Saturday, October 16, 2010

Better Not To Have These!



Keith Taylor

My computer had 390 e-mails on the screen name "DipsyDmstr" alone when I returned from a five-day, ultra expensive vacation at Sharp Chula Vista Hospital.

One was five-day old and from Neika, my magnificent great grand niece back in Indiana. She and I often exchange e-mails. I tell her what it's like to be old and grouchy and she tells me LOL.

My last had been about an exchange with a woman in Bangladesh who didn't understand "Dipsey Dumpster talk" or Midwestern humor. Neika learned the exciting news that the computer had survived the two language restoration and I was now relaxing before tackling the problems of the day -- saving the world from itself.

But, as it ensued, fate doesn't always work according to plan. About the time I sent my note to Neika I was besieged with a series of chest pains -- just the thing to help an octogenarian relax. I figured it was the result of my internet frustration and would soon pass.

But not this time. The pangs kept getting worse. I have no idea how to measure a threshold of pain, but this was ridiculous. A comparable excruciating pain may have been when, as a ten or eleven-year old, I pissed on an electric fence. Although I don't keep records of such things, I'm sure the fence pissing caper didn't compare with my recent screaming thorax.

The best medicine for recovery from the pain of hangovers had always been to lie down. Maybe it would work for angina, But no! I simply could not lie down. That made things worse. And don't even ask about the result of trying to maintain the good old Hoosier farm boy treatment for any pain, emitting methane though my anus!

Finally my wife summoned help by punching 911. It fetched the only public service left in debt stricken California, an ambulance.

Away I went, lights a'flashing and siren a'blazing. The medics were too busy exchanging pulse rates, blood pressure readings, breathing rate et al with the rapidly approaching hospital to spend any time with me except to reassure me with promises that "you,ll be fine" and "we're about there," I knew that the first was as true as what we get from most any of today's politicians, and the second was true in fact.

Back in the days of strenuous exercise I often ran from my house to the hospital, got a drink, then ran back. It was about five miles round trip! The ambulance ride broke my existing record for the distance. My wife followed behind in Spiffy, our shiny, modern car with multi colored lights in the coffee cup holders.

At the hospital things brightened up a teeny bit for a teeny while. One of the medics was a well constructed middle age lass. She positioned herself at my feet when they rolled me and my gurney out of the ambulance. In fact my feet were directly on her boobs. Why had I insisted on wearing shoes?

Into the emergency room we went. There the pain continued and the questioning commenced. My wife hugged me as I suffered, crying with me on the overwhelming spasms. I looked at her and realized she looked more like Theresa Wright every day.

Then the questioning: Eighty years and 258 days after my date of birth I was asked for it and again, eventually by every employee of Sharp General, and again every time any one of them had occasion to have intercourse (in the classical, not coital, sense) with me.

And all sorts of other shit! At times it seemed they were lined up to ask me "On a scale of one to ten, how much pain do you have."

My answer, "If this isn't a ten I've never had one. I've never hurt so fucking much in my life."

I couldn't tell if they recorded the entire answer or not. A guy, I presume was a janitor, did seem to get a kick out of it.

It was now back to the loud moaning, bitching, and bellyaching. This set off my neighbors in the ER where deathly sick or deathly poor patients were waiting in quasi rooms -- actually partitions separated by a curtain. They started praying. Most went at it by reciting the Rosary. I already had learned it in English and Portuguese.

Portuguese: Ave maria chia de gras

mumble mumble

mumble mumble

agora e em a' hora de sus muertos

mumble mumble

'e sua filho Jeeeeeezus.


Now, I had the delight of recognizing and misunderstanding the words in espanol. It didn't help calm me, nor did it seem to bring any miracles. Of course the supplicants were also patients in the emergency room so they had their own problems and likely weren't including me in their pleas.

After a few minutes which seemed like hours I managed to see some doctors. Each would ask me the "one to ten" question. Then he'd poke and prod a bit, look at one of the two, maybe three, EKG printouts. Then he'd go back to his cubbyhole and write an order for a test. One after the other they put me into contraptions which squealed, schreeched, binked and boinked.

Together the robotic monsters told him that I had not had a heart attack after all.

How disappointing! I still have one coming! I wonder if they'll have to come up with a new scale to measure the pain.?

The robotics and medicos diagnosed my pain as something that sounds like pericarditis -- and I have no idea how close that is to the korrect speling. This peri thing is an inflammation of the area where the sternum hooks up with the rib cage. Possibly it's caused by a virus, and I'm guessing it isn't detectable by McAfee.

The medicos increased my pill count from the one good-sized handful I'd been taking to two good sized handfuls including one to control the fibrillation which showed up in the tests. After a couple of days, and after my heart beat returned to normal I was set to go home. At three in the morning of my anticipated departure a nurse woke me with the news that my heart had gone into fibrillation again.

That meant one more day of bland food, ersatz coffee, and a continuous stream of solicitous needle pokers and blood pressure takers.

The last night I was treated to a gran fiesta without the mariachis and aye yi yi music, but with two giggling teenagers who aperiodically told my antediluvian roommate who had just been admitted: "oh grandpa you'll outlive us all."

Please pass the word I do not want to ever hear that? It's hard enough making it through this world in 80 years. Outliving those giggling girls would make it unbearable.

The fiesta commenced at 9 p.m. and ended with the last round of "you'll out live us all" at 12.30." I did not pray for him. Surely he needs to get some rest and those kids and their idiot parents who laughed at how cute they were, put they old boy through hell enough for one lifetime.

If he ever asks for my help I'll notify my grand/greatgrand relatives to come visit him. They all know enough to avoid making a grumpy "papa" even grumpier by uttering bullshit, and they are too smart to stay up until the next day with an octogenarian. Few of us are much fun!

Finally that ephemeral balance was achieved. The ol' ticker was beating normally, or within some sort of "normal range." That morning the cardiologist came in, said I was good as new and I could go home. I didn't want to complicate things by bitching about a fiesta that continued hours after visiting hours were over.

My exit wasn't as I had imagined. Surely I would walk through the lobby waving at loving doctors, nurses, and various attendants, all of whom knew my date of birth. Out the door I'd go into the waiting arms of Theresa Wright.

But, wouldn't you know it, there were more papers to be signed. These were by a woman who also wanted to know my date of birth. How long will so many retain the knowledge of that event which took place in Atwood, Indiana on 2/10/30?

Finally, with the help of Spiffy, Theresa drove me home. I'd again eluded the grim reaper and lived to tell about it.


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