Palm Springs 2
What happened next was a series of misfortunate events.
Matthew’s abrupt departure and the disappointment that followed was painful. And then something strange happened.
I’d been using a very long hose to water with. I borrowed it from a neighbor two doors down who had given me permission to do so. I would always put it back, but in retrospect never neatly coiled. It was a grave mistake.
One day I went out to water and there was a post-it on the hose telling me I was being disrespectful by not coiling it neatly, that I needed to be NEAT and respectful to my neighbors. The tone of the note was rude and uncalled for. In light of what had happened with Matthew, it seemed like another hit.
I became enraged, probably fueled by my now-who -knows-where thyroid levels. I went into my house, got a post it note, wrote “Please Fuck Off” on it, and stuck it right where the other note had been.
I walked to the dumpster and came back and my post it note was emblazoned on my front door. No doubt proof that what goes around does come back around.
A few days later the apartment manager came pounding on my door. He was from New York, crotchety as hell, and to be avoided according to my neighbors.
“You’ve been pruning these bushes out here”, he said in an accusatory tone.
“Well, I said, I did pluck off some of the dead branches”.
“You’re making a mess”, he said. “I appreciate it the effort, but please, just don’t.”
So now I wasn’t going to be able to water in the front, nor was I going to be allowed to touch the plants or remove the dead branches. I was clearly a horrible neighbor. Everything seemed to have shifted.
A few days later I was notified that the building had been sold and that we had a new landlord and a new manager in residence on the way. It all happened very fast. I thought maybe it would be a good change.
Once again, I could not have been more wrong.
The chain of events after that become very blurry. I began having delusions. One of them was that I was the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene and that my son was the second coming of Jesus. If my son is the second coming of Jesus, we are all in trouble. And as for me as Mary Magdalene? An immaculate conception, yes. No room at the Inn, yes. After that there is a large divergence in the roads.
Light and sound became overstimulating to me, and the mask restrictions in Palm Springs became policed. I was escorted from a Starbucks by a very large security guard for not having my mask properly asphyxiating me.
I started frequenting small stores for the things I needed. Liquor stores became my go to. They have almost everything you need there. Cat food, cat litter, etc. I wasn’t eating or drinking water, it never occurred to me. And one day at the liquor store I thought, “Why can’t I have wine?” Sure, I am an alcoholic. But wine was never my thing, and other people seemed to drink all the time. Why not me?
So I bought some, and it helped me relax. So I bought more. And after that things became more and more blurry.
I started smoking cigarettes also, a habit I’d given up some 4 decades earlier. The habit returned with a vengeance.
One day I overheard the news anchor talking about heat stroke. She said the problem with heat stroke is that the person stops eating and drinking and loses the ability to understand that they need to.
And I thought, Hmmm…. I’m not eating. I’m not drinking, and I can’t breathe, even with a mask off.
Even though my distrust was at an all time high, after a discussion with my therapist on the phone, I agreed to go to the hospital. I was too weak to drive, so I called the only person I knew in Palm Springs and luckily he agreed to take me.
When I arrived at the Urgent care, the receptionist sat glaring at me from a distance. My chest was heaving as I gasped for breath. They kept asking me what was wrong with me. I didn’t know.
Finally they took me back to a room. They took my vitals, and EKG and left me there for what seemed like an eternity. While I lay there behind the curtain I could hear the receptionist and the nurse talking right outside my room.
“Oh she definitely has Covid”, said the receptionist. They sat there discussing my symptoms and how they were all Covid signs. I was furious. I couldn’t believe their lack of discretion and ethics. But then I started having more anxiety, suddenly thinking perhaps I did have Covid. Who knew what was wrong with me?
“I can hear you talking about me,” I said, loud enough for them to hear. They shut up.
Finally a doctor showed up. I explained to her my thyroid situation and I lucked out because she understood TSH and Myxedema Coma, which is one of the things I was experiencing, a medical psychosis brought about by severe hypothyroidism.
I begged for saline, knowing I needed it, and she ordered it for me as well as a slew of lab tests. The nurse who had been discussing me outside my room came in with his needles. I figured he was gonna jab me hard for calling me out. He said nothing, just came in, shoved a needle in my arm and left.
