June 22, 2005

In the Hospital

The “Wretched Refuse” used to be thought of the honored, welcomed guests to the U.S. that were greeted in Manhattan Harbor by the Lady with the Lamp. This is no longer true. The ‘wretched refuse’ have all washed ashore and have become colonists in the happy, health machine we call the modern hospital.

When I cannot speak directing about each and every hospital, I have to tell you that after spending a few days in Manhattan’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, I came face to face with (and became one of) NY’s ‘wretched refuse’. Here on a floor labeled, MC is a maze of unending hallways that lead to the central nexus of x-rays and other radiology suites, dialysis and other therapies.

As an in-patient, I was wheeled from my ninth floor room into this serpentine and then abandoned with the other refuseniks. The difference being that our movements are planned thought out and determined for us, rather than being blocked. The technologists seem to know what they are doing. They all certainly passed ‘poke, prod and stab 101’.

Once on the x-ray floor, you are then parked and left in whatever position you can muster. The room around me looks like a sea of broken people. Later, after being radio activated, you are re-wheeled back into a position to await the return trip. After 4 days, I have learned to out fox the ‘marching minions’ and to get someone to help me upstairs.

Tomorrow looms large, a procedure along with sedation, and no doubt more, “marching minions” to take me to and from the ‘front’.


It’s an amazing thing to be a resident at Mt. Sinai. Obviously the doctors are the best anywhere. What makes it all the more amazing is the idea of sharing your misery with another person, a roommate. Sure, there are people who can talk about meeting wonderful strangers and developing friendships. However, unlike the modern match-maker computers, there is no one making an intellectual, educated pairings. It’s just two men or two women who seem to enter the battle at the same time. That is why at 4:30 am I put this down in ink. My roommate has nothing in common with me. He doesn’t speak English, is older, and has hideously gangrene feet. He’s also been fighting with the staff all day and all night. The staff, although well intentioned, doesn’t seem to speak any Spanish nor can convince him to stop pulling IVs out of his arm.

I have tried to be a good person, directing nurses with what little Spanish I know and leaning on the alarm bell.

There doesn’t seem to be a reason to have made rooms for 2, but that is what they’ve done. If they’d created singles, there would have been room for twice as many, so it would have been the same, and yet so much more comfortable for everyone. If nothing else, I’d be asleep.


Having changed my bed assignment, I now have the side of the room with the window. Regardless of when you awake, the movement of the sun and the world below are a clock. While I only really slept an hour, seeing the world move outside is overwhelming. No chime of a clock heralds a new day like the appearance of the sun, the movement of clouds, the flight of birds and the signs of life beyond. My view is of the Triboro Bridge. I am enjoying just watching the traffic.


It’s morning again. 5:20 am and the place is jumping. You get temperature and blood pressure taken, asked about how you slept, your nightly bowel movements (they don’t mean IN bed, right?) a joy. I had been promised by the doctors that today I was off. No suffering at the hands of techs, “marching minions” or the various machines. However, the nurse told me that someone has me on clear liquid. This diet change indicates that SOMEONE is planning a sneak attack for later. However, being fore-warned, will also enable be to be looking out to circumvent this attack…and I’ll get food, one way or another.

Dr. One just appeared and let the bad news out. They are bound to keep me busy or the hospital wonders why I am here. I countered that they could send me home and I’d follow up at home with my doctor and do whatever they wanted. It would also give me the time between to ready myself mentally and physically. She agreed however, she doesn’t have the final word. I MAY.

I will take this to Dr. Martin. He’s been overseeing my case and is obviously the true leader around here. Fortunately, he’s also a human being and that will make a world of difference. Sometimes the answer is to be adamant and to see if your will can get results instead of the old grin and bear it.


So I’m readying myself to have someone climb through my colon. Not exactly a trip I want someone to take. I’m still waiting to see if they will give me a break….

