Beck’s Big Adventure

August 17, 2019

So every two months I go to the Mt. Sinai infusion center for the stuff that has stopped Crohn’s in it’s tracks (knock wood).

Usually it’s a big ordeal because I have to get a cab on Fifth, just to go the six blocks to 102nd street. Get out of cab, and stand up. Get the Rollater open (it collapses to fit in back of cab).

Sometimes it all goes smoothly, sometimes I need to ask the driver to lift my left leg and get it into the back of the cab.

Once I’m at the infusion place which is a half block off of Fifth, then I’m good.

And the reverse – leaving, not so bad. Walk to Madison with Rollater and get a cab etc.

Now I had the scooter. Make sure it’s charged, And set off on Beck’s Big Adventure.

Unlike most comedies, or action movies, this one had no incidents. In fact, it was fun to see the blocks going by at the speed of dripping honey.

Every once in a while, I would stop and smell the flowers. No kidding. They plant flowers on Fifth Avenue.

When I got to the infusion center, the doors opened automatically when they detected my approach. The guard got up from behind his desk and asked which floor? I told him. He punched the up button.

We chatted about something. When the elevator arrived he reached in and pressed my floor button. Then held the door while I went in.

Zip to my floor. I backed out and was in front of the check in counter. They were used to dealing with scooters. After the usual identity questions, the check-in person (I wonder what their title is) came out from behind the counter and put an identity bracelet on me. Then she went to open and hold the door I needed to go through and was directed to wait at the end of the hallway.

After about five minutes I was beckoned to come to one of the infusion stations. I don’t know what kind of training/screening these nurses get but one is friendlier than the next.

I have two nurse on either side of me in case I can’t make the three steps to the lounge chair where you get the infusion, and again, no problem.

They put the needle in which also takes some blood for a million tests they do each time I’m there. Someone takes your vitals.

And one of those kind people knows how to operate your scooter and moves it a few feet so it’s not in the way.

All the things I had been worried about were routine.

After a half hour infusion, they took vitals again, and BP was lower than when I arrived.

Then they made it very easy for me to leave; opened that first door for me; and got the elevator.

The ride back to the Castle was non eventful. I parked the scooter in front and just sat there in the morning sun and wishing people a good weekend (it was Friday). I saw nothing but people who had given me a hard time. People who never gave you a smile. People who just treated you as a burden.

And in fact, that is the game. Take as many people who’ve not made it somewhere well-paid, and bring ’em here.

The Meanest Man In The World (1)

This morning, I awoke nice and early and decided to give breakfast a try. I hadn’t been to the dining room for a few days (ordering in, or shopping with the scooter) and so as I was seated on my Rollater people came up to me and they all had a story.

Betty, a black woman who reminds me of Moms Mabley (sp?) tells me that she’s going on a plane for the first time next month. He, he… She laughs at her own life most of the time.

I never been on a plane before, she laughs.

Ike stops by and pretends that he’s seeing a ghost. He reaches out to touch my shoulder with one finger and says, “He’s real.”

Which makes Betty laugh.

And I see Nancy who encourages me to break the rules and sit in my Rollater. And that’s what I do. I tell the blue coat who is a friend, I’m getting it to go…

That gives me an excuse to be in the Rollater, and so they bring an omelette made with powdered eggs, which I won’t touch, and some toasted bread “dry” (I had to explain what dry meant to each new waitress) as they have no serving experience when they start.

I guess I have a lifetime of diner lingo: whisky down (toasted rye bread)…

By the time (if ever) that they’ve become proficient waitresses, they are gone.

And if they’re nice as well, then they will certainly leave.

So the mean guy, I mentioned him early on, will race past you to get a better number in the meds race; and complain with unbridled anger if someone is too slow to go get their meds, YOU’RE NEXT!!! GO IN!!!

Yeah, he’s big Mets fan and boasts that he has season tickets.

So when I get up to breakfast, he’s sitting at the table across from mine. A two seater. And he’s alone.

He looks at his watch (looks like a nice one) and yells in my general direction:

“I’VE BEEN WAITING 45 MINUTES TO BE SERVED. THEY’RE JUST WASTING MY TIME!!!”

And he goes into a diatribe about the waitresses, and I ask him when he moved to this table? Didn’t he used to be down at the other end, table 1?

“THEY KICKED ME OUT! PIGS. They ate with their fingers! And they all got together and asked if I could be put at another table! PIGS.”

I know the people at that table, for one thing they’re all blind. And sometimes you need to feel the food to figure out what it is.

Anyway, there’s no table that this guy could sit at. I wonder sometimes what he’s got to do that’s so pressing.

