Read Part 5
My appendix had burst, resulting in toxic shock syndrome; I’d barely sidestepped death. As far as I’m concerned, the incompetent fuckwits that wildly misjudged my symptoms shoulder responsibility for this avoidable disaster. After I’d snapped out of my unresponsive state, “they” moved my extremely ill ass to another part of the ICU in the hope that my condition would stabilize.
Eventually my condition stabilized to the extent that the enthusiastic interns ordered me schlepped to a standard room. I’d just returned from a sort of metaphysical anteroom separating life from death and felt supremely weak and nauseated, exactly like when I’d woken from the stroke-induced coma years earlier. Catholics managed the hospital that treated me and, like the Jews that oversaw the warehouse imposed their religion—they believed the only religion OK’d by the cosmic big gun himself—on helpless captives. An in-house TV channel (to which a robotic nurse automatically tuned upon my arrival) broadcast mass from the hospital’s chapel every morning. The rest of the time it featured the static single camera shot of the unmanned dimly lit altar. Though my new surroundings symbolized a vague semblance of normalcy, hallucinations reminded me of my tenuous health. I interpreted the fixed scene as a foreign art film; then as the commercial for a fall line-up on Fox that boasted reruns of The Monkees, created with a nod to the 1950 movie Abbott & Costello in the Foreign Legion.
After I’d spent less than a week recuperating, Public Aid* decided to stop subsidizing my hospital stay. After all, somebody has to pay for the HDTV that many able-bodied welfare recipients keep in the living room of their Section 8 apartment, and anyway I’d been faking the whole “near death” thing because I enjoy hospital food. Every doctor that examined me concluded that I needed a couple more weeks to properly recover, but were shamefully quick to shrug their shoulders and defer to the government.
While I was growing up, my father’s often-obtrusive behavior embarrassed me. But I must admit that it was this behavior that came to my rescue. He managed to reach a high-ranking hospital administrator—a nun—via phone and explain the situation to her. Of course I didn’t actually hear the conversation but I’m sure he played up the “What would Jesus do?” crap. She pulled some strings and the next day an orderly wheeled me to the rehab floor, where I spent the next couple of weeks in a private room. My newly appointed caregivers structured my days basically the same as they’d been at the previous rehab hospital. A social worker I met the first day good-naturedly laughed: “This place is just like boot camp.”
* Like I wrote in “The Synopsis” page: Insurance companies don’t want to know you if some titled schlub claims you tried to kill yourself.