When I was in the airport going back I had to use a wheelchair because I was barely out of the hospital and still not steady on my feet. I was alternately ignored or treated like furniture by passers-by. At one point I had to go to the bathroom in the airport so I wheeled off towards the ladies’ lounge and the handicapped room. When I got there the door was locked and the person inside wasn’t answering. Well she picked the wrong cripple to piss off that day. I found the bathroom attendant and pointed out sadly that I couldn’t use the bathroom because the one handicapped room was locked. The frau banged on the door and when the idiot woman opened the door, she got in her face and shrieked, “NO! (pointing at me) VEELCHAIR!” I had to look sad and try to keep from laughing my handicapable ass off.
Three months later I went back to Dr. Eggermont and the Netherlands for a resection of the tumor. There were a few differences on this trip. This time instead of just anesthesia I was given an epidural as well which is given to pregnant women in labor so they won’t feel anything from the waist down. I sat on the gurney leaning forward while Hans or Dieter put a needle into my spine. Dirk or Lars stood in front of me and gently cradled my head in his arms, not to be tender but so I wouldn’t flinch when the needle went in. I was also given white fishnet panties to wear for some reason. This time when I woke up afterwards I was sore and stoned and relieved and freaked out that the epidural was still firmly stuck in my back. The food was bland as the last time with one piece of bread and two slices of meat and a tablespoon of peanut butter posing as dinner. One of the nursing aides there took quite a liking to me when he found out I was an American. “I love America! And I love George Bush. More votes for George Bush,” he liked to tell me. Once he brought me a glass of juice and announced triumphantly, ‘It comes from apples!’ (this was after I asked for water). Another aide had some difficulties with English, which caused this exchange: she noted that I was on a catheter and asked if it was working. Not soaked in pee, I agreed. She started to ask if I had done something else and I cut ahead and asked, ‘bowel movement?’ because in the hospital they love to hear all about everything that goes into or comes out of your body. “No,” she insisted. I couldn’t imagine what else it could be and sat there dumbly. Finally she pointed at her own rump and asked, “You make of the ass?”