Dena went back in the hospital today… And that day was January 15, 2009. No longer today but this day is identical in so many ways.
…The hard part!
The doctor informed her that if she ever conceives again it could kill her, no good, Dean concurs and that means a mini-laparotomy tubal ligation was in the works, words I didn’t even know until today.
I hated it all ‘cuz I was alone with no one to talk to.
To, for, with, my self-pity made me mad as well, what about the easy part?
Things are starting to spiral away from our safe little jungle flat and I find myself clawing at my immediate environs for security and since all I do here is write it’s the only thing I can do to feel comfortable…
At 5:00am we’re on the motorcycle in the pitch blackness of Kovalam road heading north to the Manacaud Junction and our fifth Indian Hospital experience. Our first elective one, we chose to do this. Obviously I’m still working that one out in the moment, blinding lights on a coal black street, the continuous honk of an India highway.
Dena’s doctor, an amazing physician, Dr. Kavitha, is calm and smart with a wicked sense of humor who was seemingly well educated in (if I understood correctly) Mumbai with a stint in New Delhi and another one in Tamil Nadu. She made us wait, a lot. (Really, that’s not a complaint, it’s an observation and one that is all doctor encompassing.)
… Anyway, I trust her, she’s cool! She wears the most amazing silk saris (INTO SURGERY!) and takes no shit in any of the 6 languages she speaks fluently, English not being one of them but she does a bang up job trying! …And now!
< !A story I wish would take the four hours we waited for the Dr.!>
(It’s funny, the Dr.’s daughter (I can’t for the life of me remember her name) found out about my exotic wife with her full body tattoos and her nipple piercings and went ape shit crazy until she got to meet Dena. The doctor said she cried and threw a full-bore tissy-tantrum from the not-eating-dinner to the faking-sick-as-a-dog, to the full-on-dupatta-drenching-sobs! That great big beautiful no-nonsense, over-educated, take-no-shit, Ob/Gyn/Phd/M.S./B.S./OMG, et-cet… and dot,dot,dot, is a slave to that little girl! When we came back to the hospital to ask about The-Tubal, Dr. Romper Whipped was terrified at how much we paid for the cake (which we brought for all the Sisters who helped make Dena’s miscarriage not just an event in her life to remember, but a profound one) because she knew she wouldn’t be able to talk about us without talking about the expensive chocolate cake that the strange white people brought for us for no obvious reason so she would have to buy a piece for her daughter so she could tell the story of how Dena, the rock star, is coming back in for an elective mini-laparotomy. We all had a very nice visit.)
(…The good Dr. was very much aware of the fact that she had just told us [seconds before meeting her daughter] that we would NEVER have children of our own and the fact that we weren’t crying and ‘it’s ok baby’-ing and freaking out was cause of great concern for her. And this is where our good Dr. started getting creepy to us. She told us that rather than talk about Dena’s reproductive issues with her 9 year old daughter she told the girl that Dena had been mysteriously shoved into a desk by some ‘bad men’. No fucking way, my knee jerked, “What bad men?” All of the sudden Dena and I were brought to a very intimate part of the our doctor’s life. We were all to conspire in the lie of human sexuality that our good Ob/Gyn Dr. wanted to perpetuate at our expense to her progeny. )
(Happy Endings: the good Dr. is happy because she doesn’t have to talk about the evils of the flesh to her offspring today, Dena is happy because she’s feeling pretty good and The-Tubal-thingy is going to be cheap and not be a big deal, right?)
(The good Dr. and daughter have officially invited us over to their abode to test our curry tolerance levels. Now, Dena can put away the spices with the best of ‘em and the locals dig it! Like I’ve said many times before, she is a huge rock star here, which is no surprise to me, I mean she’s beautiful and healthy and round, can eat the spiciest Indian peppers with a hunger and smiles at everyone! There is nothing not to rock out to.)
So I got Dena admitted in to the hospital and rather than waiting some more for a Dr. who will show up when she’s damn good and ready, (Not true, just how I felt!!!), I came back home to write down some thoughts (via this thing). Ok, so I walk it to the office and sat down at my desk right next to one of our local residents, THE BIG ASS SCARY SPIDER FROM HELL!!! Yeah, oh…. They’re about 6 inches around but they move really fast. They are the only spider in all of Kerala that can really fuck you up…. Oh, I got ssoooo creeped out! Of course they are afraid of us, we’re bigger, but the last thing I need is to get on that plane with a freshly fixed (?) girl healing while I’m gimped from a bad ass creepy spider bite!!! uhuhhghgiuuhghghg, that’s my creeped out mumble!
IT Was In My Desk! hgughghgughgugh… Between the gaps in the wood it lived, operating word here being, ‘Lived’! That spider died quickly.
Dena went under the knife at (India-on-or-around) 11:00am so I thought I only had about an hour to get my shit cleaned up and composed enough to make her think that I’m thinking this is Nutt’n!
I think pulled the ‘you look wonderful’ real-time fabrication off with strained conviction at best but looked forward to discussing my reservations about general anesthesia with her very much after the fact.
She came to, two hours later… She was a train-wreck of run-on sentences but warm to the touch with a pounding heart rate between 91 and 95 bpm. Her lower jaw would shake almost violently at the “end” of each of her progressive streams of dawning revelation. It was slow going but she made steady improvement over the many hours I sat and stared at her. That night, last night, tonight, hm, she slept through that night with me as close to her side as I could get on my 16 inch wide, very “comfortable” slab of hell.
Ten minutes after I (so wish I was exaggerating) fell asleep, the nurse who wrote last night’s illegal Diazepam prescription rouses me with a barking, “You have to wake up, I need you to do something for me!”
