Sunday, May 31, 2009

My trip to the hospital

It reached a point where I gave up hope. My stomach was hurting so bad I made my way over to a City Council aide. Noting her name tag, I asked if there was any first aid room in the building. I was having trouble functioning on my own. She contacted security and they called for an ambulance.
It was about 4 o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon when my stomach was starting to hurt. I was waiting for the bus heading to a Housing Levy meeting at Seattle City Hall. I figured since I hadn't eaten all day I'd feel better when I had a meal downtown. That wasn't the case. Then I figured if I went to the bathroom I'd feel better but I was in pain when I attempted to do that.
I sat down in a chair and tried to get comfortable. I closed my eyes but didn't fall asleep. Then I heard the ambulance (what some people in Seattle call an `aid car.') in the distance. The siren stopped but I wasn't seeing any help arriving. Turns out, Mayor Nickels was presenting awards to high school students down on the second floor and one of the main entrances was closed. It took the ambulance people about five minutes to reach me. Was this the mayor's plan to get even with me for writing for less than flattering things about him on my blog.
After talking to me for a few minutes the ambulance workers proceeded to lift me on to the stretcher. For the first time in awhile I had a humerous thought. I had just watched Season 2 of the Get Smart TV show. All I could think of was the ambulance workers who put Maxwell Smart on a stretcher and then tipped him over. Those guys also stood him up to get through swinging doors and he fell on his face. I was luckier.
We headed on the elevator to the bottom floor and the ambulance guys weren't sure how to get to the parking lot. A guy who looked vaguely familiar gave them what turned out to be the wrong directions. Watching TV the next weekend I almost had another attack when I realized the unhelpful passerby was none other than Tim Cies, a Mayoral assistant called by the some, ``the Mayor's hatchetman.''
I arrived at the hospital and my confusion continued. I was told I was going to Cherry Hill but now saw Swedish Hospital towels hung up on the wall. How could I get home if I didn't even know what hospital I was in. A kindly orderly explained that Cherry Hill was Swedish's emergency room. Or something like that.
Wondering what would happen next, a doctor came in and explained that I had a hernia. He lifted up my shirt and I saw that a piece of flesh was growing out of my stomach, looking like a thumb or a thimble. He was able to push it down and the ice and introvenus apparently helped.
I was feeling better now. A friendly male nurse came by; perhaps a bit too friendly, as he immediately started to pull my pants down. At times like this you start thinking like your mother, ``is my t-shirt clean? Are these the shorts with the hole in them?'' I knew what was coming next though; he was going to stick a needle into my arm; and like a vampire, suck blood from my body.
The nurse started looking for a vein, and started to wipe my arm down, ``so you won't feel a thing.'' I try and not pay attention when someone's sticking a needle into my arm, but then the nurse started doing play-by-pay. ``Here it comes now. 1, 2, 3...'' Jeez, how could I NOT pay attention to that. Fortunately, I was able to settle in after that, listening to some nurses outside my room discussing the movie, Borat.. ``Now Borat, is he supposed to be retarted?'' one asked.
I've had some tightness around my belly button for a while but that grotesque-looking third thumb hasn't returned. For the record, I have an Incarcerated Umbilical Hernia. I saw my regular doctor and now I'm waiting to hear from the specialist. Like the wheels of justice, the wheels of medicine turn slowly. But except for some bloating I've been feeling good. It just goes to show, you don't know what'll happen next?
I did have a little bit more pain that night. The cab from the hospital to my house about five miles away, was $25.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jailhouse rots

David Simon, the creator of the HBO TV show The Wire recently appeared on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS and gave the best reason I ever heard for making drugs legal. Simon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter painted a bleak picture of modern-day society when Moyers asked him what he would do to solve today's problems. ``I would decriminalize drugs in a heartbeat. I would put all the interdiction money, all the pretrial, all the prep, all of that cash. I would hurl it, as fast as I could into drug treatment and job training and jobs programs.'' If I could paraphrase Mr. Simon, deal with problems at the start and not at the end.
That makes me think of an initiative I'm involved with in Seattle, I-100. Basically, the initiative states that instead of the city (i.e. Mayor Greg Nickels) deciding to spend $226 million on a new jail it would go to a public vote. If we get enough signatures by the end of the month, I-100 will go on the ballot for the next election. The initiative also talks about analyzing ways to decrease incarceration rates; analyzing whether investments in social services will lower crime and arrest rates; and develop a strategy to address racial disparity in arrest and incarceration rates.
There are some who might say this will lead to just more committees as opposed to decisive action, AKA the Seattle way. Not true, according to Lisa Fitzhugh, the Chair of I-100. ``Twenty-five years ago we made the choice to invest in recycling over building a new waste incinerator. Today we have a world class recycling system. Ten years ago, we made the choice to invest in treatment and prevention programs for juvenile offenders over building a new juvenile detention facility. It required King County to re-evaluate every aspect of its system. We averted millions in construction costs and increased public safety.''
I don't know if Simon and McHugh have ever met but they have the same concerns- programs for the mentally ill being reduced to fragments; pre-arrest diversion programs to treat non-violent drug offenses going by the wayside; but here in Seattle, we're building a new jail, screw the budget crisis.
The complete name of I-100 is, A Citizen's Initiative To Promote Efficiency and Fairness in Public Safety. Who can be against public safety? I urge anyone who stumbles on this blog and is a registered Seattle voter to sign the petition.
And for more info contact the Committee for Efficience and Fairness in Public Safety, 2129 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247 X206.