Tuesday, September 14, 2010

simple man

I was a married lady for over twenty years, a union that was just about to run its' course and then our daughter came along.  He worked third shift and I was kind of a swing shifter between all three.  Mostly I was days and he was nights for the years that Babygirl was in school.  His company shifted him up to days and that's when the trouble started for our marriage.   The economy was hot as a firecracker and the rubber plant was booming with orders.  My husband emerged from the darkness of those carbon black filled nights and days and got a shot to play with the big boys as in free meals and drinks with sales people.  That's about the time our gig was up. We have accomplished many things together, not the least of which is raising a beautiful daughter who always remembers who she is.  Because we remind her on occasion.  The door slamming thing I definitely DO NOT miss but other than that, we see each other about as much as before only her stuff is there and mine is here.  I have a feeling I'm about to embrace the beauty of texts.  Cheaper than minutes, ya know?  We are at a place, her Dad and I, where we appreciate who she is and what we had.  I know.....slow learners.  It has taken eight years and a lot of discipline on the part of all three of us to make it still a family.  Show me one that's not dysfunctional as the devil in some way and I'll kiss your ass.  Get.Over.It.

I am officially a senior citizen now, therefore I'm looking at options to dying on the concrete floors of my workplace and some corporate babyface stepping over my body.  The hunt for Sugardaddy has been rather fruitless thus far so I'm about to settle for a reliable roommate who knows how to fix stuff.  Send your applications to the blind box behind the big polk pile out front.  No lesbians please.....too much drama.  Makes me" tired as if I'd been ironing" as Lee would say.  He was one of our pharmacists and his wife Doris worked for the surgery practice across the street from the hospital.  Old Dr. Fred took my gallbladder out when I was seventeen, the old fashioned way with a HUGE scar.   Still got the stones somewhere!  I'll never forget the night in the hospital room with the IVs and such and me dragging the whole getup to the bathroom to smoke because my mama was there.  She was like "Please, girl."  Let's do this the easy way.  So there I sat in my hospital bed smoking a cig with  my mother's blessing on what was previously known as 3Main.  He also removed a fatty breast tumor that immediately came back because, well.  That's what fat does...it pokes out!  At that point insurance was still paying for an overnight stay for that procedure and most other minimally invasive exams.

We were all family then.....bonded on a common mission of, if not SAVING lives, treating people with dignity   and respect while all of our worlds twirled together.  Sometimes it wasn't for long.  Other times it was too late and we cried together over something so tragic as a lifeless child or the trauma involved with a horrific accident...lives changed forever by fate and time.  For the ones who really care, it is a job not taken lightly.  I guess the rest of 'em are just there for a check or something.  Our lab had these old Cuban pathologists who grandfathered in from the Castro era.  AP was first, the one in charge when I arrived as a new tech in '77.  He and his wife traveled extensively on Medicare dollars and the girlfriend hung with him 'til the end.  EJ was next and he managed to get some new blood up in there.  Sonia followed Elaine as woman power within our ranks.  We worshiped together at the local Methodist church and formed a sort of bond at work that was based on empowerment of those who care enough to do the job well even when the bosses suck.   She died in her early thirties, the result of a random car wreck with her son on board.  He called his dad on the cell  begging for help.  Daddy was a radiologist  at our hospital  so it was a double whammy when Sonia died, leaving him with two young sons to raise.   Her funeral was one of the oddest yet most comforting services I have ever attended complete with Egyptian and American Christian ministers and lots of smoke and liturgy.

It was shortly after that when the PG moved in with an offer to "help" the old Cuban through his hard times.  At that point, there were probably ten of 'em, looking for business to grow their practice based in Memphis.  It was a corporate no brainer since they contracted with the company that owned us at the time, a not-for-profit church affiliated organization.  Between then and now, they've been bought out by some company on the other side of the world to direct lab activities in the Memphis metro market.  The first director that I remember was Barry the Cubs fan.  He and the little general could go on for hours about baseball and how bad the Cardinals can suck even in a good year.   Bound for me to fall for the little guy, the one who always wears a tie and whistles.  We won't go there right now.  Maybe later.

Shortly thereafter the church our company changed their vision and became a transplant center.  As a teaching facility for UT med students they focused on making a difference in healthcare and throwing glittery fundraising balls for benefactors.  I didn't feel the love very much after that epiphany.  That is when we got sold, en masse, to one of the most lucrative businesses on Wall Street in the healthcare sector.  Seven rural West Tennessee hospitals became a part of a network that spans the entire southeastern United States.  They do business by the letter of the law and ask for money up front, which...surprisingly...I don't have a problem with.  With 33 years in the business, you learn to know that enough is enough when it comes to a free ride off of your state or federal government tax dollars.

There are so many people with real health issues who get ignored because of abuse by those who really don't know any better than to take up valuable time in beds across the network of hospitals and ERs in our country.   Many patients don't understand that home care can save a lot of trips up and down the hallways of our facility.  I can't tell you how many times I've made a home visit just to catch up with an ailing friend or relative to get one more hug.  It's what we do.....the Stafford kids.

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