April 23rd, 2008
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After years of substandard physical therapy at the warehouse, I enrolled in an outpatient program at the downtown rehab hospital where I did time immediately after my stroke. I remembered them treating me like a retarded gerbil; but after spending years at the warehouse, I’d physically progressed to the extent that maybe they’d take me seriously (like they should have done from the get-go). I had to admit that the majority of therapists at the rehab hospital were intelligent, well trained, and personable. Plus it was the only available game in town.
Twice a week, a cripplevan picked me up at the warehouse and lugged my ass to the rehab hospital. The charge nurse had reserved a ride for me every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon; for the most part, a different driver arrived each time. I looked forward not only to amassing long-term skills but also to the break in my daily routine. At the warehouse I dealt with a mostly disingenuous dirt-stupid staff. I’d be a lying cuss if I claimed that I didn’t welcome interaction with friendly and quick-witted young women. more »
March 26th, 2008
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Some psychologists associate John Wayne Syndrome with post-traumatic stress disorder. Other shrinks claim the Duke’s namesake pathology spawns testosterone-engorged megalomania and heavy-handed impulsive behavior. The warehouse administration used their interpretation of John Wayne Syndrome to blame a devoted night nurse for their unlawful neglect.
At any given time, two or three wit-challenged high school girls worked weekdays part-time in the basement laundry room. This schedule allowed them to attend weekend classes at LaBabette’s Academy of Beauty and dream of the butt implants they’d get when their careers as beauticians took off. Repeatedly my clothes came back from the laundry splotched with large bleach stains or permeated by the pungent reek of decay and old people piss. But I should point out: Mr. Gold treated them like retarded children, an extraordinarily foul aroma fomented in the plastic laundry barrels delivered by CNA’s, they slaved in a cramped and sweltering space. Those conditions wouldn’t have motivated me to do a bang-up job either. more »
March 12th, 2008
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Simmy worked as a physical therapist at the warehouse. A few days before he started, while I lifted wall-mounted weights in the therapy room, I heard the department supervisor excitedly tell a coworker: “We’re finally getting a new guy. He’s an Army man!”
The coworker asked, “Has he had any experience as a therapist?”
The supervisor frowned: “Well, Mr. Gold never said.” Quickly her smile returned: “But he’s an army man!”
One morning I rolled into the therapy room and found the new guy sitting at one of six desks organized in the alcove. I slogged through my morning exercise ritual, anticipating my post-workout cigarette. (In retrospect, I realize the profound stupidity of smoking after exercising; my shitful luck had magnified a deep-rooted smoker’s rationalizaion.) When I finished working out, I wheeled to the ashtray positioned on a bookshelf next to the new guy’s desk.
He forced symmetry on a sloppy pile of papers by tapping a long edge on the blotter. Then he stood and walked the short distance to the supervisor’s desk, gently placed the tidy stack in front of her. more »
February 13th, 2008
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Read Part 5
…The naïve intern appeared and asked me to follow her down the hall. She stopped in front of her examination room, seemed embarrassed and stared at the carpet as she began: “I didn’t want to say anything in front of anybody.” She raised her head. “But you really upset my receptionist, to say the least. I won’t see you until you’ve calmed down. Go make an appointment with the other receptionist.” I didn’t say anything, turned and wheeled past the reception window, through the waiting room and out the door. I parked on the sidewalk outside of the building and used my cell phone to order a cab. While I waited, I vowed to write a letter to whomever bore responsibility for Special Needs Dentistry.¹
As soon I returned to my apartment, I wheeled over to my computer and searched the directory of the major hospital hosting the Special Needs Dentistry program. I found a contact’s name and mailing address, and copied it into my address book. I’ve discovered that letters of complaint submitted via snail mail generally command more attention than emails. more »
January 30th, 2008
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Read Part 4
By my next appointment twelve weeks later, I’d managed to skip the warehouse and move into my own apartment. I checked in with the receptionist, a young woman different than the movie-magazine toady. She asked if anyone had brought me. I glanced behind myself—of course there wasn’t anybody there—turned back and politely answered, “No. I came by myself.” Then she cooed that the dentist would see me shortly, I should take a seat in the waiting room. She pointed to the chairs in full view a few feet away. I’d just spent literally years enduring dumbed-down baby talk spewed at me by clueless emotional retards; at that time I was discovering that mostly clueless emotional retards populated the outside. I had given Special Needs Dentistry a more than fair chance, and the people involved had proven themselves chronic fuck-ups. Something had to give.
