September 17, 2018
“It’s always hard to deal with injuries mentally, but I like to think about it as a new beginning. I can’t change what happened, so the focus needs to go toward healing and coming back stronger than before.” – Cari Lloyd
“I make jokes because humor is the greatest healing factor that there is.”- Dick Dale
When last we met, I was finally back at home, bedridden, with a foot wrapped in bandages, and feeling completely useless and going slightly stir-crazy. But what a difference a week at home makes- granted, nothing has actually changed, but I did manage to escape the house twice, and in one of those times, I went out all by myself, just like a big boy.
To celebrate this all too brief moment of limited freedom, I wound up buying myself a Big Mac and a large chocolate shake for lunch, in the manner that anyone adulating at full speed would. After all, I went and got my insurance upgraded to include the addition of renters insurance, which I paid in full, kept an appointment with my new female GP doctor who looks disturbingly like my ex-fiancé, and attempted to re-register as a NM voter, only to find the Democratic office closed that day. (9-11)
Of course, I only discovered this after I had gotten my walker out of the car, shuffled my somewhat disabled butt up a long and uneven brick walkway, and successfully negotiated some steps, only to discover the small handwritten note on the door glass saying they were closed out of “remembrance.”
Son-of-a-c**k-wobbling-spankwanker, that’s just frustrating.
No offense to the 9-11 dead and the horrendous tragedy, but can we please all stop pretending that 17 years out, we’re still wearing sackcloth and mourning crape? Every year, the American flags come out for a day, and then almost immediately, get stored away until the next year. The only difference between this day of tragedy and the 4th of July, is the omission of a cookout. And while I expect some of you to be mouthing a strong “F**k you” in my general direction, right about now, I’d still bet dollars to doughnuts you give zero thought to this event until the dire day of the anniversary, and forget it by the morning of the 12th.
As an addendum, I for one, am sick and tired of the media’s resolve at feeding off the grotesque imagery of that day for close to two decades. There is no need for I, or anyone else for that matter, to watch that clip of the planes hitting the towers- it is seared in our collective consciousness, and needs no refreshing. I once noted in a previous screed of several years ago that the media takes only two positions in how it reports the “news” of the day, that being either fear (look! terrorism everywhere!) or fluff (look! Kardashians everywhere!) with that in mind, I really do think it’s way past time to stop milking this monstrosity for it’s faux nationalism, and either make it an official day of solemn tribute with all the dignity that it’s due, or finally admit that we need to move on, and go forward as a country.
To add to the days aggravation, I probably should also note that I was given the wrong address for the doctor as well, which I only discovered after I had gotten my walker out of the car, shuffled my somewhat disabled butt up a long concrete walkway, successfully negotiated a flight of steps, entered the building, walked the interminable distance up to the reception desk, only to be told that the office I sought was across the street.
Fortunately, the receptionist saw the overwhelmed look on my face, as using a walker tends to be highly exhausting for me, due to the debilitating factors of my diabetic-related weight loss, the erosion of my essential muscle tone due to the same, and the workmans injury I suffered earlier last year.
I’m pretty sure if I had been born a horse, I’d be a box of glue sticks right about now.
Amazingly, they were nice enough to secure a wheelchair in order to get me back to my car, yet another reason why I really dig living here- everybody is so damn kind, and thoughtful to a degree that sometimes I’m tempted to ask if anyone here hails from Stepford, Connecticut*. Not that I’d really care, but it would come in handy at Christmas, as I’m pretty certain the majority of robots aren’t programmed to expect gifts.
*[ The Stepford Wives is a 1972 satirical thriller novel by author Ira Levin. The story concerns Joanna Eberhart, a young mother who begins to suspect that the frighteningly submissive housewives in her new idyllic neighborhood of Stepford, Connecticut may possibly be robot duplicates created by their husbands.]
