had my pelvis checked out and had absolute nonsense diagnosis of urine retention. it is clearly not urine retention but something to do with the fixation of my pelvis, the chain and screws holding it together, maybe my sewn up bladder. the nurse who admitted me did a full ekg on me which the doctor, when she eventually came by, said was a mistake, never any need for ekg. so i lay there for half an hour forty five minutes with all these wires coming out of me and the iv in my left arm meant i couldn’t bend it so well at the elbow but i still managed to get out of the bed and grab my headphones with the alarm going off so i had to stab at all the ekg tabs stuck to me until the beeping stopped so i could put on the sound reducers because i was getting a lot of chatter from the hallway and the open door and the beepings from the machines they had me hooked up to. before i even got in the room they took blood samples. the nurse didn’t talk or explain anything to me, just started dumping out a bunch of vials onto a plastic tray. so i was prepared for her to do the procedure. then i hear some shouting. something you never want to hear in a hospital. GOT AN IV GOT AN IV. and a paramilitary kid in black comes in and the nurse and the kid start having a conversation about he is going to do the procedure and what to expect and how it is all supposed to turn out in the end. but not so much as a word to me. it’s just them talking. so i interrupt, who’s this guy. oh he’s one of the air force pjs that helps out around here. helping out? that doesn’t make sense. va shortstaffed so they bring in trainees to help? if the hospital is understaffed, why does the nurse have all the vials and stuff ready to go to do the procedure herself. no, that’s not it. the trainees are here to practice on us. sorry, i say, i’m not part of your training iteration. he is a well built pj wearing ninja cargo pants, black webbed belt and a tight grey polo shirt with a pararescue logo and shaggy hair that doesn’t exist in the army. i’ve been the guinea pig enough times, i’m fine with the nurse. the nurse gives the pj a tired look like, these are the kind of people we get here, sorry about this, and goes about drawing the blood while he stands there. these paratroopers, they come around and help us out,she tells me. after a couple vials are drawn and without looking up she says, how are you doing. are you talking to me or are you talking to him, i ask. you, she says. i’m doing just fine maam i say. i’m mad and trying not to be mad. i’m doing just fine. the tiny room is clautrophobic and i want to get out of there, but i have to listen to her explain to the pj what she is doing. then you put the blood into the green vial all the way full. then you do the same thing with the red vial. all the way full. something about the hospital letting the pjs use us as training tools irritates me. why? the pj and civilian nurse escort me for an xray of my pelvis. fine. why the escorts. i don’t know. the x-ray tech is pleasant and i don’t have to wait and the xray is all over in two minutes or less. i feel better heading back to the waiting room. i go back and wait for another hour or two in the er. while i’m waiting a patient comes in. he looks a little dirty, greasy, clutching a plastic bag with a bottle of water and some snacks. the man takes his information and tells him repeatedly to go ahead and sit down. but the man is still talking. he’s trying to say something. i have ptsd and…Go ahead and sit down, sir. i have ptsd and… Go ahead and sit down. Why won’t you let me finish my sentence? the man asks testily. he’s got a long braid hidden that i can see when he turns his head, camouflage us navy jacket. okay, go ahead, the clerk says. i have ptsd and i want to talk to someone in mental health. okay, go ahead and have a seat sir. but i’m sitting in the choice spot, away from everyone, away from the tv that is playing a holiday special, and i can read his mind when he turns in my direction. i can see that he wishes i wasn’t there in the choice spot away from the other patients and away from the tv, sitting in the middle of three seats which is my way of saying all these seats is taken, so he bunches up his coat around his neck and moves into the big room. fine. i move to the chair to my left out of guilt, knowing i have no right to all three chairs. then another nurse comes, different from the blood drawer, and leads me to a room, tells me to get into one of those backless gowns. i am a little embarassed about no underwear but whatever, she comes back in, no knocking but i happen to be in the robe by then, she gets me down on the gurney and starts attaching the ekg stuff to me, when i ask about the ekg and that the problem is with my pelvis not my stomach, which i overheard