Archive for the 'Stroke' Category

But He’s an Army Man!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

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 »

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Mr. Gold Confiscates Larry’s Gun

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Once, I saw Larry in the rehab room and casually asked how he was doing.* He regarded me like I wore a turd my head, and replied in his raspy voice, ”Lousy.”

A stroke had jumbled Larry’s speech and gifted him with a shuffling limp. The ever-present unlit cigar lodged in his mouth left the charge nurses and CNA’s disgruntled. I knew that he pissed most of his days away in the basement cafeteria/smoking area, gossiping with his moth-eaten clique. When he moved into my room, I considered that he might prove himself a good fellow inmate by virtue of his almost constant absence. I later found out that I’d guessed right about the “constant absence” part, but even the brief periods I interacted with Larry made me want to go through a carwash. more »

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I Win a Million Dollars

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Read I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer
Read I Ask Questions

September 11, 1995

Dear Sister XXX,

Guess what? Yesterday I won a million dollars at Bingo. The dog next door told me how to play and he has glowing red eyes and he always talks to me and he says he is my friend. Sometimes he says bad things about God but I think he just needs to go to the bathroom more. No one believes me. Why was I born? more »

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I Ask Questions

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Read I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer

Unfortunately, I no longer have Miss XXX’s replies. I threw them into the garbage, along with other reminders of the warehouse, when I moved into my own apartment. I recently discovered my end of the correspondence saved on an ancient floppy disk. Her letters were brief—just two or three sentences scrawled on undersized dimestore stationary festooned with images of flowers. In her initial reply, Miss XXX informed me that a chaplain visiting her nursing home had christened her a deacon (hence the “Fr.” greeting). She also claimed to “love” and “care about” me. 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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