Saturday, July 07, 2012

Fitfully, Frightfully, Frantically

I'm trying to make sense of it all.  Everything.  Completely.  Without regret.

And yet, it escapes me.

Dialysis has been rambunctious lately.  He waits, diligently, counting the ever prsent minutes until my forlorn return.  For he knows I will; I can't, but I must.

As the miles roll by & the minutes click by I make my way to Dialysis, four days a week, three hours at a time.

Some days I'm having a gloriously entertaining time.  A smile erupts, a laugh ensues.  For a mere shred of a moment of a sliver of time, happiness shines joy and frivolity in my direction.

But Dialysis rips that from my existence with frivolous glee.  It struts and frets its way upon the clinic floor, laying waste to everything I hold dear.

The lidocaine burns.  The scabs prevail.  And as the needles infiltrate my helpless access, I submit fully to its overhwhelming strength over my life.

That's when the giggling begins unabated.

Dialysis mocks and murmurs his cursed language of pain and suffering.  He cowers in the shadows of the recesses of the clinic floor.  Always patient, always present.

Around minute forty-two is when he first strikes his imminent wave of relentless burning pain.

First my arm, and then my eyes are forced to bear witness to his C-shaped frame, stringy green hair and pointy toothed grin.  He would be comical if he weren't so evil.

In the past times, the early years, the times when I didn't know any better, he would bound vertically again and again and again when he witnessed the first signs of my giving in.

A bead of sweat would tickle him.  A squeezing of the eyes would excite him.  If I were to suddenly flail about in the chair, he would do barrel rolls in the aisle.

This is my life.  This is where I am.  This is what I've become.

I will occasionaly glance around the clinic floor and observe that Dialysis never seems to bother with other patients when I'm on the scene.  Everyone else seems content to sleep, or read, or watch TV with nary a twitch to what they're experiencing at that very moment.

For whatever reason, I'm "special."

Pain is my friend, my companion, my soulmate upon the journey now.  It comforts me and reminds me that I'm still breathing, still thriving, still existing in spite of myself.

And yet, that's just not enough.

Dialysis is a thief with no remorse.  Friendships diminish.  Careers go haywire.  Simple tasks with minimal energy take hours to complete.  Some days all I'm left with is festering anger and lingering remorse over what might have been.

And that's really no way to express one's life. 

Hope for the future.  Hope for a kidney.  Hope for a resurrection of titanic proportions.

Its really all I've got left.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Evildoers of Dialysis

If you're about to start Dialysis, there is one absolutely, positively, unbridaled fact that no one will tell you.

Not the nurses. Not your nephrologist.

No one in the administrative staff will step up and state this clearly and unequivocally.

I was certainly not informed. I wish I had been. I could have prepared more effectively.

You're going to be seated next to assholes. And douchebags. Doucheholes and assbags.

Think about all the people you meet in everyday life. What percentage do you believe fit into the above categories?

Maybe you're nicer than me (most probably) or more accepting of others (I hope so) but after over seven years of forced occupation with some of these cretins, I believe I have become a bonafide expert.

Is every patient a jerk? Of course not. I don't tend to socialize at treatment simply because my psyche associates every living creature, every piece of equipment to be pure, bloodied evil.

But that's just me. I have serious issues.

There just happens to be individuals who will inflict their will on you, regardless of good manners, proper etiquette, or just good old fashioned courtesy.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

*** The Top 3 Evildoers of Dialysis ***

3) The Godfather of Farts

Saturdays are chaotic at Dialysis, and its no fault of the staff. Most of the time, everyone is running late because knuckleheads who've missed treatment during the week call at the last minute and whine about needing a treatment.

If you missed appointments anywhere else, they would tell you to fuck off and slam the phone down.

But not at Dialysis. Unfortunately.

I'm usually a Monday, Wednesday, Friday patient, so I know who to expect when I enter the rancid floor.

But because my pussy body can't make it through the weekend, I add an extra day to the treatment week.

That's right, I allow Dialysis to ruin my weekends.

So instead of patients like Neckish Princess and Petite Raven Hair, I'm forced to endure the Godfather of Farts.

I am going to make an assumption about this individual, so bear with me.

His diet led him to Dialysis.

From the moment he enters, he's farting. And not just run-of-the-mill, all-American, I-just-had-Chicken-McNuggets and a loaf of cheese farts.

