Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Open Letter to the Parking Lot Criminals @ Dialysis

Sometimes I have incredible timing without even trying.

Sometimes the Universe seems like its on my side, if only for a few fleeting moments.

One of those occurrences was tonight.

Post-treatment turned out to be better than I expected. For the last five excruciating days, no one could figure out why I was having equilibrium issues. My world was spinning, or dizziness was rampant.

Once your blood has been removed and replaced for three hours, you certainly don't feel right.

In fact, as the months and years bleed together, they create a river of memories that seem to flow against what the mind can remember clearly.

Its another sacrifice you make for staying alive. Sometimes its worth it. Other times, it never will be.

But a moment of happiness gave me a fleeting hug as I rose from the chair.

I felt better.

Better than I have for over a week.

I quickly gathered my belongings and hightailed it out of there.

You don't want to give Dialysis a chance to see you happy. He deplores that.

The glass encrusted clinic doors has just returned to their original position when I see an elderly Winnebago crawling past my baby.

I start walking slower toward the parking lot because I want all my faculties concentrated on this particular moment.

As the vehicle blocked my view of my little defenseless truck, someone in the passenger seat shone a very bright flashlight into the cab.

I continued my trek toward my truck at a normal speed.

Damn. The driver spotted me.

The light was quickly extinguished and they sped off as fast as a poorly maintained Winnebago can.

There is a giant sign in front of my clinic, and one over the entrance.

They knew who they were fucking with.

There is a special layer of existence below Hell. Its called Super-Double-Probation-Hell.

Hitler is there. So is Idi Amin. Pol Pot seems to enjoy it.

There's even a spot reserved for every cast member of the deplorable "According to Jim."

But stealing from a Dialysis patient? That's famously, ridiculously, mind numbingly low.

First off, its stupid. Most Dialysis patients have very little, and stealing their meager possessions won't net you any income.

Secondly, the individuals housed within the walls of that section of office park have experienced enough indignities in their life. Why would you tempt Fate with such an action?

I got lucky this time. But any time something like this occurs, I do my best to ask myself, "What have I learned from this particular moment?"

So tonight, and only tonight, I have to thank you.

Because I walked into treatment around 5pm and left my wallet in the truck.

You would have had over three hours to use my debit and credit cards until they were depleted.

Most days I'm hanging on a by a thin thread of composure, ready to be broken by any sudden downturn in circumstances.

But now that I know individuals like you exist in this particular neighborhood, I can guarantee you if you decide to break into my Blue Bombshell, you'll be walking away with gauze and a can of WD-40.

And when you are caught (and you will be caught) I'm hopeful your life will become that very deplorable episode of "Oz" where your body is used as a human pin cushion and the inmates can't stop poking you.

If you catch my drift.

But again, thanks for the heads up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Dialysis Crystal Ball

I am really disheartened by my Dialysis clinic lately.

And, as usual, it comes down to the Almighty Dollar.

I imagine the Clinic Manger and the Board of Directors sitting around a giant conference room table, laughing and chortling, sipping champagne and cheering loudly. All the while, a nine foot tall, silver and fuzzy Dollar Sign sits at the head of the table smoking a stogy with a giant smile on his face.

As every minute passes, another cutback ensues, and the Dollar Sign grows in size and volume.

Keep in mind, my center continues to extol their virtue as a non-profit Clinic.

To me, that means every dollar earned goes back into the Center.

Or so I assumed.

Cutback #1:

After the first of the year, instead of using anti-bacterial sheets to clean the chairs of feces, vomit, mucous, blood, urine, lice, dandruff, skin flakes, ass flakes, alcoholic beverages and Cheetos, the staff has been informed to use paper towels and bleach.

I'm going to glance into the future with my Dialysis Crystal Ball and see this move to its final conclusion. By the end of the year, a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water will be sprayed over the chair and wiped off with one swipe.

Infections will run rampant. Patients will corpse up routinely.

