The last couple of weeks have been full of messy, circular, painful and annoying events, but each time I am assaulted with yet another bit of stupidity, I have thought of Jesus on the cross. Today is "Good Friday," although I wonder at the name. It is the day that we commemorate the day Jesus died in a horrifying manner that, sad to say, was all too common during the Roman era. First, he was, amongst other things, scourged (whipped) to within an inch of his life. People often died from scourging alone. On top of the scourging, he was also crucified. I don't need to describe it to you. Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson's movie has a more than adequate picture of the process. Of course, there were several different methods of crucifixion in vogue at the time, and we are not sure of which method was used, but it is a distinction without a difference.
This week I have been dealing with some health issues and, in connection with that, dealing with the bureaucracy of the University of New Mexico Hospital. This is the hospital that accommodates the poor of New Mexico. It is a "teaching" hospital, of course, so unless you are lucky enough to have one of the teachers as your doctor, you are subject to having to have a string of doctors attend you over the years, some of whom don't yet quite know what they are doing. It can be unnerving. A few years ago, I lobbied to get one doctor who could follow me through the years, dealing with my chronic issues. I was lucky. I got Dr. Byrch Williams, a great doctor with a great "bedside manner."
Unfortunately, however, when I have to see a specialist, it is like playing Russian Roulette. Many of the doctors are very good, but you know there is always a bullet in one of the chambers. This week I had to go to one of the clinics that is located in the main hospital FAR away from the parking structure. As with every other store and institution, there are not enough handicap parking spots. I had to drive around and around and around to the top of the parking building and there, on the roof, was ONE space next to the elevators. It was frustrating, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.
The elevator was filthy, with graffiti on the walls and chipped paint. Once I got to the ground floor, I was dismayed to see that the entrance to the hospital that faces the garage had been turned into an emergency exit and I could not enter! Instead, I had to limp, with my cane, ALLLL around the building to go into the large front entrance. It was painful, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.
Entering the cavernous room with a high ceiling, I was greeted with so much noise and random activity that I had to stop for a moment and orient myself. The air was full of the smells of food being cooked in the café adjoining the common room. Patients were walking and wheeling into and out of the facility. Several groups of medical personnel were lounging in the comfortable chairs where patients were meant to wait.
I approached the polished marble information desk and asked one of the young women to have them send down someone with a wheelchair. It is hard to describe the air of disinterest that the woman emanated. She wasn't rude. She was interested enough to be rude. I felt I was beside the point because she had other things on her mind. She called the Patient Transport Department and told me it would take half an hour before they could come get me with a wheelchair. Instead, it took 45 minutes. In the meantime, I recited one rosary in that noisy, chaotic place. I wish I could say I was a tiny island of serenity amidst the cacophony, but I would be lying. I was distracted and tense, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.
When I finally got to the clinic, the doctors, Sales (a woman), and her supervisor Waxman (a man), were very kind. I thought they would schedule me for a minor surgical procedure for a future time, but they told me they could do it right then, if I wanted. Rather than go through another day of hassles in this behemoth of a hospital, I opted to have them perform the procedure. Out came the scalpels and needles and they went to work on me. It was scary and painful, but Jesus had a far worse time of it.
When it was over, I had to sit in the adjoining room, waiting again for a wheelchair to come get me. This time it only took 25 minutes, a decided improvement. The young man pushing me around was very kind. He was a Tibetan from India. I asked him how he liked it in this country and whether or not he had friends. He told me that he returns to India now and then, but it has begun to feel unfamiliar to him. He is used to it here and knows many of the Tibetans that live in New Mexico, where the land is similar to some parts of India and Tibet. He was very kind to me, but I sensed an underlying unhappiness, but perhaps that was just because of the business of his day. So many people are overloaded in their jobs, while other people vainly search for work! It seems like everyone is expected to do the work of 3 people, so that 2 other people remain unemployed.
The following couple of days were very busy with visitors, phone calls and attempts to straighten out an erroneous billing I received from UNM Hospital Pharmacy. My service dog also needs surgery and I had to complete some documentation needed to obtain funding, walking to the office to make copies. My apartment is coming up for renewal, and I had to submit all kinds of paperwork for that. (You would think that, once you move into an apartment, the rental agreement would just roll over every year, with the exception of rent increases, but every year we have to reinvent the wheel here.) Some people think that the disabled have lots of time on their hands because they aren't working, but I have never been busier. When you are chronically ill, your needs increase, and getting those needs met invariably requires more paperwork, more money, and more attempts at funding. It is a grind, but Jesus had it worse.
Today I woke at noon. I have slept more than 10 hours, recovering from the stress of the week. The first thing I said to myself was, "Jesus died on the cross at noon today." Jesus had it much worse than me.
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