them saying in the hallway, she says this doctor wants it all done on you, so i shut up. while she’s in the middle of the ekg attaching the door pops open and a young kid, nurse, intern, who knows, with his shirt pulled up over his head, like someone finishing basketball practice, asks do you want two diet cokes or one and he and my nurse have a conversation about the diet cokes while i’m laying there. should i care. why is this pissing me off so much. i’m staring hard at the guy like get the fuck out and he’s looking back at me like what. i feel invisible to them, like i’m not even there. i’m trembling under the sheets. but i got the clone pills, those and the headphones are good for drowning it all out. she does the ekg on me and leaves. she’s nicer then. asks if i want the lights out which i do and if i want the privacy shade drawn which i do and if there is anything else i need which i don’t. after a few minutes of lying there i go after my headphones. i lay there with my headphones on. fine. the battery is dying but there are red plugs in the wall that look serious and i just stick the plug in impulsively, who cares if it is 220 volts or 330 volts, i need to have my headphones on. then at some point she comes in and tells me that she has to inventory my belongings and starts reading out to herself what she can see: black sweatshirt, green sweat pants, hat, glasses, backpack, and she interrupts herself to say i also will inventory the contents of your bag unless you say no, okay? okay, no, i say. what’s this about, anyway? so patients don’t later claim that we lost anything of theirs. weird. whatever. the nurse leaves this time leaving the lights on. i try to reach them with my foot but can’t. plus the moving around is making my groin hurt. when the doctor comes by she remarks on all the ekg connections, why is this on?, i don’t know, i say, i think it is a mistake she says, but she doesn’t remove any of it. she probes around my pelvis. oh, i can feel the fixation. i try to explain to her what i am experiencing. pressure pain. they’ve ruled out infections but it could be something with the bladder. she says. i’m scared, i say, remembering the catheter that was in me for six weeks, the possibility that i would always pee in a bag, the possibility of other bad things. i can feel myself tearing up. don’t be scared she says. only a urologist can determine if there is something going on that we aren’t able to detect right now. but we’ll check your prostate. check your bottom. you know what that means? afterwards she tells me there’s tissues on the table. i still have all the ekg wires attached to me, i can’t bend my left arm because of the iv, and there is a glowing red heart monitor taped to my right thumb also attached to a wire, so it is not easy to clean up down there laying on my side with the gown draped over me and intertwined with all the wires but i do the best i can. prostate is fine she tells me. there’s the kleenex for you. someone will be in shortly. that’s what it was like for the next couple hours, people drifting in and out, at one point a young man wheeled in an ultra sound and did an ultra sound of my bladder. what’s it for, i asked. just to measure the capacity of your bladder. i had no idea they could do that. he prodded above my groin a few times getting readings. according to the machine i had nearly 400 ml of urine in my bladder. do you feel like you could pee? i don’t know i said. the pain and pressure i had wasn’t the pressure of having to pee. it was a different pressure. a different pain. well let’s go ahead and try to pee he said. i got up and sat on the edge of the bed with all the wires hanging down off of me and dangled the plastic container beneath my balls. please please i prayed. let me be able to pee. the machine says i’ve got 400 ml of pee in me. let me be able to pee it out. after a few seconds i got a little trickle and my heart burst in my throat, come on, i rooted, come on old boy, that’s a boy, i spend a good minute nursing as much as remained out of me. when i couldn’t get out another drop i held it up to the light: 250 ml. i lay back against the bed, not sure what it meant. a few minutes later the nurse who hooked up the ekg on me came back in. i only got out 250 ml i said. what does that mean about the rest that is in there. oh that is alright she said, already on her way out the door with the bottle. we’re going to run tests on your urine. they only start to worry if you are retaining 160 ml and up. then she was gone. but i was retaining 150. wasn’t that a problem? so close to 160? when i pee i am leaving upwards of 150 ml in my bladder. why? why? why? and then there is the constant pressure and pain. but there’s no one to discuss this with. they’re just in and out and in and out.
