CHAPTER 1 Welcome To The E.R.

Start from the beginning

The ole tum-tummers had taken over operations for today's festivities. I wanted to throw up. Too bad there wasn't much in there to throw up. A good vomit can help get your spirits right. Amen.

Life was coming at lightning speed. I was standing in a hallway split open from sternum to groin. My hands were shaking. No one else could see it. But blood was splattered all over their pretty sterile walls. At least the brain was still covering the basics, for example, uh breathing.

"It says in the notes she's been having issues eating?" the E.R. Doctor asked.

"Yes. She doesn't want to eat," Dad said.

One story freed and forty years of marriage at risk in a hospital no less. Nothing like a check on your vows and the dedication to your one-and-only love.

"We've been making smoothies for her with whey powder and fruit," I said.

"Does she have any bleeding during bowel movements? Or vomiting?" the E.R. Doctor asked.

"No. We haven't seen anything," Dad said.

"Is it possible she could have but no one saw it?" the E.R. Doctor asked.

"No. Someone is with her day and night. If she was bleeding we would have noticed," Dad said.

"I want to check for bowel obstructions," said the E.R. Doctor.

"Okay," Dad said.

They couldn't account for her condition. Western Medicine would have to root around with their endless tests. Oh boy oh boy.

"You can wait here. I'll be right back," the E.R. Doctor said.

The E.R. Doctor went back into Mom's room. We waited outside. Our mouths silent with thoughts while people walked past us. Their footsteps made different echoes on the linoleum depending on the shoes they were wearing. There wasn't a scrap of darkness here. It was fucking bright. If you shot a movie in this hallway you wouldn't need to set-up lights. It gave a visual to the term "well lit". Too bad there weren't any film shooters around. I would have signed up to be an extra. Fuck it.

Dad had his "Military Mode" face on, which was a two part act. Act One started with turning off or pretending to turn off his emotions while he focused intensely on the tasks at hand. Act Two always always included denial of any and all said emotions from Act One.

He was not a man to be trifled with in this mode. No sir. There was zero sensitivity and compassion. He was a robot of excitement, going down his checklist, with weapons at the ready. We were missing the scene where I do the rifle twirling trick which ends with me standing at parade rest in front of the Old Sum-Bitch. I was failing my duties on this fine summer evening.

The E.R. Doctor came back out of the room.

"We couldn't find any GI bleeding. But we still can't explain what's going on. I'd like to bring in our Internal Medicine Doctor on staff tonight," the E.R. Doctor said.

"Okay," Dad said.

"I'll put a call in. They should be down shortly," the E.R. Doctor said.

"Okay. Thank you," Dad said.

The E.R. Doctor headed down the corridor of rooms to check on other patients.

"I'm going to go move the car," Dad said

The car was parked in the Emergency loading zone right in front of the E.R. doors. We lived in such a small town the Hospital told us we could leave it parked there until we got Mom settled in.

"Okay," I said.

Nothing to do but stand in the hallway twiddling my thumbs. Time slowed to a snail's pace as I stood there like an idiot, waiting for Hell. I might as well be a pink elephant in a futuristic white washed world. I wanted to leave. I didn't belong here and the countless faces scanning me as they passed, knew it too.

I saw a woman heading my way. Oh great. The welcoming committee.

"Hi, I'm Tilda, with Admin. Is your Mom in there?" she asked with a smile.

I did a quick assessment. She had a warm heart which surprised me. There were admin people who did not. I understood why. I knew the atmosphere. The endless numbers and people with attitudes. Most numbers people (i.e. the accounting department) were grossly unappreciated for what they do. Yet, without them, no one gets paid. I-fucking-ronic.

"Yes," I said.

"I have listed that your Mom has insurance through the military?" Tilda asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Okay. Do you know if your Dad has his insurance card?" Tilda asked.

"I don't know. He went to move the car," I said.

"Okay. I'll look for him when he comes back in. I hope your Mom gets better," Tilda said.

"Thank you."

Her words were genuine. Thank God for small favors.

I had grown up in a household where everyone did not have health insurance. When we went to a doctor's office we paid 300% more than what most people paid. It was the same for prescriptions. There were a lot of people in the U.S. who had no understanding of what life was like for people who couldn't afford health insurance or health care. Most people assumed your life automatically matched theirs. Whatever was normal for them, they thought the rest of the country lived the same way.

Everyone had a home, car, health care, a steady job with a steady paycheck. They lived the nine-to-five life with friends and Sunday barbeques. They did summers at the pool, yearly vacations, family celebrations, Christmas with presents and a lighted tree.

Some people had never tasted that life. Some were barely keeping their heads above water. Some families were drowning as each day passed.

We'd been struggling with money the past three years. After the foreclosures (A Taste Of Destruction Book 1 is the juice worth the squeeze series) we barely had enough money to take care of basic survival. We incurred more debt too which is always a good time. For us, simple things such as yearly medical exams and dental, had been passed over in favor of food, fuel, and electricity. Welcome to our life.

We'd lived on the fringes of society so long normal was a mirage. It was a fantasy land of faded memories.

People talk a good game. But mostly they're full of shit. They love "David & Goliath" and "Go For Your Dream" stories. But only in the movies. God forbid you go for the impossible or swim upstream in real life. Though they're more than happy to show up and be supportive when you "Make It". Don't ask for support from them if you haven't arrived yet at the "Gates Of Success", assuming you ever make it.

Time and time again it was drilled into me that it wasn't safe to share. We'd been smacked down by our own loved ones during the foreclosures by making the mistake to ask for their help. I kept my mouth shut about our lives. People were notorious for showing up with their judgment and cross-examination when you gave a voice to what was really going on. I shouldn't have to explain or justify my life to anyone.

Wasn't I the one living it?

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