Friday, August 28, 2020

What is the Sound of One Hand Washing?

                                                Part 4 of 4 

Surprise!  I decided to finish my broken arm story after all.  It seems I felt a little bit more like writing after getting some things off my chest in my previous rant post. As for the future, who the hell knows.  It seems that Herr Newsom has just posted re-opening guidelines that pretty much guarantee California stays shutdown for the next 75 years.  So no promises about future content.  Enjoy this one while you can (or if you can). 

Part 3 is here. 

So I had to wait for an orderly to come wheel me out.  First we stopped by check-out so I could pay for the E.R. visit.  I dunno, but somehow I got my debit card out of my wallet.  Note: I used a debit card cuz I knew I wouldn't be able to sign my name on a credit card receipt, but I could use my left hand to tap in my PIN number.  Then he wheeled me to the 24-hour pharmacy in the hospital.

It was kind of funny….they had all these chairs for people to sit while waiting, and three out of every four chairs were taped off with yellow tape.  Social distancing, you see.  Fortunately it wasn't crowded.  I just stayed in my wheelchair anyway.  It took awhile but they finally had my drugs for me.  Then I had to wait for a pharmacist to "consult" with me.  Then, they wanted me to sign some kind of waiver since they were giving me narcotics.  But I couldn't sign to get the drugs for my broken arm because…..I had a broken arm.  The pharmacist signed for me.  I guess that is ok. 

Then we headed to the exit and I tried to request a Lyft with my one good hand.  That was not easy to do.  And then there is the address for where the Lyft is to pick me up.  This is always problematic at Kaiser.  It is a big place, it has several addresses, and I never know for sure where to tell them to show up.  I was sure I told Lyft the right place, but then I got the notice my ride was there and I didn't see the Lyft vehicle.  

Now I should mention that it had taken so long for me to see the doc a second time and then wait for the orderly to pick me up and get my drugs, etc, that it was now dark.  I had really wanted to get home in the light.  Damn. 

Although I didn't feel it was necessary, the orderly insisted on staying with me until he could actually put me in the car.

Since I couldn't see the Lyft car that was supposedly there, I knew I had to try to reach him.  Ordinarily, I would have just texted him with further instructions, but one-handed that was not really something I could do.  So I actually had to call him. Using your cell phone to make an actual telephone call, who'da thunk it? 

I got thru to him and I told him where I was.  I told him that he had to come in the circle (actually a semi-circle) at the hospital front entrance.  Could he see that?  He didn't sound like the sharpest tool in the shed.  He grunted, "I don't know," and then he disconnected.  I could only hope he'd show up in a minute or two.  He did not.  So I tried to call him again.  This time I got voice mail.  I left a message, but I called again.  It sounded like someone picked up but there was no voice on the other end, finally it disconnected again. 

According to the Lyft app, there was no ride pending.  So I had to start over and request another ride.  I guess I described my location better, or maybe this guy was just smarter than the other guy because he actually found me.  The orderly helped me into the car and we headed finally headed home. 

I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point in the evening I received a notice from Lyft that I was being charged $5 for a no-show, as if it was my fault the first driver didn't pick me up.  I was pissed, but I had more important things to worry about.  Note:  I never did complain to Lyft to get that charged removed.  I figured I would have had to have complained in a text or an email and it was way too much effort to bother for the lousy five bucks. 

The Lyft driver took me home.  In my haste to go to the ER hours earlier, I had neglected to take an activator for the giant gate that encloses my townhome complex.  I did have a key to the gate that you can walk thru, but I couldn't open the gate so the Lyft car could drive through.  And opening the big heavy "people gate" in my condition was no fun at all.  But I somehow managed to do it, and hobbled to my unit.  I was able to walk, but it did hurt to walk, my leg was still bothering me quite a bit. 

Now I came to the front of my house, in the dark.  And there was all my stuff from the grocery delivery that I had scheduled that day, which hopefully you all remember.  He had followed my instructions perfectly and set everything up against my front door. 

Which made it almost impossible to get my key in the lock to open the door.  Especially with only one hand.  Especially in the dark.   Actually the first problem was finding the right key.  I have three keys on my key chain that are the same design, only one of which opens my front door (like most people, I have several keys on my key chain that I have no idea what lock they open). Of course I could use the flashlight on my cell phone. But with only good hand, I have no idea how I used the flashlight on my cell phone and held onto the key chain.  I had to use the process of elimination to test the three keys that had the right design to see which one was the right key for the lock. In the dark, it was almost impossible to put each key in the lock!  My voice notes don't relate how I used the flashlight and the key chain one-handed but somehow after much time and effort, I found the right key. 

As I mentioned earlier, the lock is all the way over on the right side, fairly high up.  In the dark, it would always be a challenge getting the key in there.  But now, I had to reach over and try not to trip and break my neck on my groceries (which by the way, were awfully difficult to move out of the way with only one arm).  It took me forever but I finally did it, then I had to get in the house (in the dark), climbing over the groceries.  It was quite an ordeal. 

Then I had to turn on the A/C, the lights, my PC (which I didn't really need to do) and then figure out how I was gonna get my damn groceries inside. 

