Dusk Darkens Days; Night Neglects Nary One

aaadeath3I stopped living My Miracle of Life seven months ago when
incantations permitted a glimpse beneath a crust delicate
as early winter’s creeping ice across a pond; peering
deep and deeper still to the depth’s of the mind‘s
deep sea trenches only to chance upon a ghostly image, curdled,
it confirmed a tiny grid lock whose ID hid 48 hours;
the mind’s fluid sidesteps this log jam and a storm
surge barged into priceless brain tissue causing
a breaker to trip in this prevailing mild
and coherent character. The surge retiredaaadeath4
dragging its bounty of fifty-eight years, a lifetime
of pleasure, reticence, failure, and small, immortalized
moments of glory into an abyss oft named forgotten. I stopped

dreaming stopped
imagining, stopped
unreasonable and half-wit ideas,
to jump start thinking which held me tight
like a kite caught in a gale and drew me in
lest I be lost to my mind’s struggle of fantasy
against a world of Conventional Wisdom; Wisdom
burdened 
by pragmatism, a reality of dead-ends, of
darkness, of emptiness, 
of fear, of inescapability, of
aaadeath1an absent place holding no bearing but a place 
nonetheless,
void of dreams, man’s anathema,
death.

If imagination is my Miracle of Life,
I must first domesticate my culture’s greatest
fear: an early death forfeiting decades of dreams
and desires.

Dark

aaadeath2

 

 

 
Dark
an accusation of guilt due
to my deliberate and
captured words, drawing emotion
in any direction; or,
it’s been identified by those
looking to capture a comet
like summer’s fireflies:
they point with the comfort
of warm blankets, that now is a period
without an ending; it’s a nod or a wink
or deflection enduring propriety; mostly
it’s the haunting of those alive for the
dead’s forgotten.

When I Was A Boy, A Doctor’s Insight Was Law

 

aadoctor

When I was a child and was literally dragged to Dr. What’s-His-Face for an annual check-up (less a check-up and more a ritualistic cadence of tsk, tsk, tsk’s) as he poked and kneaded and cold-handedly fiddled with my . . . which backs away from coldness . . . and shy’s away from evaluation like a cub scout whose self-built car elicits jeers from his Scout Master (who also happens to be his dad).  The snap of gloves and odor of soap which resembled anti-freeze gave the doctor time to compose his subtle and sensitive conclusion:  “He’s too fat and getting fatter and his fat is hiding his . . . which, for sanitary reasons may require the removal of . . . which was when I buckled my Indian Beaded Belt and disappeared until hours past dusk when a neighbor found me shivering beneath the front porch.

That incident was a painful secret which I’ve carried on my back for fifty years and continues to cause retreat when doctor’s or lover’s reach out.  Such a sad burden to carry because of one unsympathetic phrase from a stranger who had no right being a pediatrician.  I often wondered how he treated his dogs.

My mother’s ignorance and prostrating to figures of authority always meant that any run-in with any adult possessing even a pinch more aacopauthority than her resulted in stern and week-long pain.  Just what exactly did these arrogant and sadistic adults possess that was never crossed?  They had been appointed to their position because of educated insight which was never, ever, EVER questioned..

Which, of course, perpetuated a multi-century tradition which has continued even to this day.  Most doctor offices have a small-framed notice somewhere above their “All services must be paid TODAY!”  reminder which reads something like,  “My profession hasn’t been questioned or challenged in three hundred years, so don’t try to be the first today!”  And in you go to be examined, quizzed, and questioned only to receive a prescription scribed in ancient Egyptian and an “order” for physical therapy.

aaangryguyDo I sound somewhat angry?  Of course I am!  Doctors get paid enormous salaries yet complain about the escalating costs of malpractice insurance.  Malpractice insurance exists because professionals are trusted and believed and paid.  And for this degree of faith we get an educated guess of what might be ailing us.

But this is what I’m REALLY angry about: Two doctor’s at Froedert Hospital assured me my brother Rich did not suffer a stroke based on a CT scan.  It was 48 hours later when I insisted they perform an MRI.  Voila’!  A clot in a vein feeding the occipital lobe (responsible for eyesight).  Because of unconscionable arrogance my brother is legally blind while these two doctors suffer NO consequence.  Upon discharge from Froedert, I was told that Rich was totally blind due to A) The Stroke and B) A severe seizure two days later.  I made decisions based upon the information told to me by staff in the Stroke Unit.  And guess what?  He isn’t blind!  Albeit his eyesight has been significantly compromised, but his field of vision is approximately 17″ in diameter!  And the staff at Froedert?

And the worst example of guesstimating occurred this past weekend when Rich suffered a severe heart attack.  The errors in order of aapuzzleddocappearance: A) Someone at the acute rehab facility removed his DNR bracelet, yet never informed the paramedics that he had a DNR order in effect; B) The paramedics, unaware of the DNR order, couldn’t inform the ER staff;  C) When Rich went into arrest they performed heroic measures to yank him back to life including five minutes of chest compressions resulting in several broken ribs and the insertion of a temporary pacemaker to maintain his heart rate (why didn’t anyone call me while they repeatedly beat Rich?  They called me after!)  D) An ICU doctor called me and informed me that the ER stepped beyond Rich’s wishes and now, NOW I’ve got to decide if and when we reverse their . . . their, what . . . their adrenaline infused jump to action?  And when YOU do decide he will . . . be gone.

