NIHCC Day 5

Today I mustered my assertiveness and insisted on leaving in two days. So the social worker rushed to identify my community providers, and the travel office booked me a United flight that must have cost the hospital an arm and a leg.

The staff claims that I’m welcome to return any time. It remains to be seen if I will ever feel sick enough to be hospitalized for experimental treatment. I imagine that most of the patients in this building do feel that sick; those with mood disorders appreciate the caring attention they receive, and some probably do need to be protected from their own self- or other-destructive impulses. So far that’s not me. Not yet.

Meanwhile I try to be sociable with patient H and the plethora of staff. Today I helped make pizza with H and the occupational therapist, who leads these cooking projects every week. A backslid vegan, I’ve eaten more cheese in the last week than in the last year. I’ve also watched more TV than in the last decade, including much Jeopardy!, an episode of The Outer Limitsand enough of The Andy Griffith Show that I could probably write a doctoral dissertation on Opie’s relationship with Barney.

Today I learned that there are deer on the campus, so I went out hunting and caught a few brunching by a creek. Most had been tagged, but I saw at least one that seemed untracked. Pictured below is deer 78, a doe if my understanding of antleredness is correct.

nih-deer

I also tried to visit the National Library of Medicine, but it, like much else on campus, had closed early for the loooong holiday weekend. Damn holidays.

An exhibit of gingerbread houses on the first floor represents hundreds of hours of work on the part of NIH employees, not to mention all the foodstuffs-turned-art-materials. Damn holidays.

The only thing scheduled for tomorrow is a charitable visit by the DC Gay Men’s Chorus. I feel like I should be here for it, because the audience will otherwise be shamefully minuscule. Before that event I may go into DC for the first and last time, but I doubt that I’ll feel that ambitious.

Today I made a second hat. (My return baggage just keeps getting bulkier.) In the time it took me tonight to crochet 2/3 of a hat, H was able to make about four, complete with pompons, on the circular loom. His are sturdier, thicker, and more attractive than mine. I told him that he should start selling them through the gift shop or an Etsy store. They’d be a great fund-raiser for the center, much more useful and durable than gingerbread houses.

H is a young man of many talents who, despite being in a phase of withdrawal from all medications, is friendly, funny, and articulate. Although he has said that he cries every night, it’s hard to believe that he suffers from crippling anxiety, depression, and various neurological disorders. A dedicated research partner, who clearly feels comfortable in this environment, he has been a great resource for all things related to the unit, the campus, and the metropolitan area. He gets along well with all the nurses, including the strange and off-putting one with whom I’ve had a couple of brief squabbles. (He told me tonight that she’s thought to have Asperger’s. Since I too come across as strange and off-putting, I should have more empathy for her, except that we Aspies don’t really do empathy.)

For the last three days the hot water has ranged from absent to barely there. Once or twice a day someone goes up and down the hall turning on all the showers, under instructions to “clear the lines.” Apparently there was some construction mishap on campus that no one seems to know how to fix reliably. In the meantime we’re supposed to be drinking only bottled water, but of course I refuse to do that, preferring to get lead poisoning rather than contribute further to environmental degradation.

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