“Ok, ok, what do I do?” humbled hunched down behind her she leads me by the REM-state from my sleeping apparatus all the way to the foot of Dena’s bed where awaits my prize: a balloon sized/shaped, totally full catheter bag.
“You will empty this catheter bag for me.”
“For you, ur, yes I will.” Ok, that seemed to be the correct response.
“Good, you will wait and I will bring back (she makes this sexy phallic symbol with her hands in the air) a vessel.”
I was crusty-mouthed and wrenching my eyes into focus, on my knees at the foot of Dena’s bed with my face a stretched tongue’s distance to Dena’s catheter holding tank, trying to figure it out before our cute little felon of a nurse came back with my, umm, “vessel”.
She enters the room, looming. “Here is vessel.”
I smiled and shook tiny affirmatives out of my chin, by that point awake enough to say, “What the fuck am I paying you for!” But I didn’t. I poured the contents of the bag into the vessel until it was brimming with our heroine’s golden excrement. Two trips was her mighty volume and I don’t know what that is in metric units.
“Now you have to leave,” shooed “Sister” felon. “You have to eat breakfast now, I will wash the missus and you will come back well fed, you are leaving. Now (!).”
Yes, that is exactly what I did.
The day that was today when I wrote this is coming to an end and Dena slept, woke up, got shot, slept and I watched, paced, read (Shame by Salman Rushdie) and watched Dena. I’d go out for a while, come back, and Dena would invariably be awake and looking better by orders of magnitude each time.
I learned to hate the moaning, groaning, howling, bawling, singing, laughing, shouting, 7 fingered simpleton next-door neighbor. All night long, he wailed as the “Sisters” injected him with the chemistry of their trade. On my many trips past his door I witnessed fleeting moments of his reality and it was too much to deal with on my own so I’ll share.
He was about 35 years old and starving skinny with large lesions of what looked to be healing road rash on three large patches of his upper torso. Two in front and one on his back, it looked as if he had lost three fingers in some kind of industrial accident, an industrial saw perhaps. I believe he was retarded or rather mentally challenged to a young child’s understanding of the profound pain he was experiencing. There were about 6 people in the man’s room; two large men, one on each side of him incapacitating him at the arms and legs, a Sister shooting him up in his IV tube and an assortment of what appeared to be family looking in as many directions as their numbers allowed. He howled and freaked the fuck out all night. Dena had the opiates outweighing the fluids by that point and slept through the man’s digit-less lament. I got to listen; there was nothing good about it.
By the second “vessel” emptying of Dena’s sunny discard I was having fantasies of paying Nurse Felony to knock him out with something strong… On me of course!
Subduing fantasia I resolved to help where I could and stay out of the way until Dena said it was time to go. Once she gave the thumbs up I was activated! From the mild-mannered guy who came in with the sick white girl to “!NOW PLEASE!”
On top of the freshly extremity-trimmed howling man in the room next door we had a saw mill cutting an endless stream of workable lengths of teak from 8:00am on throughout that day, (when was that?) so when Dena said, “I can’t take the saw anymore!” I went to work and an hour later she was soundly sleeping in her own bed.
“Doctor, between the grinding of the industrial saw in the building just north of here and the howling lament of the psycho-patient from hell next door, Dena and I have decided that this environment is no longer healthy for her so we are leaving. Please have your staff put together our final bill, thank you.”
“What is your problem, Mr. Dena’s Husband I don’t know what your name is. Why are you making fusses over little things?”
“Doctor, please ask your staff to put together our final bill, we are leaving now!” Like most of the exchanges I have now had with Dr. Kavitha we both said the same things a few times leading inevitably down the dusty, dead-dog riddled, road of misunderstanding to a smiling stalemate.
Dena limps in with rigid determination on her face! Nobody likes to fake well but she pulls it off.
“Not this time, Dr. Nonchalance!” Dena’s sudden appearance gives me a boost of adrenaline. “Little things!? You are accusing me of making big noises over little issues? How can the total and complete comfort of a convalescing patient be anything less than the most important thing to your hospital?! Between that saw that you can’t even hear any more from your desensitization to it and our neighborhood psycho-crooner, we have decided that our home is a healthier environment for the remainder of Dena’s convalescence. Please note Dr. that I am not criticizing your treatment of Dena, quite the contrary, I believe that Dena has received impeccable treatment under your care in this facility, but this facility is no longer a benefit to Dena’s health so we are leaving, !NOW PLEASE!”
“Yep!” Dena says with a big ‘we’re out-a-here’ grin.
And now I’m looking at her sleeping in her bed and she is healing at home with me. She is the most beautiful thing in the world. And we are, healing that is, from this entire Stranger be’n broke-down in a Strange Land experience. I can honestly say that pretty much all of my pre-conceived (no pun intended) reservations about elective surgery in India were unexpectedly and pleasantly changed by this experience, but in the end the hospital staff’s lack of ability to communicate with me on key components of Dena’s future care made me feel completely out of the loop at many different important junctures throughout the entire experience. For some reason, the good Dr.’s repeated emphatic insistence on our misunderstandings being all my fault was a major bummer to me. The nurse that was so set on watching me pour piss while I was asleep, who forged a prescription for a sleeping pill for Dena, was a bit disturbing but, I admit it, I am a stranger to their system. I believe I tried to humble myself as much as I thought was safely possible under those nothing less than intense circumstances… There, that’s all the excuse I can muster for our speedy exit from the Zensa Hospital.
Dena’s ok and doing the trudging through the process of healing thingy again but we’re through the hard part, the rest is easy.