My first diary. I was saving this story for a special occasion like Halloween but now I'm not. Yes it's a bit long but it's easy reading and hopefully entertaining. So get your coffee or tea or bourbon or other feel good things, sit back and I'll tell you a tale.
There are times I use proper names. They are fake names for real people and, there are those words in here.
Also some of these tags may not seem appropriate a first but after you read the whole thing it will be clear. If I do miss-tag something I apologize.
The day started out fine
It's a beautiful Saturday night. I'm not going to waste it sitting in my apartment. I'm going to get my sketch book and pencils and go down to Mill Ave. Have dinner a few beers and draw for a while, pretty soon it will be to hot to do anything outside. I got off the bus and wondered down Mill Ave. heading North. I don't know where I'm going but I'll know it when I see it. God it's a gorgeous night. Maybe later, before I go home I'll stop at Zia and see if they have a good movie to buy. I want Quiz Show. ...Toby will you go upstairs and tell Gene Krupa to FUCK!
Down I went. Oh my God. I've got to try to get up. I can't move. As I fell I tried to save myself and I really wrenched my ankle. Something is terribly wrong. I could feel something was twisted or torn. I can't move.
"Are you Ok?" Two people stopped to help me. "I was just walking along and I tripped on an uneven part of the sidewalk. See right there."
The sidewalk down Mill Ave in Tempe, for those of you that don't know is not a standard sidewalk. It's brick, sort of herringboned. And I tripped on a section of bricks that have become uneven due to I don't know.
"I'll go find a policeman that can help you." "Thank you," I said. By this time other people stopped by to say hello and offered to help. A young girl said, "Look I'll go into this McDonald's and get some ice." "Thank you," I said. She came back with a small cup of ice.
Even in that short span of time my right foot turned into a small football. I'll tell you so you know I'm 5'11" and wear size 12AA shoe. It's a long way down and more foot to get hurt.
So naturally I started to eat the ice. Now by this time a police woman came by. I told her the story. She looked into my eyes to make sure I wasn't stoned out of my mind and called the Fire Dept.
"Oh I don't think that's necessary, I don't need all that fuss, my life isn't in danger. Can't you just call an ambulance?" I can't remember how she responded but she called the Fire Dept. Maybe because this happened on the city street. I don't know. "Well can't you tell them to send that miniature fire truck that looks like a big U-Haul?" Shortly I heard them coming. "Oh no, they didn't have to do the lights and sirens, I'm not dying."
"Oh they love to do that. It's no problem. They do that when they go to lunch." said the police woman.
After examining me they decided to call an ambulance to take met to St. Luke's Hospital on Mill Ave. I told one of the para-medics I hope my foot isn't broken because the last time I went there for a fracture they gave me a third degree burn when they applied a cast.
I can't remember what he said about that.
Well my foot wasn't broken I had a very bad sprain. Very bad. They released me though without any crutches I really didn't know how I was going to get into my apartment.
My sister picked me up from the hospital and I asked her if she would take me to get something to eat before she took me home.
"Well what happened," she asked me.
"I was walking down Mill Ave and I stepped on uneven bricks in the sidewalk and I tried to correct myself and couldn't and down I went. But one of the para-medics pissed me off. He started getting on me about how much I weigh, saying stuff like how I should exercise and maybe things like this won't happen."
"What," she said.
"He started lecturing me about how I should exercise more and be on a diet so I let him have it."
"Wait listen," I told him. "I recently had a hysterectomy. Before I had the hysterectomy I was slim and trim even with being less active because I had periods that would last for weeks. So I get my hysterectomy and almost immediately gain 40lbs. And I asked my doctor what's going on?" And he said, "you're not eating right, you're not getting enough exercise."
"Oh 10 minutes ago (before I had my hysterectomy) you had no problems with my diet what so ever, you never suggested I should exercise more. In fact I was complimented at this office for how great I looked and I must be taking care of my self. And before I had my hysterectomy I could barely move from one room to the other and since I've had it I got a job. Not only that I have to get up 2 hours earlier for because my job at a cafe was not across the street and I have no car so I need to take a bus. Work 8 hours, sometimes longer then get home later than anybody else." "And I'm eating much less than I did before, I've cut my calorie intake almost by half. Now all of a sudden you have problems with my diet and exercising."
