“YOU PICKED ORANGE” by SSK Chapter 38
or: "Promises, Promises, My Ass"
Cast your minds back, my friends, to when Brillo Head and Gay-But-Not-Gay-Guy (GBNGG, let's use that) promised, PROMISED, that K would never have a roommate during his stay at Hellcare.
"Promise" is not a word which these people understood. I find that happens a lot here, in the Big Red State of Indiana, where their favorite thing to say when telling a story, WELL past the time they should have said it, is "To cut a long story short..." I always mutter back "Too late".
You might very well be hollering that yourselves, but I'll be as funny as I can while telling this tale.
After two weeks (or so), Kimit had been able to sit up in his wheelchair for hours, and OT was teaching him how to dress himself using several tools that helped pull on socks, or shimmy into your jeans, or dress the top half.
It came as a complete shock to me, one morning about 13 days in, when I arrived at K's room, and he was not there. The bed was empty, and the wheelchair was gone. There was no one in the room. Before my panic level ramped up to a pure D CVA of my very own, I heard him call, “Hey, Sam, I'm in here!”
He was in the bathroom, shaving. He'd gotten out of bed, on his own. He'd gotten into the wheel chair, on his own. And he wheeled himself into the bathroom, on his own.
And he was shaving. It was a terrible shave, because his right arm and hand still had minds of their own, and he could probably have sliced off an ear or stabbed himself in the bellybutton if he'd used the right arm. But he was up, in the bathroom and doing the simplest thing in the world for a man to do in the morning, aside from pee for ten minutes: shaving.
Very soon, the next day I think, Lori decided that if he could haul his carcass out of the bed and into the chair, it was time to test drive the bottom half.
She got him to the door, in his chair, then locked the wheeks, ran around so she was facing him, and said, “Stand.”
Kimit stood too. Shaking like a leaf, and turning cottage cheesy coloured again, but Lori said, “No, no, none of that. You are going to walk down this hallway and back to your room. Now.”
And he did. He did half the distance she asked for, but she let him get away with it. (Once.) He was miserable tired and sweating like the only living pig at a luau when he got back to the room, but HE WALKED!!!
Hazzah and hazoo! Lori put him back in bed, asked me to wet some towels and place them on his forehead and tummy to help stop the sweating. She was going to get the head of Physical Therapy and get my boy on the list for the gym. She was back in two minutes, with that self same head of PT with her: The little tiny Filipino gay-but-not-gay fella. I couldn't understand why he had come back to the room, when Lori just wanted to get him on the gym roster, but all became clear when the little shit pinched Kimit's toes and thigh and said, “See? He not feel this leg, this leg is dead, he never walk again.”
This time? I wasn't fast enough to chase that lilliputian asshole out of the room: Lori did it first, following him and saying (loudly, for Lori; she was not a shouter or a geshrier. She was kind of Professor McGonnagal: she wielded power by her very presence), "I just had him UP and walking!" But, the head of PT fled, and Lori said, to us. “I'll get you on the list for tomorrow, so be prepared.” When I looked at the doorway through which the lilliputian asshole had vamoosed, Lori made a “phhthh” noise and said, “He's an idiot. I'll get it all in order for tomorrow, don't worry.” And I didn't. Until the next day.
Brillo Head and GBNGG popped in to tell us:
Kimit was getting a roommate.
I found myself going from ecstasy over K's moving to PT, to full umbrage, and started to remind Brillo Head that she and GBNGG (think about it) that they had PROMISED us that K would never have a roommate, never ever.
Brillo Head wrung her hands and, ignoring what I'd said about their “promise” said, “We need you to move your things on this bureau (the one we were NEVER supposed to not use because they PROMISED him he would never have a roommate, have I made that clear enough yet?) and back onto his.” She picked up some of his clothes, and moved them to K's side bureau. I was now nearly non plus ultra: I could make “Chhhhhh???” noises. That was about it. I noted that GBNGG was also rushing back and forth with Kimit's things, from the other burear to K's side.
And why were they moving so fast? Kimit was not just getting a roommate:
He was getting a roommate right the fuck now. As in, NOW.
“Bill” was a 68 year old man, wheeled in on a gurney pushed by two of the biggest EMT's I have ever seen (of the male gender; LA grows larger female EMT's for some reason), followed by his daughter (think: dumber than the banjo in “Deliverance” with bad hair and a look like a whipped animal) carrying two suitcases and a box of shit the new guy didn't need in a hospital room. While the daughter began stuffing his crap into the other bureau in the room, and HIS nurse, with the help of Perv, was moving Bill from burney to bed and tucking him in, Brillo Head and GBNGG were doing their damndest to tell me that “things have changed and we have no other rooms (in a 300 bed facility) but Kimit's to put this man into.”
Now, what happened to this poor man was chillingly hideous: he had slipped in his tub, and was not found for more than TWO days. I can't even imagine. This left him with “pressure wounds” on his back side and right flank. They had to be debrided (cleaned and redressed) daily, with much attendant shrieking and screaming from Bill, which I do not in any way fault him for; debriding is painful. (Hang onto that schedule of debridement for a mo.)
