After I was discharged from the hospital I slept 13 hours in my apartment and woke up to the sounds of my mom cleaning. She was incredibly distraught, which was an irrational reaction to years of baseboard scum. Something more sinister had to be on the menu.
“Jordan, your sister was stabbed by a drug addict in the emergency room last night,” she said, while dusting my TV stand. “The patient had a needle in her sock and the cops failed to properly pat her down.”
“This family is on its last legs!” I said. “Is she OK?”
“The woman tested positive for Hepatitis C. The doctors aren’t sure what else she could have been exposed to so they have her on medication to prevent possible HIV transmission. It’s called PEP and it’s very hard on the body,” she said. “I’m heading back home in a couple of hours but perhaps you could send her a message.”
I popped two morphine tabs and sent her a text:
ME: Heard the news. How are you doing?
LISA: I’m fine, just nauseous. They wanted me to pay for the medication, which is like $2,000.
ME: They asked for your credit card right after you’d been stabbed with a needle?
LISA: Pretty much.
ME: Well well the bookies foresaw the wrong odds for which one of us would get AIDS first, didn’t they?
ME: More importantly, are you bringing the puppy to Christmas?
LISA: No, I’m not allowed to. Kat’s friend is afraid of dogs.
ME: It’s a puppy! That’s ridiculous. What sort of person is afraid of dogs? Was she molested by a dog in a position of power?
LISA: You can see her another time. I gotta go. Me and Steve are watching the game.
ME: Which “game?” You know gay guys don’t know which game is the one that everyone is watching.
LISA: Raptors! Sorry for stealing your AIDS thunder. XO
Two days into my recovery I wasn’t getting any better. I was waist deep in the trenches of depression. My days consisted of waking up in cold sweats, taking morphine, taking sitz baths, holding back tears, bleeding into a menstrual pad and then going back to sleep.
I knew that it would be derelict of me not to survey the damage from the surgery but I’d lie if I said I wasn’t horror-struck. Unable to get a clear look at the wound with my hand mirror, I knew the living room would provide excellent natural light given it was 1p.m. and sunny. I was so weak that I crawled half drenched and shaking directly from the bathtub across the kitchen floor. A pool of water trailed behind my naked frame. When I caught a reflection of myself in the hallway mirror I looked deathly. I pulled myself up onto the couch, hoisted my legs in the air and opened my iPhone camera, eager to experiment with the features of iOs 10.2.
It turns out that taking macro shots of your anus is a subtle art with a surprisingly steep learning curve. I experimented with different physical setups but settled for one in which I would spread eagle and use the fingers on my left hand to pry apart my anus using a V shape. It was easily my lowest point. Suddenly, a cloud formation of Steve Jobs appeared above my head. I leaned into the drug induced psychosis.
“Steve!”, I yelled. “Thank God you’re here. Where is the anus feature? Should I go internal?”
“Reverse the camera my boy!” he yelled. “We built that just for this very use!”
“Thanks Daddy,” I replied.
Then the cloud dissolved. I took 20 shots with the camera reversed and another with the regular camera in flash mode, which really just produced blurry shots of my inner thigh. Steve was right. The reference screen was a godsend.
In my panic, I hadn’t really grasped who the target audience was for my photos. Given the uncertainty, I crawled back to the bathtub and shaved two strips of anus hair. I patted it dry and crawled back to the couch. Even in the most dire circumstances I was ruled by the death grip of vanity. Once I was able to isolate the clearest photo I surmised that the wound was riddled with infection. Based on watching seven seasons of Grey’s Anatomy I surmised I had less than 12 hours to live. Right then was when I thought it would be perfectly appropriate to text my doctor the photo. Oh, not my surgeon — my mom.
I captioned it, “ALERT: NOT A PHOTO OF A CALAMARI RING.”
She called me five minutes later. “You need to go to the ER now. The wound is completely infected. Who can take you? Ben? Lara?”
“I’m fine to go myself. I know that place inside and out,” I said.
“Are you sure?,” she said.
“Yeppers,” I replied.
“Please be careful and call me when you’re admitted,” she said.
I texted Ben the photo and wrote, “It’s infected. I’m going back to the ER. Fuck me. P.S. I hate to keep bringing this up but should I bleach?”
He replied, “Ew for fuck sakes. I am in a fucking meeting! Is that dental floss?”
I wrote back, “No, it’s the stitches, you moron. It’s the human body. Deal with it.”
“How many people have you sent this to?” he asked. “And yes you should bleach but that’s low priority at this point.”
Through cold sweats I packed my knapsack with the essentials. In an effort to wean myself off of tablet morphine, which was clearly diminishing my judgement, I took a double dose of marijuana edibles. I had forgotten about ingesting said edibles until the moment my Uber hit a traffic jam 10 blocks from the hospital. I suddenly had no clue where I was heading to or whose car I was in. It was scary, but not as scary as when you look at your app and notice your Uber drive is, “known for great conversation.” Shudders
“Whose car is this?!” I yelled to the driver.
“My car?” he said. “I’m Umer.”
“Where are we going?!” I asked.
“To the hospital, sir,” he said.
“Well this is convenient, I thought I was being taken hostage. phewwwwww,” I said, shoving three mints into my mouth.
“And I’m taking a bottle of water so deal with it, Umer! I’ve been through a lot.”
“That’s what they’re there for, man,” he shrugged. “Five stars please.”