So after getting myself and my dead-sexy chromed collapsible ride inside my car, I drive across the street to my new GP’s office, park in the handicapped space without guilt for the first time in my life, shuffle my somewhat arguably disabled butt up a long concrete walkway, where at the end, someone was holding the door open for me, (what a town!) make my introductions, start to fill out the anticipated paperwork, and as I do, discover this printed on my form:
Holy underpinnings of Unitarianism, is this progressive or what?
Take that, second so-called Man of God at the Gila Regional Medical Center, who I’m fairly confident, wouldn’t condescend to go here. At least I’m hoping he doesn’t, because it would be awkward if I was forced to commit an act of justifiable martyrdom inside such a clean office, using nothing but my walker and a two-year old copy of Us Magazine. On the upside, it would settle the eternal question at least for him anyway, of whether or not his God is as narrow-minded as he is, as I’m hoping not to have that discussion for another 50 years or so, at the very minimum.
However, if he is, I’m still pretty sure that my twenties alone banked enough honorary credit with Satan to the point that he’d still offer me a job in the new arrivals department. After all, I am truly a people person, and who better than a writer and Creative to spin the wax poetic as to how and where you’ll be spending eternity? Always keep your personal options open, says I, for you never know what end-hand Fate will deal you.
Personally, I’m praying for a Royal Flush, but I’d settle in favor of a Straight, if it came right down to it. Semi-corrupted beggars can’t be virtuous choosers, if all I heard at Sunday School was even remotely accurate. So, the nurse comes in, runs through my medical history, takes my (always low) blood pressure, asks some related questions, shares a story or two, and then departs, leaving me alone to wait on my doctor for ten minutes or so- the fairly standard routine, that we all know and have come to absolutely hate.
In order to kill time, I played around with my phone, checked my e-mail, answered some fan comments on my social pages, and was once again struck cold by how even though we all literally have the world’s information at our fingertips, the number of terrifyingly unintelligent people is seemingly increasing. Flat-earth tripe. Political tripe. Anti-vaxxer tripe. Denise Richards is considered an actual actress, tripe.
And don’t even get me started on those idiots who erroneously believe that Jean-luc Picard is a better Starfleet captain than James the f*****g man Tiberius Kirk.
It’s enough for me to get my custom-made Bat’leth* off the studio wall and just start lopping off these egregious fan-boys grotesquely swollen and misshapen heads. You know… like you do? Covered in a sheen of failure flop sweat and consisting on a diet of microwaved by your mom Hot Pockets is not the way to go through life, kids- just a tip from me to you.
*[The bat’leth, or “sword of honor” is a traditional bladed weapon. While Klingons often carry disruptors, they prefer to use bladed weapons in combat, with the two most common being the aforementioned bat’leth and the mek’leth, which is also a badass piece of tech. Seriously. Google it. Just don’t take my word for it.]
As I was in the middle of eating another conservatives marginally functioning soul on my Twitter feed, [https://twitter.com/darkreichaz] and consequently posting the resulting hilarity on my Instagram feed, [https://www.instagram.com/wayne_michael_reich_art/] my potentially new doctor walks in, and to be quite honest, it was a tad bit disquieting, as she looks a lot like my ex-fiancé whom I still warmly refer to as “Whora the Explorer”, a pet name that implies nothing but my best wishes of success sent her way. When of course in due time, she works her way back up to the “W” section of the male species, that is.
And the best part of having flushed three years of my life down the metaphorical toilet is that I’m not bitter about it at all. Fairly well-adjusted, in fact. I think that much is pretty apparent, if one were to look at it from an outsiders perspective, that is. And anyone who says different is obviously just projecting their own insecurities, which is just sad, if you ask me. Unlike my ex-fiancé however, I’m fairly certain my new doctor isn’t going to look at my male friends the same way one looks at the appetizer menu from Dennys, so that’s a plus.
The unspoken advantage being that if they did so, I might be able to negotiate a better co-pay, but I’m also fairly confident that’s a conversation that would only be framed by the use of the word “awkward”, at best.
