My Yankee Doodle Joy

July 4, 2006 at 9:29 AM | Posted in Journal | 5 Comments
May 10~~
I just heard someone talking about the 4th of July, and it reminded me of something, so I wanted to write this down. I will save this for the 4th so that it will be. . . . timely.
In nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, The wife and I had not been married very long. Some might say she passed the traditional family fertility test required before marriage. In any event–She was pregnant. She had been working, but then not, not since about December. Now, through April, May and June, the pregnancy wore on. She has epilepsy, and it had been 14 years since her last baby, so she was considered high risk. I had no insurance, and she didn’t either, any more. I was driving for Domino’s Pizza, and I was able to support us on that money, and pay for our wedding. I’m a damn good driver (ouch–hurt my arm patting myself on the back-ouch!).
But since we had no insurance, we went to the Clinic. The Clinic was a part of Regional Hospital (now closed and abandoned) down in the city. The city welfare hospital. Once a week she had an appointment at 8 am.
Every body had an appointment at 8 fucking am. I will never understand government services. Maybe this was their way of dissuading people from using them. Everyone arrived at 8am, and you sat, and they would get to you eventually, usually by 3pm. Fuck, when I think of my life that has been wasted in waiting rooms. . .Aaaarrgh.
In addition to this weekly appointment, during the last two months of the pregnancy, every week I would have to take her to the emergency room. It was always something, and usually serious. Some false labor, but some real labor that they had to stop, plus spotting and other issues. Christ.
It was bad enough driving to this part of town during the day, but at night–
We would get to the emergency room usually midnight. Why can’t emergencies happen during the day? I guess it’s not an emergency then, is it? Then we would have to sign in and wait. What do you mean, we can’t get seen yet? Well, is it an emergency? That’s why we’re here, genius. But the waiting room was full, and we would be seen after the others, and the others included this typical couple:
A man and a woman, both black, waiting outside the waiting room, on opposite sides of the hallway. They are both bleeding. He stabbed her, she shot him.
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, they are married. Why do you ask? This is typical of what we would see.
In June we came to stay with my parents. We had a house, but no air conditioning. St Louis summers are only suitable for lizards and snakes. And fish, too–because of the humidity. You could swim, the air was so thick. We stayed in my old room, and she was put on bedrest by the doctor. I worked. Remember, I was a 2nd Assistant at this time. A driver with a stripe.
We had a monthly assistant manager meeting, and the owner passed out some promotions. Starting Monday, July 4th, I would be a level one second assistant. Benefits, raise, the whole crusty pizza. I was congratulated all around. Naively, I thought it was because I was "ready" when in actuality, although I had been ready for some time, they now needed me. Finally moving up in the world!
So the last weekend, I worked as a driver. Sunday night, we close at 1 am, because Domino’s Pizza is insane, and wants to have the late night business. So, we get out about 1:15, because its dead late and we have practically everything done. So I get home about 1:45.
My wife, sister, and mom are up watching a movie. My wife has been keeping odd hours because of the pregnancy, my mom always kept odd hours, and my sister is in her late teens, which demands odd hours.
I stay up and watch with them, and then we go to bed. We had previously abstained from sex because it was causing her to go into labor. But now that it was her due date, the doctor said, "Go for it. Bang the piss out of her." Maybe not in those exact words, but that is what I took away from it.
So yeah, we awkwardly had sex.
Linda wakes me up about 6:30 AM. "My water just broke!" I immediately thought of the old Bill Cosby line: "Go back to bed, I’ll fix it in the morning."
I had like, what–? 3 or 4 hours sleep? Fuck. We get up and get ready to go to the hospital. My sister and daughter want to go with. We drive to the hospital, Linda in labor, me pensive, and the girls in the back seat excited and incapable of shutting their goddamn mouths.
Melissa is yapping about something, and then asked me if I’m going to cut the umbilical cord–
We are on the way to the hospital right now. I just barely got used to the idea having a pregnant wife, I’m already nervous as hell, this is not the fucking time to ask a ridiculous goddamn question like that! What the fuck is the fucking deal? Fuck me.
We get to the hospital, 4th floor is maternity. This is 1988, before the rampant plague of cell phones, so the girls take turns using the pay phone to call people. I am in the room with Linda.
I sit in a chair next to her, sleeping in between her contractions. I wake up for them because she hits me every time. Then I have to hold her hand so she can squeeze the crap out of it. The guilt of sleeping between contractions is not enough to keep me awake, but the lingering pain occassionally does.
After a couple of hours–or maybe more like one hour and fifteen minutes–the girls are bored, and want to know why the baby isn’t born yet. The excitement has completely worn off for them and they want to go home. They are about. . .let’s see. My sister was 18, my daughter was 14 or 15. I just turn around and walk away from them. They want to leave, they need to find their own damn ride. Am I going to leave Linda and take them home? Don’t think so. Retards.
So we go through the morning and then the early afternoon. Around one or two, she is sufficiently dialated, much like my sphincter by that point. Since she has epilepsy, there is a risk of her hurting herself if they give her an epidural, so she is doing this completely natural. Imagine the fun.
We are in the delivery room now, and I’m right there by her. Not down on the business end, watching it all happen, but up by her top end, holding her hand, comforting her, talking to her. Because bad things could happen if I was on the other end. .. .

