Archives for posts with tag: Medicine

Tyler Sunday

Last Monday I qualified at an AA meeting in the East Village.  A twenty-minute qualification.

I skipped the drugs and drinking part of the story and talked exclusively about  how I got sober and how I stay sober.

Since returning to NYC I had thrown myself back into AA.  90 meetings in 90 days.  A new sponsor and a new sponsee.  I quickly realized that there was no place for me in the gay meetings and opted for the straight/mixed meetings in far-flung places.

I could blast gay AA if I could be bothered… but I can’t.  Needless to say, it’s just not for me.

Monday morning, during the qualification, I nearly burst into tears.  In fact, I nearly burst into tears three times.

Once describing seeing the word God in the written steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at my first meeting,  the second when describing how humbling it was spending time with the tranny hookers I met in jail and thirdly when I remembered the final moments of my using.

I have never ever cried when qualifying.  I knew by the end of my share that something was seriously wrong with me.

I had a fun weekend with a young Texan.  We visited the New Museum, had various lunches and dinners with friends but all the while I felt listless, irritable, prone to bad temper.

We had HIV tests, we explored Williamsburg.  We looked at art, we bought action figures.

Tyler left on Sunday.

Within hours of his leaving my pee had turned a dark umber.

I felt the return of the pain in my chest that I often commented, when ever I had it, on Facebook.

Helpful people told me it was acid reflux, they told me to go to the doctor.  They told me to touch my toes.

I told them:

Is this flu or depression or anxiety or kidney failure?  Guess what folks… the terrible chest and back cramps have returned with a fever…

The terrible chest and stomach pains that I learned to dread, that had plagued me for the past two years were getting progressively worse.

Now, added to everything else… the pale brown pee.  I knew things were… serious.  But I remained optimistic that by the morning the pee would return to normal.

On Tuesday morning, despite my optimism,  my pee had turned the colour of coca cola.

I called a doctor friend at Cornell who made an appointment to see me immediately.

In huge pain I made my way to his office on the upper east side.

He prodded and poked then had me take a sonogram which revealed the cause of the problem:  gall stones… lots of them.

One of them, he suggested, may have lodged in the bile duct and the bile was now backing up into my blood.

By Tuesday afternoon my eyes were bright yellow.

I told my doctor friend that my mother had her gallbladder removed and my father had died of pancreatic cancer.  He baulked.  He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t cancer until they had probed a little more.

He took blood and sent me home, making an appointment to see his urologist friend this week.

When I got home I went directly to bed.  The pain worsened.  I was in difficulty.  I called my doctor.  He told me to go to the ER.

I called my landlady and she kindly drove me to the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The doctor called ahead so I was quickly admitted and given a massive dose of morphine.

Hospital Portrait

In a painful daze, during the next day, I had the blockage removed.

The young gay man who removed the stone was incredibly chipper, explained what he was going to do and soon I was asleep.

They shoved something down my throat and into my tummy.  They cut into the bile duct and removed the obstruction.  They checked my pancreas.

It was ironic: the gall bladder and the pancreas irritating each other.  My mother and father at war in my tummy.

I woke up.

Thank GOD it wasn’t cancer.  It was a gall stone.  But my pancreas was angry.  The doctors urged me to have the gallbladder removed.

The following day I was wheeled into surgery and had my Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.

I woke up with a dull thud in my belly and four small incisions.

The surgeon described my gallbladder as ‘severely traumatized’.

The bladder had been suffering for many, many years and within hours of surgery I knew that I was waking up without just the physical bladder but without a huge emotional burden.

I felt free. I feel free.

Little Dog

A day longer in the hospital recuperating and they sent me home.

Dear Cristina sent a car to fetch me and Stephen and Roy filled the fridge with wonderful things to eat.

My time in the hospital was made so much better by everyone who works there.

The doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies.

Every one of them treated me with respect, kindness and the level of care I received was without comparison.

Each doctor looked me in the eye, introduced themselves and shook my hand.  They described in detail what was going on and gave me options.

The surgeon bantered and made one feel at ease.

The nurses said goodbye to each patient when they left their shift.

Every person I met wished me a speedy recovery and good luck.

Even though the hospital remains over crowded (since hurricane Sandy) and we were housed in former waiting areas and reopened buildings the staff were sublimely professional.

The other patients, however, were terrible.  They complained about everything.  The staff remained, in the face of this rank ingratitude, resilient.

I saw drug addicts in the ER demand morphine.  I heard men rudely tell nurses that they ‘didn’t do’ wards.  I heard cantankerous men demand their diapers changed.  The nurses were treated like care slaves.  Like servants.

The lack of any kind of humility from most patients was stunning.

I apologized whenever I could for the behavior of my fellow patients.

I’m sure that fear and pain determine the behaviors of most people in hospital.

I’m sure that the entitled rich expect so much more because of the high insurance premiums they pay and the poor… well, they  never get to treat anybody as they are treated.

Still, it’s no excuse.  Bad manners prevail.

It was another peculiarly American experience, one I will never forget.

The dogs were happy to see me but I was less happy to see them.  I couldn’t deal with how much attention they demanded.

I lay in my bed watching the Oscars.  A long way away from that terrible, cruel world.

Woke up early. Wanted to get the daub onto the stove. It’d been marinating all night.

Then, something about the process, the action of stirring the pot, as it began to simmer…broke something in me. Like I was having a rare moment of clarity, sanity…and I felt a terrible guilt for the way I had treated…not him…but his parents…drawing them into our drama. Collateral damage.

I wanted to write to them and tell them how sorry I was.

They were innocent.

Then I found that Avadon picture of Ginsberg and his long-term lover Orlovsky. And I thought about them ‘long-term’ and what they were thinking, or not thinking when they kissed for the camera.

I thought about the way they, we…I…describe what we have as long term.

Long term insists that we take what they had seriously. Ginsberg had not just met some man on the street and taken him into the studio. He had made some sort of commitment. Long term.

And I thought that marriage would be just that…long term. That our beards would grow long together. That I would never ever tire of looking at you. Kissing you.

Then I remember that I am here in LA. You send me a picture of Washington Square. It’s all I need right now. A picture.

The whole house smells of beef in red wine, fresh herbs, fresh garlic.

I had lunch with Robby on Monday. We ate a lamb burger at Gjelina. I drank ginger and mint italian soda.

He has been having a wonderful time. Earning masses of cash, loving his man and roaming with his homies. Yes, I wrote that.

On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch, a lunch that didn’t end until 3am. He is 23, he lied about his age. He told me he was older. A masculine dilettante.

We had lunch in Venice, tea in Beverly Hills, an odd party at The Sunset Tower (gays and girls), then dinner at Red Medicine on Wilshire.

Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s that restaurant, Jordan Kahn’s place…that everyone is talking about.

We ordered far too much. Each baffling plate arrived covered in flowers or Dadaist condiment.

We ate: DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, Vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm $32

We ate: HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter $17 and added Santa Barbara uni for a further $20.

We ate: BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut $15

We ate: AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents $16

Then, after dinner, we lay in the back of his SUV by the beach and kissed each other until my face was raw, my heart was racing, my legs were trembling. I was so completely overwhelmed that I could not drive for ne’er a mile before I had to stop and beg a cigarette from a passer-by.

He is beautiful. He gnawed at my neck until I could not bear it any more.

So, that’s what love looks like in a warm climate. For a moment. Not long-term. Not to be taken seriously. Just a moment. I have trained myself not to yearn for more.

So, the daub will cook for four more hours until it is tender. We will eat it with home-made noodles.

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