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 »
Archive for the 'Lowlife' Category
After the administration transferred Mort to God knows where, a middle-aged schlub named Bob moved into my room. Clearly, Bob didn’t qualify as mentally disabled but demonstrated he possessed the mind of a witless child—which is a semi-polite way of saying he was stupid.* Whenever some nosy CNA asked why he’d landed at the warehouse, he‘d answer simply, “Heart condition.” (“Heart conditions” were extremely popular among male residents.)
One morning at around 6:30 Bob managed to foul up the flushing mechanism in the toilet. He and he alone would reproduce this blunder at least once a week—as a young child I’d figured out how to properly flush. more »
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 »
Read Part 6
. . . 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.”
Though I still felt exceedingly nauseated and debilitated, I noted a pang of giddiness—at least temporarily, I wouldn’t have to endure an unwashed batshit-crazy roommate. The rehab floor far outshone the warehouse by providing: a clean, intelligent, and hard-working staff (most of them anyway); slightly better than decent food (and lots of it); reasonable frequency of assisted showers (daily instead of biweekly)*; competently prescribed and executed physical therapy. (As always, I found the accompanying occupational therapy a waste of my time albeit a welcome respite, like study hall after calculus.) I’d forgotten that the fairly well-managed department of a health facility can be somewhat lively. more »
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. more »
Read Part 3
I laid on a gurney in the ER for close to an hour. In all that time, no doctor bothered to examine me. Finally some faceless drone wheeled me out of the ER and upstairs to a room, where an astonishingly irresponsible strategy unfolded.
A fitful sleep overtook me as soon as the drone shuffled out of the room. I can’t remember for certain, but I likely passed out from the pain. Twenty minutes later a diminutive grandmotherly nurse woke me. She assumed that I must be tired from the day’s “excitement” and kicked off a litany of questions by asking when I last “made a poopy.” After struggling to focus and softly grunt answers, I managed to describe my horrific pain and emphasize the probable cause. She chuckled and insisted that my “ouchie” couldn’t be that bad, “We pro’ly jus’ gotsa little tummy ache.” She went on to explain that the “doctor-man” —whose name I’d never heard previously—had ordered her to give me an enema*. According to her, he’d wait to find out if a geyser erupting into my rectum doused the pain before he acted further. more »
When I woke I had no idea what had happened or of my whereabouts—last I remember, the state still held me captive in the warehouse. Now I lay prostrate on a hospital bed flanked by other, recently vacated beds in an area that seemed the hybrid of a waiting room and an intensive care unit. The first indication of seriousness came from my mother’s presence. Though my parents lived 260 miles away from the warehouse, she hovered over me and gently explained that I was a patient in some hospital; “they” had removed my appendix nine days ago and encountered complications that pummeled me into an unresponsive state. more »
My one-time roommate Bobby led a pointless life—unless you consider taking up space, pissing on the floor, and fouling the atmosphere with a pungent reek worthwhile endeavors. But when his crackwhore sister visited him, their prattling vaguely amused me. That and his comically inept burgling provided marginal worldly value to Bobby’s existence.
Particleboard nightstands stood next to each warehouse bed. (A few years into my stay, the administration tried to buy my testicles with a cheap desk from the basement. Their strategy failed but I thoroughly enjoyed my new furniture.) A hinged latch had been screwed to the top of the nightstand, and fit over a metal hasp protruding from the drawer (as was the case with my desk’s main drawer). The administration sold padlocks. Mr. Gold advised residents to buy and use the locks, store valuables in the secured drawer to thwart thieving staff members and dodgy roommates. more »
Mabel packed an ass the size of a small continent. Her gargantuan derriere and beer-barrel legs appeared wildly mismatched to her plump but normally proportioned upper body. The warehouse administration employed Mabel as head nurse. (There’s a joke in there somewhere.) While the stubby angle of mercy pushed a cart filled with medicines and dressings from room to room, she didn’t walk so much as laboriously waddle. When she pulled a graveyard shift, she routinely interrupted the slumber of residents in order to tend to their medical demands. Of course some residents needed round-the-clock care, but clearly not everybody required frequent attention. Shortly after I arrived at the warehouse Mabel woke me at 4:00 am for some reason—I don’t remember why, so the reason couldn’t have been too stellar. more »
Read Part 2
Many warehouse residents were elderly and/or near death. The chintzy bastard administrator, Mr. Gold couldn’t justify paying a trained therapist to work with a resident, only to watch that resident waste any newly learned physical strategies by dying. The warehouse bosses promoted easily manipulated CNA’s who excelled at making beds and emptying bedpans to revered positions as physical therapists, much like teacher’s pets are chosen to clap erasers. Stupendously lazy young residents didn’t care about the administration’s tacit ban on competent therapists; they rationalized that their own lack of ambition demonstrated a mature acceptance of their bodily deficits. Or maybe they realized physical independence meant an end to their mooching. more »