Friday, April 30, 2010

The Telenovela That Has Become My Life, Starting With The Prom: Part Two

In case you missed Part One,my dad and I had worked out the details of an agreement whereby I would have my prom experience essentially ruined to ensure that a cougar bimbo did not succeed in by-hook-or-by-crook (that sounds painful and I'm not even male) gaining access to my brother's sperm and illegally using them (she's eighteen while my brother will be sixteen years, four months, and twenty-nine days on prom night; the age of consent in California is eighteen) to conceive a child. A limo was rented. My dress and shoes were purchsed. Restaurant reservations and hair and nail appointments were made.

Then came the track meet in the boondocks that ended my track and diving seasons and a whole lot of other things. The ill-fated accident I've been asked not to discuss in detail happened IN MY LANE of the track during a 100- meter high hurdles race. It was the Thursday afternoon following the injury. In the preceding days I had undergone three surgeries to clean out the wound, set the bones, close the would, and probably other things I'd rather not even know. The really heavy sedation had been lifted, and but I still felt mentally foggy. No friends had been in to visit me. I was out of it enough that I hadn't actually noticed, but my mom mentioned that my doctor wasn't letting kids, even those my own age, in to visit me because of the risk of infection, since there was still a drain in my leg. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why the germs of my peers would have been all that much more potent than those of the adults who visited, but that was what my doctor said. Anyway, I was lying on my hospital be in a drug-induced haze when into my room walked a person I didn't at first recognize, because she's not someone I see on anything resembling a regular basis. This person sat on the recliner my father had moved next to my bed and began chattering loudly enough to make my head hurt. (My dad had been mostly working out of my hospital room since I was admitted. He always speaks really quietly whenever I'm sick or hurt (usually sick ; I've never been signifcantly injured before this accident). He mostly yells at me the rest of the time, but he acts like a doctor when there's something physically wrong. Maybe it's because he uses such a soft voice, but all the nurses and the other doctors do, too, so I hadn't heard any loud voices since the staff at the other hospital and my coach were yelling at each other. The voice of this girl was so loud in contrast.) I eventually processed the sensory input of her loud chatter and powerful perfume, of which she must either have sprayed half a bottle on right before coming into my hospital room or sprayed the entire bottle on herself earlier in the day. I picked a few words out of the clatter of her voice. I think I remember hearing "John," "prom", "me and him," and "I didn't think you'd mind." I don't remember saying anything to her.

Somewhere in the course of the uninvited visitor's visit, a nurse walked in. She wasn't stoned, so she was able to make more sense of the one-sided conversation than I was. Then the nurse started talking loudly, which hurt my head even more. The nurse was practically yelling at this girl.

The girl said something along the lines of, "My mother works here, so I can come in here any time I want." I hadn't thought coherently enough to make the connection, but yes, the girl's mother was a nurse at the hospital where I was, and was actually stationed on my floor.

Possibly because my father is affiliated with the hospital the nurses assigned to me were higher in rank or whatever than most of the nurses caring for patients on floors. (It wouldn't have been my choice for that to be the case. While it's good to have a nurse who isn't caring for too many other patients, with all other things being equal, I'd choose to have someone taking care of me who does this sort of thing every day as opposed to someone who has been shuffling papers for the past five years and was just temporarily called back into actual nursing service, but that was out of my hands.) Anyway, the nurse who walked into my room told the visitor, who had just announced that she could visit any time she wanted because her mom works there, that she was the supervisor of the supervisor of the girl's mother, and that the visitor's mother wouldn't be working there much longer if she didn't get out and stay out.

More loud words were exchanged. I remember trying to cover my ears, but my right arm was wrapped and immobilized, so I could only cover one ear, and covering one ear didn't do much to help. At some point the girl got up to leave, but not before using her cell phone to snap a picture of me in my glamorous state, with my splinted leg suspended and with hair that hadn't been shampooed since Saturday morning. The nurse grabbed the cell phone from the visitor and was attempting to delete the picture while the girl was yelling for her mom, or yelling about something anyway, and trying to get her phone back from the nurse. The nurse walked out of the room with the phone, and the girl followed her. I heard yelling outside the room, and then the nurse came back inside.

The nurse walked up to me and said something like, "I think you were wise not to say anything at all to her." I don't know why I reacted in the way I did, but when I tried to answer her, I suddenly began to sob. The nurse stood there. She patted my head, probably because there wasn't another uninjured place she could touch. After several minutes of my sobbing like either a really little kid or a crazy person, she and others who had come in decided to page my father. He had left his temporary work station set up in my room to talk to a colleague, most likely about the upcoming NFL draft. The nurses called what they thought was his pager, but the number didn't work, so they had him paged on the hospital intercom.

A few minutes later my dad rushed in as though he expected a major emergency. He seemed not to know how to react when he saw me. He repeatedly asked what was wrong. I don't think I could have talked if I had tried, but I didn't feel much like trying, and besides, I didn't know why I was crying.