A few months earlier, we were in one of the birthing classes, going through the breathing and helping and so forth. About three or four classes. On the last one, we watch the video of the birth.
I’m sitting fairly close, the lights are on, the Tv is on, the video is playing. The birth is happening, and everything is fine. Then, on the video, they need to do an episiotomy. Do you all know what that is? Hmmm? Do you?
I’m watching, but the screen seems to be closing in, getting smaller. Actually, it’s not the TV screen, it’s my own screen closing in. I thought I was wobbling a bit. I might have been moaning a bit, going, "Hmmm, oooh ." But I thought I was going, "OOOOHH! OOOHH!! AAAHHHH!!! OOOHHH!"
The nurse and another husband grabbed me before I fell over and took me out. I’m sure this instilled my wife with the proper level of confidence in her husband’s ability to handle a crisis.

So then the birth, and everything is fine. Of course it was a wonderful moment, my son, blah-blah-blah. But this is not about the birth. Plus, looking at this 6-foot 6 smart-assed, insolent, sarcastic long-haired gorilla freak that I sired, it’s hard to muster within me the proper emotional memory about this special day long, long ago.
Linda has to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, they inform us. Fine. The birth was about 2:30 pm. I was supposed to go to work today, but not till four. This was the fourth of July, actually, the day I started in my new position. But with the birth, I figured, under normal, logical conditions, I should be allowed to be off. Am I wrong?
Well, hold on there, Sparky. This is what a level one first assistant does: He works 60 hours per week, six days a week. Minimum. mandatory. You need to get in here. I stared at the phone receiver, not believing what I heard.
I talked to Linda, I called my family, I went to work. To be fair to Domino’s Pizza, whom I had blamed for this all these years, I realized a few years ago that it was actually the other assistant manager who made the call on this one. The Upper level guy, my senior. He didn’t know what to do, and didn’t want to call the manager on his day off to ask a question, and didn’t want to handle a very slow Monday by himself, so he made me come in.
My satisfaction, my revenge, my ability to let this go, is solidified in the knowledge that this is the guy who went to prison for molesting his step-daughter and killed himself in prison. It’s just best not to fuck with me, that’s the lesson you should learn here.
I went back each day and visited. On the third day? Linda said, the baby is sick and no one will listen to me. I went and got someone. I went to the front desk, and I said, who is helping my wife? The nurse looked it up and told me. I said, "Okay, I need to talk to someone else. NOW!" They were torn between helping me and calling security. They got someone. This nurse came down with me, and listened to my wife describe what was going on, and said, okay, let me get him in for some tests, and they took him away.
My son had spinal meningitis. At least they were right on it after that. As soon as that diagnosis came up, they had an IV in his tiny arm. They had him in the NICU (Natal intensive care unit) instantly. So Linda could go home now. But the baby had to stay. For a month.
Remember, I just got this whacked-out "promotion." So for a whole month, this was my life:
I would go into work at 3:30 pm (this Domino’s was a night-only, didnt open till four), Work till about 1:30 am, drive home (my parents house), get my wife, and then we would drive downtown to the hospital in the middle of the night to see the baby, and be able to give him his three am feeding. We would be there about an hour, and go home. I would go to sleep, get up, and do it again. And I did nothing else. On my day off, of course, we spent the whole day there.
More than once, I held him and cried. This was the hardest thing I had ever done, ever been through, now or since.
Finally he was able to come home. And I had also passed the hazing phase of my promotion. Instead of a level one, I was a level "One– and a half" which only this psychotic, anal-retentive, prick of a franchisee had. Alot like double secret probation. But that was enough to get me off of the 6-day, 60-hour bullshit.
I was now on the 55-hour, 5 day bullshit. But it seemed more normal, and I had a break in which to take a shower now. Three days later, the baby is sick again. Following the standard rule for emergencies, it is about 10 pm. But at least I am home this time. We go back to Regional Hospital, because it is the only place we know. And God, do we know it. In the course of my life, I have become all too familiar with a hospital’s walls. . .
We go check in with the triage nurse, who looks much more like a security guard than he does a nurse. He takes the baby’s temperature, writes some things down. I don’t remember exactly what the temp was–it wasn’t 103, but it was up there. 102, maybe? The next ridiculous thing out of the nurse’ mouth was: "That’s really not that high of a temperature for an infant."
Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong. But it was the wrong thing to say, at the wrong time. Given the history–
My wife stood up, holding the baby. She is not even a firecracker. Try dynamite. She got right in his face and yelled at him: "What the fuck kind of goddamn nurse are you? Are you a fucking idiot?" Then, loud enough for EVERYONE to hear: "This place is full of morons! Get me out of here, Bryan, we’re going to a real goddamn hospital. This place is fucking bullshit. They’re trying to kill my baby!"
She left, headed for the street, leaving me and the nurse. He tried to reason with me. "Look–" he started.
I said very calmly, "I’m not like her. I’m not like that. I can be reasonable. But this is my son we are talking about. He just got out of here with spinal meningitis. Weren’t you paying attention? There is nothing you can say now that can convince me that you are not completely incompetent. Someone will hear about this. Stew on that all night, asshole." I got up and walked out.
We drove the ten blocks or so to the World Famous St. Louis Children’s hospital. Famous for their wings, like Hooter’s, I suppose. Even though the pregnancy wasn’t covered, my insurance started the day Mitchell was born, so he was covered. Instantly. Turns out he had an infection that is typical of babies together in an ICU. He was in for about three days, in a much nicer room, and then out again.