"But you should..." interrupted the para-medic.
"Wait let me finish." I said. "My doctor still insisted, "You may think you work hard and use a lot of calories at that job but in actuality you don't."
"Look," I said. "I don't know what you think goes on in terms of working at a cafe but I'm on my feet all day save for 2 ten minute breaks and a half hour for lunch."
"I still don't think you're using enough calories." "Isn't it nice to have a doctor that tells you you're a lazy fat slob to your face and you have the pay stubs to prove him wrong."
"So please do me a favor. If you still insist I'm still the bad guy I dare you the next time you go out to eat, call one of the employees over and tell them they are lazy fat slobs who need to go on a diet and get more exercise."
"Nobody is helping me," I told him. "I really laid into him. The fucking prick."
"Good, geez what a jerk usually they want you to be as calm as possible not provoking you into a fight. I can't believe that,"
"Well his colleague in the ambulance made him knock it off because I was getting upset."
"Well nothing is open around here," my sister said.
"Would you mind just taking me home and making me a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich?"
"I could do that."
"Wait, could you stop here and grab me a bag of ice, do you have any crutches?"
"No, I can't believe they sent you home without any crutches. I don't know how you are going to get in your apartment."
"Could you possibly go by the drug store and get me a cane tomorrow?"
My sister pulled up to a parking space and I sat and thought about how I was going to get in the door. "This will be a challenge."
"Ok, here's my key go in the closet in the living room and get my mop."
She came back and said, "we can do this, I had to help Rick walk when he got drunk once. I literally had to help him put one foot in front of the other."
Now, you may or may not know I'm a huge Chaplin fan, what happened next could easily be a scene in any Chaplin movie. I was trying to hobble along using a mop as a crutch on one side of me and my sister on the other side holding me up trying to move me forward. And with every step,
it hurts. "You can do it, come on."
"Ouch, it hurts."
"It's not that far."
"Ouch, it hurts so bad."
"You're doing good."
"We're almost there."
Now, where is everyone I thought? Usually on a weekend night there are people standing around outside talking and drinking beer, tonight nothing. It's like when you are trying to quit smoking and you just want one cigarette. That One cigarette will get you through the night and no one is around, for miles. And you break down and buy a pack, then all of a sudden smokers are crawling out of the woodwork. There are people gathered around your door just waiting to come over and smoke cigarettes with you.
"At least the door is open."
We made it. I got to a chair. I had a wonderful chair for this occasion. I wanted to get rid of it, luckily I didn't. It was one of those electric reclining chairs made for people that have trouble getting out of chairs.
My sister helped me get situated, put an ice bag on my foot and made me a sandwich. I ate my dinner and took a wonderful pain pill. Then I fell asleep watching Pick Up On South Street in my electric reclining chair. For people who have trouble getting out of chairs.
I've never sprained my ankle before but I know this is no ordinary sprain. When I went to my primary doctor he said it might take close to a year to heal. It took longer. My foot was swollen for months.
If you have ever been in this situation you know the highlight of your day is making it to the bathroom, brushing your teeth and washing your face without falling down. For the first few weeks I just gave myself sponge bathes not daring to take a shower. I live alone so there was no one to help me with such matters. My friends and family would come by with food and bring me my mail and bags of ice. So your life is sleeping and watching TV and doing bathroom things, taking pain pills, keeping your foot elevated, eating, and having a great sense of accomplishment and pride because you don't injure yourself more. Some time later when I could concentrate on something other than pain I stared to draw again in earnest. There wasn't anything I could do but sit and heal.
Every once in a while a friend of mine who lives close by would bring some take out from somewhere and we would eat and watch a movie.
"Oh that would be great if you could come over. I'm getting kind of stir crazy. Yeah pizza and a salad sounds good. I borrowed Kelly's Heroes from my dad, have you ever seen it?"
"I've seen parts of it I think. Isn't that the one that takes place on a train, everyone is trying to get on a train? My friend said.
