A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

Archive for January, 2008

Dying for a Fag

Dying for a Fag

M mobilises in a Thompson 16″ self- propelling wheelchair with a J2 back (deep contour) with an 18″ by 18″ Quadtro ROHO cushion. M has placed an extra foam squab over her ROHO cushion to prevent her cats puncturing it.

They keep telling her that she is mad. They seem to think they have some control over her. All she wants is to get out of this place. She wants an electric chair; one that has batteries that last for yonks; one that she can scream down to the shops if her heart takes her that way. She wants a house of her own; she wants a place for her pets. She wants some peace and quiet from these idiots who seem to think there is something wrong with her head. Why else would they have two shrinks and a psychologist exam her? She calls them trick cyclists and she can see that it raises their hackles. They peer into her eyes; they make her take tests; they ask her about her sleep and eating patterns. Are you mad because you refused to eat their poisonous food? Are you mad because you prefer chocolate and Coke? Are you mad because you make phone-calls in the middle of the night? Are you mad? Are you mad?

The patient, Ms M, was admitted to the hospital by way of a transfer from a residential facility in the lower North Island. On admission she appears alert and orientated although constantly complaining of pain in her legs and arms. Her personal hygiene leaves much to be desired and my initial examination was brief as M terminated it when I suggested that she could benefit from some personal cares.

Hospitals are strange places. They insist that I go outside to smoke or, if I cannot stand the freezing weather (it gets down to minus five degrees Celsius here at nights and the early morning) then I can use the smoking room. The smoking room is just that – a foul little room, curtained, heated to boiling point, and populated by the dregs of humanity. I am worth more than this and I refuse to either go outside or to use their little cell. Instead, I smoke in my room. To my dismay they have smoke alarms fitted and my first attempt has half a dozen nurse and techs busting down the door, fire extinguishers in hand. Despite my protestations, my smokes are confiscated. The next day I am visited by the Social Worker from hell. She (at least I think it is a she) informs me that I must be aware of my safety. She tells me that I seem to underestimate the dangers that can result from cigarette smoking. I secretly wonder how much information they have from Ellerslie. There, I had an unfortunate incident, which resulted in me coming down to this hellhole. All very innocent actually. I fell asleep (as you are wont to do when you have not slept for over thirty hours) and I happened (unfortunately) to have a lighted ciggie in my possession which (unfortunately and unluckily) set fire to my woollen jersey. No problem. It had happened before and I woke up before I actually went up in flames myself. The Social Worker from hell tells me that the Fire Department are due up this afternoon to look at my situation and make some recommendations,. No wonder the Heath budget is blowing out when these people spend all this money on CONSULTANTS.

Report from Officer 1456 – New Zealand Fire Service. – A wheelchair bound female due for discharge from the Rehabilitation Facility of Well Health, was assessed for fire safety after an incident involving a cigarette, which threatened her safety and the integrity of the hospitals smoking and Fire Safety Policy. My recommendation is that the patient not be allowed to smoke in the hospital and that, on discharge that her accommodation be fitted with mutli-room smoke alarms. I have further recommended that the clothing of this person be sprayed with fire-retardant aerosol FR-29, so that, in the event of an accident, she will not self ameliorate. I gave routine fire safety instructions to both the inpatient and the attending staff. My examination commenced at 1000hrs and ceased at 1234hrs. – Owen Jennings.

I have demanded that I be discharged from this hellhole before they spray some stinking goo over me and take away the one thing in life that still gives me pleasure. That grinning oaf of a fireman and the Social Worker from hell smirking in the background and the nurse popping in every few minutes to ‘check on my progress’ are the last straw. I’ll be out of here within the day if I can get some accommodation somewhere.  I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get this wheelchair to work and my pleas to be assessed for an electric chair seem to have fallen on deaf ears. They are now muttering about conversion syndrome and I have had another visit from the trick cyclist.

Physiotherapy Report M had large “dystonic” movements, which would be unsafe with a power chair hand control. Another concern is M’s large dog, which she has stated has previously pulled her out of her chair. She self- propelled independently around the ward in her wheelchair over a distance of forty-six metres several times a day. Our findings from the wheelchair assessment and consultation with a seating level three-assessor show M does not fit the Enable set criteria for funding of a power-chair. I have discussed this fully with M.


So, I now get handicapped for being able to push myself around their stupid fucking hospital. Jeez. You can’t win. I do the best I can and when I say that I am going to better myself I end up being shafted. That ratty little Social Worker turned up again and said that my sister doesn’t want anything to do with me so I can count that out of my plans for resettlement. She rolled her little eyes and asked me what about returning to Ellerslie but I could tell by the sly smile that she knew what had happened there and she knew that was out of the equation. I thought all they had was the smoking thing. Now they know about the money and the thing with the case-worker. I’ve rung my lawyer but she tells me that I haven’t the funds to buy myself a house and that my only option seems to be rented accommodation or moving into a flatting situation which my Benefit payments will just cover. However, this conversion disorder thing is like a hammer hanging over my head. The lawyer says that the Benefit will cease if they can diagnosis me with a conversion disorder because it essentially means that I don’t need have the things I already have been supplied with over the ten years this bloody nightmare has been going on. Out goes the Thompson self-propelling wheelchair, the mobility tables, the hand aids, the free taxis, the home help, the educational aids, the voice activated computer, the on-call night nurse. Time for action!