I must take a moment now and quote my hero, George Carlin:

"The kind of fart that could strip the varnish off a foot locker. A fart that could end a marriage."

The ventilation system at my clinic is non-existent, so clouds of farts hang around him.

Hugging him. Cherishing him. Asking for more toxic farts.

And if this gentleman walked into any Italian bar, he would be welcome with open arms because he looks just like Marlon Brando in "The Godfather." You'd have to do a double blink and roll your fists into your eyes and glance again. Its astonishing really.

He also likes to mock patients when they're in pain, so maybe he should be higher on the list.

2) Masturbating Fred Flintstone

If Raven Haired Temptress hadn't informed me of his behavior, I probably wouldn't have noticed. Once I'm leaned back into my chair, the laptop flies open so I can lose myself in the latest attempt at a blockbuster from Hollywood.

He wears plaid shorts and no underwear. Once treatment starts, his rainbow blanket flies over his body, Telemundo gets switched on and this guy goes to town.

I feel bad for the staff when it comes to patients like this. How do you even broach the subject?

And does he ever wash that blanket?

Since his hygeine is also in questions (how difficult is it to shower more than once a week) I'm going to guess, hmm, less than never.

1) Jabba the Hutt

Who could be worse than a chronic farter & addictive masturbator?

Welcome to the human form of Jabba the Hutt.

From the moment he enters, the flip flops fly off and he's shuffling around barefoot.

To those not aware, here's what he could be stepping in:

Blood. Vomit. Feces. Spit. And, since the masturbator is on my shift, apparently semen.

I understand taking your shoes off because your feet are swollen. Occasionaly, I'm forced to do that. But prancing around barefoot?

He also eats the entire time he's there. Candy and junk food.

As I've mentioned previously, the aroma of unwashed ass and baby poop hugs the air in my clinic. Why would you ever want to eat?

The worse is when halfway through his treatment he stops...to vomit.

It happens. Again, I get it. But you brought this on yourself.

And once the staff cleans him up, he goes back to...eating.

One night I couldn't take the smell anymore. Like stale swiss cheese and burnt hair. Like he hadn't washed his feet since the Bicentennial.

This night was the second time in my seven year history that I've signed paperwork to get off the machine early. The other time, the stairwell at my apartment had collapsed.

Now you get the idea of how horribly awful it was.

If you're about to start Dialysis, here's what I recommend:

1) Noise cancelling headphones.

This is mostly for the Emmy award winners who scream on their cellphones, unwilling to comprehend that cell technology has reached a point where you could whisper and the individual on the other end could hear you.

2) Lavender

Some of the drains get backed up with all the urine that is extracated from patients, so you'll want to be prepared. Also, unless you're on the night shift (and even then) other patients may not shower regularly. Its sad, but its a fact you'll have to deal with.

3) DVD Player

Three hours crawls by without distractions. You can get great deals at Target (and the salespeople won't hassle you like at "Best Buy") with batteries that last long past your scheduled treatment time.

4) A Taser

Ok, now I'm just kidding. Sort of.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pain of Lidocaine

I am a wimp. A fool. A terrestrial being with nothing extra about him.

For what seems like an exponential lifetime, I have been a Dialysis patient.

There is no B.D. (before Dialysis) anymore. Its been too long. Too hard. Too infinite.

Childhood, college, the beginning of my career. They all seem like chapters from a book that I checked out from the library ages ago.

All the facets that melded those memories into one cohesive whole: happiness, joy, triumph; they're all just forgotten words now.

But its about to become tremendously worse.

For ages, I've used lidocine to ease my pain. You're right. I'm one of those geniuses of the highest order who receives two needle sticks.

Before two needle sticks.

Excessive? Sure. Redundant? Definately.

But totally, and without a doubt, necessary.

When the lidocaine misses its intended target, the main needle shrieks in terror as it enters my helpless arm.

Every. Single. Time.

You would think any normal human being (i.e. not me) would adjust to this psychologically. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

My Fear of needles has become a massively disgusting mass of burden upon my shoulders. It festers there, cowers, whimpers in pain whether a Tech knows their business or not.

Word was given to me on bleach white paper that lidocaine is "not allowed in cases where a buttonwhole access is concerned."

It was highlighted in colorful, mocking orange. As though I would have missed it otherwise.

Chatty Cathy Nurse walked to my side and asked if I had read this.