finally the doctor returns and tells me that the diagnosis is urine retention and that i need to see a urologist, no good guidance other than i need to see a urologist. and no idea why the urine retention is taking place. is it from the sewn up bladder. from the fixated pelvis. what? no idea on the urology appointment, if that is being set up or i need to call around myself. the paper says contact group #11. no idea what that means. but enough about yesterday. what happened to me today, the day after my visit about my pelvis/bladder, was not just aggravating, but infuriating. i was on my way to visit the sandias, a place i go regularly to pray among the makeshift shrines of tree and rock. there are seeds i have planted there. seeds to my fallen veterans. i was going to go pray about my bladder and hoping that they wouldn’t have to go back in there and who knows what with the catheter and additional surgery. would i still be able to run? i had to be able to run. to get there i drive up the sandia crest highway and park at the doc long parking lot although sometimes further up as well. but i never make it to the doc long trailhead. about a mile from the trailhead i come to a roadblock, a bernalillo county deputy with flashing lights on parked in the middle of the road in the middle of the afternoon, engine running. he gives me the whirly bird hand signal for road closed get out of here but i dont’ budge, someone is going to have to explain to me why the roads closed. why’s the road closed, i ask, when he finally gets out of his car. the road looks fine, little bit of snow falling, but nothing that i haven’t traveled before with my snow tires. it is around 430pm giving me plenty time to get up to the shrine in the carson woods, federal lands, federal forest. deputy says road closed for snow and ice. i got snow tires i say, pointing to my tires, they are hankook ipikes which gets my front wheel drive hatch anywhere, foot of snow no problem. doesn’t matter about your tires, he says. i got snow CHAINS i tell him. i can put chains on. i tell him. doesn’t matter, can’t pass. i started to tell him about my shrine and my pelvis and my need to go out there to pray but he cuts me off, doesn’t matter, can’t pass, turn around, it’s for public safety. i finally backed my car up and sat for a minute. i couldn’t believe what i was hearing. i have snow tires and snow chains and i can’t go up just another mile or so to get to the doc long trailhead. what the hell. this won’t do. this won’t do at all. but i figure it out. i can walk. of course. there’s no law against walking, even though it will take longer. so i park my car on the shoulder and start walking up the road and up the mountain past his vehicle with the emergency lights on, glaring and bright and spitting at me. he gives me a look but doesn’t say anything. maybe he thinks i’m an idiot. am i an idiot, for not just saying, ok, road is closed, just come back another day? maybe, but now it feels good to be out in the cold after being detained at a checkpoint, reminding me of the bad helpless feelings, and i feel the rage dissipating in contact with the icy wind. i had a couple clones in the car anyway so no big deal. no big deal. relax. only because i have to park so far down the mountain, it’s a trek to get up to where i’m going, and the light is fading, and it’s getting colder and darker, and now i’m getting mad, i start thinking about complaining to the deputy when i get back down the road. i’ll give him a peace of my mind, relax i tell myself. i watch abigail sprint up and down in front of me and try not to think about what this roadblock means to me, what the illogic of preventing me with my snow tires and snow chains from traveling up the road means to me. i try to focus on her. she’s not letting the deputy ruin her day, why should i? but my anger grows as i see the state of the road. it looks fine. no ice, no snow, nothing. i take a pictures of it as i walk. now the roadblock infuriates me even more. maybe there is ice and snow further up the mountain, past the doc long trailhead, but there isn’t any here, right here where i’m walking, so why put the damn roadblock so far down the mountain? the pain in my pelvis is grinding against me. i’m going to give him a peace of my mind when i get back down the mountain i decide. i can’t make it as far as i want to go. it’s too far and getting too dark and getting too cold. i wanted to just go and pray about my pelvis and now my pelvis is hurting worse than ever. i make it only a couple miles in the direction i wanted to go in and then stop and pray, try to clear the anger out of my head, try to remember why i was coming to the woods in the first place, try to focus. then it’s time to go back. i head back down the snowy trails down to the empty road. i am sure that now, since it is night, dark, there will be no deputy parked in the middle of the road with his engine running and heater on and emergency lights on, raking the sides of the road with glaring lights, spitting into the woods. it will be great if he is gone, i think. it would be so great if he is gone and i do not have to once again pass him sitting in the middle of the road with all his lights blazing away. as i round the corner, there in the distance, in the darkness, i can see the flickering lights of his patrol car. it pains me that i have to approach him but i have no choice since my car is on the other side. anyway, i want to talk to the deputy. but i have to be careful, so very careful. i walk slowly and pass the car where i am in full view of the lights and gesture in the light wanting to speak, holding out my hands in full view. i am unarmed i say when the window rolls down the window. i can’t see anything at all because the red lights are blinding me as they turn and spin. i’m an army veteran, i say into the brightness, i’m unarmed. i