Archive for the 'Disability' Category

I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer

Friday, September 28th, 2007

One afternoon when I lived at the warehouse, I received a letter. Judging from the poorly sealed envelope, schmaltzy stationary, and shaky handwriting, it appeared that an enfeebled elderly woman had written it. In the brief three-sentence letter she revealed that she herself lived in a nursing home. She explained that she regularly wrote notes to nursing home residents, and signed-off with a call for God to bless me.

Some greenhorn “Up With People”-type psychologist had likely hijacked the poor woman’s good intentions. That’s terrible and awful and everything, but it’s a safe bet that she had allowed the psychologist to hijack her good intentions.

Like most bullies, the controlling powers-that-be in a nursing home—from fuck-stupid CNA’s to the browbeating administration to arrogant visiting MD’s—prey on those weaker than them, the elderly and infirm. more »

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Rehab Staff Treats Me Like a Disobedient Child

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Roughly two weeks after my arrival at the rehab hospital, an orderly wheeled me to the wing where a surgeon would evaluate the drop foot on my right side.* Though my nurses chirped that such surgery would jumpstart my recovery, I found myself involuntarily wallowing in disorientation and nausea. I’d sat upright only days previously for the first time in more than a month, during which time I’d languished in a coma. When coupled with the fact that I wasn’t accustomed to sitting in a wheelchair, it became understandable that I couldn’t carry myself in what is generally accepted as a dignified manner. In the doctor’s wing, about halfway down the main hall, the orderly who pushed my chair suddenly stopped and scolded me: “Sit up straight and don’t look so sick. People be starin’ at me.” I can’t understand why she got her panties in a bunch; apparently she was oblivious to her whereabouts.

Eventually a faceless doctor—different from the one I’d met—performed the surgery. Afterward I had to wear a cast that extended from above my knee to the bottom of my toes. One week later, a different orderly wheeled me to the wing where I’d met with the surgeon; I had an appointment with a cast-removing-guy. more »

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I Ignore Unnecessary Surgery

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Read A Medical Technician Uses Me As an Inanimate Teaching Aid

After roughly 45 minutes of studious poking and prodding, the EMG ended. There weren’t any bodily tissues or fluids that needed to be sent to a lab for analysis; a trained medical professional i.e. the labcoat lady should’ve been able interpret the available data. But when I asked for the verdict, she told me I’d have to talk to my doctor “in a few weeks.” Before I could open my mouth to debate her, she’d rushed out the door.

The day after the labcoat lady and her students administered the test, I phoned my alleged hand surgeon’s receptionist, Celia. She curtly sighed and told me that six weeks from then was the soonest she could schedule an appointment. Usually the head nurse working the day shift at the warehouse made a resident’s medical appointments. Since the potential surgery had been my idea, and given the nursing staff’s inability to concentrate on issues not closely monitored by the shrew of a head nurse, I decided to initiate the follow-through myself. more »

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A Medical Technician Uses Me As an Inanimate Teaching Aid

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Read A Thieving Doctor Tells Me My Business

My alleged hand surgeon ordered that I be tested for carpal-tunnel syndrome. His receptionist scheduled the test for three weeks from then. During those weeks I researched the condition; the basic facts made clear the patent unlikelihood of my suffering from it. But I guess the hand surgeon had kids in college.

A colleague of my alleged hand surgeon administered the test while three of her students took notes. This noble display of scholarship occurred only a few steps from my alleged hand surgeon’s complex i.e. office.

Nobody among the young females that had followed the labcoat-wearing woman into the room spoke much English. Their refusal to make eye contact with me, or acknowledge my existence as a sentient being and not an inanimate learning tool rendered any language barrier moot. more »

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A Thieving Doctor Tells Me My Business

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Read Typical Reception

If you live in a warehouse, nobody respects your time because everybody assumes you lead a useless life. Many doctors—that is, their lickspittle secretaries—schedule a ridiculous number of needless appointments and unnecessary tests, clearly because the government is footing the bill, and they think warehouse residents have nothing better with which to occupy themselves anyway.

After Celia graced me with her keen insight, she high-tailed out of the office. She returned fifteen minutes later and ushered me into a hallway that led to a myriad of identical examination rooms. I followed her down the hall; she stopped and ordered me to wheel into one of them. more »

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Typical Reception

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Read First Leg of My Hand Odyssey

Years after the warehouse administration admitted me, I decided I needed surgery on my right hand. A hand surgeon practiced in a labyrinth of offices and lab facilities that sprawled throughout a cavernous brick building, located on a college campus in downtown Chicago.

I allowed for chronically unpunctual cripplevans when I scheduled a ride¹ to my 2:30 appointment with the digit butcher. In my experience doctors always show up late—like the pusher in “I’m Waiting For My Man”—and imagine they’re doing a tremendous favor for you by making an appearance. Patient’s are at their mercy and they know it. more »

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First Leg of My Hand Odyssey

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Years after the warehouse administration admitted me, I decided I needed surgery on my right hand. I figured there must exist a procedure that would relieve the tendons that forced my fingers to curl inward towards the palm. I especially hoped that surgery would render my thumb somewhere in the neighborhood of opposable—it would never regain the complete functionality I was used to. A hand surgeon practiced in a labyrinth of offices and lab facilities that sprawled throughout a cavernous brick building, located on a college campus in downtown Chicago. I’d grown accustomed to tardy cripplevans and lengthy interviews with secretaries and interns before the doctor graced me with a brief and invariably overdue appearance.

There are few people more irritating than receptionists and assistants that work in doctor’s offices. more »

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Simple Minds Embrace Clichés

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

After I’d been a patient at the rehab hospital for several weeks, the faceless administration assigned me to the brain trauma floor. My stroke technically qualified as brain trauma, but I’d managed to survive the debacle with my cognitive abilities unscathed. Other patient’s serious injuries had forced them to accept a diminished level of mental competence.

My first roommate appeared to be in his late teens. One afternoon his family—mom, dad, and little sister—showed up for a visit. He greeted them with befuddled grunts. After his father slowly and loudly recited the litany of events leading to his hospitalization, he warmed up and began to mumble at them. more »

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Go Fetch

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Warehouse living—or whatever happy-ass euphemism a clueless social worker might use—routinely dehumanizes residents. What’s more insidious is that warehouse administrations blame the infirm for their own subjugation. Before the warehouse consented to admit me, they insisted that I scrawl my misshapen John Hancock on an assortment of legal documents that gave the staff legal permission to open my mail, snoop through my drawers, administer what they deemed “appropriate” medical care, and generally butt into my business. They also required that I authorize the state government to address my benefit checks in care of the warehouse, and permit the administration to disperse my dough as they saw fit. more »

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I’m Forced To Support The Arts

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

When I came out of the coma I lie strapped to a gurney in the intensive care unit of an urban hospital, literally unable to move or speak. I possessed a vague instinctual understanding of my condition and surroundings, but my perceptions were filtered through a haze of dream-like subjectivity. Any grounded impressions flickered in and out like the light from a bulb being screwed into a live socket.

Nurses casually conferred with one another regarding my situation as if I weren’t lying in the same room. When one of them bothered to speak directly to me, they cooed baby talk point blank at my face (I could tell which of them didn’t brush their teeth). Invariably a nurse “familiar” with my case would shake her head, smugly snort and advise the one trying to communicate with me: “Don’t bother. He can’t understand anyway.” (They always spat the pronoun “he.”) more »

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