Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Beth teaches a child a new word, and God punishes her

Watching the very large powerboat coming directly toward my little sailboat and then slumping over and closing my eyes was my first indication that something was wrong.

I forced myself upright and thought, “I really should care about this.” I was out on disability sailing; doing solo in a 16 foot martin sailboat, which went like all get out because the rudder was misaligned and jammed so veered toward rocks and ships at high speed as if it was trying to commit suicide. I turned the sailboat right, away from the powerboat, unzipped my oxygen bottle and turned the handle. It was a dud tank: there was absolutely no pressure in it at all. “This,” I thought to myself, “is bad.”

My little “episodes” go like this: I find trouble concentrating, I start falling over, I fall over, I am too fatigued to move, sometimes to speak, then after about 10 minutes on oxygen or 30 minutes without, I open my eyes again, and then 10 minutes later I can speak and I am weak for an hour or two. Why this happens, I don’t know. One doctor said it was a type of heart attack, but that doesn’t seem to explain everything. Maybe it is a type of seizure, who knows. All I know is it happens at least five times a week.

But it not something you want to have happen while you are out on a sailboat, not when you have no oxygen. Not when you still have a powerboat coming toward you. I let the sail boat drift. “Don’t panic” I thought to myself. So I tried breathing slowly and I took a picture of a duck. Time passed. By the time the zodiac safety boat got to me however, I was having problems staying upright much less holding the rudder. I didn’t have the strength to explain all that had happened but someone from the boat jumped on board and started bringing the sailboat (the guy below in the blue). I thought I could have “come close” but apparently ramming someone’s 42 foot yacht “near” where you want to go just isn’t close enough.

I told them not to call the ambulance, but of course as soon as you face-plant they call them anyway. The next 60-90 minutes are pretty wack, meaning I don’t remember much. I kept “falling into darkness” and people kept shaking me and telling me to open my eyes. I noticed that I couldn’t see out of my right eye and that everything had a blue overtone on it, so I kept mumbling “Blue.”

Before heading out on the sailboat I had been telling the staff some of my stories about doctors and the story about asking my GP for sleeping pills and being told to masturbate instead, and how EXACTLY to masturbate (because what you feel like at 3 am is hauling ass into bathroom to find scented candles and rose petals). At that point in the story this 11 year old boy sitting on the couch (which I had not noticed before) asked, “What does masturbation mean?” He was here for the disabled sailing as well. I answered by staring at him, then turning around and wheeling as fast as I could out of that room. I'm still praying his parents never get my name when he asks them the question that night.

I am not saying there is a direct retribution cause between telling stories about female masturbation in front of minors and having a “medical incident” later. Just, you know, I’ll use code language next time like “Pleasure myself” or “Taking an E ticket Ride.” We got to the dock. The EMT’s came and did stuff. I am guessing they got me out of the boat at some point. One of them whispered, “I’ve treated you before Elizabeth, I know you can move if you want to.” Which I thought later was an insulting “You big faker” weird whisper. In fact, due to the head nurse (who also thought it a insulting thing), I called the ambulence supervisor who did this "boy’s club"; you're the problem response, “Due to our experience, some of the people who call are just trying to get attention, that is just a fact.” Which translates in supervisor to, “Oh, did he insult you, guess you weren’t a faker, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” Indeed he told me in that same dead, ‘you are one of those people wasting services’ tone, that all citizens, regardless of their health or attitude are entitled to ambulance rides to the hospital if they request them. Dude, I’m paying big bucks every time you put in the back of that vehicle, doesn’t that mean I am sort of like....the customer? Anyway, the Ministry of Health (the overseers of Victoria Ambulance) were pretty appalled at the EMT treatment and the whole department attitude so maybe we will have some meetings to “bond” and discuss “corporate culture.” Or at least I hope they don't give me a “Frequent flier” nickname.

I don’t want to talk about the EMT guys and the hospital anymore except it took a lot of hours and the doctor came back with what all my doctors do “Something happened, but golly, gee-whiz, who knows what.” I had to do a “needle stick test” and the ER doctor sent in some super calm woman to do some bonding who had dealt with a needle phobic before. And in the end we did the test and she told me that she honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it (she the last needle phobic she had to chase as he ran screaming down the halls). Also my regular nurse, when she asked what I did and I said, “I write about disability for the BBC” got this terror look on her face and that was the last time I ever saw her. We all watched the stick test for blood sugar and it was low but within range. Big sigh as the head nurse said she had no idea what would happen if I was diabetic. Me either.