"Yes," I said as I gathered my crappy possessions. "But I don't believe in it."

As if that would have ended it right there. I could only hope.

She was bounding with verbal, anxious speech. That's actually how she always speaks.

"We had a meeting and that rule is supposed to be followed."

I grabbed my items and shoved the strap over my shoulder, knocking Fear from its perch.

"No lidocaine. No Dialysis. I'll stop if I have to."

There was no emotion in my voice. No waver in my step.

Chatty Cathy Nurse made that sound she always makes when she's not sure how to respond: "Aaah...ohhh..."

I'm sure Happy, Smiley manager will lose those adjectives from her face when she hear this, but Lidocaine has been my only friend in the fight against Fear.

My psyche is held together with second tier Scotch tape and fractured, muddied shoelaces. You take away one of the few friends I have in that Haunting Haven of Hell (TM 2011) and my edge will have been reached.

"I'll stop if I have to."

That isn't an empty threat filled with shallow nonchalance. It is the truth as I know it on this day, the twenty fifth of July, two thousand eleven.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the Beginning

There was a rambunctious Sperm and a reclusive Ovum. The Sperm was charming and funny. The Ovum, quiet, yet intelligent. And a little wacky.

There were rivers of Sperm and islands of Ovum, but these two particular individuals felt their pairing was bathed in the bastion of Fate.

The Sperm felt comfortable and welcome in the warm embrace of this particular Ovum, there was no denying it.

At the moment the Ovum decided that no other Sperm would venture into her womb, something electrical happened that was quite unexpected.

Life began.

It was undeniable that these two forces of unapologetic nature would come together to create another. Fate deemed it so.

And so Fate, with all its immense power and glory over the futile lives of man, shifted ever so slightly.

In the grand scheme of Creation, it was so minscule as to be unwarranted for further moments of discussion.

But we shall. Here. Now. Without regret or blame.

For something went horribly wrong.

The fusion of love and happenstance should have fused together to create something joyous and pure. Something innocent and unfettered.

Something the Universe could tower proudly over and declare, "At least I got this right goddamnit!"

But Fate had other plans.

Fate deems all other rules negated by its own.

Fate vomits on hopes, dreams and possibilities.

Fate trashes those it deems unworthy to live a life worth living.

Many will point and mock and deem Fate non-existent, for they can't grab it with their pudgy little fingers and shove it down their ungodly throats.

I am living proof that they are so very, very wrong.

What began as bursts of frivolity, splashed upon the face of an unblemished young boy, quickly morphed into discovery of the true nature of Pain.

The first piercing needle was never as bad as the last.

Fate determining that I should experience that about 127 minutes ago.

One rambunctious Sperm. One reclusive Ovum.

Nothing but Fate in-between.

And so, it goes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Terrific Tale of the Transplant Listiversary

Through the folds of imagination and misery, please travel back with me to the wily time of March 2004.

Spring was blossoming into a ravishing young woman, about to use her comely wiles to entice Winter to leave his magnificent throne of Weather.

Down upon the skin of Planet Earth, humans were battling one another continuously over who could acquire the most meaningless mass of material, not realizing each acquisition was biting away at their ever deflated Soul.

It is within these constructs that we join our Protagonist, Happy-Go-Lucky Stacy.

For what he lacked in stature and mass, he made up for in personality and whimsy. Every day he would use technology to broadcast his thoughts over magical airwaves of sound, infuriating and entertaining at every possible turn.

Evenings were especially rambunctious, for Happy-Go-Lucky Stacy filled them with ravishing women of beauty and brilliance, giggling and dancing as they ransacked the town.

But as Fate struck midnight, all would change. And not for the better.

Statements on-air became forgetful and rambling. What was once food both tasty and vibrant, exited just as quickly, vile and unwanted.

A doctor both portly and friendly, brimming with knowledge and depth, thrust a tiny sword into Stacy's reluctant upper arm and gathered a massive amount of Blood Red Soul.

Happy-Go-Lucky Stacy knew the answer, for the Doctor's face was mired in doubt.

"Your CKD has caused CKF. So I'm recommending HD, ASAP, before you end up DOA and don't PAY."

Apparently our Mighty Doctor was in a hurry, for she felt that acronyms would suffice for her Tiny Peon Patient.

