Pandemic Journal, June 26, 2020
Hi, Tommy again. Logan was telling you about Juneteenth, and how we were helping Antoine and Maya set up for the celebration. They hosted this year; Logan and I will host next year. The celebration went well. Ralph and Becca had put together a bunch of games for the kids, some of which they actually enjoyed. Their favorite was Hide and Seek. We had opened all of the apartments on the floor for the game until Ralph caught a bunch of the older kids in Tree’s place, drinking all the liquor. Why wasn’t I ever smart enough to do that kind of thing?
Speaking of smart, I required every one of the boys on my middle school broadcast to have a responsible adult with him when he joined, then I had Logan do random checks to make sure it wasn’t somebody who had just left. Today was about men’s health, and I talked about testicular self-exams. Starting around puberty is a good time to get into the practice. I gave them a link to the Mayo Clinic’s article on how to do it. Then, I demonstrated on myself. I had worn just a towel, and took it off. There was nudity, nothing sexual. I wanted a responsible adult with each child for my own protection. Anyway, one of the kids recorded the session and put it up on a porn site on the internet. I can assure you, there is nothing erotic about a testicular self-exam.
Of course, when Logan and I started living together, we helped each other with the exams. That is something else, and you’ll get no details from me. I took questions, and told them that in a week or two we’d have another demonstration about how to pay attention to hygiene if you have a foreskin. Antoine has volunteered to be the model. Maya has volunteered to help, but that’s up to Antoine.
So, I was talking about Juneteenth celebration when I rudely interrupted myself. Every team member and employee who was in Chicago at the time attended, with family. It was a time to remember the joy of freedom, and the horror of the sacrifices involved. Four million Africans were bought and shipped to the US and became slaves. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a war to free them. We need to share the joy and remember so that it never happens again.
The bad news: The season is over for us. Twenty-two teams are traveling to Orlando; we will not be with them. We’re out. There’s a rumor that this resulted from a conspiracy. If we had played up to the standards of the past three decades, no conspiracy could have kept us out of Orlando. We didn’t make the cut. Next year, please let us get back on track.
One thing that was said was that the high price the team paid to get Antoine, Tree and Ralph, and to waste two slots on me and Logan, cost us the season. That might be the case. I have to admit that, while I’m sorry on behalf of the team, it’s been a dream for me and the rest of the guys. We’re all close, we’re all best friends. Each of us is an outstanding athlete and ball player, but that’s not enough. We need to function as a team. The Minotaurs aren’t going to start the five of us, we haven’t played together since high school. And, high school teams just plain don’t compete in the NBA, period.
I got to deliver a baby yesterday morning. A woman and a man were brought in by onlookers who witnessed an auto accident right outside our building. The woman who was in her late twenties seemed perfectly fine, the man – who was in his sixties – was having difficulty breathing, clutching the left side of his chest and moaning. Deena called for an ECG – Electrocardiogram – stat (medical talk for NOW) and I hooked him up. She confirmed a heart attack and took over treatment. One of the translating nurses went in to help her.
When I got back out to the waiting area, I saw a puddle forming outside a curtained bay. A woman was screaming and Logan was trying to talk to her in a soothing manner; he’s no better than I am at that shit. So, I went in and saw her propped up on a gurney with her legs spread apart, knees up, naked below the waist, with something rounded and a little hairy coming out of her vagina. I told her to push, to hold Logan’s hand (he thinks he’ll be able to use it in another week), and watch a miracle. I managed to catch the baby on his way out. I cut the umbilical cord, tied off the end attached to the little boy, and yelled for help. Becca came in and took the baby and started cleaning him off while I delivered the afterbirth.
“Apgar six!” shouted Becca, and I heard a familiar laugh from the other side of the curtain. It was Antoine, who was doubled over.
“The Apgar scale goes from zero to five, with zero being “no signs of life” and five being “healthy as can be.” There is no six.” Antoine went back to laughing, so I looked at Becca.
“Well, that’s what I always hear some nurse shouting, Apgar and a single digit number. I thought it was part of the process.” She looked startled as the nurse had left Deena to look at the woman, and grabbed the baby.
“Apgar four,” she said, finished cleaning up the little boy and handed him to his mother. We called for a second ambulance (one had just left with the heart attack man) and the nurse examined the afterbirth. She tied off both ends of the umbilical cord and handed it to Becca. “Put it in a plastic container, seal it, label it, and put it in the freezer. Now.” Becca ran off.
The new mother (her name was Francine) was crying and holding her baby to her breast. The nurse started taking her blood pressure and temperature (why didn’t I think of that?), started a chart (same question to myself) and got some scrubs for Francine to wear. The baby had stopped crying and was beginning to suckle at his mother’s breast. She motioned to me, thanked me and asked how her father was doing. He was taking her to the hospital where they were going to induce labor when the accident happened.
I called the local hospital and asked the ER about him. I had to ask Francine his name (Stupid! Stupid!) and learned he was recovering. He’d had a stent put in his LDA (Left Anterior Descending, an artery) and I told them he had a healthy grandson, and she said she’d pass the word on.
“Dad’s had a stent inserted and is recovering. So far, so good.” Francine smiled at her son in the middle of her tears. I left to grab a mop, and found Tree already doing so. I offered to clean up and he offered to douse me with the mop bucket. I told Deena everything I had done, she debriefed Consuelo (the nurse) so I went and found Logan. I collapsed in his arms and cried. I still don’t know why.