CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Occupying Wimpy’s Cranium


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on Nov. 2, 2011.)


“Occupying Wimpy’s Mind” may not be of national interest, a la Wall Street/Los Angeles/Oakland/Van Nuys, but if you ask me, closer to home and heart.

While some (readers) will sigh in sympathy (Thank you!), there will be others hoping for a change of venue (subject) next week. And so it shall be: Too much (blood) has been poured into my body to be transmitted without comment or venom.

“I’ll wake each morning and I’ll promise to laugh…”

The past two weeks have been a combined morning-noon nightmare. Even I, jaded and cynical, can’t help but begin to wonder, “Why me?”

After blacking out and being rushed to the ER, I was into ICU and attended to by Tuesday a.m., the unsuspecting victim of a duodenal ulcer that gushed like a ruptured BP oil pipeline. And, apparently, just as difficult to cap and staunch. Six units of blood later and a gurgling, gargling innocent wondering if it was really worth the effort, mercy prevailed, the bleeding stopped.

The celebratory mood lasted less than 24 hours; monitoring revealed continuing bleeding and a need to re-enter the stomach via nose, probe, inject and then cauterize — again. This time a pained, weary loser gave it up. I refused another procedure. To which a nonplussed doctor responded, “What if we put you under this time to alleviate the pain?” Plus three more units.

It was surreal — and maddening — to realize the whole shebang could have been relatively painless and simple. And maybe the second ulcer wasn’t really Number Two, but Number One mistreated?

“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours…”

Compounding this conspiracy theory of “Let’s Make CR2S’s Hospital Stay Memorable,” a short list of incidents that occurred: on a commode for 12 minutes* without a call button within reach; painfully suspended on top of a chamba (bedpan) for 13 minutes* while floor personnel discussed weekend plans; oxygen tube worthless since it was disconnected; same problem with an IV feed; a blood IV and catheter malfunction; and all the while I’m listed as “Williams Hirito.” (*exact times as I had nothing to do other than stare at a clock face.)

Unlike my (long) stay at Cedars and (short stint) at St. Vincent’s, where I made pains to record and remember, these nine days were a hodgepodge of misadventure – defying belief and so depressing. I did not take notes (How could I forget?) so how about one more “You Wouldn’t Believe” before I try hard to close out these “Nine Days in Hell”: Would you believe I had not one, but two nurses who had a preference for garlic over Chanel No. 5?

“You’re all dressed up to go dreaming, mind if I tag along…”

While medical concern concentrates on hemoglobin level, added worries arise regarding condition of heart and lungs. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan doesn’t work but Hiroto’s 3-3-3 blood transfusion sequence prompted worries if surgery was now in order. Four days of apprehension followed. All the while, I can think of nothing but escape from the throes of pain and suffering… Even if it is horizontal.

Surcease comes in the form of official discharge, exactly a week ago, to Keiro Nursing Home. Even that joyous occasion was marked by unbelievable incompetence. Would you believe the Burbank-based EMT unit assigned to transport me back to humanity has Keiro ICF as my destination point rather than Keiro Lincoln Park? Un-believe-able!

“No matter where you are, I’ll think of you, night and day…”

For what it’s worth, and for me we’re talking life and limb, my sole aim is to return to the quiet and comfort of Keiro Retirement Home. No five-star restaurant appeals; no four-star hotel matters; a sold-out sporting event can do without me; the tango can go solo. My wants and needs are now very limited and simple. Solitaire anyone?

I missed one of the most exciting World Series games ever and failed to take SC + 9 ½; about as big a steal as +8 ½ against Notre Dame. Cal Cup Day and Breeder’s Cup are passé. I wouldn’t want to be Kadafi — Moammar or Saif. Steve Jobs may gave been a genius, the equal of Thomas Edison, but I have a landline and no iPhone.

What does that make me? An aging romantic who dropped from sight 14 days ago, appreciative of the outpouring of love and concern I crave. False alarm or not, I don’t think I will be allowed too many more cries of “the sky is falling.”

Until then: “The world is ours until the stars fall down…”


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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