Well, most of the groceries were spoiled.  All the frozen stuff was long since thawed out.  But it didn't matter, as you might remember, my shopper had made all substitutions on my frozen meals and didn't pick one that I would eat (like with the Lyft charge, I never complained about the lost money there). He didn't make any of my requested substitutions.  Some refrigerated stuff (like salad), I stuck in the fridge hoping it wasn't ruined (actually a lot of it was still usable).  There was little non-perishable stuff because I had cancelled that.  

Oh, and there was a 24 pack of bottled water sitting on my porch.  There was no way I could move that inside.  I just left it on my porch for days (weeks), until I started bringing it inside one bottle at a time.  Initially I couldn't even bend over to get a bottle at a time because for the first week, it hurt like hell (in my leg) to bend down to reach the floor.  So for a week, when I dropped something, it stayed dropped. 

One thing I really felt like I needed to do was….wash my hands.  I had been at the germ-infested hospital for hours and what do they always tell you…wash your hands when you've been out. 

But I couldn't wash my hands because one of them was bound useless by my side.  I was looking at who knew how many weeks before I could properly wash my hands.  I figured I was sure to die of COVID. 

What is the sound of one hand washing?  In the coming days, I somehow managed to master the art of washing my left hand one-handed, without any help from my right hand.  

I had gone way too long without eating (or taking my meds) so I somehow ate.  There was no way I was capable of figuring out how to prepare a meal so I ate some stuff that I could just open the box and stuff in my face, no cooking involved.  

I made the mistake of lying down on my couch to eat and watch TV.  Like most of my house, either intentionally or by happenstance, the couch is set up for a right handed person.  I once had the brilliant idea of putting a big coffee table in front of the couch.  Although I was able to climb into the couch, the coffee table made it well-nigh impossible to get off the couch.  I am not exaggerating, with my right arm being useless, it took me at least 20 minutes to get off the couch. 

I didn't make that mistake again, I didn't get back on that couch for another month, until I had better use of my arm.  I watched TV from my chair and also I did a lot of TV watching from my desk, on the PC.  When I wanted to lie down and watch TV, I had to use my tablet.  The trouble with that was that it was difficult to hold the tablet comfortably since I couldn't use my right hand. 

I had the hospital gown on for two or three days, until I finally figured out I could slip it off without taking off my immobilizer.  I had to kinda/sort put it back on whenever I ventured out to pick up my mail.  Very awkward. 

And of course I couldn't shower.  I mean I didn't think there was any way I could get the immobilizer back on if I took it off.  Now I did hear from Orthopedics the next day, setting up a telephone visit with an Orthopedist for a week from the accident.  A telephone visit?  How would that work? 

By the time of that e-visit, I was really ripe.  I mean, I couldn't stand being around myself, I smelled so bad.  So I was actually glad I didn't have an in-person visit with the doc—I was sure that no Lyft driver would let me in their car! 

The e-visit turned into a video visit when the doc heard me say that I couldn't shower and that I didn't think I had the immobilizer on right.  Remember, they left my arm at my side because I screamed when they tried to put it on my chest.  He looked at it and explained to me how it should look, and insisted I would be able to put it back on if I took off (and explained how).  By this time I tested the arm and I could actually get it across my chest without screaming in agony. The doc also told me I could take a shower (even if it wasn't easy to wash under either arm—at least I could get some water under there). 

By the time I had my first real visit the following week, I no longer stunk.  And much to my surprise, I was actual able to get dressed enough to go out and go to the doc.  I had to wear a button down dress shirt with my sweat pants, so it was another weird look (also getting socks on and off was a challenge too). 

I had a devil of a time learning to use a fork left-handed, and brushing my teeth left-handed, but I got better as I went along.  I found meals I could make and it was a lot of boring, monotonous stuff. 

As I write this now, I am much better but still not near 100%.  The doc says that I will never be able to lift my right arm completely over my head straight up in the air.  I am still in Physical Therapy.  I go in every other week, and I do my exercises every day.  But I am still in a fair amount of pain (depending on what I am doing) and I don't have the range of motion I want.  I can't put my right arm behind my back, for example. 

People have been suggesting I go to Vegas.  But honestly, I am in no shape to pack and unpack for a Vegas trip.  It'll be awhile. 

And that's about it.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

I Broke My Arm, Then the State Broke Me

Where have I been? 

First I'd like to apologize to all my readers (or, what's left of them) for not posting the next chapter in my broken arm saga.  The truth is I have been unable to find the motivation to write it up. 

I suppose I could blame the relative lack of positive (or really, any) feedback to the first three posts for failing to motivate me to finish.  That plays a part in it, but really only a very small part.  I know when I post something that is non-poker it usually doesn't get much of a response.  Besides, I have to admit that I have maybe lost my touch in the ability to put an entertaining spin on the weird things that happen to me. 

But really what has me demotivated, demoralized, disillusioned and depressed is what is going on in the country right now, and more specifically in my state, and in my city of Los Angeles. 

