Saturday, September 14, 2013

10 September 2013
9:45 PM

What a day!
The end of summer used to be mellow and easily slipping into autumn,
not so much any more

The day began easy enough, a regular breakfast , nothing outstanding in the fare served up. I still think that the protein component requires some input from meat of some form. I know eggs are cheaper in comparison. But eggs and grains of some sort seem to fall just short of being a complete meal in my book. And thus scrambled style eggs (which hint strongly of in actuality of being rescued from desiccation dehydration) somehow seem to be cheating as for qualifying as real eggs. Loss of gratitude points for using these. Today there was no loss of points as the kitchen actually served up hard fried eggs. I still miss eggs fried over easy though.

I did receive my twice weekly scheduled shower, which was highly appreciated due to my last scheduled shower, last Friday, never having been delivered. Then with my hair freshly braided, I ventured forth in my wheelchair. I got my 35mm digital camera and went down to the ground floor and went outside. It was humid and the air promised to be much more miserable this afternoon. However there was a breeze blowing and I am basically just sitting, I found some shade, in the breeze and just took in the neighbor hood. The neighbor was out mowing her lawn with a push mower. When that task was finished she disappeared inside, feeling the humidity no doubt. The road noises became more apparent, the birds in the trees were able to be heard and the breeze was again moving.

Then an ambulance came up the driveway. This is not uncommon around here, many patients transfer from the hospital to here and from here to the hospital by ambulance. The one annoying thing about this is that when the ambulance personnel are in the building they traditionally leave the engine running. I'm sure there is probably some completely understandable reason from a procedural process as to why they do this. But there are no quick ambulance deliveries or pick ups. The engine is left running for fifteen minutes or more. And its diesel! The fumes collect near the building an the vehicle is parked in such a way that the breeze can't really scour them away, they just collect near the building where I am sitting, formerly enjoying being outside.

Finally the EMTs leave having delivered their patient. The clattering of the intrusive engine by its leaving allows the late summer sounds back into the soundscape. But its different now. The peace of a late summer day is not quite slipping back into the former position it occupied. It the distance a siren can be heard, it is drawing closer. In fact it sounds like it is coming right down the street on which this facility is located on. Then a bright red ladder truck comes charging up the driveway red lights flashing klaxon style horn barking. The drive way is angled slightly up hill from the street giving the view of the fire truck rising up from below the earth with al of its attention grabbing regalia flashing and barking and wailing as it races forward. Let me tell you from a wheelchair position it can be mighty intimidating.

The impressive ladder truck rushed past, up the slight grade to the parking lot where it rounded the entire parking lot in order to be pointing toward the street when it stopped in front od the building. Like a large mechanical dragon the truck had come rushing up the driveway, lights flashing and siren wailing it left no doubt that it was intent on a mission, once it came to rest in front of the building, the lights shut off, and the siren ceased. As the machine came to rest it seemed as if the dragon closed its eyes of red flashing and stopped its wail, then set down on its haunches to await its next task. The doors open and men exited, not in any great hurry or in fire fighting attire. They were not dressed in casual street clothes either. Rather they were in working attire but not equipt to attend to flames. They walked purposefully to the front entrance.

Shortly after that another ambulance arrived, not in as dramatic a fashion as the Fire Truck, but it still seemed to have a similar intent to its arrival. It too disgorged a pair of fully prepared paramedics who unloaded their Stryker loaded with plastic boxes of their assorted technical gear. They too went inside of the building. Both vehicles were left with their diesel engines running. I thought that the engine of the first ambulance was intrusive on the halcyon setting. Now there was a second ambulance fouling the air AND an even larger fire truck, whose engine was even noisier. Their staccato clattering was not quite in sync due to there separate size displacements. The racket of the two idling engines combined with the growing heat and humidity of the day was the perfect backdrop for the diesel fumes gathering in the air. I figured “There goes the neighborhood.” and I too went inside.

The air was noticeably cooler in the front lobby. The emergency personnel were nowhere in sight, which meant that they were already inside the building where the issue of what brought them here was located. Many of the administrative staff were milling about in the lobby, wanting to appear to be busy and yet not quite away in their offices where they couldn't get some snippet of what was going on. Its fun, interesting really, to watch administrative types want to be gawkers more than anything else. Me, I learned a long time ago that whatever has happened will find its way to me over time, all I have to do is remain quiet and listen, then bits and pieces will be exposed to me. I just need to remain calm and available and the facts will separate out from the emotional content. There is something about people, they can't just become aware of something, they see to have to process that new awareness with their jaw muscles, almost like a bovine chewing it cud, before they can settle with the newness of the situation. I made my way to the elevator and pressed the up button.

