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» Friday, March 23, 2018Atomicon, Day 2, Part 1, or "Live From Nephrologyland"
Do you remember daydreaming about all the places you'd love to go? Maybe for you it was white sands and surf, warm beaches and pina coladas. Or it was the pine forests, or the wild oceans, or the sophisticated city or the bucolic countryside with the lowing of cows and the tossing corn. You'd visit all the art museums in the world, or see where James Herriot lived, walk the perimeter of the Great Wall of China, explore the Australian outback, pretend to be Mowgli in India or a Bushman in Africa. Me, I dreamed of all the history museums everywhere, or a literary tour of England, seeing real wild budgies in Australia, and exploring Boston.
You know that inevitably you always end up in less desirable places as well: a hospital stay, standing shell-shocked at the side of the road after a traffic accident, and, when you're a lady, something that involves stirrups but unfortunately no horses. One place I never imagined being was in a kidney dialysis center, and certainly not watching someone my age undergoing the process. But that's where I sit at the moment, with poor James plugged into a squat rectangular tower that looks vaguely like those old computer units you would see in 1960s films, minus the revolving tape, clear plastic tubes to and from his body carrying his blood through a filter that looks like a long clear pneumatic tube.
We are "visiting" at this clinic because it was the closest one to Helen for Atomicon weekend. This will be our routine in the future if we want to go away: tell the treatment place where we are going and they will find us a dialysis place as close by as possible. In this case I am not sure why they did not get us into Gainesville, which was only 26 miles from Helen, rather than Ellijay, which is more like 65. They told James the closest place was Demorest, and they were full. I don't even know where that is. It was the price we paid for getting to go on this weekend at all, since as recently as Monday he was still in the hospital, and it was sure better than driving up GA400 again! Instead we backtracked to the very end of 400, then went northwest on GA136 and turning on GA52, a nice country road spread dotted with homes and the occasional farm and cows, which brought us past all the apple orchards, the trees just losing their blossoms, we see advertisements for when we come up for the Apple Festival in October. Sure enough, we reached the place where we were supposed to turn, and there we were on the very same road where we turn back on GA515 to get home when we finish up at the Lions Club grounds. The dialysis center here in Ellijay is in a strip shopping center along with two thrift stores and a restaurant. To my surprise, they keep the blinds up, although I guess this is cautionary to the people passing by, a reminder to take care of your kidneys! Each dialysis machine is flanked by a rolling chair on one side, a TV on a swing arm on the other, and this place seats about twelve. (And they do not have a big poster up as in the regular dialysis clinic James goes to, which calls his catheter "the white line of death." Seriously? You have patients here who are already wigged out and you hit them with that?) The clientele runs from people younger than James to the elderly, and many of them are good friends with the staff.
Otherwise, so far it's been a passably nice day. The mattress in the handicapped room appears to have been replaced; my hips did not kill me when I woke up this morning. The pillows are still problematic: I had to take three Advil to get rid of the kink in my neck. We had breakfast with Tony and Teresa Pye, Tony's friend whose name I didn't catch, Terry, Aubrey, and Shari, where Terry regaled us with stories of Aubrey's eccentricities (as he sees them; meanwhile Aubrey was peeling a pear with a spoon and looked amused), and finally Alice. A bit later we had a short chat in the common room, then put on our coats and walked to downtown Helen, which was just waking up and pretty much empty except for two ladies taking photos of the flowers. Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen was open, so I got my annual almond bark and James got some sugarless candy. We peeked in windows, but, alas, neither the Christmas store nor the olive oil/vinegar place was open yet. We need more white peach balsamic vinegar for summer salads!
When we got back a small crowd (Boulers, Alice and Ken, and Juanita) were getting up a mission to Wendell's, the little breakfast-and-luncheon place from last year (there really is a Wendell; he's 80 and still cooks, and he came out to ask if we were enjoying our meal last time), and we were going to have to leave for Ellijay soon, so we arrived there about ten minutes after they did and had a yummy lunch (as opposed to a mediocre dinner last night), and Wendell came out and chatted with us again. He said he learned to cook from his mother, who learned to cook at the age of ten, and when she was married at age 25, his grandmother looked at his grandfather and realized she was going to have to get up the next morning to cook breakfast, which she hadn't had to do in fifteen years!