I won't say that I never cry, but I don't cry very often, and when I do, I make it a point to try to cry privately. I believe it had been about four years since my father had seen me in tears. The crying really upset him-- he wasn't angry with me, but was bothered because he couldn't make it stop. He unhooked my leg from the suspension gear, lifted me off my bed,being careful not to unhook me from any tubes, some of which were in unmentionable places on my body, then sat on the recliner next to my bed with me on his lap. I suppose he didn't know what else to do. Fifteen-year-olds don't normally sit on their fathers' laps, but it was an odd situation. I'm also not the size of a typical fifteen-year-old. My present weight shall remain undisclosed because it's embarrassingly low and I don't want to be judged, but I'll say that I started the sports season at 87 but dropped too many pounds from the rigors of two sports with an already fast metabolism and a generally poor appetite. I was much easier to lift than the average girl my age would have been.

As I was sitting on my father's lap in the rocker-recliner, a lady I didn't know in a nurse's uniform opened the door to my room. She stood in the doorway but didn't come in. If she knew who I was and how old I was, which she apparently did, she probably thought I looked rather silly. After observing the situation for a brief interval, she said, "If you want to know why she's crying, it's because her boyfriend is taking someone else to the prom." I don't remember if she left on her own or was asked to leave. I think I remember the nurse who was in my room earlier walking out after her.

My dad said something to me like, "Don't worry, sweetheart. We'll find someone else to go to the prom with you." He was saying, "Alexis doesn't have a boyfriend. She's not old enough for a boyfriend," to anyone who would listen. I probably was crying even more by this time, but I still don't know why it was I was crying, unless it was everything that was wrong at the moment. Though I was given pain medication, my entire body throbbed. I had little freedom of movement and couldn't get comfortable in the hospital bed. With my leg hanging in the air, part of me was always cold. My hair felt the way hair feels when it's gone too many days without being washed. I was hungry, but even with the anti-emetic medication I received, I had trouble keeping food down. People in my room were speaking with shrill voices that were causing my head (one of my few unbruised body parts) to hurt. Then people in my room were bringing up the prom of all things, which I'd managed to totally block out. Maybe I was on overload. I really don't have an answer. If I could change anything other than the accident itself, the crying incident is the one thing I would change, but I can't change it. It happened. And because there are nurses who are loose-lipped, everyone at my school knows it happened.

I stayed there, resting my head on my dad's shoulder, for what must have been a long time. It was the most comfortable I'd been in days. It could not have been all that comfortable for my dad, but I never heard a word of complaint. A nurse brought a blanket, which was wrapped around me, and a couple of pillows were used to cushion my leg (and his legs, probably) in the temporary cast. I would have been mortified for my peers to have seen me, but since they were nowhere near, curled up in Daddy's arms on his lap was an OK place to be.

My mom arrived after it was dark. She's usually calmer than my dad is, but she seemed worried, too. They whispered a lot of things I couldn't hear. She had brought food. They tried to get the food into me, but I didn't want it. They made me drink Seven-Up, and someone put a spoonful of jello into my mouth and forced me to swallow it. My mom washed my face with a warm washcloth and brushed my teeth.

My dad moved me at some point, because the next morning I was back in the bed with my leg in the air. When I woke up, my orthopedic surgeon was examining my leg. He unhooked it and took the wrapping off, then re-wrapped it. He said it looked good, and that if nothing else weny wrong, my leg could be casted the next day, which would be Saturday. When my dad asked how I was, I smiled and said I was OK. He smiled in return and appeared relieved. I started to remember things from the night before, and hoped they hadn't really happened, but knew that they probably had.

The next day -- Saturday -- my leg was casted and my collarbone was wrapped more securely. The tubes were taken out. Since my leg was casted and the shunts or drains or whatever had been in my leg were removed and closed, friends could visit. My mom called my best friend Megan, who called other people. The normal limit was supposed to be two visitors at a time per patient, but since I had a private room, the nurses let a few extra people in at a time. Everyone, including my brother, already knew that John and Cassandra, the nurse's evil daughter, were going to the prom together.

On the Monday after I was injured, some not very nice guys were teasing John about taking a cripple in a wheelchair to the prom. According to eyewitnesses, John loudly proclaimed that he had no intention of taking me to the prom. My brother heard him and asked when he was going to tell me. He told my brother to tell me himself. My brother said that he sat down in the cafeteria next to John and told him that he should call me and ask me what I wanted to do as soon as I was out of sedation. My brother told him that there was no way I really would still want to go to the prom in my condition, but that the classy thing would be to give me a chance to back out instead of dumping me. John, according to my brother, said maybe.

Matthew, my brother, said he didn't tell my parents about John's situation because he didn't want them to become upset if there was no reason to be upset, and that if there was a reason to become upset, they would find out soon enough. He was probably right. I don't think their knowing in advance would have made any difference. They still wouldn't have anticipated Cassandra's appearance in my hospital room.

