Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What if it happened to you?

Everyone has heard about the swine flu. If you're like me, that's something that happens to other people. You probably don't know anyone who has actually caught it, do you? It only happens to somebody you hear about on TV -- wouldn't ever happen to me or my friends or family.

Curtis Cheek (shown above) is one of the best bridge players in the world. Besides being a great player, he's a gentleman and a kind person. He lived in Huntsville AL for many years, but finally moved to Las Vegas, like all the bridge players seem to be doing.

Back in the Eighties, before he became so famous, I played on teams with him at the Gatlinburg Regional. He played with Steve Beatty, and I played with Alan Bell. Steve and he always wore caps and were known as "The Hats." Yes, we were all much younger and much more frivolous.

Four weeks ago, Curtis went to the World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to play in the Transnational Team competition. He was sick then, but didn't know it. He was supposed to fly home Sept. 14, but didn't make it. Coughing up blood, he was rushed to the ER at a big hospital. They admitted him, and he was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, the so-called swine flu.

In the ICU, things got even worse. There was swelling and pain, and he was put into an induced coma.

His parents rushed to Brazil, and are going through hell. They can only stay in his room for short periods, and claim they are living in a taxi -- the one that takes them from their hotel to the hospital and back.

The swelling caused pressure on his brain, and circulation problems in his extremities. It didn't look good -- not good at all.

Curtis is a bridge player, though, and bridge players are tough. Just when things looked the worst, he began his recovery.

On Sept. 24, his parents reported great news: Curtis could hear them when they talked to him! He nodded his head! His bandages were changed and the extremities were swollen and purple. He still had a long way to go. He was intubated, but there was talk of removing the tube.

Sept. 26: More good news. His parents went in his room and Curtis whispered "Hi, Mom." The visits are still short. Curtis is weak and has a lot of healing to do. They hope he'll be back in the U.S. in 10 days to two weeks.

If you would, send some good thoughts, good energy and good karma Curtis's way. I promise I have my mojo workin' for him. If you pray, keep him in mind.


  1. Oh my goodness. So glad he is improving. God Speed.

  2. The best to him, MOJO. Keep caring. World's short of friends.

  3. So sad; and scary because it confirms those hidden fears we all have that it can, indeed, happen to us!

    Keep your "mojo" working!

  4. That is terribly scary. My thoughts will be with your friend. Please keep us updated.

  5. Tough, but it seems he's coming through.

    It's strange how H1N1 can manifest in so many ways. Some people are hardly affected apart from the normal flu symptoms, while other go the way of your friend and nearly die of it.


  6. That is scary, I was standing next to him and Joe after the last match! He didn't look sick to me then. Glad to hear he is recovering.

  7. Beaming my good wishes his way

  8. That is scary stuff. Glad to hear he is on the mend

  9. Thanks for the report! Incredibly scary, glad to hear he is improving.

  10. Glad to hear this wasn't a fatal case of the swine flu. Best of luck for a complete recovery.


  11. Really nice piece, very well written. Here's to speedy recovery.
    If you fly, your chances of getting sick are much higher, because the same old air circulates throughout the plane - it's not like it's fresh.
    Coughing up blood? Swollen, purple extremities? Finally someone is telling what the swine flu is all about.

  12. Thanks to all who commented.

    @jusdealem: I'll keep you updated when I hear more.

    @Michael: What if he had sneezed while you were standing next to him? Yes, it's scary.

    @Wolynski: This is just a powerful story and has little to do with my writing, but thanks for the compliment.