But overall, the visit went off without a hitch. Mainly since I was smart enough not to bring up the topic of that uncomfortable metaphorical conversation to begin with, and also because unlike my ex, we got along. A very nice lady, good sense of humor, sharp eye for detail, and dissimilar to my ex-fiancé, doesn’t blame me for stuff I didn’t do or that never happened in the first place. Nice, that.
See? I told you I was well-adjusted regarding the waste of three years of my life. I seriously have no idea why you even keep bringing it up. That’s sad. Just sad.
After that, it was time to grab some lunch, and since I’m relatively immobile, that meant hitting the ol’ drive-thru, since I could only imagine the wandering nightmare me and a walker in a restaurant would lead to, and here in Silver City, that’s a selection that tends to be limited, small town and all that. We do, to my limited knowledge, have one Wendy’s, two Sonics, one Mc Donald’s, an Arby’s, and oddly, a shuttered up Burger King and defunct KFC.
The KFC is kind of a weird casualty, given the fact it’s located squarely in the parking lot of our local Super Wal-Mart, and let’s be brutally honest- that demographic clearly loves the Colonel and his mondo chicken buckets, along with KFC’s nightmare-inducing KFC Famous Bowl*, so once brutally mocked by comedian Patton Oswalt.
*[The KFC Famous Bowl is described on the KFC website thusly: ” Creamy mashed potatoes, sweet corn and bite-sized chunks of crispy chicken are layered together then drizzled with home-style gravy and topped with a perfect blend of three shredded cheeses.” In response to KFC’s fluffy prose, his almost bowl-ending joke goes like this:
“Stop right there! Can you pile all of those items into a single bowl and just kinda make them into a wet mound of starch that I can eat with a spoon like I’m a death-row prisoner on suicide watch? I just want kind of a light brown hillock of glop. If you could put my lunch in a blender, and liquefy it, and then put it into a caulking gun and inject it right into my femoral artery, even better! But until you invent a lunch gun, I would like a failure pile in a sadness bowl!”]
The sad reality of my day was that I wasn’t in the mood for the heaviness of Sonic, the almost-healthiness of Wendy’s, or even if it had been open, the salt-encrusted depravity that comprises what passes for fried chicken at KFC. Seriously, with their five dollar two-piece drumstick and thigh combo, the chicken by itself constitutes over 90% of your daily sodium intake due to it’s monstrous amount of 2200 mg. of contained sodium. And that’s before any of the sides you can add on, such as the gravy, mashed potatoes, and those dog treats they refer to as biscuits.
For me, that strikes as if one were to ingest a container of Morton’s, but at least you could wash it down with gravy, I guess. To give you an idea what health officials suggest, here are some guidelines: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): recommends 2300 mg. a day, the American Heart Association (AHA): 1500 mg. a day, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): 1500 to 2300 mg. a day, and the American Diabetes Association (ADA): 1500 to 2300 mg. a day.
But me? I was in the mood for a Big Mac and a large chocolate shake. Not healthy for sure, but how bad could it really be for me? After all, I only have one of these combos roughly every three months or so, when for whatever reason, I get the craving somewhat fierce.
And as I was craving protein, due to the surgeries, in essence, when it came to equating KFC’s boxed salt lick combos against a jovial clowns fare which allegedly fosters possible heart disease, I’d have to be ahead to some extent, right? Well… the answer is yes, but not by much. A Big Mac has 1007mg, and a large chocolate shake, 420mg, for a combined total of 1427, or 56% of recommended daily value. But since I eat amazingly healthy at home, I rationalized the permission of what is essentially an almost tasteless burger paired with a beverage made mostly of corn syrup, as treat worthy of my efforts.
As an aside, the actual ingredients in a Mc Donald’s chocolate shake are: Milk, sugar, cream, corn syrup, natural flavor, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, guar gum, carrageenan, vitamin A, and palmitate. Feel free to look up the more exotic ones. It’ll do nothing but ease your mind.
