Friday, January 25, 2008


Yesterday was my mom's first trip to the Onamia clinic since her six weeks of hospitalization in St. Cloud. Just getting her in and out of the car was a monumental event. Her three major surgeries have left her pretty puny, but at 84 years old, she's (we're) lucky she's alive. There were many times we didn't think she'd pull through. But she did! And now she's here staying with us while she recovers! With her condition and the amount of care she requires right now, she really should be in a nursing home, but she tried that for a week and it didn't work for her. She ended up back in the hospital for yet another week. I'm glad to have her home!

I could write a book about the difficult role reversal of parent and child in our situation. It is the first time in my life that I have been solely responsible for her. Making decisions for her, signing her papers, watching out for her .... all very strange. The hardest part is that my own health has deteriorated over this past year with Nexus and even with my strong will and committment to my mother, I'm struggling with the constant physical demands of caring for a frail invalid. It ain't easy, even with the home care nurse and physical therapist who come to help each day.

So yesterday, we struggled to get Mom to her doctor's appointment. She has a wound-care machine hooked up to her and we kept getting tangled up in her tubes while getting her into the car. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as we got underway, the darn vac-pack started beeping and we had to quickly return home to change the canister in the machine. Even so, we arrived on time. The clinic is only five minutes away.

As we were getting Mom out of the car and into a wheelchair, (just as difficult) who should pull up behind us but the Onamia Chief of Police. We've become acquainted with Officer Bob through the city meetings we've attended. "Its always something," he said in passing, as he hurried into the clinic. I wheeled Mom inside and found the clinic in turmoil. A fire alarm had gone off in the hospital! No, this wasn't a drill. We waited by the door, with a group of other patients and a few employees, all of us prepared to stampede the hell out of there if engulfing flames were spotted.

After a few minutes, the receptionists returned to their positions behind the counter and people formed three short lines. There wasn't room for the wheelchair, so Mom and I waited on the side, in front of the fourth window. A young man came to the window, said "Sorry. I'm just the computer guy," and then left. As we waited, there was a slight commotion as three volunteer firemen arrived, in full regalia. We could see their big red firetruck out front. Wow! Quick response time! I was impressed. Then I noticed that all three firemen were from Bradbury Township, not Onamia. I was proud.

One of the firemen, so quick to answer the call, lives right next door to the Nexus property (where the sex offenders are being forced upon him and our neighborhood.) They call us Nay-sayers. Bradbury Idiots. The Dirty Twelve. But here he was, first on the scene. I was impressed. Even after everything that has been done to this man, he is still right there - ready to put his life on the line to save the very town which betrayed him! I greatly admire his character. Especially since I might actually enjoy watching the town burn to the ground at this point, after all the shit and shenanigans...

A receptionist finally appeared at our window. "I'll be with you in a minute," she said dourly. "I just have to finish up what I was doing on the computer." We waited patiently as she did her thing. Tick tock tick tock tick.

After a couple of minutes she peered around the waiting area, ignoring us. "Who's next?" she asked the other patients. I glanced at the gentleman who'd been last in line and he motioned for us to go ahead. Nobody else said anything. Nobody budged. Tick tock tick tock. So I positioned my Mom's wheelchair and stepped up. This woman lit into me like I'd just come into her house and crapped on the carpet. "Were you next?" she snapped. "We have a written policy, right over there that we take the NEXT person in line." Oh my god! She was pissed because she thought we were butting in line!

I stood there, in shock at the big ordeal she was making. She was going on and on! We hadn't butted into line. There WAS NO LINE! We were just standing there, now 5 minutes late due to the fire fiasco. There were only about six other patients in the place!
"WHO WAS AHEAD OF THIS WOMAN?!" she shouted. All of the other patients stared at her. No one moved. Again she yelled, pointing at my mother's head. "WHO. WAS. AHEAD. OF. THIS. WOMAN?!!!!" It was becoming a Twilight Zone kind of moment... Still, nobody budged.
The window next to us opened up. While our banshee from hell was screaming for her next customer, her coworker had processed everyone in her line - except the kind gentleman who'd motioned for us to be next. Embarrassed, he slid over to window #4 and we slid over to the one he'd been standing in front of. We just changed places, actually. I also felt humiliated at the undue attention and the "big deal" which was being made.
Why was this woman so horrible to me and my poor wheelchair-bound mother? What did we ever do to deserve her obvious animosity? We hadn't butted in line. We hadn't done anything except.... Ahhh... publicly fight and oppose sex offenders... It struck me hard. Did she support Nexus? Was that what this was about?
I don't know.
Maybe that's just the way it is in Onamia these days. People are rude. No smile with this service. Well, okay, no service period. Is it just ME? Am I getting paranoid?
The fire alarm turned out to be a dud. Another false alarm. I wondered if the MLA boys were responsible. Maybe that was unfair of me, but after seeing the police reports, those PTBs do like to pull a lot of fire alarms. And Poncho said he'd just seen a group of the sex offenders heading uptown. hmmm. Oh yes. The convicted sex offenders are often out and about in Onamia. Maybe people don't notice so much because they're too busy trying to figure out more important things: like whose next in line...
And that is definitely something everyone should worry about.

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