Waiting for October

2020.11.08, by Anatolij

Living with brain damage is so very difficult. At least for me it is—I’m used to being a prolific reader. And a prolific writer. Now, there is only so much I can do before I cause myself physical pain from using my brain too much. Should I persist, I’ll suffer aphasia and dysphagia, various neuromotor difficulties, and sensitivity to light; the usual autistic burnout symptoms. I am not sure how other people can live. I have co-workers who openly admit—without any shame—“I don’t read,” “I’m not a reader,” “Most of the news I get from TV, so I’m not very informed(!).” I genuinely do not have the physical capacity to “patiently explain” to these people. And they are not even brain-damaged! I do not understand… Has modern capitalist life rendered them so dull? But why aren’t they curious about anything, why aren’t they dissatisfied with what little they know?

I ordered David King: Designer, Activist, Visual Historian. It was discounted. It should arrived in two or three weeks, I look forward to writing a review of it. And I still have to finish Leland M. Roth’s Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning before it is due back at the library… Ansel has been worrying about me. Bedi, too. “You need to go play outside more.” Running around in the grass… I think I can understand, now, why Ant is so simple. She has to be. She cannot operate at a higher level—not for a sustained span of time—otherwise, she’ll burn out, like I am threatening to do right now. I get cold when I am tired like this, too…

One of our few ED physicians who can respond to a severe trauma quickly—though we are not equipped to deal with trauma patients—has been admitted for COVID-19. He is an older man, obese, one always knows he is working by the sweets he brings to the staff lounge. (Cheap chain grocery store sweets, like overly sweet chocolate chip cookies from Vons.) He really does not watch his nutrition at all, and since he’s older, he’s at higher risk of succumbing to COVID-19, and suffering severe health outcomes in general. I hear he is a restless patient… I don’t really understand, I know him to either watch TV or sleep in the staff lounge every chance he gets. But he does write and direct, as a hobby. Pulp mystery and thrillers. Well, a man has to have a hobby, and he is creative, at least… Though his bedside manner is rather poor, and he has trouble getting on the same level as his patients… Still, I would not wish any sort of illness on him, least of all COVID-19.

The weather is terrible… In the same day it has jumped 11ºC, I do not know if it is safe for me to plant my garlic or not. Lorz Italian and Inchelium Red… The hardneck varieties we planted did poorly during this year’s heatwaves, so with some reluctance Ansel and I opted for softnecks. He’s already missing the scapes… Oh Ansel, we haven’t even planted the things yet. And at least we don’t have to overwinter them. But today is our first rain, perhaps of the season! So maybe the weather will be kinder to them… I hope so.

Ah. A note on a Trump-supporter patient last night: Older man, 64, apparently lives in a small back shed behind a house and it was so poorly lit—the paramedics said there was only one hanging lightbulb—that someone else from the household had to hold their phone flashlight so the paramedics could see and treat him properly on-scene. He had a 2nd Amendment flag outside, and the text of the US Constitution pasted all over the interior walls of his shed.

When I met him in the hospital he was kind to me. He complimented my eyebrows… Of course, everyone does. But we spoke candidly, he was not full of vitriol—unlike other lumpen masses I’ve met—I made him comfortable, he thanked me, asked me for my name again at the end, so he wouldn’t forget.

As old as he was, he hasn’t retired. “I’ve worked my whole life and I haven’t stopped!” He said this was some pride, but also exhaustion. “I’m self-employed. But with this whole coronavirus… I haven’t gotten any clients!” I believe he does some form of yardwork, landscaping… Something irregular, with his hands. He had strong hands and strong arms.

With men like this I am infinitely more comfortable than with well-to-do, upper middle class liberals. Laughingly: “He’s the kind of guy who gives Trump supporters a bad name!” I still have great respect for Dr R., but this remark disappointed me so… Because he’s poor, because he’s uneducated, because the Democrats have done nothing but driven men like this into abject poverty whilst pretending to care for the marginalised—great, I can be openly transgender and shoulder massive medical debt, and never look forward to higher education in this country, or even retirement—so progressive, now a woman of colour can oppress us, strip us of our educational infrastructure, and order drone strikes on Yemen. Fantastic!

All the workers who worked with Dr P. are still being ordered into work. Even though their second test results—the hospital acknowledges that it can take several days for the viral loads to reach levels detectable by the tests available to us—have yet to be run. One of these workers is a colleague of mine, a sweet older woman who could be—and probably is—everyone’s favourite grandmother. She lives with family members, grandchildren who have asthma. “I sat in my car for an hour before going inside…”

When great change comes to these provinces, I hope I’ll be alive to see it. Though part of me doesn’t want to be alive, at all… But I can’t say that. If I go down, then that’ll be the end of everyone else, too. As marginal as their future—any future we have together, may be. That’s all I have… Maybe it’s enough for me to live, with this broken body, and this broken brain, and a broken heart, that I fear will never be happy.

I know Ansel will always be with me. Ah, if only I could do something for him… I would give him the whole world, that man. “Sorry, but this present isn’t very good. It’s cold, [and ugly,] and there’s a draft…”

Today is Radi’s birthday, and the anniversary of the October Revolution. What do I do for him? I read… I have to. Ahh, there are so many things to fight for. So many dead men…