Friday, December 22, 2006

"He Denies Pain"


When my father went into the emergency room the other night, the EMT told the head nurse of my father's condition adding that "he denies pain."

I thought that this was an unusual expression. They didn't say my father wasn't having any pain; just that he denied having pain.

It sounded like they way trying to avoid any kind of legal problem should it turn out my father--or anybody else--actually was in pain.

It makes me think of Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crows, or a suspect in an old black and white crime movie denying a murder rap.

That phrase came back to me today, my father's first full day after being discharged from the hospital. I'm trying to deny a whole lot of pain, but the pain is not denying me.

First, I went to the hospital yesterday to pick up my dad. When I got there Mary, his aide, tells me that my father doesn't have his dentures and nobody at this pig sty masquerading as hospital knows where they are.

I found this particularly infuriating because the emergency room doctor insisted that my father have his dentures when he was admitted into the hospital. I had to call Edith, our night aide, to bring my father's dentures down to the ER at 5 am, along with his meds.

Edith is so on top of things that she had the teeth in a plastic bag that had a label with my father's name and address attached to it. Fool-proof, right? Not exactly.

I had a bad feeling when I put the bag down on the night table in my father's cubicle. I was concerned that would get lost if some numb nuts attendant took my dad to his room without looking for his teeth.

It turns out I was right, proving yet again that you should always follow your instincts. Nobody on the fourth floor knew anything about my father's teeth and the social worker suggested I could do to the ER and look.

Golly, I was pissed. I went down to the ER, which was packed with the sick and the injured, and I could barely recognize the place. I had to just about tackle someone to get some attention and one woman, who I assume was the head nurse, did make an effort to find out what had happened.

While I was waiting, I looked at the patient moniter that listed the names and conditions of the people around me. Next to one name was the phrase "Shortness of Breath" and below that the condition had been cut down to "SOB."

One patient was suffering from "Altered State of Mine" and I was thinking I should pull up a cubicle and stay for a while.

Naturally, they didn't find anything in the ER--the place is just bursting with activity, so a small plastic package doesn't have much chance. I went to see the idiot in Patient Relations and got nowhere. I walked out saying this would not go away.

This morning I called the hospital CEO demanding action. She wasn't there, but I figured I rattled a few cages because I heard from someone else in Patient Relations. I spoke politely to her and she seemed on top of things, so I felt a little better.

That was a mistake. After rushing around to the gym and a few other places, I came home to find a pair of bulky letters addressed to my father and sister.

I opened up one of them and found that the mother of my upstairs tenant was suing us because the fat sow fell down on our property back in April 2005.

I was livid. This old skank fainted on our front stoop when she had a bad reaction to her diabetes medication. As she fell, she grabbed a wooden post on our garden fence, which broke under considerable weight.

Her ambulance-chaser tried to shake us down before with some kind of legal notice, but our insurance company told them to fuck off. And we thought that was the end of it.

Happy Holidays

I should mention here that this case cropped up the other night at the hospital. As I was telling the nurses how my father fell down in his bedroom, he had to put his two cents.

"I didn't fall down," he said. "My tenant fell down. I was helping her up."

I chalked that comment up to dementia, but now I'm wondering if my father might have acquired some kind of second sight. If so, I hope he can pick the winning lottery number.

I have been cursing so much over the last two days I sound like bag lady screaming at the pigeons in Central Park. This kind of bullshit always hits the fan right around Christmas, like Dec. 25 is some kind of hexed date rather than a big holiday.

Everything makes me angry now. I never heard from the hospital so I went to the MOMA in Manhattan for a date with a young woman I met online.

I was riding on the R train and there was a bunch of loud, stupid high schoolers in my car, which ticked me off more than usual. I looked over and saw this elderly woman--I think she was Russian--sitting with a young girl I took to be the woman's granddaughter.

The girl had on her head on the old lady's shoulder in this simple but meaningful expression of love and they provided a sharp contrast to the rowdy pigs around us.

"Let's get away from here," one of these classy young ladies said, "it smells like a fucking stinky vagina."

Yes, and it's probably yours, you little whore. I told you I was in a bad mood, right?

While crossing the bridge on the D train, my cell phone goes off and I find the hospital woman has left me and message and she's leaving in 15 minutes and she really hopes I'll call back before then because she wants to ask me something.

Needless to say, I missed that deadline and now I won't be able to reach her until next Tuesday. Same thing with our insurance company. It was just getting better.

My date called me to say she was running a few minutes late, which turned out to be close to 30 minutes. She finally showed up and in we go.

Of course the "date" sucked, as I could barely get two words out of this woman. I think age was a factor, since she's much younger than I, but then why the hell did she agree to this? I could have gone to the museum alone for the company she provided.

We went our separate ways at the corner of 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue. It was raining like a bastard, but I didn't feel like going home--still angry.

I went down to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and finally caught "Babel," a movie I've trying to see for a while. It was very intense and it did take some of the edge off the day. Some, but not all.

So now all this crap that's been on my neck will be going on through Christmas. I'm on vacation during the week and it looks I'll be spending talking to lawyers, hospital bureaucrats, and somebody who knows how to write up an eviction notice.

I'm denying the pain, I really am. But that doesn't seem to help, so I guess I'll have to alter my state of mind.

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