333) Sketching Dialysis

February 28, 2009

El Milagro:
I'm in at 2:55 after an already busy day... starting in my overcoat in 35 mph north winds @ 8:30, with the temp at 42 degrees, watching the Kick Kats lose to the Lava Jets, 2-1. Then after a brief sojourn home we zoomed up to N. Austin to meet Ranjana and family for Indian Food at Star of India, where their family shared their favorite Indian foods and described them to us as we ate. Shayna and Monica seemed to have a good time together and Shayna was very adventurous about trying all the delights, liking most of what she tried. Ranjana's niece is living with them while studying at UT, from India so we were interviewing her all about her experiences here, living with her uncle as well as what's different about going to UT. Of interest to me, she reported that the professors here are very informal and the students call them by their first names... which never occurs in India... very much more formal over there. She likes the people she has met through the International Student Center and is happy with her classes. Ranjana and Devon discussed having to supervise her; letting her have enough "freedom" to experience America without giving her too much to upset her parents over in India. We also discussed their ideas about Hinduism and I compared it favorably in my brain of brains with my ideas about Judaism. All in All it was a great time and I want to ensure we do it again.

Ann the Nurse sticks me today and does my nursing eval too. The place seems pretty quiet. I decide to sketch, which is another way to document this experience that I haven't done much of cause many times I feel less competent at sketching than I do at writing. Growing up with Albert, (and several other really "talented" people) had the effect of showing me how less talented I am as well as making me somewhat bashful about my own skills... now, as I write this I do recall Al saying "its 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration..." he always argued for the amount of WORK put in v.s. "talent" and Connie and I (and many others) were overwhelmed with his "talent"... I know that the impact on me, personally, was to find some other way to make a living. Connie was a really good potter and the result for her, I think, was to enter nursing school. At any rate, I decide today to sketch my dialysis experience.

First I sketch out Kim the Nurse adjusting cleaning a machine in preparation for George the Patient. She is wearing her mask a
nd her shield, and I notice that you cannot really tell the personhood of the staff when they are dressed such... so we have the experience of seeing them protected from us as if we were dragged in after a nuclear attack. I note that you cannot really see their faces in their cause of the normal glare... she is in a pony tail and white coat and she blends into the industrial nature of the dialysis machine... the machine and the operator are one... while the chair simply awaits its occupant. Kim is small-statured, just barely larger than the machine, and as she works, in my mind's eye, she enters the machine to make it do its business.

In my second sketch, I really want to emphasize the hanging TVs all over the place. They seem kinda like some sort of personal nourishment machines that hang down from the roof and can get attached to each patient via ear phones and control wires that allow each person to find their own form of video-feed to keep them quiet and quelled during their dialysis. Actually, as I was completing this sketch, I realize that machine #23 is really further away from its waiting chair than it should be... usually these machines are right bes
ide the chair, and I consider moving it closer... but in capturing the scene, I just draw what I see. We are connected to machines thru our plastic tubes and trocars and connected to the black TVs thru our handheld "remote" which are tethered to the walls like self-regulating video nourishment controllers... food channel?; sports?; old movies?; soaps? What's your poison? What will keep your mind off the continual blood letting and cleansing. What will keep you from realizing that you are slowly going thru an operation that keeps you alive while others are out at the malls of America with no experience of the fine line between life and death. Maybe I am being too dramatic, but I can see in the eyes of many of the TV watchers here that when they are not watching the tube, their thoughts are on the futility of their situation. As I try to capture the face of the older woman to the left, I can only capture the vacant side she shows... I know her and know that at times she is happy as a clam... and at other times she looks to me to be very resigned to her chair, as if she could just sink in there and disappear. Today as I sketch her, her features keep looking to me like the skeletal foundations of a person, and I can't for the life of me capture her life... only despair and sunken-downness-in-her-chair. So, finally I allow my rendition of her to stay and move on to brighten her up in her blanket. I give up and make the floor purple.

After sketching I take a nap and wake up just in time to watch the UT / Oklahoma State game up at Iba Arena and to make a long game short, the ghost of Henry Iba is in the arena and spurs them Cowboys on to keep the Longhorn offense from getting hot, eventually beating us, 68 - 59. Oh well. We think we'll still get into March Madness.

So it goes on a Saturday in Dialyland.
Notes: In at 79.3 and out at 75.7 kgs.


dayana said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Jack Nowicki said...

Thanks for the nice comment Susan. Since I am entering my 6 month post transplant era, I am thinking my posts to this blog may be waning... since I am back to living my life. I will continue to blog on this one whenever there is important info, stories for dialysis patients and transplant people, and I am trying to think about what my next blog adventure will be about. Stay tuned for the answer. JN