I loved Candice as I love all good-looking women. She told me she was leaving to head a new clinic on Forty. I told her I wanted to go there. I couldn’t take it that she was leaving, and, it was much closer to my house. The Grand Opening party was interesting–Candice, who had shown no real interest in me before, gave me a tremendous hug in front of some local dignitaries. She knew she was not going to see me again. The new clinic doesn’t take my insurance.
She put a latex glove on my hand. Her name is Suebee. She is from Nepal. When she pulls the one inch needle from my bicep she covers the hole with gauze. She tapes it, then I put my finger on it so it can clot. She walks away.
The blood streams out from under my finger. Suebee I’m bleeding, I yell. By the time she comes back a puddle is forming under my arm. More gauze, more pressing. She smells like Lilies of the Valley. When I stand up I tell her, if it looks like I’m going to fall please wrap your arms around me tightly. She says, shut up Stephen.
Tales from Dialysis, part 3
I noticed his color was bad. White as a ghost. They lifted him out of his wheelchair. They placed him in the chair next to me. I stopped looking. I could hear him talking. They had trouble getting his needles in. Ten minutes later his machine alarmed. The technician yelled for the nurse. Looking at him, then looking at his machine numbers, she yelled for the head nurse. That’s when I looked again. He looked dead. They tried to revive him for fifteen minutes. Then the rescue crew tried for another fifteen minutes. You can die that fast. Enjoy life.
The needles are turning my once perfect arm into a freakish, deformed, bumpy scar. The constant increased blood flow to that part of my body is hurting blood flow to my brain and other important organs. After a treatment my thinking is fuzzy. Then a puff of the medicinal and I don’t care anymore until morning.
She is Irish, a beauty with red hair. I say, “You are the prettiest flower in this garden,” as I look around the clinic with 20 more women milling about.
“Thank you, that was nice.”
Last week she told me that she was going through a nasty separation. I think she might be rich. I have a girlfriend, but I always keep my options open. I am not the man I once was, but I am as good once as I ever was.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go into a room with 32 recliners. The people in these chairs are missing feet and legs, and some are missing their minds. Some are old and near death. You sit, a technician sticks inch long needles in a surgery enhanced vein in your arm. A machine runs all the blood in your body seven times through a man-made kidney. After four hours you can go home, dizzy, drained, and thinking fuzzy until the next morning. You have to accept this. Some people give up and stop treatments. They will die within weeks. I thought life would be unbearable. I am actually happier now than before dialysis. I enjoy the small things in life more. Sunshine, my dogs’ wagging tails, my girlfriend’s laughter, a couple strong drinks, good music…the list goes on. Life goes on, thank God.
Eman is black, sixteen-years-old with Downs Syndrome. When they stick the dialysis needles in his arm he yells out, “God damn that hurts!”
We would all yell that if it weren’t for our pride. He yells this out once for each needle, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I know because I sit across the room from him. The nurses tease him. He yells back, “Shut up, Grandma!”
He wants to marry Beyoncé. He likes the Cowboys. He once groped the red headed nurse’s rear end and she had to pry herself loose. He does things I would like to do. God damn that hurts.