By the time I got to the hospital the pain was a faded memory because high as fuck was my ever present reality. The triage nurse ushered me in to take my vitals. My resting pulse came in at a whopping 134 beats per minute. She asked me if I was OK and I told her I was just nervous. I don’t think she bought it as she watched my eyes dart rapidly left to right. I was also pulling out my eyebrows due to my hair-pulling trichotillomania disorder, which was on overdrive. She sat me on a bench to wait for the surgical resident. I couldn’t sit still so I just started pacing in circles, sweat dripping down my brow. I reached back to make sure the menstrual pad was still doing its job of collecting blood. It was gone! Poor Umer, I thought.
I walked to the washroom, balled up toilet paper and shoved it in my crack before returning to the bench to wait. Could this ordeal get any worse? YES IT COULD. Twenty minutes later paramedics wheeled in a stretcher and parked it near me. They then walked into the triage nurse’s office.
“He’s VSA (vital signs absent) but he’s a DNR (do not resuscitate) so we’ll leave him here to process,” he said.
“That’s fine, just move him up a few feet,” the nurse instructed, pointing.
The paramedics moved the stretcher 3 feet up. This placed it closer to where I was sitting. They then walked back into the triage nurse’s office to assist her with the paperwork. I was now completely alone with a body…a dead fucking body. I cocked my head to the left. On the stretcher was in essence a skeleton, looking straight up at the ceiling. Whomever had died was clocking in under 90 pounds with a thigh gap on point. The medics hadn’t even placed a blanket over his face to offer him a shred of dignity. I tried to look straight ahead but the presence of the body sent my buzz into overdrive. I stood up and moved to the end of the bench, 3 feet away.
The longer I tried to not look at the body the more my eyes darted back to it. I could have moved down the hall but the body seemed to have a gravitational force, piquing my curiosity. My eyes darted back and forth from the wall to the body at least 20 times. Then I just went into full-blown panic mode.
“SOMEONE GET THIS BODY AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW OR I’M GONNA START CRYING OR PUKING OR ALL OF THE ABOVE. CODE DEAD CODE DEAD. CODE CORPSE CODE CORPSE.”
The paramedics came running.
“Sir, are you OK?” they said, sitting me down.
“What is wrong with you? This is someone’s child not for public display!” I yelled. “I am way too high for this shit, people!”
The triage nurse paged the medical resident and told him I was “being difficult” and was “not her problem”. Within 10 minutes the resident arrived and ushered me into a side room. He spoke to me as a nurse took my blood for the lab. She looked to be 14. She jabbed at my vein twice, failed, and then on the third time snapped the contraption in half. Blood shot down my forearm and onto my light gray pants.
I turned to the resident, “Excuse you. Who’s paying for this? These are Lulu.”
When the child nurse left left I levelled with the medical resident.
“Here,” I said, handing him my iPhone. “There are enough asshole photos in there to fill a coffee table book. I’m way too high for an examination of any sort. Blood is flying everywhere and I just saw my first dead body.
“When you’re done please call my mom — I cannot consent in this state of mind. I’ll probably be dead soon. It’s time to stop playing games here. I’ve put up a valiant effort but we’re going to need to pull the plug.”
“What plug?” he said, scrolling through the photos on my phone.
“You know that saying on Grey’s Anatomy. Don’t pretend you don’t,” I said. “Euthanasia or pillow suffocation. Whatever will pass by management. I just don’t see myself making it out of this.”
“Jordan, I think you’re just a little high on marijuana,” he said. “We can drain the infection and clean it. It’s just a 15-minute procedure. I’m going to give your mom a call. I assume her number is in your contacts?”
I nodded as he handed me back my iphone. Ten minutes later he returned.
“Wow,” he said. “She’s a firecracker. I can see where you get it from. So apparently you already spoke to her 20 minutes ago in the ER waiting room?”
“I don’t recall that,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “She figured that. She said you sounded completely nuts and told me to do some blood work, which we are going to do anyways. I’m going to go find us a room and we can start in about 30 minutes. Please just take some deep breaths.”
Two nurses returned and wheeled me into a small operating room and attached monitors to my chest. The resident and another doctor introduced themselves and left to suit up in scrubs. Five minutes later they returned with the anesthesiologist. She asked me what sort of drugs I was on. I told her morphine and a lot of marijuana, but that I didn’t know the dosage of the gummies (honestly, who does?) She asked me if I smoked the gummies and then she shined a light in both my eyes.
“People smoke gummies?” I asked. “I can’t keep up with these millennials.”
“I don’t know what people are up to,” she said. “Listen, I never thought I’d see a champagne flute in a grown man’s anus but here I am.”
“I have a champagne flute in my anus?!” I said in horror. “Oh my god, am I that fucked up that I didn’t even notice? It’s not even New Year’s Eve.”
“Not you,” she said, shaking her head. “Someone I examined last year.”
She murmured some instructions to the nurse and then told her she was going to need a lot more Propofol. The team then flipped me over and my ass was then exposed to everyone in the room. This increased the week’s tally of those who had seen my pucker to just over 20 people, including my immediate family and best friend.
I looked up at the anesthesiologist in both a fit of exhaustion and pure desperation.
“You’re pretty,” I said. “I feel like I have no dignity left. Can I cry?”
“Oh hun,” she said. “You have lots of dignity.”
As she said that I heard a familiar sound from behind me.
“What are they doing?” I said.
“They are duct taping your cheeks apart in order to get better access to the anus,” she said.
“Exactly,” I said.