have both my arms out to my sides away from my body. that’s okay, says the deputy and he gets out of the car and steps away from the lights so we can see each other better. now that i can see his face he looks different. was there a different deputy here earlier, i ask? yeah, i just relieved him, what’s up? i am actually relieved it is a different deputy. the first one looked younger and meaner. this one looks more mature, maybe even reasonable. well i was coming up the road to visit a shrine where i park by the doc long trailhead and i was told i couldn’t go up there. that’s right he says. but i have snow tires… doesn’t matter he says. and i have snow chains… doesn’t matter he says, it’s policy, we had some cars go off the road earlier, so orders came down to shut down the road. that’s what we do. did any of those cars have snow chains on? i asked. that doesn’t matter, he said. cars go off the road and we get orders. we don’t want to have to come out here to rescue people so we close down the road. but it does matter if the cars had snow chains, i think, it matters a lot, but i don’t want to argue with the deputy so i go into this whole thing about how we have these mass shootings all over the country and no one lifts a finger about restricting gun access or reforming gun laws, but a few cars go off a snowy road and the answer: shut down the whole road, doesn’t matter if the vehicles that went off the road had snow tires or not, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter doesn’t matter. but the thing is, it does matter. my freedom to travel that road with the proper equipment matters a hell of a lot, to me, as it should to anyone else that wants to travel that road into public land. it matters that i want to get up there and say a prayer for my bladder. i can understand perfectly if they had a deputy stationed there checking for snow chains, no problem at all with that, but to unilaterally decide that no one goes up the road: infernal, it feels infernal, feels like i am being damned, damned in my own country, so i ask why this is so and the deputy tells me, “because no one has any business up there.” the county, the state, whoever, has decided that not a one of us have business in the carson forest–federal forest–our forest–no business going up to visit a shrine in the first snowfall to pray, because that is not legitimate business. this is the perverse freedom we are all living in. we have freedom and access to all the firearms in the world, but we don’t have the freedom to travel the roadways into public lands. so what am i going to do about it? wha can i do about it? i am going to write deputy borten’s boss, and his boss, and his boss’s boss, and his boss’s boss, until someone realizes that what they are doing is wrong. ultimately no amount of roadblocks will defeat me. if i have to walk for miles to get to where i need to go to pray in the mountains, i’ll do it. if the county is worried that if i go off the road they will have to pay money to send a rescue vehicle out to get me, i’ll sign an explicit waiver saying piss off, i don’t want your help. the truth is, far more private citizens help out stranded motorists than do agents of the state. we who drive in the mountains know this. i have never seen a trooper pushing a stranded vehicle in the snow, but i have pushed plenty myself. even as i walked back down the mountain, back to the obnoxious flashing lights parked in the middle of the road,, a passing truck coming down the mountain slowed and someone asked whether i was alright or not. just a private citizen. i’m fine, i said. and they drove on. the issue with the roadblock is a huge issue. i had a place to go, i was properly equipped to get there, i had snow tires and snow chains, and my passage was blocked. NO ONE HAS ANY BUSINESS UP HERE the deputy told me with a straight face. who are these county deputies to tell the world who and who doesn’t have business in a federal forest? and the condition of the road that i was prevented from driving on? i took a picture of it. easily passable.
what will make this better? it will be better when a judge rules that prohibiting vehicles from entering public lands on public roads due to inclement road conditions should be based on the condition of the vehicle and whether it is equipped with proper snow tires and/or snow chains, and that the freedom to travel these roads doesn’t turn on whether the county says you do or don’t have any business going up there.
the pass into wolf creek is one of the iciest and snowiest around. passenger cars with summer tires routinely flail about and are forced to turn back. but vehicles with snow tires and trucks with snow chains pass back and forth at all hours and through the heaviest storms. why? because that is our right, to go up wolf creek pass in the dead of winter even with summer tires. we have the right. but travel the cedar crest highway to the carson forest? why would anyone be going to the forest? Deputy Borten’s answer: “The road is closed because no one has any business up there.” I disagree. You, deputy, may have no reason to go up there, not in a million years, but I do. maybe a veteran wishing to pray at a shrine in the woods in the dark of night with snow falling around them in the stillness of the night makes me a quack and a wierdo. but thems my rights. praying for a bladder that may be failing, praying in a place i have prayed before and that is familiar to me, where i can sense the spirit: that is my business. IT IS MY BUSINESS TO GO UP THE MOUNTAIN TO PRAY. i will respect your roadblocks even as i curse them. i will exit my vehicle wherever you put your roadblocks and walk the miles i must walk until a more intelligent policy is implemented. but i am asking for an intelligent policy regarding the use of snow chains and traveling on these public roadways into public lands.