Lightning Rod Explores The Public Option

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Lightning Rod
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Lightning Rod Explores The Public Option

Post by Lightning Rod » September 25th, 2009, 8:07 am

Thanks to all of my caring and wonderful friends for their good and apparently effective prayers. After enduring considerable bodily insult and torture, I have
emerged alive from the Minotaur's maze.

My vacation to the resort of illness, nay the very cruise ship of death's own doorstep, began with the horror stories I had read and heard of sitting for hours upon hours encamped among the unwashed trying to figure a way to give the latest unknown virus the slip. Parkland Hospital is the main county hospital in Dallas County. The Emergency room at Parkland handles people from all walks of life but mostly those with no insurance or other means to pay for their health care. The ER at Parkland serves on average of 2200 patients per day, most of whom should be seeing a primary care physician. So, I imagined stressing my bladder to uncomfortable dimensions sitting for 20 hours in line to be interviewed by some harried and overworked med student. At some point the real doctor zips through the room leaving no more trail than a skeeter leaves on a martini. That was one reason I couldn't bring myself to go. I was scared. I was scared of the apparatus but also didn't like the notion of sitting in a waiting room for hours without benefit of beer and tomato juice.

The sardonic part of this tale is that beer and tomato juice were what caused me to be seeking emergency help in the first place. It is well known that I have made the beverage a minor dietary religion. Oh, it is a path, my brethren and sistern and it can be scenic but it's also a short path. I have set a bad example for you, chirren. That stuff is bad juju.

First I noticed the weight loss. I have never been a large eater but I had almost abandoned the practice entirely, depending on the beer and tomato juice as my primary food supply. I began noticing bones appear on my hands and arms that I had never seen before. My rings started falling off. At the same time, my belly began to swell. I had always had an 'innie' before and one day I noticed that I was an 'outie.' It frightened me. I resembled a stick man trying to smuggle a watermelon. So, I decided to avail myself of the best medical care plan that our country has to offer--the Emergency Room. It is usually the best care you can get in any given area and it's absolutely free. (to the patient, that is. The bill is picked up by the taxpayers.) It's the real deal when it comes to a Public Option.

I decided to approach the experience like an intrepid reporter. I would channel Hunter S. Thompson and immerse myself in my subject. But instead of choosing to go to the big city Emergency room, I picked a hospital in one of the affluent bedroom counties to the north of Dallas.

I presented myself at the check-in window at the Collin County hospital. Within five minutes I was in an examination room. They didn't ask me if I had insurance. I didn't need to present proof of citizenship. They only asked for my name so they could write it on my bracelet. The doctor determined that I should have a CAT scan. Then he asked me for a urine sample, 'before I get you to drink this contrasting agent and give you a shot of morphine to relax you." Did I hear someone mention a shot of morphine? This Public Option thing was looking better to me all the time.

They put me through the CAT scan and returned me to the examination room where I laid on the examination table enjoying the warmth of the first morphine that I had sampled in years. Enter the radiologist who had just evaluated my scan. He undrapes my distended belly and says, "you are not going anywhere tonight.' Then he pokes deliberately at my stomach with his index finger. "Here and here and here, this is fluid that is filling you up. Tomorrow we and gong to stick a needle in here, " he presses extra hard, "and we are going to drain the fluid. You will be more comfortable and we can see your liver better. Looks like there is a little bit of cirrhosis." As you can imagine, this news made my evening.

I was given a nice hospital room with a television and a button that I could push every time I wanted another shot of morphine and there I was left to ponder the lancing of my belly which was scheduled for the following morning. It made me nervous that the staff kept referring to this procedure euphemistically as my 'sonogram.' To be fair the ordeal did start off with a sonogram. They were trying to avoid impaling my gall bladder or some other vital organ. But once the mark was drawn, it was 'thrust home' and the poet only had his morphine for comfort as he watched his visceral fluid drip into a bottle. Three bottles actually. They drained me of two and a half liters before it was over. I observed the whole ritual with narcotic detachment.

During the next three days I was scanned, sampled, photographed, x-rayed, punctured no less than sixty times and had more sonograms than the octomom. Several times a day the sweet young phlebotomist would arrive at my room with her supplies arrayed in a plastic container which I came to call Dracula's Picnic Basket. She had perfect, small fingers and I fell quite in love with her. She had the touch of a fairy, a discreet mosquito, a sanguinary succubus. The diagnosis was succinct---cirrhosis of the liver caused by years of systematic abuse and abetted by Hep C. With that pronouncement I became the world's fastest teetotaler. El mundo prestimo con leche bonita. It turns out that if there is anything that the liver hates more than alcohol, it is tomato juice which is full of sodium.

I asked my internist for a prognosis. She said, "cirrhosis is not Always a terminal disease.' Somehow this was less than reassuring. But Lightning Rod was thankful to the generous taxpayers of Collin County for the Public Option. The morphine was also nice.
"These words don't make me a poet, these Eyes make me a poet."

The Poet's Eye

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Post by mtmynd » September 25th, 2009, 8:16 am

Welcome back to the 'real world', where the reality of excess is in your face daily to avert your attention from the better, healthier side of life.

Excellent writing that placed me (uncomfortably so) in the arms of health care 101, American style.
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Post by stilltrucking » September 25th, 2009, 8:26 am

I guess if you had gone to Parkland you could have channeled JFK. First thing that crosses my mind when I hear that hospital mentioned.