For nine hours I held firm to Rich’s wish: DNR. And I would honor his wish just like I’ve always honored him. And I aastoplightwouldn’t allow my own emotion, hope, or desire to shake my resolve. I spent nine hours picking up strength like a child picks dandelions. And upon my arrival at his room in the ICU he was semi-conscious, breathing on his own, and occasionally howling in pain as he coughed with broken ribs. The equivalent of The Cuban Missile Crisis was over and Rich, contrary to what the ICU doctor emphatically informed me, was alive, on his own, without my intervention. And even though he’d crossed that line, he’d come back, I think, just so we could laugh at the old, standard jokes as though it was the first time we’d heard them!

And those doctors? The heroic and uninformed professional, and the cardiac-specialized professional made two BIG mistakes and continue to work without consequence for their egregious and painful errors. Alas, that three hundred year old tradition continues.

 

The Short Reach of 9-1-1

What does fifteen minutes mean to you?   To me, it’s a short walk with Jenni or the edgy, flinching time I endure, while sharp picks and mirrors and a fistful of rubberized fingers examine my mouth.

To a heart attack it’s pay dirt; to a stroke it’s a killing; to an overdose it’s long enough; it’s 25% of your critical hour.

It was the way he answered the phone and repeated “nauseous”  that prompted my intervention and a feeble attempt at reassurance, “I’ll call 9-1-1,” which began a 15-minute byzantine pursuit through a labyrinth of indifference, ignorance, misinformation, unyielding tenacity, irrationality, and finally the grossly delayed ringing of the fire department serving my brother‘s address.

In this age of instantaneous access to millions and millions of useless and the occasional entertaining tidbit of useless information, we assume that a federal infrastructure would be installed and activated and by dialing three simple digits you would be transferred to the emergency department serving your father’s address.

But there isn’t.  Instead you’re passed along with great indifference until, smartphone in hand, you’re barely capable of performing search after search of increasingly familiar street names and coverage maps and administrative offices which you call in desperation and quickly evaporating hope.

Fifteen minutes while your brother or sister or father or mother follow your misguided instructions based on years of same-city-9-1-1-calls.  Who would ever think that soliciting an emergency service would be impossible.  Impossible?  Really?  Impossible, while your brother or sister or mother or father sits alone in their home slowly dying.

Without question, the federal government should appropriate whatever amount of money it will cost to rebuild a one-city call center into a network of transferable calls to the exact city where emergency help is needed.  Please, spend less of our money on bombs which kill scores of innocent people in faraway countries and use it here at home for emergency call-centers purposefully designed to assure the caller that first responders are on route to your brother or sister or mother or father’s house to save their lives.

 

 

A Patient Physician Waits For My Question . . .

Will this Failure affect my . . .  Durability?

In a broad sense, of course.  I mean, who can possibly predict someone’s . . . permanence, so to speak . . . not that death is, in any way, humorous, but if we did know, one could make plans . . . which is when I trailed off, consciously fleeing The Doctor’s adying1despairing and melancholic answer which, upon delivery, affirmed my inkling and, at first, felt promising, that is until the import of his answer felt as heavy as a saturated woolen coat.

My disquieting understanding was followed by remorse and the physician‘s shifting of weight left right left right; my attention lost to the ticker-tape listing of buoyant memories; then, hailing from afar like a sea boat captain, a nervous cough interrupts my avoidance with sharp and determined finger-snaps by a now brusque and tidy physician whose demeanor is demanding (disguised as cheerful support) takes the tone of an impatient boss, Is There Anything else, then?

adying4That’s when we resumed our assigned roles of patient and doctor.  Long gone was the arm-across-the-back-and-onto-the -other-shoulder fatherly imitation of empathy.  Tucking his humanity neatly in a breast pocket below his blue-stitched name and title like first graders whose names are also stitched but for opposite reasons: The Doctor: To tell you who he is and his department (lest you wonder): And first graders: To remind themselves who they are and what they wore.

Upon empathy’s discharge, a muddy silence quickly appeared swallowing the Doctor and I and filling the tiny room with despair, melancholy, and a dreadful load of confusion.  It reminded me of a time long ago when a generic teen-age girl gave me the sign to try for home, only to be quickly slapped by my host causing my retreat and a kind-of cease-fire and the same shameful silence which the Doctor cast by answering my foolish question:even though I was all-too-aware of the penalty, I asked the question with the same tentative, cautionary, and deliberate way that I behaved with that tart.  And coincidently the responses were eerily similar: the tart with a sharp slap and immediate rejection, and the Doctor with a representational slap and unsettling honesty saying It’s got the moxie, it’s got fervor and doggedness. It’s very rare to be strong and efficient; even rarer still to be too strong and to be too efficient.

His foot steps down the hall seemed to whisper apologies until he turned and they both disappeared.  And there I was, alone, all alone, all-by-myself alone except for the damned answer, of which I’d had some degree of premonition.  But hearing it in your head isn’t official thereby maintaining a small degree of hope.  And then I asked and then he answered and then neither one of us would ever be the same.adying2