Friday, December 19, 2008

First Came Optimism, Then Came Dissapointment

The day started off with a really bad back ache. It felt like I got kicked in the ribs on my left side. Whenever I take a breath, it hurts like hell. Between that and the wheezing I have been experiencing since Monday, Jonas, my nurse, was worried that I might have pneumonia, so I got a chest x-ray. Personally, I think the back ache was caused by getting in or out of bed and the wheezing/cold is from sharing a room with a heavy smoker.

While I waited for Nicole to change my bandages, I scanned the Slog and the news and read about Governor Gregoire's budget for 2009. Her plan is not to raise taxes, but includes slash ing health care for children and the disabled, i.e. me. (And also cutting the raise for state workers, so the raise I would have got, if I was still working at the UW, would not happen). She may also eliminate food stamps, something I was hoping to avoid needing, but you never know. I really don't know how much money I am getting from the State. I get disability insurance through work and I get Medicare and Medicaid, but I don't know if I depend on any money from the State. We'll see.

Anyway, I got up at ten this morning and, after getting some coffee from the kitchen, I went to therapy. In O.T. I just sat doing crossword puzzles while I had a heat pack behind my back. Then I had an hour of P.T. with Arthur. I lied face down on the mat while he applied heat and ultrasound to my right leg, followed by a few minutes of deep massage. Then he and Lonnie helped me stand and I was able to actually stand comfortably for two minutes. I needed their help to keep me steady, but I was still not able to get my left heal completely flat on the ground. Still it was a great improvement. I felt optimistic. Unfortunately I won't be getting any therapy this weekend, beyond some stretching with Lamin (assuming he can get here in the snow).

When I returned to my room to grab my computer, I found that they had moved Gerald into another room. I hated that he smoked because I am sure he is the reason why I have been sick all week, and I was sick of having to tell him to close the door every time he used the bathroom, but other than that he was a tolerable roommate. He never watched TV and he never made any demands of me to turn mine off (or the lights) and other than the usual sighs and farts, he made very little noise. He always closed the door and turned his light off when he got up in the morning, and since he ate his meals in the dining room, he was only in our room when he slept. Now his bed is empty and I hoped it would remain that way over the weekend. Since it is supposed to snow heavily tomorrow, I thought I might have the room to myself until Monday, but when I returned later, a new name had appeared above mine on the door. Newman Le. (Le New man?) I hope Mr. Le isn't so feeble that the nurses insist that the door to the hall remain open 24/7 and I hope he isn't crazy, smelly or racist.

I am so sick of all the racist or homophobic patients around here. People say that I should not take it so seriously because these people are old, "They come from a different time," the nurses will say; or because the "old timers" are senile and suffer from dementia, "They don't know what they are saying." I think both arguments are bullshit. If anything, the senility or dementia removes their inhibitions and they say what they really think. And as far as being old, they should have paid attention all these years to see how wrong it is to think that way.

I was talking to a new patient, Rod, after I was done with therapy and I was having a good time. He was an interesting man who has lead an interesting life. He said that he was retired the Navy (both of my parents had been in the Navy) and he had been a Commander with the JAG and Naval Intelligence. We talked about a N.C.I.S., T.V. show we both like. and how we are both writing books, his on his Vietnam experience, mine about my experiences being in a nursing home at such a young age. We talked about how bad the economy is and how much we hope Barack Obama can fix it. We agreed if anyone can, Obama could. The conversation switched to how much we both hate this place. We both agreed about how much we hate the food, how we hate how the nurses and aides come into our rooms at all hours of the night and never close the doors when they leave, and things like that. Then Rod started talking about how all the "foreigners" that work here are "so stupid and incompetent" and how he can never understand a word they were saying, and how they should have never been allowed in the country and should be sent back to Africa or Asia or "wherever they came from."

I was so disappointed. This person who I had spent the last half our talking to, and enjoying it, was a fucking bigot. It made me sick. I felt like the floor fll out from under me. I looked around to see if anyone else heard what I just heard. If they did they ignored it. I wanted to yell at the guy, "You fucking racist! These are good hard working people." But I didn't. I didn't make a scene. I didn't call him on it. "What's the point?" I thought. People would say I shouldn't be so intolerant. (Can you be intolerant of the intolerant? Should you be?)

I don't even know if Rod is aware that he is a bigot. He would say he isn't one because he voted for Barack Obama. But he's still a bigot in my eyes. It is fine to say it is frustrating trying to talk to someone for whom English is not their native tongue, (I've been there) or how someone is incompetent in their job, but what does someone's color have to do with anything?

I just waited a beat and looked at the clock. "I've got to be somewhere." I said. "Nice talking to you." (Iguess I am nothing if not polite). I hear this kind of shit all the time and it bugs me. Until I get out of here I am going to hear more of it.

When I went out into the lobby to watch Judge Judy, I had a few minutes to kill so caught the end of 1600 on MSNB. David Shuster was interviewing John Cloud, a Time Magazine columnist (based in Seattle) who wrote that Barack Obama's choosing of Pastor Rick Warren as the one to give the invocation at his inauguration was proof that the President-Elect was a "bigot." Shuster agreed with everything Cloud said but argued over the semantics of the word "bigot." The columnist posited, what do you call a person who believes in separate but equal, when it comes to gay people, anything but a bigot? I had to think about it.

For the past couple weeks I have defended Obama's cabinet selections. People who have come mainly from the center or even slightly on the right. I kept saying "wait until he picks the Domestic Cabinet. Then you'll see where the change will come from" I thought his domestic picks would finally satisfy those on the far-left and they would finally stop regretting their support of Obama.

But Obama's picks of late have not been that exciting or daring. They have been safe picks. Unlike his picks for his Financial or Defense teams, it is harder to argue that these are the most qualified people for the job, despite their political views. These picks seemed designed to pass confirmation quite quickly without offending the Right. It's as if Obama doesn't want to do anything to offend the people who didn't vote for him. It's as if he doesn't want to pick anyone that Republicans will have a problem with, despite that Democrats have an overwhelming majority in both the Senate and the House.

Now he has picked a man to pray at his inauguration that has equated homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality, not to mention his views on abortion and other progressive ideals. He says that he wants to invite everyone to the table, even though they may disagree on the issues. Obama says he has a long history of supporting gays and lesbians, but there doesn't seem to be lot of evidence he has. The fact that he is against gay marriage proves he isn't their champion. It's like telling a black person, "Why do you care if you can't sit in the front of the bus? We are still letting you ride the bus, and the back of the bus gets there at the same time as the front does." Saying that a gay couple can have all the rights that are equal to marriage, but you can't call it marriage...I'm sorry, but those are the arguments of a bigot.

Knowing what I know now, I would still vote for Obama because the alternative would be John McCain and a continuation of the past disastrous eight years is not how I want to live. And voting for some other leftist candidate would not get that person elected President, but ensure 4-8 years under more Republican rule. But, I am sick of defending Obama. As much as I hate to say it, he is a bigot and I am very dissapointed in him.

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