But I can freely admit that the inclusion of Vitamin A* was kind of a shocker. After all, when you have a product that’s mostly made up of a corn-derived syrup whose main purpose is to soften texture, add volume, prevent the crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor, the addition of something that’s actually good for you seems almost like a sardonic joke from the alleged food scientists slaving away in the clowns secluded victuals lab.
*[Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A has multiple functions: it is important for growth and development, for the maintenance of the immune system and good vision.]
Granted, while the addition of this vital nutrient does have some debatable value, I’m still pretty sure that I wouldn’t successfully win the point with my endocrinologist nor my ophthalmologist that I should be able to knock back a few of these a week. Just one of the cruel realities of life, I guess. Besides, that stuff goes straight to my hips, anyway.
Speaking of hips, that brings me to the matter of the insurance office I had to go visit next, in order to be compliant under the laws of New Mexico. Unfortunately, their parking lot was on the opposite side of the building they inhabit, and there was no allowable street parking, so I had to shuffle my somewhat disabled butt out of the loose gravel parking lot, successfully negotiate the uneven street in front of the office, walk the interminable distance up a long concrete sidewalk, and plopped my aching hips in the first chair I came across.
Inevitably, the questions arose about my injury, so I gave the cliff notes about the initial wound, detailed the surgeries, and wrapped it up with a rave review of the Gila Reigional Medical Center, as I’ve been doing for anyone who’s asked.
Regrettably, there was another customer in the office at the time who overheard my conversation, which I had deliberately kept light, as I don’t like bumming strangers out with my problems, and proceeded to state that she had recently lost her husband of 46 years, a fact she blamed squarely on same said hospital, bitterly attributing his death to multiple surgeries that (in her opinion) led to a MRSA* infection, which subsequently, may have ended his life.
*[Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (aka: MRSA) refers to a group of gram-positive bacteria that are genetically distinct from other strains of Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans.]
As you might imagine, it’s rather difficult to recover the thread of your positive narrative after someone hurls an unexpected heartbreak grenade into the center of the discussion campfire. And to my exceedingly limited credit, I didn’t even try, for what can you actually say at that point that moves the conversation forward past the offering of unforeseen condolences? Luckily, the dialogue was interrupted by my agent requiring some further personal details, so this particular discomfort resolved itself, as she left the office soon after, only to be replaced by a worker at our local open air copper mine who rather unprompted, educated me about it’s history and inner workings, which were rather more interesting than you might think.
As the settling of my insurance issues came to a close, two things were made inevitably clear: one: this is a town full of stories, and two: people are seemingly willing to share them. As someone who’s both a natural chatterbox and a dedicated writer, I feel as If I’m on some fertile ground as to the fate of my future industriousness in the endeavors of writing. I’ve been wanting to get somewhat out of the literary art-box I’ve found myself in, and from what I’ve been hearing, New Mexico is rich with possibility. Not that I’m going to stop writing about Art and it’s creators, nor the drama surrounding them mind you, but I think I also need to be open to telling other stories that I run across, and that others hopefully will deem to be interesting. Not to mention that thanks to my injury, I still haven’t been able to make the inroads yet that I still require in order to swim alongside my soon to be adopted arts community here in Silver City.
I have been giving serious thought however, to using my amputated toe as a “hook”- you know, use it as an in by maybe introducing myself via a cool-sounding related nickname, like “Nicky Nine-toes”, or maybe drop in the conversational tidbit that I can’t wear sandals anymore, due to the fact that I’m “lack-toe intolerant”. All I know is that I need to come up with a much more interesting story as to how I lost my toe than what actually happened.
Maybe I could craft a tale about rescuing orphans from a burning boat off the coast of Madagascar, letting all know that as I was pulling the last one aboard, a ferociously ravenous pygmy shark* rose up from the murky depths and nailed me, as I shielded the innocent child with my pinky toe… it’s a work in progress- I’ll keep you guys posted.