Ever write an essay long enough to warrant an epilogue?
Domino’s did right my me, insurance-wise. I had to pay 50 bucks for each stay at each hospital. But I saw the total bill the insurance paid. His month in Regional was about 75 grand. Another 6 large for Children’s.
One thing about his hospital stay, when he came home, he was old enough to sleep through the night, so that was nice. He never had any complications or further medical problems from that, as far as we know. It might have stunted his growth, though.
I don’t think we ever did report that triage nurse.



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  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MITCHELL!!! I love these glad you shared it ..I shudder to think about how much money it would have cost and how much it would be even now..good thing the company was on board with things. YES I think it\’s awful wihen the damn professionals don\’t do their damn jobs and the common folk have to remind them how to!!  WHAT A NIGHTMARE!  HAPPY 4th to you!!  :  )

  2. well if this wasn\’t the most heartwarming story I\’ve ever read I don\’t know what is, lol
    *shaking head and laughing*
    yet another story told in only the way you can deliver (no pun intended, but kinda funny, huh? oh laugh, dammit!)… but tell me this: why do I picture you taking him in your hands, lifting him over your head and proclaiming "A son! I have a son! My name shall flourish, my seed continue! Long live my bloodline!"… maybe that\’s the story you should tell Mitchell instead of this one, lol
    anyway… Happy Eighteenth to the first seed of your loin.
    and Happy Independence Day! Enjoy!
    hugs and love
    Queen of Bitches

  3. okay, okay… I added an amendment to the bottom of my blogiversary entry
    just for you
    oh, and Bryan… if  you met me in person.. baby, you would fall so head over heels in love with me your heart would spin right out of your chest and you\’d be nothing but mush. It\’s just an effect I have on people of the male persuasion. Even jaded cynical hard assed ass holes.. I\’m just that fucking sweet!
    LOL.. okay, maybe not. Sounds pretty good, though, doesn\’t it???
    yeah, whatever
    hugs and all that shit

  4. Just dropping by to check in ya!  Looks/sounds like you\’re doing okay!  Peace out!!!!

  5. 4th July? hmm, my dad\’s, causins and my boss bd too. Happy birthday to Mitchel! Give him a french kiss from me 🙂
    and this comment… "6-foot 6 smart-assed, insolent, sarcastic long-haired gorilla freak". I\’m described as "5-foot 8 smart-assed, cynic, sarcastic twit". my advice – don\’t debase.
    Well, really miss you, but wouldn\’t write anything yet. no replys. sorry, but soon to come.

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