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Archive for the ‘The Break-Part III’ Category

Requesting a Break – Part IV

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I hobble and stand on the curb outside the clinic, awaiting the arrival of my chariot and driver, Mary. There is a young man nervously pacing off to my left, looking both directions for something or someone that either exits or is a figment of his imagination. I’ve recognized him from the waiting area in the clinic. He reminds me of the ‘methadone’ population on the Upper West Side in New York City.

I’m quietly wallow in my pain, looking down saying, “Please don’t come and talk to me, please don’t come and talk to me…” and all of a sudden I look up and there he is in my face, off to the left.

“Do you know what time it is?” He impatiently queries.

“Ahhhhhhh… “ I look at my watch remembering, I TOO am on a time schedule. “…2:10,” I report quickly and curtly in my New York fashion.

“Huh, thanks,” as he continues to ponder my answer while desperately gazing at me.

I look off to the right, my eyes widen and I bite the bottom of my lip. I shout to myself, “Sheez, I hope he doesn’t think we are going to offer him a ride, somewhere, someplace, that either does or doesn’t exist.”

Before I turned 50, I would have been sucked into his field of ‘neediness’ and fell prey to helping him out, even at the expense of compromising my integrity. After 50, there’s a chemical produced in people’s brain- body called, “I don’t care.” It comes up at the most opportune times. If someone says, “I like your hair.” I say, “Thank you, I don’t care.” If someone says, “What in the world did you do with your hair?? Yuck!” I say, “Thank you very much, I don’t care.” It’s the ‘unattached hormone.’ Well, it kicked in here…in fact, with a little extra pain in the body to get the point across.

“Where is Mary with that car!!!” I  scream in my mind. “Ah, here she comes.” As I see the arrival of the familiar silver van.

As Mary drives up, the stranger to the left seems to have wandered off toward the main road. I stumble into the van and feel the welcome relief of sitting down. We strap in and off we go.

Being that everything in Cedar Rapids is fairly close together, the  ride to the airport is complete within a matter of minutes.

Mary drops me off at the curb, runs around to get the  suitcases. A young man comes over when he spots the crutches and asks if he can help.

I respond quickly, “Absolutely.”

Mary leans into me and says, “He’s going to expect a tip!”

“Why should this be any different than New York,” I say to Mary.

I wave my hand, roll my eyes and respond, “Whatever!”

Mary jumps back into the van and rides off to find a parking spot.

Off I go, hip pity-hop through the electronic doors as they part the way for my entrance to the check-in counter. Thank GOD, there isn’t a line of people. I crutch my way past the few waiting in line and ask what the procedure is for someone in my condition? Within minutes there is a wheel chair at my side and the ‘man who expects a tip’ is prompt with my luggage.

Mary has joined us and is helping out with the check in. I slip the man a $10 bill and off Mary and I go with my purse, crutches, and bulky, heavy, computer bag on my lap. She steers the operation as I painstakingly keep everything on my lap, ON my lap. The crutches keep falling off either dragging on the floor or poking people as we go by.

“Sorry, excuse me, oops!” Seem to be my mantras.

Mary, who is type A personality and the mother of all ‘controllers’, seems the perfect candidate for assisting me on this escapade. We efficiently weave in and out of stragglers, waiting for their families, friends or flights. When we get to the scanning area, I wonder how this is going to work. Even though Mary doesn’t have a boarding ticket, she is allowed to proceed through and wheel me to the boarding gate.

After I place all my bags, the computer, my shoes and  jacket in  the  plastic containers on the scanning platform, I’m wheeled to a  very  public area off to the side of the machines. A female airport  officer  is assigned to ‘check me out’.

I see Mary about 15 feet away, already through the line, collecting and organizing our things. She stands patiently watching out of ear shot while I go participate in the ritual of ‘padding down the crippled traveler’ and micro scanning the wheel chair. (Why are they are so interested in the chair? It’s airport property.)

The woman seems very official and stiff. She begins to tell me what she is going to do. She adds, “If you would prefer me to do this in a more ‘private place’ I can arrange for that to be done.”

I jokingly respond, “Listen, you can do what you like, but if you are going to do a vaginal exam, I probably would like to go to someplace more private.”

She looks at me shockingly, I laugh out loud, Mary wonders what’s going on. I wave and smile at Mary letting her know nonverbally all is well. Of course she know better.