I closed K's privacy curtain, looked at him and said, “Whattya know, they lied about no roommate! What a fucking surprise!”
GBNGG popped his head around the curtain, and shushed us. HE SHUSHED US. We glared at him and guess who else showed up? Cambrian Hawk Woman. I said, “You are a bunch of lying miskaits (phonetic Hebrew for “monster”) who VOWED that Kimit would have NO roommate EVER!!” He blinked at me. I waved him off, saying “I want an Administrator in here NOW.” He vanished, I presumed to get an Admin type.
Meanwhile, after the daughter brought his accoutrements in, it got even better: More family showed up! Seven of them. With coolers full of food and BEER. They dragged chairs out of other patient's rooms, without permission, stuffed them into our room and sat their asses down, and proceeded to drink, burp, fart, and speak, at the top of their lungs, in a language that I think was invented by illiterate ancient Celts. It was like an Irish picnic.
We turned up the sound on our TV; they just upped the level of their “conversation” (which, by the way, from what I could understand, did not include the patient or his condition or his feelings).
And then: not only did they get on my last nerve that day? They ran over it with a Hummer, backed up and ran it over again:
The bathroom was in our half of the room. And the biggest, most mulish of the “Family” shoved the privacy curtain aside, walked into the bathroom, and, WITHOUT closing the door, whipped it out and pissed.
He almost made all the urine go in the toilet, clap hands, but by the time he was ready for the two shakes and a haircut, I whammed the door open all the way, and told this man, while wearing CHW face, that if he ever EVER EVER used this bathroom again without closing the door? I'd make sure he'd pee sitting down for the rest of his miserable life.
I wanted an Admin person, now, so I would have to find one myself.
I whipped open our curtain, and saw the cast of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” sitting there. And completely blocking ingress or egress.
So, I did the only thing I could: I crossed from K's bed, to the hallway door, by jumping up on the chairs, and walking on the people IN the chairs. There was a lot of squawking and hissing, but I think you already know I didn't give a shit.
At the station I got a tad lucky: Lori wasn't there that day, it was the other nurse's shift (whom I will call Other Nurse: ON) but she was right there. She took one look at me, and tipped her head to one side, like the RCA dog..
“Is there anything wrong?” she asked. I nodded my head, slowly, and said, gripping the counter so hard my nails were embedding themselves in the laminate, “There is a new patient in my husband's room. We were promised that he would never have a roommate for his entire stay here. We were promised that.” ON just looked even more confused.
That's when Brillo Head showed back up, presumably reprenting the “Administration”. She said, in a sing-songy voice, “Oh, Mrs. Muston, we all have to make do around here, you know, and this gentleman was transf....”
Cambrian Hawk Woman stilled her tongue. Actually, CHW wanted to rip her tongue out by the root and strangle this lying, simpering bitch.
I leaned just slightly towards her, and said, “It's disgusting enough that you out and out lied about Kimit never having a roommate. That 'promise' you made? I'll send you a dictionary so you can look it up. But right now, that 'promise' has now been broken."
She responded by repeating what she'd just said.
I leaned even closer. She finally looked worried.
I said, “Boy howdy, you are in for it now: this new guy's his family followed him, and they are currently in that room, violating at least four JCAH codes, what with the drinking of beer, peeing and not closing the door (only patients were, supposedly, allowed to use the in-room bathroom) but mostly with the chairs they stole from other rooms and now K's room is a health hazard (when hospital staff have to move, and move fast, they can't have things in the hallway [or morons packed into a room] to get in their way) and I'm giving you guys ten minutes to get them the hell out of there or I start calling organizations that will do very bad things to the finances of this place. If, of course, they don't shut it down completely. Handle it, or I press charges. Ten minutes. TEN!”
And.... I wasn't quiet! Apparently there is a stage of fury inside of me that bypasses the “quiet rage” and launches me straight past that into bellowing and hollering and screaming, right out there in the middle of everybody!
I mean, I know I can yell, and holler, and scream. (Those kinds of fight are nearly always between the hubs and me, e.g. when we'd been together only two years we had an epic shouting match in our kitchen, in Hollywood. No, I have absolutely no memory of what the fight was about, but it was a wall-shaker. I decided to make a dramatic statement by throwing my tea mug to the floor in an explosion of ceramic shards.
Except, the mug didn't break. It bounced. And K and I began to giggle about that, and soon climbed past laughter, and guffaws and ended the argument in full blown, stomach grabbing, breath-stopping hilarity. The point? I suppose it's how to make a relationship work: scream, yell, fight, argue [but don't fight dirty- no 'you're fat!' or 'I saw you looking at the woman at Robin's party!” or “You smell like fresh cow shit!”] and when you're done, throw a bouncy ceramic mug and laugh until you can't stand up anymore. Without laughter we are doomed.)
Brillo Head moved, and I mean moved. She went straight to Kimit's room, and within about a minute, and much shouting by Bill's “family” that it was their “right” to be there, they were leaving. Brillo Head and Portia moved the chairs the “Family” had swiped from other rooms, and things were finally back to normal.
Well, normal until Bill began to stink like an open sewer, and the maggots showed up.