Later they released me. No further instructions except to get a primary care doctor. A short time later they called me with a name of a nurse practitioner and I made the appointment knowing I was in desperate need of medical care. My condition, whatever it was, was deteriorating. I was unable to feed myself. I was unable to do laundry. All of my clothes were dirty and the ones I did have were looking ragged. I was unable to shower. The water hurt my skin too much. Everything hurt. I was having difficulty speaking, forming words.
My therapist, my friends, and my own sense of reason, as damaged as it was, convinced me that I needed to force myself to eat and drink water. I tried to do the things I used to, like go to a nearby coffee shop to order a breakfast sandwich.
It was early one morning that I set out, presumably before the heat would set in. I was driving directly into the sun. Suddenly the sun hit me in the center of the forehead with a force unimaginable. I started screaming in agony it hurt so bad. If anyone could have heard me it would have sounded like I was dying. I had no idea what was wrong with me, what was happening, or why the sun had hit me like that. I drove back home, terrified, without any food.
After that I was afraid of the sun. Any light at all, especially with a yellow tone, caused me excruciating pain. By now I was afraid to leave my apartment. All watering stopped, I had no meds for my thyroid or my heart, and no way to be able to get them. I couldn’t even manage a routine grocery trip.
A week or so later I went to my appointment. I was terrified, weak, exhausted. The MA took my vitals. My heart was in A-fib again. I was used to this and it had become routine but the MA seemed very concerned and told me they were probably not going to be able to see me because of it.
She left and a while later the nurse practitioner came in. She ordered an EKG and told me I was going to have to go to the hospital by ambulance. Then she began to ask her questions from behind the computer.
I was wearing a pair of yoga pants I had cut into shorts. The edges were uneven and ragged. I hadn’t bathed in some time. I smelled of tobacco, she informed me.
I began to try and tell her about the thyroid situation, about my TSH, my symptoms. I told her about my last TSH level. My words came out pressured and jumbled.
She told me it was impossible to have a TSH of 147 and that I must be mistaken. She noticed my pants, and said, “ I’m looking at your clothing, torn, and I’m wondering, are you homeless?” Her tone was not one of concern. It was more like a statement of fact that she was surmising from my appearance. Again, I was horrified by what seemed like a total lack of ethical integrity. I didn’t understand why she was asking me that question at that moment. I told her no.
She had me get on the table and the EKG person came in and hooked me up. Then the paramedics, four of them or so. IV pumping saline. Wires everywhere, and on the gurney. A roll outside, and a ride in the ambulance, very fast, over very bumpy roads.
By this time it was clear to me in my semi-conscious state that I had no control over anything after that.
I was transferred into another bed at the ER. I was hooked up to an EKG. All of the saline was having an effect and I asked to pee. One nurse said, yes, the other said no, I wasn’t allowed out of bed, I would have to use a bedpan.
The last time I saw a bedpan was a few decades ago. They have changed. Now they are grey plastic dustpans. He slid one under me and I knew there was no way I could pee in it without hitting the bed. He said there were no commodes available. So he put a plastic thing on a chair, sat the dustpan on it, and said I could pee in that. So I did. The nurses left.
Several times I got up to pee on the dustpan, which was almost overflowing. I pushed the call button once, it didn’t seem to have any effect.
Eventually a doctor wandered in. He asked me questions and seemed puzzled as to why I couldn’t answer. He ordered tests. He left.
Eventually, what seemed like hours later, he came back.
“You fixed yourself,” he said. “You can go home now”. I was given no meds for my atrial fib or my thyroid, nor was I given any info about the blood tests.
I was relieved to be released but explained I had come by ambulance and didn’t even know where my car was at that point. He said I should call an Uber. I told him I didn’t know how. He told me a nurse would show me, and left. The nurse came in awhile later with a packet of discharge instructions. I explained my dilemma and she told me to go out to the lobby and ask them to call me a cab.
I wandered out to the lobby and found the front desk. The receptionist told me she called me a cab and to wait in the parking lot. I walked out the front doors into the 110 degree heat and found a cement block to sit on. I waited with the half dozen or so other patients in the parking lot, most of them in wheelchairs.