The patient self discharged from our service at 0815hrs on Tuesday 15th April. She was picked up from the side door of the hospital by a Disability Taxi and dropped off at her sister’s residence. Her sister, who normally departs for work at 0730hrs has not seen her sister since visiting on Wednesday and reports that there was no sign that her sister had been inside her house after discharge although she does hold a key to the house.

Those bastards! They think they can tie down Madeline Majors. I’ll show them. If they won’t get me a free electric wheelchair, I’ll use some of my precious funds and buy one myself. The catalogues I looked at in that ghastly hospital listed them at around $70000 and I figure that, even buying that and a few sticks of furniture, and renting a house that I can live comfortably on my Benefit (if they continue it and I see no reason not to do so as they didn’t even assess me before I left) and the monies I have stashed away. Lets hope there are no further repercussions from Ellerslie! Here’s one that looks just the ticket. The Jazzy 1143. The ultimate indoor-outdoor chair. It has an 18″ turning radius and 12″ tires. Weight capacity 300 pounds Normally $11,400, this month – on special – $6,700. All hand controls – footrest, and it comes in three colours. Door to door delivery. Mastercard and Visa welcomed. Yeah! Thanks God for computers. Thank God for generous and trusting sisters with fat-cat husbands. Once I get the dog and cats back from Sis, I will be as right as rain. Sure! She said she and hubby are away for a six month holiday around mid-year but she will help me get settled in and she will be glad the threat of me living with her and her precious man will be gone. I can easily bullshit her that I still have contact with the Social Worker from hell and I can get on with my life free from all those who would take away from me what is rightfully mine.

Among the weeds and trash in the backyard lie rusty cages and flimsy wire enclosures that hold what’s left of a former dedicated pet owners menagerie. Three previously overfed and overindulged cats are now but skeletal remains. Along side the cages is a larger, more kempt structure which now contains the rotting corpse of what once was a magnificent beast. His tongue, blackened and swollen, protrudes from a rock hard jaw and the once proud and coiffured coat is now a fly blown carcass. The door to the back of the house swings drunkenly on damaged hinges and objects of clothing and furniture litter the doorway and the hall beyond. The smell is indescribable. The two young policemen pick their way through the detritus and stop as they reach the first room. They instinctively put their hands to their mouths and cover their noses as the smell intensifies. The room is gloomy but they make out a dark shape leaning against the faraway wall. The younger of the two reaches behind him to the ragged curtain the covers the only window in the room. He pulls it back and instantly regrets that he has done so. The body of a woman, her head stretched back, and eyes open but teeming with maggots, sits upright in a gleaming new electric wheelchair. He hands, now well past rigor are clutched onto the single joystick, which controls the chair. Her body has deteriorated under the thin layer of woollen clothing that covers her frame. Articles of furniture and papers are strewn across the room. As they back-pedal from this grotesque scene, they see that other rooms are in a similar state of disarray. They wonder to themselves what could have happened in this house.


Social Skills Training

I sit slightly on the periphery of the circle of three men trying to show that I want to be part of what is to happen, but also to let it be known that I expect them to do the bulk of the work. Henderson is the natural leader of the group because of his height and his exotic background. He is from the Caribbean, and despite his pronounced speech impediment, he has that lazy rolling speech that makes that culture so alluring. He has been variously diagnosed as a schizophrenic, an obsessive, and borderline psychotic, but he has come to me because of a head injury sustained in a street brawl. Across from Henderson is Roderick. Now Roderick is an interesting chap. He is a retired University professor who has rather than fallen from grace, taken a huge leap. He has been found sleeping on a park bench, unwashed, unshaven, and unloved, barely coherent. He has been medicated back to relative civilization but he has the tendency to fall into sudden mood swings and speak with copious quantities of spittle flying from his mouth. From Roderick there is only a low mumble as he stares at the floor and recites a poem from an obscure and largely unread 18th Century poet. The third member of our little circle is Peiter. As you could guess from the spelling of his name Pieter is from Germany. He is outrageously and rather ashamedly gay. The purpose of his presence in our little group is for Pieter to come to terms with his homosexuality in the presence of other men.

I start. “I think it would be a good stepping off if we first introduced ourselves and told each other something about ourselves. Something that we might not ordinarily share with others. Take a risk.”

There is an ominous silence as each concentrates on the frayed carpet in our dayroom. Too my surprise Henderson is the first to speak.

“My name is Henderson – ,” he starts off but it doesn’t exactly sound like that.
“Roderick leaps in “Did you say Hyacinth. What sort of faggot, queer name is that. Your parents must have really, really hated you to give you a name like that. Is that how you got that black eye, queer boy?”

“He didn’t say Hyacinth, you stupid old fart, he said..”

Before the words are out of his mouth Henderson has leapt up form his seat and attacked Roderick who, in turn, is flailing his way towards Pieter, who is trying to escape from both of them, tears in his eyes.

They fall to the floor with a series of grunts and bangs and, within seconds, my little group of three are in full combat. I have only one option and I hit the panic button and, within the space of a few more seconds, the orderlies have removed the tranquillised combatants to their rooms.

I sit and survey the leftover battlefield. A solitary red slipper, probably Pieters, sits; the sole reminder of what could have been.