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Episode # 1 “King of the Revolving Doors” is a welcome to Daniel Malito’s world, how the serious meets the absurd and how getting to the doctor’s office can be a real trip when you’re chronically ill.
Welcome to the first edition of Talking Joints. I’m Daniel Malito, or at least two-thirds of me still is, and if my joints could talk, they’d say “you can’t replace any more of us, we’ve unionized.” I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis for a quarter of a century now, and recently it hit home just how much I have to go through because of my illness. So much, in fact, that I thought for this premiere episode, we could talk about some of the crazy things that make my life that much more annoying because of R.A. I’m not just talking about the mundane, everyday, no-frills level embarrassment either, like dumping a drink in my lap and trying to dry my pants with a men’s room hot air blower. I mean the totally absurd, gold-medal level, “yeah right,” crazy occurrences that only ever seem to happen to me when no one else is around. It’s been occurring all my life, and it’s time to share a little, and care a little, won’t you come with me?
Last week, I had an appointment with an ankle specialist in Manhattan. This is a different surgeon than the one who replaced my ankle last year, mind you, and I’m seeing this new one because the implant that was supposed to replicate my ankle is apparently crooked. In a nutshell, they told me I basically have a club foot. Yup, that’s right, a club foot. I’ll bet you haven’t heard that in a while. I hadn’t either; in fact, when the doctor said it I instantly thought “club foot? Didn’t Doctors Without Borders eradicate that in like 1995?” I mean I haven’t seen one of those late-night TV commercials in years. You know, the ones with the man wearing a thousand-dollar Armani suit standing in the middle of abject squalor, surround by children wearing dirty t-shirts that say “Frankie Says Relax” asking me for 19 cents a day, you know, “less than the price of a cup of coffee.” Although I don’t know what cup of coffee costs 19 cents, maybe Sanka instant or something. Anyway, the point is, my right foot is getting worse and will soon need another operation to essentially re-do everything that was done the first time around.
As I said, this second ankle specialist was located in New York City, as are most of my doctors. I live in the suburbs, only about 45 minutes away, but no matter how early I get up or how late I make my appointment, it seems I am always rushing to get to the doctor’s office on time. Seriously, I could be driving the DeLorean – a time machine for God sake, and somehow I’d still end up late. Back to the Future, 88 miles per hour? I don’t think so. More like Back to the waiting room, for 88 more minutes. Whatever I do it doesn’t make a difference, by the time I’m done, I’m rushing to make my appointment again. This particular appointment was no different, and because parking in Manhattan can be problematic, I was running from the garage to the front of the building to make up time. Now, I use the word running lightly, because when you have a club foot, as I now apparently share with those unfortunate children in the “Hammer says You can’t touch this” t-shirts, it’s much more throwing your bad leg out in front of you and then using it as an anchor to pivot the rest of your body around like some disabled Mickey Mouse watch. You know what let’s just hope I never have to run for my life because if the axe murderer doesn’t kill me, the running will. Surprisingly, though, even with my uncoordinated gymnastics holding me back, I still made it to the building entrance with five minutes to spare! I was excited and surprised, but most of all, I was relieved.
Those of you who out there who visit doctors on a regular basis know full well that they will make you sit in that waiting room as punishment even if you are five minutes late. In fact I think its part of the Hippocratic oath doctors take – First, do no harm, second, those who come late always sit and wait. It’s why I always rush to be on time, and I would have been too, if it wasn’t for the revolving door that proved to be the only way in to this doctor’s building. As I stepped into the rotating beast of steel and glass, I was reminded just how much I hated that particular method of entrance. Think about it, without much strength and lacking mobility, I’m not exactly the best equipped person to navigate a revolving door, in fact I’m probably exactly who they didn’t design it for. So, I stood there for a few seconds, gathering up my limited strength and steeling myself mentally for the difficult journey ahead like Frodo in Lord of the Revolving Doors.
As I stepped in, I felt something behind me. Right after, I began to get that uncomfortable feeling, like when you realize you forgot to put on deodorant. It took me a second but then I said to myself “oh my God, there’s someone else in here with me!” I was caught off guard, but believe it or not my first thought was “who doesn’t know the rules of revolving door etiquette? Civilized people don’t usually pack into the sections like they are trying to fill a clown car.” While pondering this, I suddenly smelled that unmistakable salty aroma of the sea. I was confused, as you don’t generally see many swarthy fishermen types awash on the Upper East Side. It was when I whiffed the onion that I realized the odor was the tuna salad this stranger had eaten for lunch that was adding the briny bouquet to our expedition.
Unfortunately revolving doors are difficult for me to push forward under the best of circumstances, and being packed in like a human sardine is not what I would consider the best of circumstances. But because this wasn’t the first time I’d won the revolving door human jackpot, believe it or not, I knew to try a side-to-side waddle motion to try to advance the door, but it was just too heavy. Next, I attempted to turn around and use my backside to push the door, but there wasn’t enough room to rotate my body, and, frankly, I wasn’t really looking forward to standing face to face with the Gorton’s fisherman standing behind me. Besides he probably had a hook hand or something. Finally, it had been close to a minute of us being trapped in the glass doorway like some aquarium exhibit of idiots who had made several subsequent bad decisions. So I was about to tell the man behind me that at this point it was either he pushed the door forward or we wait for the fire department to spring us and then both star in video shown on the local news during the “going around in circles” segment, when he reached over my head and, with a huff, gave the rotating door a mighty push.
We both squirted out into the lobby too fast and looked like two baby calves just finding our legs. I of course looked right at the rear half of our duo and gave him one of those looks that said “well that was ridiculous, what were you thinking,” but before I could, he flashed me a quick “speak of this to anyone and I’ll kill you” look, and stormed off, as if he was the injured party. Unbelievable! Anyway, all I could do at that point was add it to my “ridiculous things that happen to me in the course of my disease” file. As I said, these things truly happen to me, folks, I promise, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Anyway that’s for another day though. Thanks for listening, these are Talking Joints, and I’m Daniel Malito.