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                         “YOU PICKED ORANGE” Chapters 11.2, 12 and Possibly 12.1
                    by SSK
                  “A few words about 'The Family'”

I'm gonna haul back a year or less, and explain (for those who haven't caught onto the GIGANTIC hints) that K's family is... nutso bananas. I will also try to squeeze in Chapters 12 and 12.1: it's been a rough week.

And you know what's almost worse than people who are nutso bananas? People who are nutso bananas  and also think they're funny. Let me illustrate (although this chapter has been a while coming, it might help  you understand why sharp implements or guns with the serial number filed off and a print-proof grip were on my mind. For a while, even before the stroke):

K and I had  been together in Los Angeles over 22 years when we went broke. Busted. Casse. No mas dinero.

BUT!!! Suddenly, the property values in the Los Angeles area skyrocketed. Because of my intense back pain (and other fun, debilitating problems, like brushing my hair or breathing) I wasn't able to work much anymore, and although Kimit had a standing Sunday column in the local paper, we were still sinking ever more rapidly under the weight of our upside down mortgage: too many aphorisms, I know, but true nonethelss. Ergo, we decided to move. Kimit had had an offer from USA Today, to be a permanent columnist, so we began looking for homes in the mid-east part of Florida, in a place called Melbourne.

Then, Hurricane “Ha ha, I Gotcha!” came in and wiped Melbourne off the map.

I felt terrible for those who lost so much, but, if you haven't noticed yet, I'm a selfish bitch and my pity lasted a nasttily short time, and I began to make it  into a pity party for us.

Then, K's sister... Martha.... somehow came into the picture. She demanded that if we were going to move, it would be to her and Kimit's home town. We were to stay with her (that freaked me out so much I came this close to getting a divorce lawyer; turns out it might have been a good idea) until we found a house of our own. This was The Word of Martha, from On High.

The process of finding a house? Took exactly three months and 9 days too long.

However, here's what this family thought would be funny: poke the Jew.  They were fascinated by me, what with being a Hebe, a Hook-nose, a Red-Sea Pedestrian (thanks, Monty Python). I was a rare, odd bird to them, but golly and b'gosh, didn't stop them from trying to throw rocks at me.

At least (thanks for your patience; I promise more 'Poke the Jew tales along the trail) here's an (AN) example of  what Kimit's family thought amusing. One of K's Aunts, “Clara”, had tried to die when we'd been in our new town only 3 weeks, but she didn't so they put her in a nursing home. In December. That December, turns out, was one of the mildest on record, but it didn't stop Claras's son, "Randy", one of K's cousins, from trying to, well, throw rocks at  me when we were visitiing Clara at her nursing home.

When there were about 9 people visitin', I saw “Randy” and Martha conspiring in the hallway, and though I knew something was coming, I didn't know what. So, I waited.

About three minutes later: Randy and Martha saunter back into the room, and Randy walks up to me. He is grinning in a way that could only be a written visual:  “Ga-HAAAAAAAAA!!” (Weird, but it suits.)

Randy says, whilst giving what he thought was a sly look around at all the other relatives, “Hey, Sam, you're from Ellay (yes, he really thought it was spelled that way). They ain't got no weather out there. So whatcha gonna do if a blizzard comes?”

Randy put on his best “Sunday go to meetin' Shit eating grin” and awaited my response. I looked around the room, then back at Randy. That man thought he had me boxed and shipped, until I said:

“I take it staying inside isn't an option?”

Now, imagine an entire congregation opening a door in the Apse to find Sister Beatrice and Father Marty going at it like Irish bunnies. (I apologize to any and all Irish Bunnies I have offended.)

                                  “YOU PICKED ORANGE”: CHAPTER 12
                            by SSK
                  “And Now, A  Breath”

I must insert something that, in rereading these pages, I find shockingly lacking: my gratitude to all of the MD's, RN's, PT's, OT's, housekeeping, nursing assistant, ward clerk staff and that one guy in the cafeteria that I think I nailed with some Zesty Ranch.

 And there is one other person, who you will not meet until we get through a few more hospital floors, and my seemingly endless battles with the rules, the laws and the PTB's at all of these facilities, quite literally saved me.

She did an amazing job with Kimit, but she realized that I, too, was a patient, needed comfort and care, and a true advocate to help me get through all of this insanity.,Lori. You know who you are. I can see you blushing from here, gal young un.

All the rest: those who didn't laugh or talk about  me behind my back (I have the hearing of a bat, so I knew. I really did.), or didn't roll their eyes when Kimit yawned and his right arm actually moved so far that he could have scratched his own chin, claiming  this was only “reflexive behaviour” and seeming to take a truly perverse pleasure in  trying to snatch that hope from me, and especially the ones who didn't shake their heads in pity when I told them that Kimit was answering me when I asked the crossword clues-

I am pausing, grabbing a quick breath, to Thank You from the bottom of our hearts.