"No, it doesn't take place on a train, there's no train. I, don't know what movie you're thinking of but Kelly's Heroes has nothing to do with trains."
"Good I probably haven't seen it."
Trains? I thought.
"Hey when you come over maybe you could help me, I'm having trouble figuring out how to do skin tones with colored pencils. Could you help me?"
"Oh how about 7 or 7:30?"
"That sounds good."
"See you then."
Now I have to stop the story right here and tell you a little something about my friend. He is a very old friend of mine. He's an artist and one of those people that have a million friends. He has a masters in oil painting. His technical skills are genius level. And he's the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back.
But he has his quirks. Maybe because of his background, he is first generation American. He taught himself a lot about everything on his own. He's the kind of guy that is sort of cloistered in his world of art and books and music and every once in a while sort of pops his head out to see what's going on in the real world. As a consequence, on certain aspects of life, he is on the last chapter of the book thinking he's on chapter 1. When he discovers somethings, it's like it's brand new information no one else knows about. And because he is not schooled so well in history and colloquialisms he can fall victim to unscrupulous characters with hidden agendas.
Here's two examples:
One night were on our way to see a movie but first grab a bite to eat at an Irish Pub, on Mill Ave. He was talking about crooks and frauds, I think. I must admit sometimes I half listen to him when he prattles on. The topic of his scorn that night were televangelists. And how they were all frauds and all they care about is money.
"They go on TV and they are pretending to give Gods message and in the end all they care about is money. They are frauds and it's all about money." He said. And he was adamant and emphatic and getting himself all worked up into a lather about this and he was in his 30's.
I said, "Well Marco, everybody knows this. This is not new."
He said, "Well I didn't know that."
His parents were born in Italy so he was brought up Catholic but he then became a Born Again Christian. When he first made the complete change over he became annoying. Every word out of his mouth was a quote from the Bible. And I didn't talk to him for a while because of it. Then he knocked it off.
But he's not a rightie. In fact he is left of me on some things.
We had a disagreement over that guy who took a starving stray dog and put it in a gallery. He said it was art, but bad art. I said it was not art. I said it was social commentary, and bad social commentary.
Anyway he listens to talk radio. But the talk radio that comes on late at night. where they talk about aliens, numerology and the dangers of living under high tension wires. Things like that.
One night we were in the car driving to get a coffee from our favorite coffee shop
and he was going on about banking and WW2.
Like I say sometimes I don't listen to exactly everything he says and my foot was still swollen and I was still on pain pills.
He went on to talk about underlying causes of WW2 and banking and what when on during WW1. A couple times he used the term "Secret Private Bankers" yada, yada yada. After the third time he said that I sort of woke up.
I said,"Wait, what are you talking about "Secret Private Bankers?"
"Yes, during WW1 there was this group of people that were banded together and they controlled everything, they were "Secret Private Bankers."
I said, "Marco "Secret Private Bankers" is Nazi code for Jews."
"I didn't know that."
"Whenever you you hear words like that you either have been listening to, or will be listening to anti-Semitic claptrap."
"I never knew that."
"Now you do."
I told that story to another friend of mine and she couldn't believe it. She said that Secret Private Bankers would be a good name for a rock band.
Anyway I just thought you would get a kick out that little vignette. Also we hear so much about the harmful antics of people who self-identify themselves as Born Again Christians. He lives to cause harm to no one, he's kind and generous and doesn't go running around with racist misspelled signs, he would never own a gun, And has a sense of humor. He loves science, real science not right-wing fantasy science. And he can do a great imitation of a policeman on a radio. He's one of the good guys.
But just imagine someone who knows who Odd Nerdrum is but doesn't know televangelists are frauds that only care about money.
So, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, well, since this sprained ankle incident I had some extra free time on my hands. When I was at my parents house I played around on the computer. I didn't have one at the time. I wanted to find out if the Led Zeppelin reunion concert for Ahmet Ertegun was going to be available on DVD. So I went to the Led Zeppelin web site and poked around in there. I saw the entry: Led Zeppelin movie.
Ah that's it.
No it wasn't.
