Saturday, May 12, 2012

26- Inept Acumen

Autumn 2011

The chipper voice pierces the air,  "Good morning!  Bright light!"  It is time for the beginning of my routine with the morning hospital staff.  I have grown used to having a thermometer under my tongue, and a syringe in my arm within minutes of waking.  The ladies tell me that I have a list of chores today.  Breakfast, of course, and physical therapy, which I dislike even more than the moist gravel taste of hospital grits.  Then last, but not least, I am having a  PET scan today.

A PET scan is used to view the brain when there seem to be behavioral problems due to brain function abnormalities.  For instance, shouting and throwing pillows at nonexistent people like I was doing last night.  This scan is better than an MRI at finding out if the tissues are behaving normally.  An MRI only scans for topography issues, therefore the PET scan is more capable of discovering malfunction before there is any physical damage.

The minute I eat my first spoonful of cement mix, the physical therapist is in the doorway.
"You ready", she asks rhetorically?
"I just got my breakfast", I moan.
"Come on, it'll only..."
I finish the sentence for her and say, "...take a minute.  I know."

We are pushing my food tray aside, when the gray-haired black gentleman comes to take me to have my head examined.  He is all smiles, and so am I.  Momentarily, I am spared from my morning workout.  I realize that I need the physical therapy, but I swear my little, blonde ball of energy always shows up when I'm about to eat.  I have to admit, she pushes me hard, and she seems to enjoy it.

 The staff helps me slide my drooping body onto the mobile bed.  One of the interns grabs my rack of IV bags, and we are off.  The hallway is quiet, and I try to lift my head to watch the ride.  I am beginning to think that the stretcher driver is pretty good in the corners, when my foot snags a comment box hanging on the wall.

"Ow.  Take it easy, bro," I tell him.
"Sorry, partner," he says without looking at me.  He has a delivery to make.  Me.

We swing around and backward into the elevator.  I have been thinking that we are on the ground floor, but when the man presses three, we head down.  After a brief wait, we bump the wheels over the gap left by the elevator door and enter the new hall.  We turn left, take a right, a quick left, and we are headed down a long dead-end corridor.  There is no one around.  Its quiet.

I pull my feet in a bit when the man driving smashes the roll a-bed through a set of double doors.  We stop short of the second pair of doors for a moment, and there is a loud rush of air for about four seconds.  We pass through the second set of doors, and the ceiling opens up.  It looks like a Costco with all of the rafters showing, and the same gymnasium lighting.  Everything is bright, except for the graphite colored, cinder block walls.

The PET scan machine is a large white circular machine.  It looks like something that would lead to another dimension in a sci-fi flick.  There is a long line for the device that resembles a Depression Era soup line.  Everyone is standing single-file, looking down at the floor with their arms crossed because of the cold.

My delivery man brings me over to the line, and hands the staff a sheet of paper.
The woman looks down and says, "Full name?"
"Donnie Wayne Todd."
"Date of Birth?"
"June 16th," I reply.
"Alright, sir," she says as she puts medicine in one of the IV's.  "This will help you relax."

I fall back in line until it is my turn to climb the stairs.  The way up could easily pass for a fire escape with its metal grates, and hard steel handrails.  When I get to the top, there is a beam in front of me.  It has a mobile, toddler sized table to carry me down the rail.  I balance myself on the beam, and stretch my chin in the air.  I arch my back and roll my eyes toward my forehead to get a look at where the rail ends behind me.

The beam is long and narrow, and runs all the way through the vortex machine.  They staff tells me to lie down with my arms crossed on my chest.  I have to bring one knee up to keep my balance with my left foot.  Like a ride at an amusement park, the transport lurches forward.  The giant PET scanner starts to whir, and the attendants tell me to, "just relax".

I close my eyes, and the ride is over.  I feel like it was just getting started.
The assistants are almost patting me on the back when they tell me, "You did such a great job."

I let them believe that, but I am fairly certain there was sleep involved on that trip.  No matter.  The man who pushes my bed is ready to head back to my room.  When we arrive, it looks like a different room, again.  I wish they would just let me get used to things around here.  It doesn't have to be a constant challenge.

I see some familiar faces when I notice some of the locals hanging out by my room.  They are waiting to catch a glimpse of my ragged body.  Their reactions are happy, and supportive.  My friends act as though everything is fine.  They are doing a very good job of hiding their emotions.

Before I can call them out for "being to nice", my eyes begin to feel heavy.  I can't imagine the amount of drugs that are flowing through my body.  I have to close my eyes.  I squint hard for a mere moment, and when I reopen my eyes, my friends are gone, once more. 

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