Happy-Go-Lucky Stacy had created, unwillingly, a wonderfully tasty soup of Fear and Loathing and allowed it to brew for eight weeks before giving in to the horrific creature known as Dialysis.

Upon entering Dialysis' Castle of Forgotten Souls, Happy-Go-Lucky Stacy felt his adjectives becoming weak. "Happy" scurried away with tears in his eyes. "Go" bolted for the wrong door, slammed himself into a closet, and stayed there until the custodial staff arrived. "Lucky" instantly burst into a million forlorn pieces and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

So with each step lonelier than the last, Stacy entered the cavernous dwelling of disaster, and was met by his twisted host.

He was shaped awkwardly like the letter "C" with a tiny, slender frame. Barely noticeable hands and miniature feet jutted from each end of his alphabet frame. They continuously moved and gyrated, begging for the use of appendages that were never to be.

At the top end of his body, an oval mass of flesh served as his head. Wiry and dry, his green stained hair whisked in all different directions when he spoke. When he smiled, every tooth was shaped hopelessly like a sharp letter "V", giving way to stains from colors not yet named.

With every step Stacy made closer to the dungeoned chair, Dialysis would bound from wall to wall, laughing and screaming with unmitigated delight.

"Yyyyyoooooouuuuuuuu...." Its as though each letter of the word possessed its own syllable.

"...wwwiiilllllll NEVER, HA! NEVER, never...NEVER MIND! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Stacy would have spoken up, and called him crazy, but that seemed utterly redundant.

Stacy finally reached his Over Sized Clown Chair, and Dialysis stopped moving for just one moment. He planted himself right at Stacy's feet and slowly moved his excuse for a head from one end of Stacy's body to the other. Stacy could finally peer through Dialysis' hair to find there were holes where eyes should have been.

"The women, ha!" He could barely contain himself now.

"The women. The happy. And all between, are now, ha!"

The chair reached out and swallowed Stacy whole. Every inch of his body melted into the fabric so he couldn't escape. Dialysis' raised his hands in the air like an epic conductor. Two needles, brimming with fire and tubing, snaked their way across the dungeon floor.

Once they reached Stacy's chair, Dialysis motioned for them to strike his arm with unrelenting force and pressure.

Stacy's head thrust back and his jaw jutted wide. Dialysis' mimed that he was zipping his lip, so each scream was muted before it could erupt.

Because Stacy possessed the knowledge that failure to comply would most certainly bring Death, he returned. Again. And again. And even again.

Again and again and again.

As weeks bled into years, Stacy learned to hide any minute indication that he was suffering. For he knew that made Dialysis happy.

But agonizing, in all its many human forms, has a way of devouring the adjectives that make us who we are.

Miserable was most common. Evil, just as popular. Asshole was bandied about, but never fully adopted.

But if Dialysis' has one undeniable personality trait, its that he only pays attention to the negative. He relishes it. Bathes in it. Uses it for his own personal wiles.

And that's where Stacy has the upper hand. You know, the one without the raping needles.

For unbeknown to Dialysis, Stacy the Downtrodden has reached a milestone of epic proportions.

Today. Lovely today. Marvelous today.

Today marks seven years on the UCSF Kidney Transplant List.

When the phone call arrives, and it will any moment, Stacy will smile. The emotion from that moment will reach Dialysis' skin, and for once, he will burn. Every single pore on his body will jettison from his frame, screaming for mercy that will never arrive.

Stacy will fling his treatment blanket upon Dialysis's smoking corpse and announce one last decree:

"I'm taking applications for new adjectives. Anyone want to apply?"

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Soul, Is Bled

My Soul bleeds for Red Kisses from formidable women. The passionate kind you take to your grave.

My Soul bleeds of Childhood, once rich and fulfilling. Yanked from my existence with a diluted expression of nonchalance. The years stretch the moments, ignoring their intimacy, and unending value.

My Soul bleeds upon the Present, so stale and unaffected. Every moment a photo, faded with embers and dust. I desperately try to grasp them together, but they crumble through my fingers, forever gone.

My Soul bleeds Anger, thick, with resolve. For those who torment me with ignorant rantings, contained within their spews of verbal diarrhea.

My Soul bleeds through Needles, long and foreboding. My last resolve from the omnipresent Harbinger of Death.

My Soul bleeds Indignation for those festering with complacence. The ones who treat patients like pennies in fountains, disposable creatures tossed aside without care.

