Not feeling sorry for myself, I nonetheless wanted to give everyone an update on my accident. It’s been two months now since a simple trip to a refrigerator turned into a two-day hospital visit and nerve damage. If I could somehow turn this into a reality TV show, I think I might secure my financial future. I mean, as a bisexual / Spanish / Mexican Indian / German / recovering Catholic / former alcoholic writer, I certainly know how to create drama.
I visited a hand specialist last Tuesday, the 13th, and she laid it out for me as clearly and honestly as possible. The bad news is that I’m in worse shape than I thought; the good news is that it’s not as bad as it could be. Nerve damage is rated on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the worst. I’m a borderline 3. Normally I hate just getting halfway to something, but on this, I’m thankful. Also, nerves regenerate at roughly one inch per month. But on average, an injury like mine will result in permanent damage in anywhere between twelve and eighteen months, if nothing is done sooner. Thus, with the extent of the damage I have, I won’t heal fast enough over the next ten months to salvage my hand. She says she can repair the damage and return me to 100% functionality – or close to it – but she has to do surgery. She only mentioned that after she’d told me everything I needed to know about nerves and how they operate, so I already feel I can trust her. If a doctor mentions surgery within ten minutes of a conversation, I think you should get up and flee. Any legitimate physician will explain everything in detail first and then discuss surgery.
Since I don’t have health insurance, and prostituting myself is not a viable option, I’ll have to pay for the surgery up front. I’d mentioned previously that I had surgery scheduled at Parkland Hospital in Dallas – where I was taken after the accident. But, they won’t treat me in part because I’m not a Dallas County resident (I live in neighboring Denton County), but also because I have no health insurance. Usually Parkland treats the uninsured, which is why it’s not the ideal place to get medical care. But, it’s that damn county residence thing! Instead, Parkland referred me to Denton County’s indigent health care program. The latter mailed me an application, which I had to fill out and snail mail back to them with reams of documentation proving that, although I’m a really nice person who uses his turn signal and loves small animals, I’m flat-ass broke. I never thought I’d be considered a starving artist, but here I am. Then, they’ll supposedly call me to come in for a personal review. I couldn’t do any of that online, so hopefully, they won’t be too shocked when I pull up in my 2006 model Dodge pickup truck and not a horse and buggy. The Affordable Care Act is supposed to kick in at the beginning of 2014, but I can’t wait until then.
I have to get this done. Handwriting, for one thing, is difficult. I’ve kept a hand-written journal for nearly thirty years, but I’ve switched to a digital journal last month; that is, a Word document on my computer. I have boxes of spiral-bound notebooks dating back to November 1983; all filled with a lifetime of joy, sadness, strange thoughts and sexual proclivities. If I ever decide to run for public office, I’d have to burn them. Other manual tasks are challenging. I can do just about anything with my left hand, though, except write. Well, I supposed I could write left-handed if I really wanted, but it’ll come out looking like a rambunctious third-grader who’s gone two days without Ritalin.
I still consider myself fortunate. I have great parents and an incredible little dog, plus a collection of friends, all of whom have been very supportive. I’ve suspended my gym membership indefinitely, but my creativity remains active. I still think of the man I shared the room at Parkland with; the one who had to have his lower right leg amputated because of sciatic nerve damage gone awry. It’s ironic that we were both in there because of nerve injuries. But, at least I didn’t lose my right arm. And, aside from my ability to work a keyboard, I can still make some hellacious mix drinks! I mean, what would I be worth as a writer if I couldn’t stir up my own cocktails?!