The taxi arrived and drove me back to the doctors office. I wondered how I would drive myself home. I had regrettably purchased a manual car that was low to the ground, and the weakness was making it incredibly difficult for me to drive. I managed, somehow, to get back home.
I met an elderly woman who lived two doors down. We had become friends and shared conversation. She was a delight. I imagined a burgeoning friendship. I shared my laundry dilemma with her, that it had piled up and I didn’t have to strength to drag it to the machines. The laundry room was not air conditioned, and going in there made me feel faint.
She suggested we do our laundry together, and drive it in the car, to avoid the heat. I was excited at the possibility of having clean clothes, clothes that fit properly and didn’t cause people to assume I was a vagrant.
We set out at what proved to be an arduous task in the growing heat of the day. In my excitement I accidentally locked myself out of the apartment. I couldn’t believe it. What was I going to do now?
I thought about trying to scale the cement block fence in the back. I knew that attempting that could likely kill me. My friend told me the resident manager had arrived, I should just let him know what happened.
I walked to his apartment and knocked. I was thrilled that he answered. He was an older guy, described himself as sort of an old hippy, said he was a marijuana smoker right out the gate. I’m thinking, “Oh good, he is gonna be cool.”
He tells me that in the transfer the keys have been all messed up, but says he will go to the office and look for the master. I wait patiently while he digs through rings of keys. He informs me that unfortunately, the prior manager did not leave a master key for my apartment, probably because I rented it right before the sale took place.
I’m baffled but not surprised. He tells me that if I want to get into the apartment, I can either scale the fence or call a locksmith. I tell him I just got out of the hospital. He tells me I’m the one who locked myself out.
I go back to my friend’s apartment, despondent. I tell her what happened. She was in her 90’s and a fireball. She said, “You go tell him to call a locksmith. I’ll go with you.”
We walked back towards his unit. I tell him to call a locksmith. He reluctantly agrees, calls one, gets off the phone and tells me that the locksmith will be there shortly and its going to cost me $100 bucks.
By then I was furious. Steam was pouring out of my ears like a freight train.
“Fine.” I said. Call the locksmith, I’ll pay for it, and we will dispute it later.
My friend was standing in the sideline and told the landlord he needed to pay for it. I think it was only her pressure that led him to concede. The locksmith arrived, the manager paid for it, and I thought we were done.
By then it seemed the manager and I had come to an agreement of sorts. I felt like I could call on him if needed.
So the next day I went to his door to ask him to fix my air conditioning. The casing on the thermostat had fallen off. He agreed to come over, and while there, I asked him to also look at the toilet seat, as it had fallen off the hinges.
He went into the bathroom and complained about the water on the floor. The floor was tile, like a shower. It had a shower in it, that leaked, consequently the bathroom floor was always damp.
He told me my behavior was out of the ordinary. He said I needed to shape up. He said, “Your behavior indicates to me that you are a “tweaker”.
I was aghast, but also aware I was in an apartment with a strange man and I had very little clothing on. I just gave him a shocked look, because I was honestly shocked. He said, “I’m just trying to protect a 3 million dollar property.”
He left and came back a few minutes later. He brought me three rolls of toilet paper. He said he had a change of heart, and saw I needed TP, and brought me some. He said he just needed me to sign this paper saying I received the TP. I thought it was strange, everything seemed strange, so I signed it, thinking he was just trying to be nice.
Continuing in my semi-delirious state, fueled by alcohol, I began to find great comfort in singing. The wine seemed to give me courage enough that I began singing in my backyard. During the day or early evening. It probably happened three or four times. I had heard of people singing outside during Covid and I honestly thought someone might enjoy my songs.
Two days later the apartment manager knocked loudly on my door. He handed me an eviction notice. “Your going to have to be out by the end of the month”, he said plainly.
I stood there in the doorway, in the dark, staring at the eviction notice.
“I don’t know what to say”, I said, “except that I am heartbroken.”
“Nobody wants you here, he said, “Believe me. I’ve talked to the neighbors”. His voice was raised.
“What did I do?” I asked.
“Oh, it will all be in the affidavits”, he said.
I shut the door and walked back inside. I was not wanted there. I was not wanted anywhere.