost entirely inoperative.
At the Emergency Room, doctors discovered that while my arm wasn't broken, I did have five fractured ribs as well as a fractured shoulder. I expected them to patch me up and send me home with a prescription for pain pills, but because my sodium levels were “dangerously low” I got shunted to the Intensive Care Unit. At first, I didn't take the diagnosis very seriously, but then (thanks in large part to the FDA's decades-long War On Salt) I automatically assumed anything low sodium was good. But I found that I had missed a couple of memos.
For instance, the falls had been caused by my low sodium levels. It’s a phenomenon that predominantly impacts the elderly, according to a new study by the American Society of Nephrology (“Elderly Can Blame Fractures and Falls on Low Sodium”), “Older adults with even mildly decreased levels of sodium in the blood (hyponatremia) experience increased rates of fractures and falls.” Knowing a lot of the people in our industry like me also qualify as “older adults,” I would strongly suggest the next time they see their physician, they might want to get your sodium levels checked.
Because the falls and fractures, are only the start of how low sodium levels can affect you. I was sent to ICU because without immediate treatment low sodium levels could lead to seizures, coma, hallucinations* and loss of consciousness. And in some cases, death. With visitors few and infrequent and distractions nearly nonexistent, that’s pretty much all I had to think about while the staff struggled to get my sodium levels at least a little nearer to normal.
Eventually, my levels did stabilize, at least enough for me to be transferred to a bed in a regular hospital ward anyway. Clearly, I had gone to the right Emergency Room because the ward was actually kind of nice, even when not compared to where I had just been. It had big TVs with a fairly decent lineup of cable channels and even sort of a "drink service:" Ask almost anyone for a Diet Pepsi and, boom, two minutes later, an absolutely free perfectly chilled Diet Pepsi appeared. But still considered a “fall risk,” I remained confined to a hospital bed and the days, and especially nights, were long and empty. Which is when I found something else to sustain me: comic book movies.
*I was admittedly pretty dubious about the whole “hallucinations” thing until I had one. After a terrible sleepless night, I was suddenly the Ben Reilly Spider-Man who was captured trying to infiltrate an illegal human genetics lab in South Africa. Instead of killing me, the doctors brainwashed me into thinking I was an ordinary patient in an ordinary hospital. I came out of it just as suddenly and while the nurses were fairly convincing when they told me I was in a hospital in Ohio, for a good half hour I wasn’t entirely sure which life was real.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.