The woman lightens up and realizes it was a joke. We clumsily begin the routine of her probing and patting my body.

She starts at my head, and I ponder, “How do they think, something could be hidden in my hair?” Oh, well, down the body she goes. At one point she is patting the front and back of my chest. Before she gets to the front, I comment, “Ah, I have a padded bra on, so, ah…”

“Oh, honey, we all do what we have to do!” She comes right back at me with a smile.

We start laughing and yucking it up and I see Mary out of the corner of my eye shaking her head and smiling.

The female officer needs to check my hips and butt. She asks me if I would like to stand. With athletic fortitude, I press off the arms of the wheelchair with my hands with my upper body strength leaving my derriere and legs suspended in air, awaiting her search.

“Oh, OK then…that works I guess,” she acts surprised with this alternative position.

She’s patting away, systematically and rhythmically until she comes to the left area under my thigh. She keeps patting this area with a confused look on her face. “Oh great…” I am wondering what in the world she thinks she is feeling. I’m wearing a light summer dress with tight leggings underneath.

I blurt out, “Oh that’s just my extra pocket of cellulite on that side!”

She bursts out laughing, has to stop the exam, and cover her mouth. My upper body strength gives out as I begin to giggle. The guards and general public are staring at us. Mary of course now realizes it’s beyond all hope. I pass the screening.

“That was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in a long time!” the officer shares as she finishes.

I’m wheeled past all the inquiring looks and Mary, embarrassingly receives the wheel chair and me in it. We pile on all the luggage and off we go to the next experience. I have been having such a grand time I have lost all track of time. I look at my watch and it is, 2:30 pm, 10 full minutes before the plane boards. PLENTY of time to spare, but then, I don’t know how far the boarding gate is from the scanning gate. Ah yes, this is Iowa, not very far.

Mary gets me to the boarding gate area. As I approach the tall, over powering reception desk at the gate entrance, my body as a surreal viseral response. How do people who have been handicapped all their lives adapt to a world where not everything is so handicapped friendly? My new-found empathy will be tested many times over the next number of weeks.

“Hello, Hello, anybody there?” I pleadingly call from my wheel chair.

A poised steward, leans over the desk, peering through his glasses, “Yes?”

“I just broke my ankle, about 3 and a half hours ago, and well, I’m not really sure what I’m suppose to be doing here. Can you give me a clue?”

I’m instructed I will board first so I am to stay close to the doorway. I will not be able to bring the wheelchair onto the plane, so I will need to use the crutches and an attendant will carry my luggage to the seat. When I arrive at the next City, I will be asked to exit the plane last and there will be an attendant present with another wheel chair to transport me to my connecting flight. This is great!  First class service without the extra fee, except the extra PAIN!

It’s almost time to board the plane. From my trusty, temporary,  wheelchair, I give my sister Mary a big hug and kiss. I know from  my heart of hearts, if this had to happen in the scheme of life’s  unfolding, I was blessed to have such a wonderful guardian angel  be here helping me. Love you girl, more than you will ever know.

More to come in Part V…

Requesting a Break – Part III

Monday, October 5th, 2009

“Well, there you are!” Ms. Radiology comments as she limps back into the room. I’m wondering where she thinks I would have gone since, I can’t walk and the crutches are way the hell over on the other side of the room!

“Do I get to go somewhere else? “ I impatiently prod.

“Oh, yes,” as she hands me the crutches, “I’m going to bring you back to your examination room,” she cheerfully retorts.

“Great.” I squeeze out under my breath, gritting my teeth while breathing out at the same time. I muster up my strength; pull it together and crutch/hop my way down the various hallways, back to the exam room. I look as if I have all the balance and ability to do this, knowing I am being fueled by high doses of adrenaline and a deep desire to get to the airport on time.

I’m surprise I arrive safely and rather quickly back to the room. My eldest sibling, Mary, is patently awaiting my return. I plop up on the exam table, dangle right leg down and bend left leg up and supported over my right knee.

We wait. While biding our time until someone walks in and can tell me if it is broken or not, Mary asks a few questions about the ‘radiology’ experience.

As I am in the middle of the yarn, a small framed, blonde woman walks into the room. She’s wearing the traditional white jacket and carries a file. She seems neat, clean, serious, quiet and could benefit by courses on laugh therapy.

