[Updated at 2:33 p.m. with information from Reg Burns, who saw Joe at the hospital Monday and has more information on his condition.]
Little Joe Washington is in the intensive care unit of Ben Taub Hospital after undergoing emergency surgery for an obstructed bowel this past Sunday, the Houston bluesman's bassist Chris Henrich told Rocks Off this morning. "It's not looking good," he said. Henrich said he wasn't able to get very much information from the hospital, but from what he could tell, Washington went to the emergency room Sunday and was sent home, but was still hurting and came back, when he was admitted and the surgery was performed. After he talked to Washington's grandson, Henrich added that he believes the kidney disease that put the 71-year-old musician in the Ben Taub ICU in April 2008 has flared up again, and that Washington will probably have to go on dialysis this time. Henrich said as far as he knew, Washington is still unconscious and under sedation. No one at the hospital would answer the phone yesterday, he said. "I imagine it's going to be a long time before we play again," Henrich said. "But you never know - he's a tough old fucker." Washington and his band last played at their Tuesday-night residency, and Henrich said he seemed fine. "It was a great show - he was cutting up and being Joe." The guitarist and singer, who has become an icon in Houston for both his offbeat personality and astounding musical ability, has such a high threshold for pain that for him to seek help is especially alarming, Henrich added. "He holds in pain like a freakin' dog," he said. "One time he [obviously] needed stitches, and he asked the doctors for a butterfly Band-Aid. If he went to the emergency room, he couldn't take it." Henrich said he would wait a week or two to see how Washington fares, and begin exploring the idea of putting together a benefit for him. Reg Burns sent the following information to Rocks Off Wednesday afternoon:
Dropped in to see him at Ben Taub. He's currently in the surgical ICU. He was sedated (not conscious) and on a ventilator. Spoke to someone who was at his side, seemed to be a med student or intern. He was not attending Joe but checked his chart for me.
Said he had surgery yesterday for a bowel obstruction that was some sort of thing where the bowel sort of clogs on itself, like some of it gets sucked into itself. Said they basically cut out the clogged part and pieced it back together. Said they didn't seem to find any other problem.
He said it was a major surgery, but something he should have a normal recovery from. He's currently on unit/ area E, floor 4, room 20, bed 1. Basically a large open icu area. He'll be moved to a regular room once he stabilizes.
You can call the main number, 713-873-2000, to get an update on if he has moved rooms.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.