Anyway, it seems during the episode I wet myself since I lose most/all muscle control. One reader seems to have gotten confused with the mentioning of night of sex and then the urine in the last post so I want to clear something up: No, I did not participate in sexual “water sports." And I actually consider sitting in your own urine soaked jeans for five hours to be an unpleasant and NOT an erotic experience.

The disabled sailing association has not returned my calls, so I am guessing that is a bad sign. But, thanks to a paranoid recreation officer, I am the ONLY person in disabled sailing that specifically has a doctor’s note that it is okay for me to go sailing. But...still not answering my calls.

I am keeping on my hospital band on the basis that a) I have to go in to hospital for a minor surgery in a few weeks and b) if I have a few more “attacks” then I will get that really cool look that Gabriel had in the film Constantine (see all those medical bands on her wrist). Not only is “medical punk” the new trend (I keep telling people but they don’t believe), but maybe looking a bit like an androgynous psychopathic divine being will get me some more cred with the EMT’s. Don’t ya think?

So, I was pretty punked for the next two days after that, I finished my next BBC blog and took some pain pills and that was pretty much it.

Lessons learned:

1) Do not start talking explicitly about masturbation before checking if there are minors, particularly minors under the age of puberty in the room.

2) If you have already screwed yourself on rule 1, roll away before they get your full name

3) If you plan to take photos of seals, try not to get a boat where the rudder is jammed (the whole navigation thing)

4) Power Boats are rock, sailboats are scissors; try to remember that when deciding to take them head on.

5) EMT’s seem to find wheelchair confusing, since four of them couldn’t figure out how to detach my wheels, much to the amusement of the one EMT taking my medical history (You push in the hub and pull).

6) Hospitals should make you feel loved and that society cares about you; yet you leave feeling you are a rejected number in a vast uncaring system.

7) Don’t end your hospital visit with a cab drive home from a guy who served in the Isreali Military and who talks endlessly about the rules of engagement; like when to use a rocket propelled launcher into an apartment building versus a sniper (No, that’s really what he talked about).

8) Whatever those commercial show, you cannot pour a pint of fluid (say....urine) into a maxi pad and have it magically soaked up. Either that or I bought the wrong brand.

9) Telling people you were in the hospital is a sure fire way to get out of overdue fines on your video rentals (unless you rent at Blockbuster – in which case you’re screwed).

10) There is no ten, I'm just getting a bit OCD.



kathz said...

Extending the vocabulary of the young is a good thing - you have contributed to education. Perhaps the boy's parents will have contributed too by now.

I hope you've recovered and that this hasn't put you off sailing.

GayProf said...

Eleven is old enough to know about masturbation. I mean, it's not like he probably hasn't figured it out, even if he doesn't have the vocabulary.

Cooper said...

An E ticket ??? Too effing funny. Next time a youngster asks about masturbation, just say it something Dad does when Mom has a headache.....it's clicheic, I know but what the hell.

Sorry the sailboat ride wasn't much fun..at least they didn't try to talk you into a paddle boat :>)

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

Too funny about the self pleasure talk! Junior knows perfectly well what masturbation is, he just uses short, easy Anglo Saxon words, instead of those long Latinate words we grown ups use.

The behavior of those EMTs was terrible.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Kathz: I'm not off going sailing, it is just been a week now and they still won't return my calls so.....good bye sailing for this year.

gayprof: yeah, I'm sure the parents of disabled kids aren't like visciously overprotective (I'm thinking of the film Pumpkin here); he's male so if he hasn't figured it out, he will soon I am sure.

Cooper: No, I was "entrusted" with the martin because I had done so much sailing before (like the month before when I ran one of their boats up on a series of underwater rocks). Truth is, I am so used to talking to adults that the concept that someone might NOT know what BDSM is much less masturbation just sort of threw me into the "OMG, it's a child, do I go to jail for this?" panic

Daniel: Yes, I guess I should ask some 5th or 6th grade boys what the slag for "beating the bishop" is these days. Yeah well, at the end of the day just 1 or 2 bad EMT's out of 5 or 6 can leave you with a not so nice memory (I mean who really remember how nice someone asked your medical history, as opposed to the guy who physcially pushes you onto a guerney at ER so he can take his rig back with "let's get out of here this is a waste of time"

KateJ said...

Sorry I missed seeing this post earlier! Sounds like pretty exciting sailing. Sorry you're not going to be doing more sailing in the near future... but I seem to remember you saying before that you didn't like going in boats? I must have got that wrong!