Mary and I exchange glances as my animated story comes to an abrupt halt and the room becomes quiet.

She sits at a small desk in a swivel doctor chair and coolly reports with a deadpan face, “It seems you have a non-displaced, distal, fibula fracture. I would like you to see someone in 2-3 weeks for a follow up on…”

My brain is a bit mushy at this point and I have NO idea what she just said other than the word, FRACTURE.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait..” I impatiently interject, then lightly continue with a smile on my face, “…you’d think I fell on my HEAD because I have no idea what you just said…could you please write everything you are saying on a piece of paper? I will never remember it.”

With an expressionless look, the doctor gazes at me for a pregnant moment, says nothing, then looks down at a piece of paper on the desk and responds, “Of course.” She proceeds to legibly write down on a piece of prescription paper what she just said.

Mary and I share eye-popping glances, smiling and shrugging our shoulders as we cover our mouths from giggles. The doctor’s conversation continues with the practicalities and firming up my ‘next steps’. (No pun intended).

Pain meds are a big topic. It’s all about covering up the pain in life, right?Take a pill; cover it up particularly in a Country with more legal prescription drug addictions than, marijuana, cocaine and alcohol combined. I am about to be prescribed one of the most popular: vicodin. (House, look out.  Here I come.)

I explain to the doctor, I generally don’t take allopathic medicines, so I don’t really need something that strong or very many pills. (I have NO IDEA what I am in for with the kind of pain I am going to experience in the next couple of weeks. I ‘m still in shock, so I don’t even feel the full extent of this fracture, yet.) She fills out another piece of paper containing the prescription and hands it to me.

I graciously thank and shake her hand, and she slips out of the room as quietly as she came in.

“Well, she certainly could stand a few lessons in ‘patient relations’,” my sister comments.

“Yah, I don’t think they very many courses like that in medical school, do they Ms. Nurse Practitioner?” I ask my sister smiling as I jump/hop off the examination table and sit on a chair, next to her.

Another, more pleasant woman enters the room. I assume she’s the nurse, lighter energy and a pleasant smile. She fits me for a walking boot cast and upon my request, pleasantly inserts an ice panel, which helps cool the swollen, fire laden ankle.

I notice it takes extra focus on my part to correctly remember the instructions regarding the ‘mechanics’ of the boot cast. Left leg needs to be 90 degrees at the knee, slip in the foot slowly and make sure the heel is flush with the back of the boot. Fold and strap the foot pieces first and then along the calf.  Make sure the velcro straps are secure but not too tight.  My eyes periodically check my watch. It’s 1:35 pm. The flight is 2:40 pm. ‘I’ll be OK,’ I reassure myself by focusing on what I do want instead of do not want: an integral point for the law of attraction.

At one point the nurse jokingly exclaims, “…and the boot matches your outfit! How perfect!”  I peer at Mary out of the corner of my eye, smiling, reminding her of my comment earlier in the car, “It DOES matter how fabulous one looks!” We have a good laugh. I am soooo ready to get out of this room.

Next instruction;  hop to the payment window. While propped on one foot, dropping a crutch as I search for my credit card, I finally find the card and hand it to the woman behind the window sitting at a desk. She processes my records effortlessly and easily with a smile and midwest, “Thank you very much,” hands me back my card and bill.

WOW!  The full fee, no insurance, emergency visit, walking boot cast, 3 x-rays, the doctor’s consultation: $245! In New York City, I couldn’t walk into an emergency room for under $500 and that is just to walk through the door! PLUS, I would have never been able to make my flight because I would have had to wait 5-10 hours to see someone. There are certain advantages to being in the Midwest. Yet, sorry, family…the Big Apple calls me.

Next, I tunnel through a few more hallways and doors and make it to the original waiting area. I see my sister standing in line for my prescription to be magically filled out, all in the same building! As I stand waiting, simulating a ballet dancer, I prop my leg and foot on top of the horizonal support railing, easing the pressure of the blood and fluids pooling in the ankle. I hand my credit card over to Mary and within a few minutes, my drugs are in hand at a reasonable, $24! Wow, the Midwest, at least in Iowa, has quite a health care system.

We are out of there, on to the airport. It’s 2:05 pm. 40 minutes before my plane departs.

More to come in Part IV…

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