Just when things were starting to look up, lockdownwise, everything went to shit.  I mean, my arm was well on the way to mending, I was actually able to use it for a lot of things (but by no means everything).  And the state was starting to open up.  Restaurants had re-opened, and even poker rooms had re-opened.  While the poker room out in Ventura remained closed, both The Bike and Commerce were opened and spreading 8-handed poker (I think it was 8-handed, anyway). 

So things were looking up, and there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was getting ready to write up my next post (although part of the initial delay was due to my finally having to get my nose to the grindstone and complete my taxes, which as usual I had put off to the last minute, and the last minute had been delayed three months), and then….. 

And then, California Fascist Dictator Governor Gavin Newsom re-closed the state in most counties (including mine and all the ones near me).  Poker rooms were shut down again, just weeks after opening to good attendance.  Restaurants were closed to indoor dining.  It was take-out only unless they could find some space for outdoor tables.  Gyms, barbers, hair salons, nail salons, all put out of business. 

Just as I was done with my taxes, just as I was feeling well and able enough to get out and do some things…..the rug was pulled right out from under me (and everyone else in the state). 

I could no longer find a reason to drag myself out of bed, and certainly didn't feel like sitting at the keyboard hacking out a blog post about my damn broken arm (which as you will recall, only happened because of the initial lockdown).  I felt like my arm had been re-broken.  I vowed not to post again as long as CA was closed.  It was a pretty easy vow to keep because I couldn't motivate myself to write anyway.  And since I make zero money from this blog—it has always been a labor of love—no one else could motivate me either.

Yes, I know, I know, it could be worse.  Plenty of people are suffering through this crisis more than I am.  Yes, many people have died or been really, really ill. This pandemic is horrific. But I'm not everyone else, I'm just me.  I'm telling you how this is affecting me. 

Although actually, I am thinking of the many victims.  And not just those who have died or those who have lost loved ones.  I'm thinking about the people who are the victims of the lockdown. I think of those poor small business owners (restaurants, gyms, hair salons, etc) who were closed down for several months, losing huge amounts of income, then went to great expense to redesign their businesses to meet new safety standards, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by being shutdown just a few weeks after re-opening. 

For example, during the brief period of freedom before the latest lockdown, I managed to get a haircut. At the time, Los Angeles Fascist Dictator Mayor Eric Garcetti had not deigned to reopen Los Angeles (might also have been due to the fascists on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors) so I couldn't have gotten my haircut in L.A.  Fortunately I have been going to the next county over to get my haircut so I was able to get it cut in that brief window I had.  The lady who runs the shop had gone to great expense to accommodate social distancing rules, put up plexiglass everywhere, relocated the chairs, printed up forms for all her customers to fill out, set up chairs ouside her shop to wait since you couldn't wait inside.  Must have cost her a fortune, and this was after she lost several months of income.  Plus she can no longer handle the volume she could before because she had to take some chairs out and reduce staff. 

I imagine restaurants had the same issue, taking out tables, putting up plexiglass, paper menus, etc.  And of course, if a restaurant isn't running at full capacity it is probably losing money.  So all that expense just to run their business at a loss!  But at least they had some money coming in. 

Imagine how they felt when the Fascist Dictator Governor pulled the rug out from under them and forced them to close again?  My heart breaks for the families who have lost loved ones to the virus, but my heart also breaks for the small business owners who are losing their businesses day by day by this lockdown. 

Sometime after Newsom reclosed businesses, Garcetti revived his stay at home order.  So once again, not only is there no place to go but I have been placed under house arrest and confined to my quarters. And I am in solitary confinement! I am still waiting to be advised of what offense I am being punished for, having no knowledge of being convicted with any crime. I haven't even been charged with one.  Is this America or some third world dictatorship? 

I should also point out that not only am I being denied the ability to do anything, but just like those small business owners, my financial situation is being impacted.  My livelihood—my income stream—depends on live poker.  Not just in Las Vegas (where it is coming back), but the entire country.  And particularly in California.  There is no worse state for poker to disappear from for me than my home state.   

So anyway, I guess that explains what's taken me so long to post and why I still am not in any mood to finish my broken arm story.  And seriously, this may be my last blog post.  I dunno if I'll ever feel like finishing that story, and besides, what am I going to write about after that?  I seriously doubt I'll ever play another hand of poker.  As long as California Fascist Dictator Governor Gavin Newsom is in charge, live poker is unlikely to return to the state. I'd be willing to bet no currently closed poker room will re-open in CA before year's end (or maybe early November).  And circumstances prevent me from travelling to Vegas right now. 

When Fascist Dictator Governor closed us down recently, he said it would be for three weeks.  That was five weeks ago and in the meantime he's only closed down more of the state, not re-opened any part of it.  And before that, remember back in March when they locked us down the first time, it was "Fifteen days to slow the spread," or "Two weeks to flatten the curve."  That was bullshit too.  I guess you just can't trust a Fascist Dictator Governor to keep his word.  Who knew? 

That's all I've got to say.  Is this good-bye?  Kind of looks like it, but we'll just have to see. I really had to force myself to write this but I did feel I owed you some sort of explanation.