According to my brother and others, Cassandra was totally over-dramatizing what happened to her at the hospital. Her version of the story had her being chased by security guards and police officers, and her mother firing the nurse who had told her to leave my hospital room. As fuzzy as my mind had been, she had either lied or screwed up the facts far worse than my mind had. After I had gotten through her visit without crying or even saying anything, her mother did tell her that I was crying hysterically over losing my "boyfriend" to her, and had to add the detail about my being held on my father's lap while I wept over the loss of my "boyfriend." This, too, was blabbed all over the school, along with just how horrible I looked with my dirty hair and excessive weight loss. I have no delusions about John ever having been my boyfriend. He mostly just wanted help with his calculus homework.

It would have been nice if John had followed my brother's suggestion of calling me and asking, because I would have told him to go with whomever he wanted with my blessing. I would even have given him my half of the ticket. As it was, his mother had the nerve to call my mom and ask her for my ticket. My mother is ordinarily so calm, so practical, and so philosophical that it was funny to see her so angry about this.

My brother was angry, too. First he wanted to beat John up. My parents said they would kill him if he did that. Then my mom's spies heard a rumor that Matthew was going to bean John at baseball practice. My mother was adamant that Matthew should not deliberately throw a ball at anyone. John may have heard the rumor as well, because he missed two days of practice for flimsy reasons.

Then John showed up at practice. The team was doing some sort of drill called "Situation." Matthew was pitching, and John had to bat. Roughly one hundred kids were there to see how it unfolded. As much as I now dislike John, I couldn't have watched, because I hate violence or any threat of it. According to my witnesses, when Matthew pitched to John, John fell out of the batter's box even though every pitched was squarely over the center of the plate. Matthew wasn't even going for the corners. Then the coach called out, "Dropped third strike." In "Situation," even when there's a real batter at the plate, the coach or manager may yell a specific thing that the players are supposed to react to as though it actually happened. So then John goes trotting right down the lane that's supposed to be clear for the ball to be thrown. The catcher lobbed the ball right at John's shoulder blade. He said it was to make the point that he could have thrown it harder and could have have hurt John with impunity, because a player is not supposed to be in that lane or whatever it's called. He didn't hurt John because you don't hurt your own teammate, but neither do you hurt your teammate's sister when she's lying in a hospital bed and there's an easier solution to your problem.

John's parents tried to say that the catcher, Jacob, actually said, "This is for Alexis" as he tossed the ball at John. Jacob says he thought that but didn't say it aloud. One of the coaches who was practically on top of the scene as it took place insists my name was never mentioned. John's parents are thinking of suing someone, but they don't really know whom they should sue. I have an idea: maybe they should sue me, and we could take the case to "Judge Alex." My only stipulation is that I have to be out of this wheelchair before anyone tapes me for television purposes.

The thing with John isn't 100& over. I'm so through with him, but there is still fallout in addition to his parents' nefarious lawsuit. John's family belongs to the the same Catholic parish my family attends, where I also play the organ and piano, or at least I did when I had two hands that worked. My friend Krista brought me a sort of hand-made gift when she visited me in the hospital on Saturday. She had taken a Dollar Store dart board and had glued a picture of John on it. I hadn't even opened the package of darts because you can't throw darts in a hospital room.

When I came home on Sunday, my mom carried the dartboard into the house along with other gifts, balloons, and flowers I had received at the hospital. She sat my gifts on a bench in our entryway. Soon after I got home from the hospital, the Monsignor came to give me communion. Often lay members deliver communion to parish members too ill to come to church for communion. I was to receive communion from the Monsignor himself because I, the organist, was a prominent member of our church, but evidently not as prominent as John. When the monsignor saw the dart board with John's picture on the bench in our entryway, he refused to give me communion. My mother tried to explain to the Monsignor than it wasn't my fault, because the dart board had been a gift that I couldn't leave at the hospital, and that I had no intention of throwing darts at John's image. The Monignor wasn't so easliy assuaged. He told my mother that none of my family should have communion until we repented. My mother, the devout Catholic, was yelling at a Monsignor. I didn't know this before, bu sources have since told me that John's parents donate a great deal of money to the parish.

After the priest left, I was moaning about having been excommunicated. My dad told me to stop being a drama queen because I wasn't excommunicated; the priest just wouldn't let me have communion. I asked him what he though excommunication meant. He laughed and answered, "Not being allowed to take communion."

My mom said, "We're all excommunicated." If the priest doesn't come to his senses, she said, we'll find another priest.

"That's what I love about the Catholic Church," my dad said. "If you don't like what one priest says, you can always look for another one."

After that, my dad gave me a Vicodin, so I didn't really care all that much about communion or anything else.

4 comments:

  1. It's a soap opera alright.

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    Replies
    1. Is this for real?

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    2. It was unfortunately for real, and it got worse before it got better, but I'm so far past it now that it seems as though it happened to someone else.

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  2. The guy John is weasel shit.

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