Friday, December 19, 2008

A Dialysis Christmas Miracle

The following is a letter I wrote to our Clinical Manager on December 8, 2008:

I am writing in regards to the recently updated Patient Rights & Responsibilities printout that was handed to me earlier today at treatment.

More specifically, I would like to address the heading Behavior (#4) which I will quote:

“Treating the staff and other patients with consideration, respect and recognition of individual differences, both in language and behavior.”

There are many patients who, on a regular basis, take the words "consideration and respect" and wipe them on their shoes (when they’re wearing them.)

I am referring of course to the intolerable use of the televisions in the clinic setting.

Before I began as a patient of Satellite Dialysis four years, six months and 25 days ago, I never really had an issue with sound. It didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Unfortunately, after putting up with patient after patient who refused to turn down their television after numerous requests, I became highly anxious and, on occasion, have panic attacks due to the lack of "consideration and respect."

Lets put aside the fact that I have been told to “f*** off” or “go f*** yourself” or (my personal favorite) “f*** you honky.”

I adore that last one because it takes me back to a simpler time when people had "consideration and respect" for one another. It also violates #5 under Behavior which states, “Never under any circumstances, threaten, intimidate, physically or verbally abuse…”

I’ll let that slide because I find it more entertaining than offensive.

Your incredibly accommodating staff has done everything possible not only to seat me two or three chairs away from these Emmy award winners, but also to try and mediate the situation.

Mostly, to no avail.

But my biggest issue comes down to patient safety. On two separate occasions, I have been unable to notify the staff when I was bleeding because the cretin next to me had THEIR TV ON TOO LOUD.

Sorry to yell, but you get my point.

The solution is rather simple and, I believe, technically viable.

Disconnect all the speakers on the TV remotes so if a patient wishes to watch TV, they have no choice but to wear headphones.

More manageable clinic. Safer patient environment. Everybody wins.

I thank you for your time and Merry Christmas.

To the Clinic Manager's credit, I received a call back the very next day, informing me that this issue would be looked into.

I know. I've heard that one before too.

But today, a minor miracle happened.

I was informed by a member of the administration staff that my suggestion is viable, and can be achieved with relative ease after the holidays are over.

With 48 chairs (is the isolation booth 49?) it will take some time.

But do you realize what this means??

I may live to see a fifth year of Dialysis.

No more days where I'm unable to alert the staff that I'm bleeding all over their snowflake floors.

No more will I be unable to alert staff when I'm being inundated with cramps.

And best of all.

I'll never have to talk to any of these wretched patients ever, ever again.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inner Virtue, Outer Hell

I often wonder if I don't deserve my fate.

Believe it or not, I wasn't always this caustic.

Five years ago before this ordeal began, I was hopeful and virile, yet ankle deep in my own naivety. Friends were plentiful and women responded to my company on a regular basis.

But layers deep, fettering and gaining strength, were the shadows. Recesses of darkness buried under mirth and merriment. I was aware of their existence, but they were under control.

When they would manifest, I would immediately quash their actions and attempt to bury them even deeper.

I was embarrassed, ashamed of their very existence. The pride I held in my personal strength was probably the beginning of my fall.

It took sheer force of will to maintain my composure, but they wanted acknowledgment, something I could never offer.

In the end, that was probably my Achilles heel, the beginning of the end.

Sometimes swallowing what we wish to hide from the world can devour us from within.

And that's exactly what happened.

Dialysis saw this coming and giggled in glee at my impending journey.

Weeks upon weeks upon weeks of endless treatment have left me a shell of the man I remember. When this reality focuses in my mind, sadness seeps outward from the recesses of who I used to be.

And it can't be stopped.

Joyous exuberance for daily adventures has been replaced with a vitriol against everything and anything within my scope.

My name has been replaced with terms I never thought would reference who I truly am.

Contemptible. Incorrigible. Curmudgeon.

I'm all of the above, and still, just a little less.

I can't be called "Stacy" again until Dialysis releases its grasp on my life.

Unfortunately, it seems like that day will never arrive.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free Floating Hostility: Holiday Edition

If Dialysis has allowed me any luxuries, its the ability to get in touch with my anger freely and without restraint.

Now certain people will read that and think, "Well, that Stacy is a powder keg. We better sit him down so he can talk about his feelings."

I'll be honest. That's a waste of both of our times.

That's one of the many annoying reasons why I created this wonderfully literary opus of a blog.

Yeah, that was meant to be sarcastic. Maybe I should have italicized it for full emphasis.

But it's post treatment and I'm too damn drained.

Time now for my occasional, yet totally necessary, Holiday Edition of Free Floating Hostility.

Soon to be a low rated TV movie on the CW starring Paul Reubens in the title role.

"6 Reasons I Despise the Human Race (This Week)"

1. High Beam Whores

When did it become acceptable that everyone (and I mean every-God-damn-one-of-you) has to have their high beams on?

This hearkens back to my earlier rants on entitlement in this country.

I turn MY high beams on because I need to blind every other driver to prove MY superiority.

Or ignorance. It's hard to tell because my corneas are bleeding.

2. Fat People @ the Trader Joe's

I have a new rule where I only shop at Trader Joe's an hour before it closes. On numerous occasions (moreso now that the holidays are here) I have been PUSHED (that's right, pushed) out of the way to get the last item on the shelf.

And every single time it happens, the individual is gargantuan. The kind of person adorned with fat upon fat squeezed into fat layered on fat swimming in fat.

