Two posts in one day, rare. I sit here thinking of Emily's open call. When were you arrested?
I was not precisely arrested. Instead, I was taken four hours by ambulance to a hospital in mid -Florida, in the town of Port St Lucie , which has since been hit by several hurricanes. Of course, I notice that.
This story starts with a sidewalk fall---someone bumping into me-- in South Beach, before I have a home there. It is a crowded Art Basel -type weekend so even though I feel like my left shoulder has been riven from it's socket, the one star hotel allows me a doctor, one who shoots into my shoulder with something like steroids and then I must leave. My flight is from West Palm and I get to the Breakers Hotel to see friends who work there. Friends who know me intimately after my daughter's false arrest a year ago, almost precisely. Then I sit outside, awaiting my flight.
I recently have gotten the news that no I am not type 2 but a type 1 diabetic, so new to taking insulin. A friend tells me you can shoot through your clothes and as I was outside, I checked my blood sugars, which pierces a finger tip, always leaving a dribble of blood --on my shirt, and then I take the shot, throwing away the needle (inside a napkin) into a large green waste basket.
Someone sees me, sitting and dosing in the sun, and as I am not registered, he calls the cops. But the cops, scooping out the needle, noting blood on shirt, call an ambulance. I am so freaked that I fall asleep, this from one who rarely even naps, only to awake for a doctor who climbs in, sees bruises on my shoulder , blood on my shirt, and the needle, decides I am either abusing heroin or trying to kill myself, or both.
I sleep and wake in the ambulance, instanly know we were going so far north, "four hours" a medic says, so I'd better be on good behavior. But of course, that just made me more suspect. A part of me is terrified; another part is pure witness as when accused of the not-true.
Next I am taken in hands, two strong medics, into an intake interview, what I have given a few thousand times, myself. The social worker in a tiny town in a hospital for the suicidal or the chemically dependent or the senile. Thid is the range of her call.
Sophie seems on the verge of believing me, sensing I am too articulate, too savvy in psych terminology to be an addict, or senile as I am sure she'll give me a pass but for reasons I wonder about 8 years later, I fail her interview and they put me in the suicide ward --this even though I tell Sophie that if she checks, she'll see my story is true. That I have a Phd and am known in Boston. That I never drink, do no drugs, am never suicidal. Again, the more innocent I sound, the more suspect.
Now I am in the suicide ward which I admit seems lively not to say: fascinating at first. These people are all returnees by choice and they really care about each other--each re-visit is pre-arranged. They organize reunions. There is a kindergarten teacher in her 50's. A few hipster girls in torn jeans, lots of black eye make-op, in their 20's. Men who were bikers, as they meet next to my cell/aka bunk where even the toilet is locked. In equal measures, I'm dying to leave and fascinated to hear their stories, their laughter!
I sleep for one night as my shoulder still hurts but I will not agree to stay 78 hours, so they won't give me insulin, which anyway is, along with all my clothes and backpack, back at a hotel in which I am not even registered.
The first morning after a night in transition, I listen to all the suicide talk, realize I could run/facilitate such a group as once I had. Had also worked for Suicide hotlines for a few years, but tell that to the judge or to Intake person or Main attendant.
I say nothing when a thought! occurs! "Sir, are we allowed a phone call?"
He: "Yes, only one." Now why has he not mentioned this?
I call my ex who is living in my apartment in NYC and thank you lord, he answers. "Eds, Eddie," I am crying, "Call my endoc and Jesse and any other MD or authority you can find. I will be locked up for 78 hours, sans insulin if you don't." Eddie and I are at our absolute best in emergencies. And soon the phone of the main attendant, a man with huge authority, d0es not stop ringing.
Four doctors who knew me either as patients or as friends call in quick succession to say that I am the least suicidal person they know; that I am not into drugs, but a diabetic needing insulin. That this hospital must release me.
The man is now a little rattled, what with big city doctors talking so forcefully to an isolated, kind of primitive place. In one hour, the head of the hospital comes to release me. He apologizes profusely, says Sophie has told him I am not a candidate. Hmm, I think.
There now is the problem of my being naked in a tiny green hospital gown, in which no cab driver will take anywhere. The man does inject me with a soupson of insulin, though we have no meter, and then from 11 AM, we wait for my clothes as I refuse all food, since eating= insulin. I now know I'll be free, as I listen intently to the group's stories, though cannot join them. I'm free. Not yet, but soon.
My clothes and insulin bag however, take forever. It is actually long after lights out, aka, it's midnight when arrives in a red bag, taped as if my Hasmet, and reeking of spilled insulin, some broken vial that is the first and last that I know the odour of this stuff which keeps me alive.
I dress quickly, in giddyness, free at last: In jeans and a smelly black t-shirt and now my intake counselor is hugging me, "I knew you were not a sicky," she says, all bubbly, but I say, "But you were not certain," which words get her rattled-- as I realize they fear a legal case, not knowing that I sue no one. Ever. For any reason.
I tiptoe out backpack over my good shoulder, bag in another hand, to see a man standing in the moonlit night, under lacy leaves, an indelible still- life moment because I am happier than I know to have my freedom back. I do not have a cell on me, so can't call Eddie.
This man, in the shadows, is maybe foreign as I recall, maybe from South America? That part is vague as his word are not. He says, "I hear you own real estate up north." I have no idea how this private statement has be tossed around until I remember that in a small town there is nothing to do but gossip.
"Well," he continues," I own some property around here and it's kind of lonely without someone to talk about it, so I was.. wondering.. if you'd like to date." Pause. "With the intention of getting married; you're pretty." I do not laugh. Rather, I feel the sheer poignancy of the "bush telephone"; of his loneliness. I say, simply, that I don't live close enough to even have one date, as my cab pulls up.
I hop in only to discover, within two miles, that this local cab company has hired someone who cannot function mentally-- to drive the quiet night shift. Again, this is pure poignancy, and I ask this kid if he has ever left Port St. Lucie?
"Never, not in my life," he responds. I ask if there is any other transport since I have to get to W. Palm Beach by morning. There is none. "Can I drive you and teach you how to get from here to there so you can drive back?" I ask.
"I'm a really good driver and no one has to know. And won't it be nice for you to get out of here?" Yes, he is excited, not thinking as I am, how much trouble he can get in with the cab company. Because as of this moment I realize this random arrest -ish can happen to anyone for any reason or non-reason at all, has happened to my daughter, as now has happened to me.
There is no radio and we make the four hours in two 1/2 as he is thrilled to have an adventure. I make sure he can and does enough of the driving that he'll be fine getting home. Basically it is simply one long highway.
He drops me off at a Marriot near the airport and all I remember from this short night before my flight is how after talking to Eddie, I miss the stories and that warm comradie among those who are helping each other not to die.