Or is it six?
Just a few minutes after 9 PM. I’m resting in room 803B on the 11th floor of the UCSD Hillcrest hospital. My window is a view south overlooking Hillcrest, the Park, and even Mexico beyond.
The pallet on the canvas today has been one of mixed sunshine and rain. Dry streets and cars moving about, stopping for their drive-through Covid test. This alternates with flowing sheets of downpour, quite a spectacle from up here in the air.
The sky has been shades of gray ranging from pale to dark, occasional luminous cumulus, and blue skies beyond. The sunset painting the landscape with horizontal light, breaking down out of the clouds above before dropping into the sea below.
It’s been a pleasant afternoon following on an unprecedented series of events of the 24 hours before.
Aunt Mary arrived in town early afternoon, met at the house by Elisa to help start putting things in order there for the move. The three of us spend time together on a video call walking through the house and talking about the different elements and aspects of things, which furniture goes where, what to do with the paintings, etc.… Aunt Mary found a game of banana grams in the front hall closet, The first spontaneous gift of the move.
I’m in a puzzling place in the system right now. San Diego nursing homes won’t take me, not at least with my current bowel management needs. There are no other ordinary paths to discharge when adequate care is not found at home.
Yesterday afternoon at the nursing home it became painfully evident that certain promises of care would not be met. The whole 24 hour experience was a real nightmare which I have been lightly, but not unseriously comparing to a level of hell in Dantes inferno.
Perhaps the most politic of all was the television which blared for the entire 24 hour period of my residence at full volume, consistently following a pathway through the channels of television shows recounting “true stories“ of horrific murders and terrifying human dysfunction.
When finally, in late afternoon, the head nurse announced that I would not, under any circumstances, be receiving the bowel care I needed and had been promised by the admissions support, I replied simply, call the transport, I’m going back to the hospital.
Thanks to the good assistance and care of Dr. Mike, I was received at the gates and the delayed care was provided. There in 8B, I spent the next 12 hours resting, meditating intermittently, meeting the nurses, and layering on heated blankets against dropping temperatures and chill in the Friday night madness that is the ER.
About 4:45 AM I was admitted to the eighth floor, and settled interest what little of the night remain.
As I was being wheeled into the room, new faces all around, Mandy and Mandy, the ER nurses, saying their goodbyes and stepping out, eyes appeared beneath black with wispy hair near the door, bright and twinkling with friendship.
Maria just popped in, looking for a bedside commode. She’s working in the unit down the hall right now, just starting her shift. We remembered one another from the 5 AM exploits of this morning and just had short and sweet chat introducing her briefly to the existence of one Mr. Hunter S Thompson.
“Buy the ticket, a ride.“ We both agreed was an apt metaphor for life.
But I digress, and returned now to the wispy black hair, and friendly eyes beneath. More echoing poetry in this stretch of the journey Echoing in this awareness today.
Once all the bustle of the nurses have died down to a dull din, and I was nearly settled in bed, the eyes appeared again, this time with a broad smile.
“Hi Kabir!“ Smiled Gerald, “do you remember me? :-)“
The young middle-aged gentleman before me, Bruce Lee hair, dark skin, and childlike delight, certainly echoed, but was not the young man I had known nearly 18 years ago, a boyish and enthusiastic physical fitness trainer greeting me at Project Walk where I have just emerged from the chrysalis of injury into the new birth of quadriplegia and recovery.
this person has been an RN on the Night Shift for 10 years here at UCSD. This person is married, with two children, one born just a few months ago, a dog, and a full heart of life.
I have been noticing echoes of the time of original injury and introduction to this world of SCI, reverberating off the walls of this recent passageway. This was the most stark it has been.
We spent the next while laughing, catching up, marveling at the serendipity of it all.
“This is my last day on, I’ll be away for the next five days he said.“ Would like I will be gone by then, onto the next stage of this particular little journey.
I gave him my card, “reach out anytime.“ I smiled cordially. How precious is friendship?
Like a ruby on the beach. The ocean crashing on one side, wilderness on the other, a long narrow stretch of pathway between. Sparkling delights, nothing to be taken lightly, also not the journey.
The day was spent recovering the body, to the degree that I have been able from the weirdness imbued by the desolation and isolation of the nursing home.
First was the autonomic dysreflexia, rising to clonic levels, diffused in the ER. Next, food on the breakfast tray, a burrito breaking the fast from what little sweet Bruce had had to offer on the trey in lemon Grove. Finally, an air mattress and a bed I can control, and the nursing staff to turn my body to take weight off the broken skin, letting it begin The slow path to healing.
Tomorrow I will continue to put together the puzzle of how to leave the hospital without returning to hell.
While it may sound hyperbolic, those 24 hours had me quite seriously contemplating the value of life, and upon which thresholds it might usefully be surrendered.
For now and forward, I plot the paths around and away from the Hemlock.
More rain tomorrow they say, more beauty, we shall see.
Sent from my iPhone
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…