My Soul bleeds for the Future, so daunting, so uncertain, so mired, so true.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hopefully Hopeful Hope

Hope can be a perilous thing.

Too little, and Despair crawls out from the depths of your Soul and mires you downward.

Too much, and you're a delusional fool.

On Tuesday, November 9th, I was invited to take a trip to the beating heart of the Bay Area, San Francisco. The UCSF Medical Center is roughly two miles southeast of Golden Gate Park.

Once inside, I made my way to the 7th Floor of 400 Parnassus Avenue. I took the stairs because elevators are home to body odors of unimaginable strength and duration.

The Surgeon, Social Worker, Financial and Transplant Coordinator's seemed pleased to see me.

After six and a half years of Life Crushing Dialysis, Hope had made its presence known.

I'm at the top of the UCSF Transplant Ready List. Fucking go time.

When I arrived home later that day, I heard something whimpering in the far corner of my bedroom, under my Fortress of Solitude. (That's what I call my bed, for obvious reasons.)

I knelt down and pulled back the comforter that was blocking my view underneath. My computer bag, duffel bag, and veteran backpack were all resting comfortably in their usual locations.

But the whimpering continued. Louder. Filled with suffering and pain.

I moved my meager possessions aside and grabbed my portable flashlight. I had to find out what the hell was going on.

His eyelids cowered in the direct light. His body moved side to side abruptly, attempting to avoid the invasion.

He was a round little fuzzball, about the size of a regulation baseball. He appeared to be originally snow white, but years of neglect had darkened him with the dust and dank of time.

"Hey, I remember you," I said in my softest voice possible. "Its okay. I promise I'll be nice."

His eyes widened and he turned his back to me. I hadn't been very kind to him in the past.

"Listen to me very carefully. I...won't...yell. I...promise."

I reached my hand slowly under the bed and placed my palm upward. My fingers acknowledged it was okay to approach.

For what seemed like an eternity passed before he budged an inch. Trust was being formed, but it would take time.

Eventually, but slowly at first, he rolled his frail figure closer and closer to my hand.

Finally, success.

Once in my hand, I could feel the caked on dirt. It smelled of neglect.

I slowly brought him into the light. We smiled at one another. No other words needed to be spoken.

Hope was alive. Less than healthy, but alive nonetheless.

An hour later, Hope was on the top shelf of my bookcase with an incredible view of the room. I had gently, with great care, cleaned him. Before I was nearly done, he started to giggle. Apparently it tickled.

Suddnely his face furrowed and he looked as though he might finally speak.

He wanted to know where I had been.

The story spewed out of me. Recklessly. Furiously. With abandon and hate.

I spoke of Dialysis and His resurgence in my Life. His macaroni shaped body, covered in lesions and sores, had reappeared with a vengeance this past year.

Each treatment was the same, creating a tapestry of woe and misery I keep to myself. Every evening, roughly an hour in, He would clamp down on my fistula with His razor sharp teeth and leave me blinded by insufferable pain.

There was no relief.

In times like these, Asshole Stacy resurfaces. He's not a pleasant guy. His weapons are words filled with vitriol and spite.

Much like a sobering drunk, once treatment ceases, he fades into the seams, apologetic and shamed.

He's the one that brings the Evil Thoughts.

Over the years, I've experienced many, many comic books and superhero films.

When I was a child, the division was so easy to understand. As a young boy, I rooted for the hero and pitied the villian. That was the way of things in my young, naive brain. I could never quite grasp how the antagonist could be so very bad.

Dialysis has taught me otherwise.

I understand Evil. I've basked in its shadow and thrilled to its strength. It can be so very delightful in its unending machinations.

But here's where I'm fortunate.

True Stacy was always nearby. Waiting. Watching. Pulling back when needed when Asshole Stacy was far too weak.

That's the only thing that saved me. My true Self. The Self from my memories from so long ago.

For some time, even before the call, True Stacy emerged. A joke here. Silliness there. The honest nature of True Stacy.

Although these are momentary moments, for I tire so easily, they are welcome reminders that True Stacy has a chance.

As I used my flailing limbs and stomping feet to share this story with Hope, I finally felt that the stream had ceased. I plopped down in my office chair, exhausted and spent. I finally had the courage to look into the eyes of Hope.

Hope smiled back.

I think I just might be okay.