This, was a thread about the pros and cons of a biopic. I saw more than a few comments about how it wouldn't be any good unless the members of Led Zeppelin were in it. The ridiculousness of having 60 year old men playing 20 year olds were lost on some people. I put in my two cents about the idea. Still, comments kept coming about how the members would have to be in it. So instead of arguing I came up with a story (it's not finished) about how Jimmy, John, and Robert go back in time and kidnap themselves so they could be in this movie.
Well I was on pain pills and there wasn't anything else to do. You can't draw all day long without taking a break.
Would you like to read chapter 1?
I don't know, it's not really relevant. I already put in all that irrelevant stuff about Marco. They are waiting for me to get to a point. I have to still talk about the dentist which is why I'm doing this.
The dentist stuff can wait, anyway how are diaries about cats and dogs and favorite songs with the word baby in it relevant?
I know but...
Marco liked it, and so did your old guitar teacher. It's Friday, time to let your hair down. It's been a hard week around here. People want a chuckle.
Aright, Ok but what if I write It and people don't like it?
What if they say I'm no good?
What if they say get out of here lady you've got no future?
I mean just don't think I could take that kind of rejection.
Wait. That's what I'll use the poll for. I'll let the people decide.
Is It Safe
So there I was in my apartment with my swollen foot, and my ice, and my cane, and my Led Zeppelin story and my drawings and my discovery of the BBC show Monarch of the Glen. I was having as much fun as one could, having to keep your foot elevated at all times and still in pain.
Well... you know those times when you feel like your getting a cold. Your whole head hurts and you think it's all over your body, you go to bed that night and when you wake up you discover that the pain is just concentrated in your head and you think you've caught a cold, and for a day you treat it as a head cold, and the next day when you wake up the pain has centralized on one tooth and you discover it's a tooth ache?
Well that happened to me during this time.
And you know those times when you have an ongoing pain in one part of your body then you get a tooth ache, and it's summer in Arizona, you get to a state where you have absolutely no interest what so ever in what's going on in the real world?
That happened to me too.
And you know when all these things converge at once and you have to get to the dentist the next day and no one is available to take you so you have to take the bus to the dentist's office and by the time you get there your foot not only is throbbing but has swollen back up to the size it was right after you sprained it?
That happened to me as well.
So, it's a billion degrees outside and I had never seen this dentist before. I checked in, and they gave me that clipboard with that form they want you to fill out about your life...
but, now this is the important part.
Surgery's: Aortic Heart Valve Replacement- St. Jude Valve
Aortic Artery Repair
The thing to remember here is warfarin is a blood thinner as some of you may know. If you have to take it they tell you do not take aspirin or any Ibuprofen products because they also are blood thinners.
The doctor took an X-Ray and examined me and said, "That Wisdom tooth needs to be pulled. It's decayed. I'm going to give you a prescription for an antibiotic and one for pain."
And that was about it. I got up off the chair and went to check out. As I was standing there I asked them to please call the prescriptions in since I had to take a bus. She said, "Yes."
So there I am at Wallgreen's, finally. I was casually talking to the friendly clerk since I was inside obviously. She said, "Here's your antibiotic, and I'll get you your Motrin."
"Motrin?" I asked, "Isn't that Ibuprofen?"
"Yes, this is prescription strength."
"I'm not supposed to have that I'm on Warfarin."
She looked me up and there I was "red tagged" not to get any ibuprofen products.
Then she asked my to verify my birthday. I did.
"Well that's the birthday we have for you but they put down the wrong birthday otherwise we would never have filled it out and we would have called the doctor back to change it."
"Now it's too late." she said. "You'll have to call your doctor tomorrow and they should change it for you."
"Well thanks I guess."
I took my antibiotic and left.
Now when I finally got home I took one of the pain pills I had left from my foot. I only had three left, I was carefully squirreling them away in case of an emergency or when the pain was just too intolerable.
I filled a huge glass of ice water, grabbed a bag of ice for my foot, put on a Dick Van Dyke Show DVD, took my pill and fell asleep. I was pissed off I had to deal with this the next day and it was Friday to boot. If you can't get a doctor to help you on Friday you're fucked.
I woke up made my coffee. This isn't such a big deal they have to help me. Just call in a new prescription what's the problem. I called.
