Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Hey! It’s Not Brain Surgery! Yes…it is (part 5) …by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Brain Surgery Rebellion,Philosophy,Robert Katzman's Stories,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 10:13 pm on Thursday, April 29, 2010

Other than a murmured, “Sorry about that”  nothing was done.

This is why I won’t name the institution.  I don’t want to embarrass them about their cheap-ass broken cassette tape player.  Or even more serious matters to come. But my laying there on that slab for thirty minutes listening to Buddy Holly sing about Peggy Sue over and over and over was not an enchanting experience.

I don’t blame Buddy for this, but I am somehow less fond of that particular song, even six years later.

After the gamma-knife machine was switched off, my boxed head was unlocked and I sat up.  I asked for my cassette tape and was given it.  I was not happy.  The operator slunk out of the room.

Then a stocky nurse came in, all business, and told me she was there to remove the plastic box.  I saw the $3.00 screwdriver clenched in her sweaty hand.  This was so weird, man.

I asked her if there would be any pain medications for me after the screws were unscrewed from my skull, or any band-aides.  She replied,

“Nah, it won”t hurt you, much.  You’ll be fine.” 

Then she commenced her unscrewing and lifted the box I’d been wearing for eight hours, off of my head.

I looked hard at this banshee in white, with her idiotic response to my civil question, like,

“Hey, stand up take it like a man!”  Kind of attitude.

But the pain shot through my facial nerves like electricity as each screw was turned.  Then I asked her again, less civilly, for aspirin and some band-aides as the blood from the two screw holes just above my eyes trickled down my forehead, pooled below my eyes, ran down my cheeks, dripping on my hospital gown.

The nurse looked at me, and again brushed my request aside dismissively with a stern,

“You don’t need it.  You’ll be fine.”

I stared at this Bride of Frankenstein–he probably divorced her–and was tired of being polite  I said to her, my voice becoming increasingly louder,

“Lady, there is something very wrong with you. I’m bleeding. Take a closer look. The red stuff dripping on my face is blood.  GET ME A DAMN BAND-AIDE AND GET IT NOW!!!” 

She looked shocked.  Evidently not used to seeing a formerly mild patient standing before her in a skimpy hospital gown with his ass hanging out suddenly turning from what she mistakenly assumed was meekness to angry insubordination, her eyes widened and she ran out of the room.  A hot second later she rushed back in with a handful of band-aides, threw them on that same table as the god-damned cassette player, and ran back out of the room.  She was gone.  Never saw her again.

I hope someone screws steel screws into her head, some day, without any anesthetic or band-aides, and tells her “It doesn’t hurt at all”  I hope they do it over and over and over, just like my Buddy Holly song.  Seems right to me.  Seems fair.

Leaving the scene of the crime, I wandered the halls of the hospital looking for the correct elevator to take me back to my room, from many choices.  Finding the right one, I rode it up to my floor, found my room and sat on my bed.  Very annoyed, I had a serious headache. I was also very hungry, having not eaten since 6 pm the previous day, about twenty-two hours ago.

So, as a normal, complacent patient is supposed to do, I pushed the call button for a nurse.

No reply.

Pushed again.

This time, a bored voice answered,

“Yes, what is it?”

I asked the voice for an aspirin and some food, and was told both would be there shortly.

Then the bored voice hung up.


An hour later, I decided that this was the stocky nurse’s revenge.

“Ignore Katzman in Room 405, Bed One.  He’s a rebel.  Plus brain damaged, too.” 

I changed tactics.

In my vast experience with surgery and hospitals, adequate care frequently requires combat.  Civilized behavior gets you nothing.  Nice schmucks go hungry and get no aspirin, either.  Remember that.

I got out of Bed One and walked over to the floor’s switchboard operator.  I asked the girl there her name.  She looked at me, paused, and then told me:


I said to her, evenly,

My name is Katzman, Room 405, Bed One.  I want some aspirin and some food.  Now.

Paula said she’d call.  I told her I’d already been through that and didn’t believe it anymore.  Call now, I said.

She politely asked me to go back to my room.  I refused and said,

“No, Paula  I’ll stand her while you make the call.  I want to hear you.  I want aspirin and some food.  Call someone, Paula.  Call now!!” 

She hesitated. Then she saw I wasn’t moving.  Apparently convinced the game of “Fuck the Patient” was up, in my case, she made the call.  I stood two feet away from her, listening.  A moment later, she turned to me and said they were bringing it.

I said: When?

She said: Now.

I said, how did she know?  They lied to me before, Paula.

She said she told a supervisor.

I asked her to please verify it was coming.

Smiling now, she did that.  I think she had swung over to my side in this one-man guerilla hospital rebellion. 

Making the call, her voice was more aggressive now.  I liked that.

“He won’t leave” she barked into the phone, “unless you bring him aspirin and dinner.  Hurry up!” 

I thanked her.  She smiled at me, my fellow warrior.  We shook hands.  I told her I trusted her.  She smiled some more.  I was lying, but I walked back to my room, feeling the blood above my eyebrows still oozing.  I was hopeful this determined attempt would work, this time.

Five minutes later, a harassed-looking person appeared with two Tylenol in a little white cup, and a crowded tray overflowing with tasteless hospital food.  A mixed blessing, in this case.  I took the pills.  I scarfed down the dinner and went to sleep, my tiny victories giving me scant comfort. The next day, I was gone from that place.

Six years have passed since that harsh April, in 2004.

 Part Six next week, out of seven parts. 

Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998  (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.


Comment by Don Larson

April 30, 2010 @ 10:22 am

If it’s any comfort for you, I would have done as you for the food and aspirin. They would never want the two of us conspiring in the same room together. The scene afterwards would be like a “Black-and-Blues Brothers” movie. 😉

I look forward to Number six.

Again, Happy Birthday!

Comment by Elaine

June 11, 2010 @ 10:05 am

Unfortunately, this sounds like a typical day at the hospital–in someone’s dept. somewhere. I can’t imagine, tho, a nurse letting you bleed & then tossing you bandaids–not even applying them! Ugh! That’s insulting. Like you aren’t going through enough torture & trauma already! You’re right–that woman was a monster, and I applaud your stand-up strategy to get what you needed.

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