chapter 26: the Ego, the Superego, and the I.D.

at the end of july, Dr. M’s office finally scheduled my angiogram.  for August 5th.  they were over a month late, and their very late notice gave me almost no time to be penciled in for my pre-op physical and bloodwork.  needless to say, i wasn’t exactly dazzled by their service.  but i was bedazzled.  in a way.

why?

here’s the story.  looking back:

just before my last appointment with Dr. G at USC, i made a change.  a transformation.  i became someone i’d never been before.  someone i never thought i’d be.  to be honest, it’s someone i’d wanted to be at times.  i’d considered it before, but i knew i could never do it.  can you “know” something that isn’t true?  i was wrong…  because i did it.  despite my misgivings, past and also present, i became…a bracelet wearer.

sure, i’d worn a silver band when i was once a salesperson.  i thought it looked fairly classy.  i didn’t want to be average.  i took it to the next level with that quarter-inch, shiny hoop around my wrist.  but at home, i was free of its constraint.  that was then; now, i would have a piece of jewelry for all occasions.  domestic and otherwise.  it was time for the great mark of a diseased person:  i was getting a medical ID bracelet.  say it with style.  “hi, i’m wade.  and i have a brain lesion.”

time to shop.  what were my options?

i searched the internet.  googled “tumor” and “pimp” simultaneously.  “jewelry” and “afflicted.”  “flashy” and “malignant.”  not that mine is…

stop:  so why a bracelet?  why not a card?  well, they won’t see a card.  and why not a necklace?  again, not so visible.  but a bracelet, though irritating to wear 24 hours a day, is hard to miss.  and so, let the hunt continue:

decisions, decisions.

if i was gonna add the extra shot of impresso to my fashion frappuccino, what flavor should i shoot for?  frank sinatra?  lance armstrong?  tommy lee?  i wanted to peruse the landscape of possibilities.  the great closet of options from which i would pull down that perfect pair of shoes to go with this dress…um…how did that analogy go so haywire?  but you girls know what i’m talking about.  i wanted the one, the only, the ULTIMATE MEDICAL ID BRACELET FOR ALL TIME.  one that was cool.  as it turned out, pickin’s were slim.

although

there was the gummy bracelet.  the rubber USB band.  the silver compartment chain.  the personalized debonair trinket.  there was gold.  there was blue.  there was pink.  there was i…in every drugstore chain in los angeles.  and a medical supply store across town.

but still, not a lot to choose from.  okay, maybe function over form…

the fancy jewelry online was no doubt the spot-hitter for some rich kid with a cardiac anomaly.  and a techie runner might enjoy the USB gadget as a way of drawing attention to her hypoglycemia.  but these posed problems–

USB?  okay…scenario:  i’m out on the fringe and suddenly have an urgent medical need.  the ambulance picks me up; how likely is it that their truck has a USB port?  what if it’s a firetruck?  what if it’s the county?  what if it’s the city?  what if their computer system is on the brink?  what if neither jose nor bubba can get the thing to plug in correctly?  i bought one.  i couldn’t connect it to my computer.  the cable didn’t fit.  ‘nough said.  NEXT.

fine jewelry is an attractive accent.  “helloooo, dahling.”  but, who am i kidding?  i spent high school in a single-wide, and i wear a Swatch and Chuck Taylors.  but more importantly, the problem with fine jewelry, is that it looks like…fine jewelry.  the point of a medical ID bracelet is that it’s supposed to scream “look at ME!  i’m a medical ID bracelet!  and this person is jacked!  see me for more info.”  cross the platinum and rhodium plated bangle from Tiffany’s off the list.

i decided to go with the silver compartment bracelet.  got it home, opened it up, and found that the whole thing was a sham:  send in $15 more and get back a little rubber insert with your choice of 2 words printed on it.  and the packaging said “water proof;”  the only thing that’s impermeable by water is the small rectangle you pay extra for.  which you’ll receive by mail in 6-8 weeks.  in the meantime, i’ve got an empty metal cabinet on my wrist, held by a chain that’s 3 inches too long.  thanks a HEAP.

but i grew up watching the A-Team.  and McGuyver.  i knew that if you had a garden hose, some propane, a chicken casserole, an empty bucket and an armadillo, you could kick some BUTT!  so what then, of this silver bracelet with the large-lettered word “Open” on the front of it (as i said, i lived in a trailer)?  what water-resistant thing could i put in there?  the seal on the stainless steel cage was DEFINITELY NOT approved for swimming.  or showering.  or even washing my hands.  a friend suggested i write my information on a piece of paper, put the paper in a tiny sealed-up ziplock bag, and keep it enclosed in the bracelet…hmmm…but i was only in the trailer for three years.  maybe something else…what would Hannibal do?

i found a laser engraving place in Glendale.  for a few dollars, i convinced them to print all the info i needed in tiny but decipherable text inside the bracelet.  next, i had a micro-tool-savy partner in do-it-yourself crime adjust the length of the oversized chain.  then i went to a custom jewelry place on Venture Boulevard to have the cheap and unreliable connector rings replaced with ones i could hang from a ledge with.  i love it when a plan comes together.

time to put it on.  and keep it on.

and so i was wearing it to work.  and wearing it at home.  and wearing it in the shower.  and wearing it while i slept.  i didn’t like it–i preferred to remove my proverbial albatross around the neck–or wrist–at home; but that really wasn’t an option…  i knew i’d just have to get used to it.

and so it goes…

you wouldn’t look at me and know i have a brain tumor.  unless you look at my wrist.  then you know something’s not quite right.  open it up.  it says “brain tumor.  seizure risk.”  my name.  my birthdate.  Dr. G’s information.  and “see card in wallet for more info.”  the plan is to have similar information plus a photo of one of my scans in there.  a picture paints a thousand words

so look at me, and i’m normal.  but look at my bracelet, and i’m not.  it’s one of the few clues.  i hope, few.  someone recently made a comment…they said i’d handled this whole ordeal so far with surprising and uncommon imperviousness.  maybe they’re right.  if so, there are reasons why…

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