Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"They never did nothin'," the man muttered over and over again, "the children, those poor children".
I looked up at him as he wheeled me on a gurney through the hospital to the operating room.
He stared off for a minute while he rolled me into the elevator.  I thought maybe he wouldn't talk anymore, or talk about something else.
"Those children, how?  How?" he began again.
"Yeah..." I said tepidly.  It was unspeakable, but I had no idea how to convey that and every attempt I made sounded inadequate, or almost fake.  It was like when you find out from your boss that another employee was caught stealing and you feel like everything you say is a lie, even though you know you didn't do anything.  

The I.V. in my hand was throbbing, swelling and bruised.  It had been there for hours and was more uncomfortable than the hand they were about to operate on.   My ass was sticking out of the back of the gown and nakedly sitting on the gurney sheets, not matter how many times I tried to arrange things.  I still don't know why hand surgery required underwear, off.

"You know, there are those 47%ers that live off the rest of us, on ENTITLEMENTS" the nurse stated, shortly after telling me that she had herpes.  I was guessing that she didn't even know what 'entitlement' meant.  I smiled weakly.  I wasn't getting into this with her.  I just wished she would realize that it was inappropriate.  Actually, more inappropriate than talking about downstairs herpes, as far as I was concerned.  She brought it up a few more times throughout my six hour wait for surgery.  I continued to smile weakly and think of all the 'entitlements' she was probably taking advantage of: Old Pell grants that she used to get her R.N., mortgage interest write offs, tuition deductions for kids, health care costs.  As well as the real freebies:  SOCIAL SECURITY and impending MEDICARE!  I actually liked her though.  She was a stone cold cracker that kept offering me Valium, just to 'take the edge off'.  I said "no thank you" politely, anticipating anesthesia and pain killers.

"Hey!" a number of jovial people asked me,  wearing colorful headgear.
"What's your name?  Your birthday?  What's getting operated on!?"
I impressed them with my fascinatingly correct answers until the doctor finally came and wrote 'yes' on the finger that he was going to operate on. 
"Bring her my cocktail!" chief crazy headgear wearing anesthesiologist announced.
"So, is this like a pain killer or the stuff that will put me under?" I asked, as one of the crew injected a syringe into one of the outlets on my I.V.
"You are going to laugh like crazy for a second and then you'll be out" he answered.
I felt fucked up for a minute. 'Mother's Milk' I thought, thinking of the term the cracker nurse used to describe the 'cocktail' that they would be using on me. 

I woke up in the same place that I had fallen asleep in.  An ill fitting oxygen mask hovered over my face.  A large cast and wrap covered my left hand.  My I.V. had been moved and was pierced into the outside of my forearm.  I realized I was sporting a very off the shoulder look with my gown, the neck had been spread out and wires were attached to sticky things.  Someone pulled them off and helped me not be so, er, naked, and rolled me back to the cracker nurse. 

My mom was waiting for me, having sat with me all day without biting her tongue off, trying not to go at Romney nurse.  I found out that an hour and a half had passed.  It was dark outside.  The nurse reminded us that we could leave when we wanted.  I could hardly stand and stumbled into my clothes.  I was actually relieved when they brought a wheel chair to take me outside. 

I sat in the bathtub the next morning, trying to get ready for work.  Hideous bruises lined my I.V. arm, dark, black and yellow ones.  My surgery arm was bathed in a strange orange substance that wouldn't wash off.  Skin was missing where some sort of tape had been removed.  I splashed water on myself. Under my surgery arm, some weird electroprobe thing remained.  I ripped it off and threw it on the floor.  Along with the tape and cotton that covered yet another black I.V. bruise. 

Then, I went to work. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Grady's

"When are you going to get your cast off?" one of my students asked.
"It seems like its been on forever".
You're telling me.  Large, clunky, difficult to maneuver.  Beautiful weather wasted by mandatory sitting on ass for seven weeks.  Watching my dog whimper and stare through the window.  I whimper too sometimes.  But just a little.

"She can tell mommy's off her game!" the dog trainer said enthusiastically, pointing at my cast.
"Why are her eyes turning so red?" I asked, trying to calm Lola.
"She's just wound up, she's choking herself!"
I looked at Lola, tethered by her leash in a corner while the other dogs went through their training.  I started crying. 
We slept close that night and many nights after, Lola's neck stretched across mine while I hugged her in my sleep.

"Can you explain the difference between preparing an ordinary, American new teacher as opposed to an international teacher to understand your school?"  I asked again.
"Well, we have New Teacher Orientation" the interviewee responded.
Click.  That was all I could think.  Click.  Your Fulbright adventure has now come to an end.

My doctor grabbed the outside of my purse, dramatically.  
"Is my phone vibrating?" I asked, alarmed.
"Where's your other shoe?" he asked, smiling.
"Are you kidding?" I asked, incredulous.
I was thrilled.

He wasn't kidding.  I went home and put on my other hiking boot, the mandated stiff bottom foot wear.  I was really excited.  Until I realized I can still barely walk and that my left knee is hurting from carrying my right leg along.  And my broken foot again turned purple and bruised.

I had a great, short walk with Lola and fun training and playing with her while she was tethered in the yard.  Her eyes were NOT turning red. After,  I took a couple of days off from walking because of the pain in my foot.

I decided today that I was being a lazy fuck and that I needed to quit making Alec walk my love dog.  The walk wasn't going as great as the other that I had bragged about.  She was pulling hard and not responding to any of the stuff we had been working on in our training.  I was juggling her treat bag and transferred her leash onto a few of my left hand fingers while I tried to rearrange the bag on my shoulder.  Suddenly, Lola jumped a couple of feet in the air and ran toward a rampaging squirrel.  I held tight and pulled, even though I had heard a snap.  I got her onto the sidewalk.  I knew something was wrong and I looked at my awkwardly positioned ring finger that wouldn't move and was hanging at about eleven o'clock to the left.

I got Lola home, actually trying to act natural when kids and parents commented on my cute dog.  I put her directly in the crate and drove to my sister's.  I had broken out in a cold sweat and was crying and trying not to vomit.  They took me to Grady.

Grady is a very large hospital about two miles from my house in downtown Atlanta.  It is the only place indigent people can go here.  I've visited only a few people there and have always been scared of it.   But, I was more afraid of my dangling finger.

We had to pass through a metal detector and an airport manual wand to get in. They handed me something to put on my shirt that I stuck on.  Only later did I realize the date was written on the sticky.  I guess if they found me in some corner a few days later they would know that I was ripe. 

I got X-rayed.  I was surprised everything was happening so fast.  Every time that I have ever been to the emergency room I sat there for hours.  All of the doctors looked younger than I am, which was weird.   They put me in a plush ass room with a TV and started telling me what they were going to do. It was broken, below the knuckle.  They were going to manually re-align the bones, basically grab my finger and push the broken bones back where they should be. I started sweating again.  They told me they wouldn't hurt me and started talking about an IV painkiller drip. 

Then, timed stalled.  I saw people wheeled into the trauma unit.  They had neck braces on.  I heard them screaming from the rooms.  I waited a while.  Hours.  I understood.  But I was getting more afraid.

A young intern put shots in my hand and joked about how sweaty it was.

And then, I turned my head away and squeezed my eyes shut as he moved and shoved the bones of my finger back into place.