They removed the breakfast tray (that I’d tossed into the trash) with its colorless, flavorless much that has the general appeal of cooked dryer-lint. I tried to make a cup of tea from the tray, but the decaf-tea that the aroma of soggy sweat socks. Out it went too.

I’ve made several more please, one at home, looking for support. While mom objected (I should listen to the doctors…) she tried to get me to calm down and steel myself to the necessary. I am getting more and more tunnel-visioned. I think I want a blanket agreement or nothing else. Maybe Maybe Dr. Martin will understand.

I’ve chosen to kick back in bed and to see what happens.


YES! Dr. Martin, though obviously concerned over why I had fluid around my heart, is willing to let Dr. Lagarde, my wonderful doctor at home, do the procedure. YES YES YES

They are putting me back on food and sending me home tomorrow! (Friday) I’ll call home and Dr. Lagarde and maybe call off my visiting cousins, and and and and….I think I better slow down.

I am So HAPPY!!!

Okay, the cousins are coming by today, mom will drive in tomorrow to retrieve me; two good days.

Now how do I get to spend the final time behind bars….


Senor Torres, my roommate is gone and for a brief moment I thought I might make it through to the end without a roommate. HA! At 11 pm last night they started cleaning up the other side of the room. By 1 am a new roommate appeared along with his machinery. At first it looked like they were going to open a 7-11 in the room, lot’s of tubing, inputs/outputs, but no slurpee for me. Instead this thing serves up cleaned kidneys, yeah a dialysis machine.

So from 1 am, the machine is doing its magic, and keeping the patient, his wife, a nurse, techs, doctors and others busy. Of course it’s also keeping me awake.


Oh joy… He asked me why I was in the hospital and I replied, “for a bad liver and for killing my past rooomates.” However, I’m going home…who cares. It’s the middle of the night, everyone over there is talking. I push myself past the confusion and into sleep.

6:20 Friday Morning

I HAD IT! Okay this is not MY bed, it’s my hospital bed. I’m still here, but the final night is done. A few tweaks, change of outfit and I’ll be out of here. Everything is packed and ready to be rolled away, including me.

My breakfast table I set with a long white, sheet, giving it a snazzy look. I’m desperate for these little projects just to stay sane until 11am-12 when I’ll be picked up. Enough writing….

June 21, looking back

I left the hospital on Friday. After facing down countless stabs, pills, and the horror of 4 MRI exams, I was finally going home.

Fortunately, somehow, during my slumber, my roommate, his wife, the machinery and the rest of the cacophony disappeared. I was left in a large empty (quiet) room.

The morning was spent looking for projects. I went into the hall and grabbed a bunch of gauze and bandages to keep my knee dressed. Eventually breakfast came and I was thrilled for the chance for something to do. Even a simple decision was exciting. I imagine that’s how a prisoner feels; Every small morsel of opportunity, just to do something.

The perky Asian doctor came by with a folder full of papers, test results, new prescriptions etc. That’s step one to unlocking the door.

The nurse dropped off a few papers too; release material and ‘do this at home’ stuff. Wonderful, that’s it…. Now all I need is mom and a wheel chair and I can get out.

My roommate is back. He’d left the riot of our room for the big dialysis lab in the basement and now he’s back, looking for his wife. She thinks he’s in surgery and so is out walking. I don’t understand.

I settled onto a new activity, sitting on the window sill, watching the commotion below. It’s a great game, you should try it. See if you last more than the 15 minutes I lasted.

A few doctors have come by, I agree to anything, as long as I get to go home.


Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap – waiting, MOM!!!

I’m practically out the door, but I need that wheelchair.

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

Mom’s taken the bags out, now it’s just me. A chair arrives at last.

Down the hall, down the elevator- this guy has the touch, one express ride down
Out onto the street! The sun, people, MY SISTER! She’s at the car!

My muscles, from arms and legs to voice are clearly being controlled elsewhere.

I feel that a raindrop would be too heavy and cause me to break and splinter. I have to get into the car, my brain knows what to do, but my body is so weak.

