Stroke Connection - November/December 2009 - (Page 16)
L I F E at the C U R B A Unique Perspective on Survival by Stroke Survivor and Comedian John Kawie No Limits Dogg “He’s got two choices either he wears Life Alert around his neck, or he has a healthcare attendant shadow his every move,” demanded the head honcho at my hospital discharge meeting. First, I’m always a little defensive when someone’s talking about me in the third person when I’m sitting right there. Second, I didn’t know what her problem was. After all, I was a model patient. Never used the nurse call-button (busted), never complained about the meals (mystery meat), and I took all my meds including the LMDs (laxatives of mass destruction). OK… I did steal clean pajama bottoms from the laundry cart at night. Nobody’s perfect. Pants in a hospital are like cigarettes in Alcatraz: “Hey man, I’ll trade you 10 Ativans for a pair of those bottoms.” before I know what brand of underwear someone is wearing. His T-shirt said “No Limits Dogg,” which I thought was a motivational rehab slogan. Actually it was Snoop’s latest hit. Patrice immediately found the kitchen, opened the fridge, and asked if I had anything to eat. My Hip Hop-to-English dictionary wasn’t handy, but I figured that’s what “Food in the box, Pappi?” meant. While I was trying to figure out who Pappi was, he came out gnawing on a drumstick and proceeded to wipe his hands on the sofa. Watching must be one of the requirements for this profession, and here Patrice excelled. He watched “The Peoples Court,” “Maury Povich,” “Montel,” “Ricki Lake,” “Jenny Jones,” “Jerry Springer,” and me, taking a shower. Which was fine, but did he have to pull up a chair? I contemplated wearing pasties and a thong just to make it more interesting for him. I was still in a wheelchair, so wherever I went, he went. Simply pushing my chair was “too A-A-R-P man!” Instead, he pushed as fast as he could, then hopped on like I was a dogsled in the tundra. His bling jingle-jangled like a runaway Mister Softie truck warning unsuspecting pedestrians as we barreled down the street. The brakes were smokin’. As I braced myself for stroke number two I came to a realization. I was having …. fun. In a way, Patrice was a human Life Alert alarm. “You out’ the hospital Pappi — time to live!” Not that speeding down the streets of Manhattan in an out-of-control wheelchair is living. But it was a start. He pushed my wheelchair as fast as he could, then hopped on like I was a dogsled in the tundra the brakes were smokin’. Anyway, back in 1997, the year I “escaped,” Life Alert was running that cheesy commercial where grandma is lying on the floor screaming, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” It was torturous to watch. My comedian buddies had a field day, and if word got out that I was wearing one of those things, there would have been talk of commitment proceedings. So healthcare attendant it was. The term evokes an angel of mercy, and I figured I’d be spending the day with the healing spirit of Mother Teresa. But when I opened my door there stood Patrice. I did a double take. Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, the rapper Snoop Dogg switched careers. The bling around Patrice’s neck blinded me like a flashbulb. Once my sight was regained, I got a perfect shot of his Calvin Klein briefs because his jeans were down around his knees. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to be introduced Learn More About John Read John’s personal stroke story, “Life is at the Curb,” from the September/October 2003 issue of Stroke Connection at StrokeAssociation.org/strokeconnection, or book his one-man show about stroke recovery, “Brain Freeze,” by contacting him at email@example.com. 16 S T R O K E C O N N E C T I O N November | December 2009
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