*[The pygmy shark (Euprotomicrus bispinatus), the second-smallest of all the shark species after the dwarf lanternshark, is a sleeper shark of the Dalatiidae family, and the only memeber of the genus Euprotomicrus. Their lengths are up to about 10 in for females and about 8.7 in for males. It’s this kind of information that’s going to allow you to kick ass the next time you play Trivial Pursuit.]
Arriving home, I suffered the indignity of a less than graceful egress out of my car, as I nearly tripped over my own feet, trying to hold onto my slack bag (aka: male purse), my cell phone, and a paperback book that was inadvertently left in my car during the move, all while attempting to manipulate my walker on our somewhat uneven driveway.
Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov, I am glaringly not. A drunken Jennifer Lawrence, wearing five inch stilettos and juggling disagreeable ferrets during an earthquake however, is a distinct possibility. So, I manage to shuffle my somewhat arguably disabled butt up the driveway, correct course, shuffle along our mercifully short concrete walkway, fumble with my keys and rapidly slipping sunglasses, and manage to get my shambling self inside the house… where I almost take myself out by catching a corner of one of the numerous unpacked boxes from our move with my walker.
I can see the news crawl* now: “Artbitch pulls a full Vonnegut,** story at 11.”
*[A News crawl or news ticker, is the moving line of text seen at the bottom of your screen during TV news programs. ** American writer (and my literary hero) Kurt Vonnegut died as a result of brain injuries from a fall, hence my morbid joke. In an interview shortly before his death, Vonnegut mockingly stated that he would sue the maker of the Pall Mall cigarettes he had been smoking most of his life for false advertising.:
“And do you know why? Because I’m 83 years old. The lying bastards! On the package, Brown & Williamson promised to kill me.”
When I eventually spin off this mortal coil, I want to be armed with the same sense of mordant humor when and if, I face whatever constitutes the one true God.]
But near-misses mark the inner character of a man, does it not? Fortuitously, I managed to get my right leg underneath me to break my fall, keeping a limited grip on my walker, while somehow managing to keep my left foot from making direct contact with the ground. If anyone had walked in mere milliseconds after this happened, they would have surmised I was practicing some new form of Yoga involving medical equipment, as I assumed a pose appropriate only for the male lead in a late 70’s porn movie.
Yeah… best of luck getting that picture out of your head- I’m telling you right now, when you go to sleep tonight, that image is going to pop into your skull, and stick there as if it were coated in Krazy Glue. I’m so sorry. You have no idea. As I pick myself up off the floor, two thoughts pop into my head, the first being: “well, that f*****g sucked”, and the second was; “Hey… there’s that box I was looking for!” As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, point out to Life that you can’t make lemonade without sugar and water, so within the context of things, Life just pulled a dick move, and you sure as Hell aren’t putting up with it’s crap, no way, no how.
Another thing I’m really having trouble putting up with is the mildly enforced bedrest I have to endure due to my injury- keeping my leg elevated is a key factor to it’s healing, and it literally is for the birds. You can only watch so much TV, read so many paperbacks, or surf the internet before you start losing your virtual marbles. How vexed am I by this, you ask? Well, the other day in an online cooking forum, I “yelled” at a 76 year old Latvian woman for calmly suggesting that oatmeal raisin is a far better cookie recipe than the standard chocolate chip one . And while I do feel bad about doing so, it’s not like she was right to begin with in the first place, so I’m not even sure I can note that as a *true mental crackup. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO7EFfdX8Rs]
What’s harder to handle however, is how my foot looks- my surgeon did an amazing job, no doubts there, and I’ve been told constantly since the ray amputation surgery that it “looks great”, but that’s from the people whose sole job it is to evaluate the healing process, not the aesthetic one. From my artists intrinsic perspective, it’s reminiscent of what I’ve always thought would happen if an undead Chihuahua ever managed to sneak up on the sandal-wearing hero in a B-grade zombie movie, and got him by the toes. Now, according to my surgeon, in time my foot will “fill out” and not look so severe, but at this moment, I can’t look at it without feeling alternating shades of revulsion, depression, and horror.
