Thursday, December 31, 2009

Interior design by Marcus Welby

If my neighbors are paying any attention at all, they may be thinking that I'm turning tricks in my apartment these days.

What else could explain the steady flow of unfamiliar gentlemen and ladies showing up at my doorstep this week? Since my family left on Monday morning, the rapping at my door has been incessant.

It began on Monday with a visit from a social worker in Kaiser's hospice program. Shortly after she left, a guy delivering medical supplies arrived, followed closely by a man bearing a plain paper sack filled with drugs from Kaiser's pharmacy. Monday night, a burly fellow with arms the size of tree stumps brought me more medical supplies in three separate trips. Early Tuesday morning, a friend came to visit, and soon after he left more medical supplies showed up. Wednesday, still more medical supplies were delivered, and midday a Kaiser nurse case manager stopped by. Thursday, I was visited by another friend, accepted a FedEx package and a Kaiser physician paid a call on me.

I used to have a reputation as the guy in the building who kept pretty much to himself, leaving home early in the morning and coming home late at night. Now my lights burn nearly around the clock and my front door swings open more than the turnstiles at Union Station spin.

And the feng shui of my home is on the defensive. With all of the new supplies being hauled in, my apartment is beginning to resemble the set of General Hospital.

Let's start with the big oxygen tank that now dominates my bedroom. It's steel; it's industrial green in hue; it stands as tall as a Christmas tree. The thing looks like the missile that Slim Pickens rode bareback in Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove. Yes, this oxygen tank may save my life some day, but couldn't it be designed to fit in with the contemporary single man's bedroom decór? Painted a pale pastel, it wouldn't scream "A SICK PERSON SLEEPS HERE!!!" nearly so loud.

And then there's the oxygen tank's sidekick: a whirring machine on wheels that has the height and girth of R2D2. This device may ultimately turn out to be a life saver too, but wouldn't it be just as effective at half its size?

I can't kvetch much about a few additional pieces that also arrived this week.

The suction machine that arrived on Wednesday doesn't take up that much space. Even better, it's portable and includes a discreet carrying case that would allow me to take it with me the next time I shop at the Grove and think that I may need to clear secretions from my trach while I browse the racks at Abercrombie & Fitch.

The LifeLine device that will enable me to contact outside assistance in the event of an emergency is as compact as it is essential.

And the air mattress doesn't look like it's going to take up a lot of square footage, once I figure out how to blow the damn thing up.

My Kaiser case managers are always cautioning me about accidentally falling in my apartment with no one around to help me up. But the way I see it, each new medical gizmo that gets dragged into my home only raises my tripping potential.

And I've only been part of this program for less than a week. Who knows what surprises the next delivery man has in store for me?


  1. The good news is these things serve a purpose in helping you. The air mattress will once it is blown up, now it is not helping much. Listen to the case managers and if they have any questions, I can help with ... have them call me.

    Hope New Years was good. I stayed up watching the 25th Anniversary Show for Rock n Roll Hall of Fame on HBO. I hope it is something I can buy as the music was great. Metallica with Lou Reed and Ozzy. Bruce with Bono and Mick with Bono. Crosby/Nash doing Here Comes The Sun ... all good stuff.

    Be good and see you soon.

    Happy New Year

    Mike (the brother)

  2. the other good news about the new stuff in the apartment is the decorating possibilities you could hang odd socks on the oxygen tank for a colorful look , plastic grocery bags crumpled up could look like ice, and then a bottle of something on its side, a still life setup....endless choices here, I mean there. The tubes and wires can be painted to look snakelike, or even branches....Come on,,use that brain of ya AMA

  3. Okay ... I know AMA DOES NOT stand for American Medical Association!! It is Anounymous Mary Anne!!

    Mike (the brother)

  4. I'd be ordering a lot more supplies from the tree-trunk-armed guy ;-)