"I was in your office yesterday, my name is I'm Annoyed With you.
The doctor gave me a prescription for Motrin, but I can't have it I'm on warfarin. Could you please give my a different prescription. I usually get Tylenol 3."
"No we can't we don't know you if you need something for pain you'll have to get it from the surgeon who is going to pull your tooth. Good day."
"What?" "I was just in there yesterday. You can look at your records, can't you just remedy this mistake?"
"You'll have to get your pill from another doctor."
"No doctor is going to give a prescription over the phone for anybody, especially someone they haven't seen
"Well we can't help you. I said Good day."
She was that dismissive and curt. I could not believe it. Now I was fuming. But I still had to make an appointment with an oral surgeon to get the tooth pulled. So I did that. I told the receptionist the science fiction story the dentist's office told me. She apologized because she couldn't do anything. I said, "I know."
I called the dentist's office back after that hoping I would get someone competent. Ha! I did get someone different. she said she would have to ask the doctor later if there was anything they could do. but it would be later on in the afternoon.
Oh fine. I have to sit here in pain on a Friday afternoon hoping this dentist's office will come down off their hit of windowpane they took and help me.
By this time my mom came by to check up on me. I told her the story and she suggested I go with her shopping to get my mind of things. I'm glad I did because while she was in the library getting a book it occurred to me to go to my primary care doctor. And if I still didn't get any help there I was prepared to go to the emergency room and get everybody in trouble.
I went in and relayed to the receptionist the drug induced Twilight Zone episode my dentist's office was working on.
..."And could you please help me?"
"What?" she asked. "Could you repeat that?"
We did a small riff on Who's On First? At the end she said, "I'm sorry we can't help you."
To which I said, "So you're telling me in order to get anything for the pain I'm going to have to go to the ER.?"
Those must be the magic words because my doctor happened to be in the reception area and over heard this. And just like that I got my prescription. I asked what I should do about the warfarin with respect to the tooth pulling. He said to take it the night before, skip it the day of, then take it the next day.
By the way this was a different doctor than the one who accused me of being a lazy fat slob. Same office different doctor.
When I went to Wallgreen's to get the prescription. there were two. The dentist did call in a new prescription for 3 pills. Each pill lasting 8 hours.
Ok this is what I've been waiting to tell you guys all this time. You just ain't gonna believe this could have happened.
It was September 4, 2008. I can never forget that day. As a side note I sprained my ankle in late April. It was still swollen and I was still walking with a cane.
I went into the office. They called me back rather promptly. The dental technician greeted me in a friendly manner. She seemed to have a spring in her step. You could tell she was in a very good mood.
After a short time the doctor came in. The technician said to the doctor, "Did you see it?"
"I just saw bits of it, I'll have to watch the whole thing later, she was great."
"She was wonderful."
"What are you talking about?" I said.
"Sarah Palin's Vice Presidential acceptance speech. said the doctor.
"They aren't going to win." I said.
Now when I said that I honestly thought he would say something like yes they are. Or I disagree and that would be the end of it.
No really, I did.
"Oh yeah." He said.
And then proceeded to talk about how Republicans are superior to Democrats in every respect. Especially abortion. I was taken aback. I kept expecting him to stop but he didn't. He proceeded to give me a shot of Novocaine. I thought he was going to stop but he went on to say that if Barack Obama's mother thought the way he did then he (Obama) would be dead. Then he said how Obama was in favor of killing babies in closets.
I looked at the friendly dental technician for help but she was his right there with him. The both of them together operated as one well coordinated, insidious, anti-Obama, anti-abortion, dental tag team.
He didn't stop, he then proceeded to inform me of how many chromosomes were in a fertilized egg.
Now remember I was getting a tooth pulled. I needed more than one shot of Novocaine. I tried to signal him to give me more. He was too interested in giving me his diatribe on Obama and abortion. I had to yelp loudly before he even bothered to pay attention.
And all the time he was looking at me with anger and derision.
Now I wanted to get up and leave but how do you get up and leave in the middle of getting a tooth pulled?
"Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it."
Finally it was over.