Before the elevator car arrived I had already learned that there is no fire, that the fire people always accompany a 9-11 call and the event is somewhere on the third floor. Great! Right where I am headed. On the third floor there were the paramedics milling about, ageneral tension in the air and one of the rooms near the nursing station had its door closed. The fire fighters were nowhere to be seen. As it was lunch time and I usually take my meals in my room, if I am not there the CENA team usually leaves my tray in my room on a hospital table tray lowered so I can get to it from the wheelchair. I ghosted in, sidled right up to the meal and made short work of it. As is my custom when I do lunch from my chair, I slid the tray onto a slide board kept in my room for my use. I get the slide board from the wall where it rests, put it across my knees the set the tray on top off that. Now I am mobile and I roll off down the hall in search of the food cart to return my now finished meal and my tray.

No off to play like wallpaper and figure out what may show up.

There is an air of gravitas that permeates the area near the nurses station. People are standing about, some are appearing to be working fervently, quiet but fully occupied, phones are being used, a comment to the people around the desk. The youngest looking police member has the sergeant stripes on his sleeve, he seems to be the one in charge of the police personnel. The paramedics are standing by, alert, ready, but waiting something but what? One opens her [lastic case that looks for the world like a really expensive fishing tackle box and idly picks out a few items and attempts a light cleaning of a few things. The appearance of doing something to serve as a distraction seems to be very strong.

Meanwhile the officer on the phone asks for information from the floor nurse. This is not the everyday line nurse but the nurse who oversees those nurses. Information is exchanged, the pronoun “he” is used and the name of a local elementary school.

After some interaction on the phone the officer comments that “he” did not show up for school today. One of the other officers commented something about another one of these Juvie's. The implication was that now there is going to be more work to do. The other two officers were joking among them selves, in what appeared to be a nervous method of keeping themselves busy so as to not have to confront the enormity of the situation they were dispatched to deal with. Suddenly I realize the third officer has left from my eyesight. The other one, definitely older, chews chewing gum with a nervous ferocity that I haven't seen in a long time. Not even among sports personnel like baseball players or team managers, some of the most fierce jaw exercisers I have ever seen.

The floor nurse is looking shaken as she recounts to no one in particular, that she had just gone in the room to check on a few things (sounds like paperwork stuff), she had acknowledged the woman, turned away briefly looked back and saw her eyes rolled back into her head. She called her name and when there was no response began CPR, but she couldn't revive her. This was spoken with a mixed tone of regret bearing a touch of awe. The image that arose in me was that in spite of a lot of knowledge and a background full of doing these skills before,we are not as able as we would like to believe ourselves to be. There was a shakenness in the hallway that day. The nurse seemed incredulous, the young officer continued with his phone work, the one officer remained out of sight, the other, older one chewed his gum relentlessly and leaned against the chair rail as if his feet really hurt. The EMTs were busy busying themselves, the door to the room remained closed.

The unavoidable sense was that someone had died that day. There was also the strange sense that something should be done, but what? Those who were in charge were doing what was expected, the next items on the list of priorities were systematically being attended to, but there was this huge sense that something needed to be done, NOW, somehow calmly talking on the phone or waiting for the next command decision did not seem to be it.

Later I was downstairs, I saw the hearse pull up through the window. Automatically I knew why they were here. I was down stairs, participating in a community birthday party set once a month for everyone who has a birthday that month. It is one time we can get a better quality ice cream than that which is served to us occasionally with our meals, on an irregular basis.
Granted it is only Neapolitan from a five gallon plastic bucket from a nearby chain store, but for one who used to make ice cream at home and of many differing flavors even this choice was a reprieve from the lowest and cheapest type of ice cream we have traditionally been served. At least it was cold, not semi melted the like the gelatinous imitation stuff we get served. And the imitation flavoring is different from the other imitation flavoring we are often served.

About the time the group was singing along with the gentleman who was hired to entertain during this unfamiliar get together, I spied a gurney with a covering over the entire load being wheeled from the employees entrance toward the waiting hearse. The load beneath the covering must have been huge as it arced upward from one end to the other. The person under that canvas must have been huge. Judging from the work that those maneuvering the load were putting out, it was no easy task. There was a pause while the rear access door was opened, as the gurney made its way into the hearse the rear suspension of the vehicle went down a substantial amount, maybe five inches or so. The two gentlemen who arrived with the hearse shook hands with the CENA who was helping them move and load their cargo. Th erear loading door was shut and the hearse bearing the huge mound drove slowly off.

I don't think any of the others in that room saw the scene unfolding outside that day. I felt an immense sadness, that woman had arrived from the hospital earlier that morning, she wasn't here one full day, now someone is going to have to inform the family, funerary arrangements are going to have to be made and gone through, and through the whole series of events the part that I got to see unwind will never be known to those to whom this woman meant some thing.

I never thought as I saw my house receding through the rear windows of the ambulance as it took me to the hospital that I would ever end up in a facility like this, experiencing these events. None of this has turned out as I had expected my later years to unfold. I had such great plans … to keep working, slacking off little at a time, taking pictures, making trips … All are just memories of dreamt of possibilities now.

For now I'm not riding in a hearse under a large covering. But that is little consolation right here right now.

After arrival, idling, quite odious.

The works, not needed today.

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