Well finally, a server comes by. She’s new. And young. And I’m sure knows nothing about being a waitress.

So she stops and asks him what he wants. First he has to yell at her or else his head will pop off. Then he asks for the cheese omelette and rye toast. And an orange juice.

None of them have pads for some reason.

So she walks to the kitchen, repeating his order under her breath.

She practically runs there. A slow trot.

Meanwhile, Mr. Meanie is complaining at the top of his lungs about not getting his breakfast on time, and I’m trying (well it had been a long time since I had visited the nuts) to explain to him that they don’t hire waitresses with any experience. The one he has is new, she just started a few days ago. Blah, blah, blah.

Nothing I say has any calming effect until I ask him about the Mets. How’d they do last night, I ask.

They lost, he replies. To the Kansas City Royals.

Aren’t they like 30 games out, I ask.

But instead of admitting that they lost against a horrible team, he gives me the line that supporters of losing teams rely on: “It’s a long season!”

And he seems to calm down as we talk about the Mets. Until the waitress runs over and puts the plate with the cheese omelette on his table with the wrong toast.

He pushes the plate across the table and starts yelling that this isn’t the rye toast he asked for.

I look over, and squinting I ask what kind of toast is it?

“I DON’T KNOW,” he screams, “BUT IT ISN’T RYE!!!”

He yells for her to come back and yells that he asked for rye toast. She’s terrified and runs back to get the toast, meanwhile he keeps grumbling.

I decide to stay out of it. Whatever calming skills I have are useless with him. Finally she returns with a new plate with rye toast. He looks in the little packets of salt and sugar they keep on each table.

He puts the omelet on the toast to make a sandwich then screams: where is the pepper? I can’t find any pepper. He’s scattering the various packets from the cup around the table.

Carmen, who is a friendly resident at a nearby table, gets up and brings five packets of pepper to his table.

Here, she says, is pepper.

He looks at it and says, well where is my coffee?

That’s too much ingratitude even for Carmen, who snaps at him: I’m not your server!

And returns to her table.

He opens all the pepper packet and pours them on the omelet sandwich until it’s black. Get’s his coffee somehow, and finally seems satisfied. He seems satisfied, but he doesn’t look satisfied. He looks like he could bite the head off a live rattlesnake (if you can picture that).

At this juncture, I’ve been sitting at the table in my Rollater. I had one piece of very over cooked sausage patty (you know it turns brown and crispy…

Sunday, August 18, 2019

[Matt the OT just stopped by. I had forgotten he’s Saturday at 10 a.m. By the time he left I still didn’t know much more about the future of a new scooter, but he did say that Medicare would cover any amount that the doctor at the approved mobility clinic prescribed.

I think he forgot to say that it was 80% coverage if you didn’t have an HMO between you and Medicare or Medicaid. But I’m not sure. Also, he seemed to be pushing an electric wheelchair with a joy stick rather than a scooter.

I thought about it, but didn’t like the wheelchair idea. Why? I told him it makes me feel more disabled. A scooter has a sort of wheel and a hand throttle and sort of feels like a very slow moving car.

A wheelchair has a much better turning radius. You could easily cycle it around 180 degrees while in a narrow elevator.]

Back to the mean guy. So he gets his sandwich put together and gets his coffee, and his pepper, and you’d think he’d settle down. But there’s no milk on his table for the coffee so off he goes on another tirade.

I offer him the milk from my table, and screams back, “I don’t want your milk! I want my own milk!”

Sounds weird to write but that’s what he said. Just like a one year old baby with a beard and a Mets cap.

Well, I’m finishing this post up on Sunday. I have a very nice blue shirt this week. I think she’s from India. She’s trying so hard to do a good job. I keep telling her to relax, she’s doing fine.

I ask her if her boss spot checks her (makes sure the bed is made, the garbage pails are empty, etc.) and she says yes, her boss spot checks them.

Who is your boss, I ask.

Timidly she comes over and says “don’t say I told you, but it’s Rhonda.”

I know Rhonda well. I tell her that Rhonda has never been in my room, at least not while I was awake.

She gets a call on the walkie talker they all carry, and it causes her to drop one of her plastic gloves.

I tell her she dropped the glove and she picks it up.

“I’m always losing something,” the girl that I think is from India says.

She says, “I wish everyone was as nice as you.”

I tell her that most of the people here are older and have lost it.

She says, “thank you, Mr. David.”

I remind her not to call me Mr. David.

“Yes sir,” she says and leaves.

So you have the Meanest Man in the Castle, and a terrified young girl trying to do her best. I hope she never has to clean his room.