I was so upset I was shaking. I could not believe what I just went through. Even in Arizona I have never gone through anything like that.
If it was a routine exam I would have left immediately. But The tooth needed to come out. I was in an extremely pain ridden, vulnerable state. In need of assistance in most every respect. I'm sure you can understand.
Before I left I asked him 2 things.
"How long should I keep the cotton in my mouth?"
A half hour." he said.
"A half hour that doesn't seem long enough."
"Nope a half hour."
"When should I start up my warfarin again?"
"Tonight." he said.
Remember, my primary care doctor said to start taking it the next day?
I asked him those questions just to have him on record. I really wanted to... well never mind what I wanted to do to him.
He did give me another prescription for pain. I got it filled.
Now I had a cache.
I asked the pharmacist when I should take the cotton out. He said, "A couple of hours or until the bleeding stopped."
The bleeding stopped after 3 hours.
Well of course I called lawyers about that Christian Szell wanna-be.
Well of course they all laughed at me.
Except one he was horrified. He told me to make a complaint to the Arizona State Dental Board. He also told me to make a complaint about the dentist as well.
Well of course I did that.
Well of course when I got to have my say, some people laughed at me.
One doctor was upset that a pharmacist was "treating me" as he put it. Never mind that the pharmacist was right and the doctor was wrong. But another doctor on the board didn't like what happened at all. He thought that the oral surgeon acted extremely unprofessional.
Well of course the oral surgeon got a slap on the wrist. They were going to send him a letter telling him to knock it off. But that was all there was to that.
Well of course I felt extra cause to celebrate on November 4, 2008.
Now as far the issue with the dentist. I went to a private hearing on that.
This is interesting because this could happen to anybody.
Ever since I had my heart operation every doctor I've ever had made it a point to tell me that taking ibuprofen and warfarin could be fatal. From the thoracic surgeon on down, and everyone in between. I went into the hearing thinking I had the truth on my side.
Well they told me that it was ok in some circumstances. That was even news to one of the doctors on the board. He was totally unaware of that. His opinion was I acted in good faith.
The other side even got a letter from my own cardiologist who was there when I had my surgery. As well as being one of the doctors that told me taking warfarin and ibuprofen could be fatal. They had a letter, I have it here, he wrote.
...there is no absolute contraindications to adding a non-steroidal medication to chronic anti-coagulation for a short period of time.
I felt like he stabbed me in the back. Shortly after that I got a new cardiologist.
I also found out at that hearing that there is a dentist handbook. And in that handbook it says that ibuprofen could be given to someone on warfarin with extreme caution. Since that was the first time I've even been to that dentist I don't see how it was prescribed with extreme caution. I don't even know what that means.
I was so stunned at the time by this whole turn of events I didn't even think to bring up my best argument.
Which is Walgreen's or any pharmacy doesn't care about cardiologists opinions or what's written in dentists handbooks. If someone is on record as taking warfarin they aren't going to let that person have a prescription for ibuprofen. They could be held liable.
The case was closed. They didn't call me a bad guy. But they said the dentist was within his rights to prescribe ibuprofen to me. No one is right no one is wrong. To them.
Oh I forgot to say. The dentist also denied getting my birthday wrong. So he called me a liar, or Wallgreen's a liar, or both of us liars. Take your pick.
Apparently the State of Arizona Dental Board has no problem with a doctor prescribing ibuprofen to someone on warfarin, and it's ok for that person to have the prescription. It's just impossible for that person to obtain the prescription because no pharmacy will knowingly fill it.
And when you come down to it, isn't that the whole point of a prescription.
Still I should consider myself lucky. back then AHCCCS paid to get a tooth pulled. Today they don't cover that. I recently had another tooth ache and the dentist said I need a root canal. I called AHCCCS to ask them if there were any circumstances which they would pay for dental work. Like in the case of someone who has a heart valve. They said no.
You see if the infection works it's way to the valve it could be life threatening. In which case I could die. Or I get rushed to the ER where they do the whole heart operation over again. That, I suspect would cost more than a root canal, even with a crown.
They would pay for that, at least that is what the lady on the other end of the phone said.
So there it is, my first diary.
Please be kind.