So naturally, I’m assuming you’d like to see a picture from the first time my bandages were removed right after the surgery? God, you people are gluttons for punishment, or you’re morbid- either way, this should be a real treat for you, and only you. My joy will derive from finally hitting that line when it comes to over-sharing.
WARNING: A small hint? you may not want to be reading this as you eat dinner, and you definitely will never look at an un-breaded chicken cutlet the same way ever again. Just saying.
When I first saw it as is, my first reaction was straight out shock- I didn’t expect it to look pretty by any means, but I also didn’t expect to see that much of my foot gone, either. And no, it wasn’t my surgeon’s fault that this came as such an eye-opener to me, he had been pretty straight-up as to what I should anticipate, I just couldn’t mentally conceptualize it, which is, let’s face it, somewhat odd for a visual artist such as myself. It might have something to do with the fact I’ve never dabbled in the more organic styles of art, or it could just be my naive optimism that makes me such a blödmann* to begin with.
*[“Dumbass” in German. See, you’re learning something new, and that’s always fun.]
By looking at it, you might think I’m in a world of pain, but shockingly, this really hasn’t hurt as much as you might think, mainly due to the extensive nerve damage I already have below my knees. I don’t really feel anything past the occasional tingle or pressure on my foot, and for the first time since I contracted this stupid disease, the loss of sensation is actually a win-win in my favor, and I’m embracing that fully. Another minus is that all of the research I’ve done regarding how long this might take to heal fully, lays the timeline out to be anywhere from one to two months, at which point I may find myself in a bell tower*, taking out the wicked and the innocent alike with carefully directed water balloons.
*[Google “Charles Whitman”. Who by the way of a spoiler, did not use water balloons.]
Heres the unseasoned dry rub- I’m a true Type A personality who really needs to start making some artistic inroads, unpack a ton of boxes, get his studio in order, seek out new writing and future employment opportunities, and in general, just wants to be out of his bed more than in it, no matter how cool and comfy my lounge-pants are. And trust me, I’ve got some seriously cool and comfy lounge pants. But the awesomeness of my Hello Kitty matching wardrobe aside, I’ve got stuff to do, and this injury didn’t take the diligence due to fill out the proper forms to officially get in my way of doing what needs to be done.
I tells ya, it’s like my body doesn’t even listen to it’s own intellect anymore. It’s as if I’m comprised mostly of unruly teenagers, all of whom think the brain “doesn’t get it” and are gonna do what they wanna do, no matter the consequences. First my pancreas fails at the age of thirty, and I find out only then that there’s no warranty coverage past the first six months of ownership, and as a means to add insult to eventual injury, my foot decides to raise Cain and attempts to set off a gangrenous gas grenade in it’s brother Abel, also known as my leg.
The sheer freaking nerve, am I right?
Kids… pretty much the “better you than me” category when referring to unwanted gifts from Life. Seriously Life, you really shouldn’t have. And I say this as someone who not only loves kids, but is truly great with them as well. That’s why I could never be an effective father- I’d be way too busy out-fitting my kids with bundles of M-80’s, matches, cans of Krylon, paint-thinner-filled water-guns, and continually printing fake ID’s, to ever dispense any sort of wisdom past my three hard-earned life lessons: One: On no account should you ever cook bacon in the nude. Two: By no means should you ever allow yourself to fall in love with anyone who pays their rent in singles. and three: Always respect someone for what’s between their ears, and not their legs.
Come to think of it, that’s actually some pretty damn good advice. Screw what I typed earlier, I’d be an awesome dad. I certainly wouldn’t be boring, that’s for sure. And there’s no better bonding experience than lying to your local police as a family. Trust me on this.
Ooof. Looks like it’s getting late, so now might be a really good place to stop. And when we come back…
I discover that when you’ve got two bum shoulders, a walker is a torture device you get to bring with you, answer some questions for an online art magazine interview, and ponder some career options.
“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” – Neil Gaiman