The Dude (AKA “Wilson” to my “House” at work) drove me to the doctor’s office yesterday.
There’s paperwork that you fill out every single time you darken their doorway and I wish they would just print the info that never changes – name, referring doc’s name, DOB, “do you lust after flightless waterfowl”, etc., etc. They do give you a crayon and let you color on a little picture of a person where it hurts. I like to fill it all in and say “You’re the doctor, you tell me.”
They took me back and the place looked deserted, with only the distant roar of the surf and a gentle breeze. In reality it was as if it were one of those puzzle pictures you get as a kid: “How many indians can you spot?” You look and you look and after a while you realize that there were really no less than seven thousand and three indians in that picture.
As soon as I was shown to my concrete-and-gravel gurney and I had changed into my neutered thneed which only covers one body part at a time, I started seeing more signs of life. I stretched out on the C&G gurney and pulled out my project notebook. Five minutes later they put an IV in my right hand, and so writing was impossible.
As if by cue it was suddenly as noisy as a Thai fish market in there. One or two beds down in this vast “sick ward” style room was a woman sobbing and every fifteen or twenty seconds would gasp out something like “ooooooooohhhh-HOOOOO-oooo” She was in a lot of pain and not 20 feet away were nurses joking and laughing. I think someone might have been tending to this lady at the same time but it wasn’t relaxing.
I kept smelling smells. I don’t want to describe them.
On the other side of me was what sounded like a 372 year old lady who apparently had not one single vein in her body that could be tapped. What veins were there were described by the doc as being crazy-quilted like broken safety glass. They brought in people who were good with IV’s – a second floor nurse, the doctor who did my neck, my regular doc’s PA, one of the detoxing heroin junkies, a secretary, and I was even in line to give it a stab when a nurse rode up on her steed, all decked out in glowing white and a ten gallon hat. As skillfully as an ancient vampire she tapped that venerable grandmother and rode off to the cheers and adulation of nurses, doctors, and patients alike.
The woman on my right continued to sob but now her sobs had this fluffy happy puppy sound to them. This probably meant that they had finally waited the minimum 45 minutes “to see if she was faking” and then went and gave her a nice dose of Dilaudid, Demerol, or morphine.
I walked in there with a 5 on the 0-10 pain scale when I moved wrong and it was starting to ping me pretty good while doing nothing after having sat there for over an hour (on that concrete-gravel-chicken-wire bed, mind you).
A nurse came by on the other side of the sheet where Madam Methuselah was and said “Are you a patient woman?” (‘Yes’, croaked Madam M.) The nurse sidesteps into my booth, then looks at me and says “Are you a patient man?” I said “‘Man’ is questionable but I think I’m patient.” This behavior on the part of the nurse is known as a ‘harbinger’.
Pretty soon they wheel Madam Methuselah out towards her treatment and she’s what, maybe in her mid-50’s. Rough life or something. Chronic pain ages you roughly 3 for 1, in my honest opinion so it’s anybody’s guess – she could have been 23 for all I know.
Make note of it – “Are you a patient ______?” Means “Will you become a total assh*le if this takes another hour?” All the nurse would say was that there was “an emergency”.
The moaner was now giggling and moaning so I asked the nurse if I could have what she was having. The nurse gave me The Look and said “Behave.” Over at the giggler’s booth here was lots of talk about her drinking lots of water and getting an appointment with bark bark-bark bark bark bark and to make sure she asked the specialist about mreow mreowww mreowww. She especially should mooooo-moo MOO moooooo. Then the nurses cleared the animals out of the staging area but it was too late, I missed all the juicy details.
A full two hours had gone by. I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since 7pm the night before and it was now 3pm. Even so, one’s kidneys don’t shut down – they keep pumping out pee – it is just what they do. So I ask the nurse if I can hit the head and she unhooks my IV bag and thrusts it in my arms, and says “Go.”
On the way, another nurse says “Where are you going? You’re next.” Old Nurse Ratched walks over to us and says “He needs to use the restroom.”
They must trade personalities like a hive consciousness because now the new nurse becomes the New and Improved Nurse Ratched and says “Go. I don’t want to clean up your mess in there.” At this point I’m thinking in a petulant tone, “Well, what if I want you to clean it up?”
So they let me go anyway and I hurriedly get rid of two of the last three gallons of liquid in my entire body. You could have struck a match on my forehead, I was so dry.
I race back… No, I didn’t race… I shuffled back as fast as I could because by now my neck was locking up pretty fast. I got to walk into the procedure room under my own power with my bag under my arm. Odd because they don’t usually let you retain your dignity while you’re walking through a common sick room with a theed baring your ass to the world. But, retain my dignity I did.
Then They: Threw me on the table, crammed a cannula up my nose, hung up my bag, tore open my thneed, poured a gallon of icy-cold betadine on my neck and back, slapped a cryogenic cathode on top of my parched and now-dying kidneys, and slammed the door open just in time for the doctor to come prancing in. This was all done like a NASCAR pit stop.
Mind you, I’m face down on a table and only able to see people’s feet. D. Marten’s was to my right, Adidas was to my left, and Gucci was up near my head. This is significant because this was the doc I saw drinking no less than three different huge cups of coffee while I waited.
I said to him “Oh God, you’re Coffee Doc.” He laughed and shakily said he was still ok to do the work. I begged him not to pith me by mistake, or at least make sure I was well sedated to dull the fear. A bit of silence followed.
“Don’t mind me, doc,” I said, “I’m just whining.”
He said, “You wouldn’t believe the whining I hear. You are not whining.”
“Oh, but I can,” I said, “let me try – I can really plumb my depths.”
He must have heard enough of my bullsh*t because pretty quickly the ice entered my veins. I had enough time to say to myself “Ok, this time you’re going to stay awake and not let this stuff put you out.” I think I was sort of aware the whole time but I was ten thousand miles away.
I recall Them saying “roll over” and the doc was gone (who was that amped man?). I rolled over and yanked the hated oxygen cannula out of my nose. The New and Improved Nurse Ratched put it back in and said to not touch it, slapping my hands twice to get me to stop.
Time moved in fits/starts. Suddenly I was clothed. Suddenly I was lying down again. Suddenly I had a juice box in my hand. Suddenly I was walking out. Suddenly Cruel Wife handed me my Burger King double-whopper with cheese, onion rings, and a large Dr. Pepper. Apparently I was very emphatic about that. Events in between the suddenly checkpoints had faded into the mists. It was fascinating to observe the fleeting nature of a culinary ephemera, even if it was an order from Burger King.
Now here I am again, in my comfy chair and writing for fun because it’s better than whining.
Don’t worry about me… I’ve never felt better.
No, not really.
I think we should stop freaking out about Global Warming and start freaking out about lower O2 supplies in the oceans due to this unprecedented amout of ice in the ocean.
This has got to be the first time it’s ever happened in 4 billion years and I’m sure it’s man-made. Why else would icebergs collide with glaciers?
Oh yeah, and our oysters and things will be shell-less before long. I’m sure of it.
Marine biologist Eric Pane had some breathless hyperventilating to do (you try that sometime and see how far you get):
“And at least a third of [the CO2] so far, has actually ended up in our oceans,” Pane says. “(That’s) sort of good and bad news because it has prevented more CO2 from accumulating in the atmosphere but it comes at a price. More CO2 in the ocean leads to it being acidified.”
So THAT’S why we’re not going through Thermogeddon right now! We’re all going to die some other way. Probably called “Oysters-Ain’t-Got-No-Shell-ageddon” or some such thing.
You catching this, cbullitt?
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