You know the kind. Always loud and boorish too.

I'd push back, but its always women, and I don't need to be accused of anything remotely associated with sexual harassment with these extremely beneficial members of our society.

By the way pushy, we'll met again because you'll be in Dialysis soon enough.

And you and me and everyone else will be paying for it. Medicare doesn't fund itself.

You want Americans to tidy up and take care of their bodies? Simple. Let them know that when it comes to obesity, we're not paying for it.

Never. Nada. No, no, no.

Any medical calamity you create by not controlling your urges, you're on your own.

3. Drunk People in Downtown Santa Rosa

It's 9:05pm moments after treatment. I just called in an order of spaghetti and meatballs.

Because I deserve it damnit.

Only problem is, if you know anything about downtown, you have to park a bazillion miles away and trek to the restaurant.

Not a problem. Until I encounter you.

You're loud and annoying and seem to know everyone who's smoking outside. You have what I can only classify as a whore on each arm.

Yeah, lucky you.

In your mad dash to the next overpriced nightclub, you and your posse bump into me, knock me into some outdoor seating and I fall to the ground.

All members of your party pause a moment and then burst into laughter. You then continue on your merry way leaving said Dialysis patient sitting in remnants of beer and vomit.

Normally, I would retaliate. But I've lost fifteen pounds recently and there is little padding to my posterior. I try to get up to run after you and make you pay for your insolence, but I have to rest a few moments until the pain dissipates.

It's okay, I'll have my revenge. You too will be at my clinic due to your lecherous ways.

I'd pick alcohol abuse first, but most likely those two creatures on your arm will likely reward you this evening with little critters that render your kidneys lifeless.

4. Cell Phone Users @ the Pharmacy

Most of these institutions now post signs detailing that if you don't get off the phone, you don't get service.

But not at mine. And I'm always right behind one.

This one middle aged woman was next in line. She stepped up the counter and the pharmacist asked for her name.

She put her hand up as though to say, "You have to wait, because I'm so important I have to finish this conversation about the latest Sugar Daddy I'm stringing along. Oh yeah, oh yeah. Sure. Ugh, huh. Yeah, his bank account is bigger than his package. Thank God (cackle)"

The clerk waves me ahead and I approach the counter.

"What do you think you're doing? I'm next."

"But you're on the phone."

"But I'm next."

The pharmacy informs her she can't be helped unless she gets off the phone.

"Oh God, whatever. I'll have to call you back, I'm surrounded by assholes."

I would give anything if the pharmacist would swap out her special cream for something a little more irritating.

All cell phones have done is allowed the pompous to shower themselves in their own overinflated ego.

For situations like this (which I seem to be endlessly thrown into) I have my own cell phone blocker now.

Brings a little equilibrium to the universe, don't you think?

5. Ignorant Parental Units

You know the type. The little spawns are running around destroying everything and the mother is too busy yakking on the cell phone to notice, or too hopped up on Valium to care.

I'm at Safeway trying to place some ripe oranges in a bag and one of these mutations rushes up and starts punching me in the arm.

That's right. You guessed it. My treatment arm.

The Mom is just ignoring these antics to talk to a friend of hers she just bumped into.

"Excuse me, could you control your son? He just came up and punched me in the arm."

The woman (she doesn't deserve the title of mother) rolls her eyes and says, "Well, he's just a kid."

"He punched me in this arm."

I remove my jacket sleeve and show her my bandaged arm. All the color left her face and her friend looked embarrassed.

Apologies sprayed down like all that moisture that keeps the vegetables fresh.

Sometimes you have to call them on their less than stellar parenting skills.

Maybe if they didn't troll the kid around like a trophy and spent some time with the little prick, these events wouldn't occur.

I feel a little guilty though. The kids probably drowning in Ritalin and growing a third arm by now. Because that's what passes for parenting in the new millennium.

6. The Entitlement Sponge

I have a friend at work whose husband just up and left her. Left her with a daughter to provide for too. She went to the county to see if she could get help in this very difficult time.

The first question they asked was, "Are you Hispanic?"

"Well, no. No I'm not."

"Too bad. I could have gotten you a monthly stipend and a free place to live."

Her sister-in-law has been soaking up benefits because she can't seem to keep herself off alcohol and drugs.

For that, you get a free apartment AND needles so you don't catch anything.

Where is the incentive for these people to clean up their act and stand on their own accord?

And more importantly, once the users of society discover this, what stops them from joining these Emmy award winners?

A friend of mine at the News/Talk outlet is a member of the Red Cross and allows her life to be interrupted routinely to help out people during emergencies.

She came back from Katrina disheartened and ready to quit.

A number of people were showing up continuously demanding their FEMA check.

And they didn't ask nicely.

"I'm not leaving this M!@#$% F!@#$%^ place until I get my F!@#$% F!@#$% FEMA check."

Over and over and over again.

My point is there is now a huge sement of the American population that believes everything should be given to them without question.

They basically want to take the American Dream and wipe their plump asses on it.

And people like you and me fit the bill.

Apparently you're "supposed" to pay the welfare money back at some point.

When have you ever, in the history of this nation, heard of anyone PAYING THE MONEY BACK??

If Obama wants to help the nation with his proposed public works projects, the preceding people I've just described should be the first ones to be put to work.

This last group has exhausted all my remaining hate.

Thank you and good night.