And... onward. Or, really, upward. To hell. The first one.

                     “YOU PICKED ORANGE”
                                              CHAPTER 12.1
                                 by SSK
                      or: “Milk: It Does A Stroke Patient Good

Day Three in the ICU. That was the day I saw, amongst the herd of family, one woman who I was actually thrilled to see. She was Kimit's cousin, Lisa (real name; great lady, so why not?) and she was........ a REGISTERED NURSE!! Her SPECIALTY was brain injuries!!

Day three was also going to be extremely hectic, as now, adding onto getting K to his feet, walking him around like a marionette and bathing him  (all 6'4", 340 pounds of him) they told me we were going to be doing a "swallow" test (to be administered by a member of their Dietician Squad). Swallow test: exactly what it states. It would tell us: can he chew, can he swallow (without them having to do a splash and cut thoracotomy).

I met Lisa, her mom 'Clara', more relatives and, yes, Martha (who had been told she was not to return to visit Kimit without at least one relative with her and the RN's would be giving her the thrice over hairy eyeball the entire time she was there) just before the swallow test. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see Lisa. A family member with a brain.

They sat the boy up in bed, then swung the legs over. They offered him a cracker. He tried to take it with his right hand. Oops. That hand was out of commission still. So the nurse put the cracker in his mouth. He chewed. And then, with my ass cheeks squeezed together I could have pooped emeralds, he SWALLOWED. No choking or gagging or attempting to perish, chas v'chalilah.

They did it once more, to be sure. He passed. I nearly passed out.

And then... for the first time in 3 days... he spoke.

And I don't mean "gingle fnarben maxallipop dorskarpf". He had lain back down in bed, and the second his head hit the pillow, he said, as clearly as I had heard that guy in the back of the theatre in "A Chorus Line", "I want some milk, please."

Milk??? A) I'd never seen this man drink plain milk in the 22 years I'd known him and B) But MILK!!!!!!!

Lisa and I were hopping, hands clenched together, like overexcited bunnies. The RN's, and the dietician were, oddly, confused. They just stared at either Kimit or me and Lisa. Kimit said it again. "I would like some milk, please." More staring. He started staring back. No, not staring. Glaring.

Then he said a phrase I will never, never forget, and it gave me hope and bravery and certainty and the power to say "This is what will be done" for my husband, and you will do it or I will get VERY angry": he said, glowering like a stormy day in Scotland, "Are you all so incompetent that you can't get me a cool, clean glass of milk? What the hell is wrong with you people!? I am THIRSTY!! GET ME SOME MILK!!"

Lisa and I were still hopping around, gleefully doing little wavy cheers. The dietician said, "He can have PO water (PO= 'by mouth')", she signed her little paper affirming his ability to chew and swallow and demand dairy products, and she was gone.


{{{{{{{{{MILK!! It does a stroke patient good!!}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Once he was stabilized, they'd send him to  another floor, what they call in the Biz a “Step-down” unit which means, in the land of those who actually have insurance, that really meant “once the patient is stabilized”; in my brand new skeery as all get out world, “Step-down” for my husband  and me  meant  “Get rid of him as soon as possible so we can give his cubicle to 1) A person with insurance that we can shamelessly bilk of money and B) A patient without a wife who knows their rights under non-profit health care facilities.

I had to whip that little gem of knowledge out A LOT. “Elder care” (altho he was only 50) and knowing the 800 number to the Joint Commission for Accredited Healthcare (JCAH), and threatening to call them on nearly a weekly basis? Even without money, once those vipers in suits who run these joints knew I, well, knew that, they treat  you like an almost human person.

 And they treat  you that way because now they're scared of you. When you know your rights, in any situation, but especially the medical field, yeah. They don't wanba rock your cradle too hard.

See you  in Chapter 13, unless Chapter 12.1 comes up. (It could! I'm a moron with poor computer skills, I freely admit, and the notes I've got on this deal look like a ticker tape parade was held on my desk, but the memory? Sometimes I jam stuff in this tale in a sideways kind of way [thus the invention of Chapters 10.2 etc], but no lie: 90% iof this is true true true.)

In fact, I might make the “step-down floor” they sent him to right after the ICU an extremely short chapter, because I get nauseated just thinking about it.

However, it was memorable in my favorite way: can you guess? Go on. Try. Guess!

That's right! I threatened to kill a doctor if they had sent him straight from step-down to Hellcare, because that's what they were trying to do.

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