I wheeled the few feet into the waiting room and parked in front of a stationary chair. Though there were no other patients, the TV positioned on a wall mount blared. Less than a minute later the receptionist scurried in and stopped in front of me. more »
January 16th, 2008
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Read Part 3
As I entered the small one-story building, I naively assumed that “Special Needs” referred to my gimpiness. A glance around the waiting room proved me wrong…I would’ve ordinarily thought fuck this fully and skipped subsequent visits… [But] I considered my dentist’s forecast of possible infection, the pain and inconvenience accompanying such infection, and the astounding stupidity and sluggishness of the public aid drones on whom I now depended…by then I’d resigned myself to wading through a cesspool of irrationality prior to receiving medical care.
Three months later on my second visit to Special Needs Dentistry, a new budding tooth mechanic awaited me: a young woman who, like the aspiring DDS I’d previously seen, spoke with an eastern European accent and demonstrated a impersonal attitude. I twice asked about my former intern’s whereabouts before she looked up from my paperwork and absently replied, “Oh, she’s finished here.” Next I asked about my X-rays; she claimed “they” hadn’t developed them yet. more »
January 2nd, 2008
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Read Part 2
The public aid stooge insisted on “helping” me maneuver my wheelchair out of his office and up the hall. Despite my repeated objections, he grabbed the handles on the back of my wheelchair and started to push. Asshole. The day of the appointment with my new dentist arrived. I rolled out of the cripplevan and toward a building; the plaque next to the doorway announced “Special Needs Dentistry.”
The cripplevan driver found the “Special Needs Dentistry” facility across the street from a major hospital. As I entered the small one-story building, I naively assumed that “Special Needs” referred to my gimpiness. A glance around the waiting room proved me wrong. more »
December 19th, 2007
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Read Part 1
The final paragraph of the rejection letter I received informed me that if I didn’t agree with the decision, I had a right to appeal. The dentist who’d sent the request had cautioned that infection might set in if I left the damaged section unrepaired. I phoned some agency—probably the Department of Human Services—and scheduled an appeal. I expected a committee of several stern people, sitting erect behind a huge bench that dwarfed me as I stated my case, my tiny voice ricocheting off the walls of the cavernous chamber. Instead I met with a lone condescending dumbass in his modest office.
A cripplevan lugged me downtown, to the nondescript government building where I‘d scheduled my meeting with a public aid stooge. I checked in with one of several receptionists; she immediately led me down a long hall past file cabinets, copy machines, and plastic plants, to the public aid stooge’s office. more »
December 5th, 2007
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I lost the incisors abutting either side of my two front teeth in a 1978 car accident—like a tornado destroys selected buildings while leaving others unscathed. After a dentist glued a porcelain 6-unit bridge onto my upper front row of teeth, he warned that sections of it might shatter somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade hence. He was right. I woke from the coma and discovered that something had chipped the unit he’d sculpted to appear as my left incisor, exposing a rough blackish-gray foundation.
The wanton bungling of medical personnel subjected me to public aid dental care policies that made about as much sense as tits on a boxcar. more »
November 21st, 2007
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My cramped quarters in the warehouse lay a stone’s toss away from the dayroom. Sometimes a dumpy middle-aged woman carried a Casio Mini-Keyboard into the dayroom and plopped her ass onto a folding chair in front of a bunch of bewildered geezers, who wondered why she’d switched off the television. She and her Thalidomide musical instrument always managed to instigate sing-alongs that included beloved ditties like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” (complete with “Arf arf!” responses to the musical question). She would begin playing and warbling; pretty soon the geezers would join in, caterwauling and clapping slightly out of time with the rinky-dink drum machine. more »