I guess I can put my candle out now. I have had my mother's electric yahrzeit candle on for you. Thought about you everytime I walked by it or noticed it. I am more superstitious than I thought. I wondered if it was bad juju to light it for the living. But it is the same on I lit for Cecil when he was in the hospital too. So I figured it worked for him it would work for you. I also had a wax yahrzeit candle burning too but I put it out before it was gone because I did not want to see it burn out. I did not want to see you burn out.

Take care of yourself.

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Post by Doreen Peri » September 25th, 2009, 9:22 am

I'm glad you went.... finally... and that they drained the fluids and you're more comfortable. I'm especially glad to hear that your diet will change now and you'll no longer drink beer and tomato juice all day long. As you know, nutrition is important .... and we get our nutrition from food. Fresh vegetables and fruits, lots of protein (meat or nuts or soy or beans) and a variety of foods are best.

I know you must be feeling much better than before you went there and I'm glad to know that. I hope you'll also consider adding some exercise to your routine.

What is the medical plan from here? Did they refer you to a doctor you can see regularly?

Please take care of yourself, Clay!


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Post by judih » September 25th, 2009, 11:37 am

humour intact and now a potential convert to the way of healthy living.
one walk around the block at a time
one fine breakfast at a time

the physical reality that brought you to the ER is frightening, but at least it brought you there. And it's never too late to get our body back to functioning.

try reading Atkins, perhaps, on the web. He talks about no less than amazing turn-arounds.

glad you're home. your writing of this is utterly fine.
anything for art. (?)
best wishes for a full recovery

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Post by Arcadia » September 25th, 2009, 1:15 pm

hey!, in the end the public option doesn´t sound too bad! :lol:

bienvenido de nuevo, l-rod!!! :D good to know that you are alive & kicking!

& good luck exploring other bebidas besides alcohol! :wink:

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Post by sooZen » September 25th, 2009, 6:15 pm

Ahh, my dear fella Texan...I can see they didn't disturb anything that had to do with humor and that is a plus.

Something is gonna kill us all! (not a warning, just a fact) but I am glad you have the opportunity to experience a new way of life.

Actually, its not too bad and you will find, as the mtmynded one and I have, we really feel good now and boy, feeling good at our age is okie-dokie smokey.

Thanks for the play by play although, I truly wish that you didn't have to go there...but ya did, so get thee healthy man and take a hike! :wink:
Freedom's just another word...

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Post by Barry » September 25th, 2009, 11:38 pm

Hey, Clay, I know you and I have never talked much; I don't post comments to your work that often; I mostly don't grasp it, really, and when I do, I don't really know what to say. But I read you.
The poetry that has always stood out for me most is the stuff that when I'm standing there in the bookstore or sitting there in the can with chills, going, "Shit, I don't know exactly what this means, but it means something, and I really like it," - that's the stuff that stands out for me.
I thought about you a lot over the last couple days, Clay. For whatever that's worth. I'm very much glad you are better, that you made it through, and I'm glad that this wake-up call has made some kind of impression on you.
I drink Budweiser Clamato cheladas, myself. And I, too, have a known medical history of liver issues. Not Hep C, but I had Hep A once, and that's enough to start the inevitable compromise of that organ. In 2004, I had a doctor check me for cirrhosis because of some serious unrelated problems I had come to her about. "Cirrhosis?" I asked. "But I don't drink that much." (3 beers a day, tops) She raised her eyebrows. And then she smiled and said it was something we needed to rule out. Later she said I should cut back to one beer a day. The point is, I had always thought that condition was something you had to drink like a fifth of gin a day or something to worry about. I want to thank you for cluing me in on the sodium on top of the beer aspect. I've been a life-long sodium abuser, too. I salt everything but pizza and Chinese food.
In short, thank you, Clay, for the wake up call. I read you loud and clear.
Finally, this piece you have written here is I think one of the best pieces of creative non-fiction I have ever read. You truly did channel the Gonz while in hospital. Or maybe, just maybe, one night while you were sleeping, you were paid a visit by Dr. Duke. I'm not shitting you here or blowing smoke up your ass. It really is a fine piece of writing. I have no doubt in my mind that HST is proud. And clearly all of us here are glad you are on the mend.
"Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends..."


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Post by mistertroll » September 26th, 2009, 11:28 pm

Cranberry juice, my dear friend. Cranberry juice. Lots of it.

I'm really glad you finally sought help. I was afraid you would just let yourself go gently into that good night.

You are in my thoughts often.
Not just another pretty face...


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Post by SadLuckDame » September 27th, 2009, 1:08 am

I forgot to comment, after reading.

Hello LR,

We've not met
nice to meet you
nice to see you back.

Beer and tomato juice paints a vivid picture.
I'm glad you're on the road to recovery, and intact.

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Post by hester_prynne » September 27th, 2009, 1:35 pm

When a rebel's body yells, it's time to make some changes. Glad to see you are going to answer the call. Extremely glad you are ok, missed you around here.
H 8)
"I am a victim of society, and, an entertainer"........DW

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Post by mousey1 » September 29th, 2009, 9:35 pm

Oh my! Well I'm so glad you are on the repair. If repair it is. So what does this mean for you now might I ask? Tea-totaling? Well that's not so bad you know. It brings with it greater clarity and fresh thinking.

So have you nipped this cirrhosis in the bud or do you have a long road ahead? My prayers are with you, Lrod.
I used to walk with my head in the clouds but I kept getting struck by lightning!
Now my head twitches and I drool alot. Anonymouse


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Post by e_dog » October 9th, 2009, 8:39 pm

healthcare far evrybodies.

singlepayer acktioned.

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Post by Dave The Dov » October 11th, 2009, 5:39 am

Parkland hospital how ironic!!!! Glad your feeling better though!!!!

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