SO, I’d been afflicted with a physical condition for more than two weeks, an Elephant Man swelling of both feet that when seen made jaws drop. For days and days and DAYS everyone told me, “Go to the doctor.” This week, I tried. Since I’m not driving anymore, I was forced to enquire local doctors within walking distance in Bethel. Since I have crappy insurance, the crappy Bethel doctors refused to see me. Their best advice? “Call 911.”
Admission: Yes, recently I’ve been very depressed, and suicidal. It’s been so oppressively hot in my horrible little single window chamber, and the fan had just stopped working.
But now I wanted to live. I had reasons to live. I have the love of a beautiful and imaginative woman. I have two wonderful children who love me (most of the time). I have a story pubbing next month. I want to make a pitch to DIRGE magazine’s weekly serial, it pays money, and it’s something I can do. But most of all, a former employer is offering a lump-sum retirement pay-out. That’s thousands of dollars. Like, 20 grand before taxes. I want that money. And I want to spend it as I see fit. Pay rent. Pay back people who have been generous to me. Give some of it to my kids.
So I decided, I want to live. I needed to go to the hospital.
“Hi, Laura?” Former wife. “Can you take me to the hospital?”
“Nope, sorry. Busy. On your own, sport.”
Getting to the hospital would take 2 hours by bus, 3 hours walking. It would take 10/15 minutes in a car. And she was too busy to take the father of her children… to the hospital!
I was very depressed. And hopeless. So I went to the mountain. I went to Matthew.
It was approx. 7pm
“Man, I’m sorry. I know you just got home from work, and I know you just want to kick back and relax, but can you take me to the hospital?”
“Of course,” the Mountain responded.
We drove to the hospital, we talked, we laughed. Matthew is amazing that way. He even wanted to stand by as I was examined and I was like, No no, I have no idea how long I’ll be here, there’s no reason for you to stay. “If I’m released at a reasonable time, I’ll call you.”
In the waiting room in the ER. God.
I AMUSED MYSELF AND I AMUSED SMALL CHILDREN by making funny faces and weird hand gestures at them. But the clock had ticked past an hour, and the (very loud) TV in the ER waiting room was all TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP, and I finally got up and asked the receptionist, “Could you change the channel, please?”
She changed the channel, and the news was far worse than TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.
75 effing people blown away in France. [Updated: 84 people]
I went back to my seat and cried. I have no shame about crying in front of other people. Real tears. I’m an emotional guy. Screw it. This s**t has to STOP, man.
Then they called my name.
I was brought to a room WHICH WAS FANTASTICALLY UNPROFESSIONAL, UNSANITARY, AND UNSAFE. There were discarded blue rubber gloves on the floor, for F’s sake, strips from band-aids, etc. I couldn’t believe it. AND THE DAMN NURSE HAD LEFT HER CELL PHONE IN THE ROOM, AND IT STARTED RINGING. And I was like, “Gah! Hello, friends! This is why I didn’t want to go to the damn hospital!”
Then I tried to calm down, telling myself, “Accept help.”
But it was really hard to relax. They design those hospital cots for midgets. I’m a big guy. My legs were hanging off the “bed” by my knees. When the inept nurse came in to draw blood, I closed my eyes and thought, “Give me the needle chill, take it.” It was pleasant. No, really.
Then I waited.
And I waited.
And then I waited some more.
No doctor came to examine me.
AND MEANWHILE: my room was immediately outside of CSI:IRAQ, sort of a command central of 20-somethings in cubes and headsets going YADDA YADDA YADDA to each other at the top of their lungs. [Flashforward: when I complained about this detail to Matthew, he was surprised. “What did you expect?” he asked. “Um, a quiet room,” I told him. “It’s supposed to be a hospital. I’m supposed to be made better.”
SO, STUNNINGLY, I FINALLY LOST MY MIND AND SAT UP in my cot and screamed, “I’M LEAVING.”
My results came back. I wasn’t dying. My super swollen feet were due to excessive alcohol consumption. Shocker.
“Great. I want to leave.”
They wouldn’t let me leave.
Just let me out, I told them. I’ll find my way home.
“You need someone to pick you up.”
“Oh come on. I’ve already bothered my friends. Just let me OUT.”
“We can’t. Someone has to come pick you up.”
When I explicated that my friends had already done much shit for me, that I didn’t want to bother them anymore, the staff couldn’t care less.
Flashforward: I was told no less than three times by hospital staff, “When you come into a hospital, you void all rights.”
OKAY OKAY, so they’re finally releasing me, right? But no. We stopped before a little room, and the three guys escorting me said, “Go in.”
I went in, and they said, “Strip.”
I turned and faced them. “Are you for real?”
Once upon a time… I could have clocked them all. Boom. But not Brian in 2016. Not in reality. I knew that. So I said OK . And dropped my pants.
And they all said GAH!
I don’t wear underwear. I’m commando.
Fuck you, I whispered to them. You told me to strip.
SO THEN I’M SITTING NAKED IN THIS STUPID HOLDING CELL *IN A HOSPITAL WHERE I CAME FOR HELP* and somewhere, a woman is screaming. Screaming. She was in real physical and psychic pain. She sounded “coherent”, but out of it. Really screaming. God, I thought, looking at my stupid swollen feet. Everybody told me to go to the doctor.
Then I was finally released, where I had to face a glaring Matthew R. Bradley.
And then on the ride home I was read the riot act by Matthew for drinking too much, and I was like, “Yeah, but,” but my brain was just blaring JUST GET ME HOME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.
That was my trip to “the doctor.”