But God willing, we'll save some money on treatment.

Cutback #2:

As any veteran Dialysis patient will tell you, Plastic Tape was created to hold needles firmly in place.

What they may not mention is, Plastic Tape is pure Evil.

Tubes and tubes of Neosporin has been slathered on inches and inches of forearms to cover the painful areas where human skin has been removed.

Last month, I started to ask Stilted Accent Tech, Jolly Happy Tech, and Very Merry Tech to start using Awesome Paper Tape on my needles. They were hesitant, because honestly, those aren't the rules. But after six years of soul stealing Dialysis treatments, I do get my way sometimes.

Unfortunately, not long after this became routine, Evil Paper Tape debuted.

Although appearing the same as Awesome Paper Tape, Evil Paper Tape happily, merrily steals skin from your poor, unwilling body.

Apparently there are two tons of this cheap, abusive product in the back offices of the clinic. You can hear it giggling to itself when you use the Far Side Bathroom.

I believe its use to be twofold.

1) It saves hundreds upon thousands on top of hundreds of dollars to use.
2) It is part of a clinic wide venture to steal each patients DNA and use it for military purposes.

Somewhere in the middle of the New Mexico desert, there is a hidden complex where each and every patient's DNA is collected, treated, and then repaired to remove the kidney failure.

In place of that malady, they place military knowledge and combat experience. Those individuals are deposited in a nearby country whose mineral resources we desperately need.

But I digress.

Cutback #3:

If you are a patient at our clinic on Saturday, God help you.

In the worst example of Dialysis Economics in 2010, there is not enough staff to cover all the patients that need to be treated.

The last three Saturdays it has taken forty-five minutes to get hooked up.

Remember the first years of cinema, where everyone's actions were sped up because the technology of film hadn't been fully created?

That's what the staff looks like every single Saturday.

The math tells the story. Less staff = More mistakes = Mortality rises.

The Dialysis Crystal Ball is now brightly luminous. Dark clouds and sharp lightning fill the interior. The thunder is deafening as the storm of Dialysis Future begins...

Dialysis Chairs

Before the end of 2010, Dialysis chairs will no longer be provided. They're too expensive to clean and repair, so patients will be forced to bring their own chair.

For those in wheelchairs, that's the chair you will be assigned. If your blood pressure bottoms out and you need to lie back, quite frankly, you're on your own.

The Center recommends bringing one of those fold out pool chairs. You can pretend you're at the beach. Or enjoying a pool party. It will be fun for the patient, yet terrible on the staff's backs spinal cords.

Dialysis Tubing

Before the close of this financial quarter, patients must bring their own garden hose as tubing. Make sure to bring two of those triangular spouts that shoots out tiny, yet strong streams of fluid. That's what we're shoving in your arm from now on.

Dialysis Machines

They will also be eliminated. Too much electricity is being wasted on these monstrosities. From now on energy saving, Kenmore washers will clean your blood. It will cost you twenty-five cents for each fifteen minutes of treatment you need. There will be no change machine and you will not be reimbursed by insurance. But the Clinic will be.

Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Nutritionists & Techs

In their place will be one television monitor that will be pushed by the custodial crew from chair to chair once a month. You will have sixty seconds to ask each one of these individuals questions about your health care as they appear on the monitor. If your answer cannot be given within the allotted time, you will be forced to wait until next month.

Clinic Floor

All the above mentioned treatment will take place in a barn outside of the city limit. The Clinic is not responsible for cows, pigs, chickens, hens or horny farmers interfering with your treatment.

Please note: said Clinic will still charge Medicare and other insurance companies the same as before. But the above treatment parameters will still be mandated.

The Dialysis Crystal Ball can take no more of these futuristic images. It stars to bounce, slowly at first, and then more violently, on the table. The final bounce is tremendous and causes the crystal to shatter into thousands of pieces.

Each one is sticking into a fellow Dialysis patient right now as a reminder of the Future of Dialysis Yet to Come.