Ride home, easy, sit-try to come back.
At home – ack;
so many obstacles. Stairs to climb, my room is small from so much piled within. My breath is short and it’s so hard to do even simple things. My strength is short- only my fire burns within.

I’m not physically shaking and yet everything is…
Computer, bed, television, telephone…….sleep


It seems that while I slept at Yale/New Haven, and why my system was being invaded at Mt. Sinai Hospitals, a few things happened. I know more when I get mom to explain it all to me.

There was fluid around my heart. It was constricting the heart and making me weaker and sicker. This may account for my lack of memories at Yale/NH.

While they were able to remove the fluid, each day could be bringing it back.

The thing is, I always expected to see death coming and to make every last moment special. I thought that as my body collapsed, I’d be able to say goodbye. This is a new pitch to swing at…I could have died, and been so out of it, that even my best efforts would not have yielded an extra minute.

It’s been 4 days out of the hospital, I’m beginning to be whole again and yet now I have this constant nag that I need to keep looking back, making sure that death isn’t gaining.

I haven’t cried or had nightmares about it. It’s so close that it’s in my every thought.

However, this means an even more “carpe diem” attitude. Until I have a new liver and my body is healthy, I need to live everyday consciously, deliberately.


I awake as usual, early and slumped into my computer chair. I ‘played’ a little and yet now I’m ready to sleep again, why am I so tired?

There’s going to be more, much more. However, my therapist likes the idea of my getting healthy, so he can kick my butt. Good, I look forward to it.

Posted by bbrother at 11:09 PM | Comments (6)

Thank You

Hello Uncle Blather and the rest of the kiddies in blog land. I seem to have outlived the creeping’ crud at the hospital, and am back home again. Before I begin to type in my notes from the stay, I must do one very important thing.

“THANK YOU” to everyone who look from 1 minute to several hours of their day to see how I was doing. Sure, you all say such gleaming, wonderful things and I am supposed to be filled by them; and I am. However, this relationship can not be so one-sided. So to those of you…know that I was honored, gratified and felt oodles of love from your care, if will always be a part of my living day, and I will always be there for you.

And from my journal:

I’ve been trying to understand and accept the care that I have been receiving. The doctor’s and staff do it because it is their jobs and they have a certain commodity to live up to. Too many dead patients would probability effect their pay.

The people I mean are the friends and family members who have made it a point to be so kind to me. When someone called, I was overwhelmed. It is an amazing thing for someone to give up some of their day to just place a call and sat how much they care; Extraordinary.

Other’s having taken a step further and have made the trek to the hospital and actually visited. I understand a call, we all carry phones now, and people honestly mean to visit, or they hope they can somehow follow what spills from their tongues. So those of you who said you were going to come over, I thanked, heartily for the call, never expecting for there to be more. Making their trip over and up is so far above my understanding that I am often left to thank God for his love as shown through the sweetness of these actions.

So here and now, thank you to everyone about to be listed. You called, wrote, visited, called several times or in some way showed me a kindness that I will never forget:

Felice, Adam, David & Katherine, Mike, Gordon, Suzi, Jane, Sue, Roseanne, Liz, Rory, Lorraine, Janet, Claudia, Nancy, Arthur, Josh, Dan, as well as my cousins Robert, Sheryl, Jerry and Aunt Mildred.

Posted by bbrother at 01:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2005

Just askin' for prayers, please...

bbrother, or "Big I", is a bit under the weather these days. As a matter of fact, his sister (and my honorary sister) Leila thought we might have lost him yesterday morning.

Thankfully, Mount Sinai Hospital volunteered to airlift him, by helicopter, and he's on his way to some tender lovin' care as we speak.

Here's to geting well soon, bbrother. **clink** Take yer time. All I want is Turkey, pt. II... everything else is gravy! (jus' kidding...! :) )

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:17 PM | Comments (5)