Getting Waxed

courtesy © Caroline Luez Mallet

I’m in hospital, last year, victimized by a stroke, can’t move the right side of my body, and my nails and toenails are growing.
So, I ask the nurse, could I get them clipped please? Oh, we don’t do that, was the indifferent reply, followed by an indifferent shrug when I asked for advice on who does it.
Family, get your family to do it.
This is the standard Catholic conservative solution du jour put off of the typical Alberta health system employee.
Hmmm they (family) don’t visit, and not only are they not close family, they are actively competitive and hostile. The kind of people you disinvite from your Twitter feed.
Still, I called up my estranged sister, a former private investigator and current Tantra sex groupie/leader, Eastern spirituality cult recruiter for hire and asked her to come to the hospital to cut my toenails. “I don’t even cut my own!” was the ridicule response.
I’ll pay for you to get it done, she offered.
OK, when will you be by to take me to the mall? Well I’m pretty busy. Well we are all busy, can you make this a priority? Well, the dogs need walking, your wheelchair is a bother, I mean the list of put offs was never ending.
And my nails kept growing into my hand. which was clenched post stroke tight into a fist 24/7 except for therapy sessions where they managed to get it open using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), electrodes attached to my arm. I was selectively electrocuted to make my hand open, at a 150.00 a session to the taxpayer, once a week.
I bought the same machine on Amazon for 80 bucks and use it daily now for an hour a day, but the hospital wouldn’t receive deliveries so I had to wait and use their machine.
So, anyway, the conservative family values option disintegrated into the usual self pity and inconvenience. The next solution was a store I had never been in, at the mall where they would do a pedicure manicure for 130.00. No wonder my sister weaseled out of paying for it, I thought.
I booked an Access wheelchair transport, had to be 24 hrs in advance, for the next day at -30 in summer clothes, as it was summer weather when I went in hospital and all my cold weather gear was in storage. I couldn’t get up 4 flights of stairs to my home, or pay rent, as I couldn’t work or drive, so I returned my Toyota to the dealership as well. Serial loss piled upon loss, even the cat had to go to the kitty homeless shelter.
The Access driver was an asshole. This I discovered was typical. Career drivers are working class conservatives, their base, they listen to Fox news on the radio. We aren’t friends. Also I imagine he was pissed about loading me in a blizzard, his frustrated inconvenience was a tangible thing emanating off him in waves. This wasn’t a medical trip, it was going to the mall, considered by many conservatives as an abuse of the system. He showed his disapproval by jamming the brakes and gas, throwing me around when I didn’t have proper muscles to hold myself up in the wheelchair. In the past my day gig was as a driver trainer for a bus company, I knew he knew how to drive with consideration for his passenger because I know his training. They refer to their vehicles among themselves as gimp-mobiles, the passengers as gimps, sometimes raisins or prunes if they are elderly, and treat the clients like children with dementia. It’s really humiliating.
He got me dumped at the mall, pushing my chair with one arm and leg, in the snow, my first outing since the stroke, I had been indoors in an institution for months.
I was really anxious after the abuse of the ride and didn’t know what to look for at the mall. Later I found out it’s called a spa.
I really had to pee after the cold and the ride, with no options for that obviously accessible and available.
It turned out that there was a nail place right by the entrance, thankfully, the mall was as least a km. long on 2 levels, and they had no washroom anywhere nearby.
200 bucks later I had a haircut, nails and feet bathed and expertly trimmed with the realization this was a monthly expense, and I had no job. Anxiety piled upon anxiety loss piled upon loss.
I was the only male, in the spa, I was surrounded by women, in bathrobes, having just arrived from the waxing booths presumably hairless from the neck down, looking I imagine as prepubescent children or porn actresses for their lovers enjoyment.
They were acting much the same as children in the spa what with a man being there. Giggling at being busted by my gender for having a hairy ass I suppose.
The attendants were all immigrants, Asian mostly, Korean and Vietnamese.
Now I understood why the conservative white nurses and my white sister wouldn’t do my nails. This was nigger work, to use a relevant term from a past age.
They felt themselves above the class of coloured help: their child’s au pair or the spa wage slave that ripped the wax off their hairy rectums. The nurses aids that emptied the bedpans at the hospital were similarly Asian and immigrant.
I once had a coffee buddhy, a retired Brit doctor, and one day I started my sentence with, “As an immigrant you must realize”, which was as far as I got before he exploded in indignation, as I had just called him a nigger in his British conservative mind. He offered me a prescription for Prozac, saying under every bad concept is a bad molecule.
Shortly after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and he took his bad molecules off to die in the niggardly hospital system he helped to create.
The ride home from the mall was awful. My mall buddy from the stroke ward with the walker was too short to climb up the seat of the Dodge caravan. The driver wanted to leave her at the mall which was closing. I suggested we swap because I’m tall, so I managed to stand up and then fall up into the passenger seat, the wind howling the snow blowing at 30 below. I felt like I was in search of the northwest passage on the open Atlantic in February.
The driver stuck my buddy in my wheelchair, crammed her in the back and took off for the hospital. The freeway was black ice, the driver was insane. He obviously had to pee badly but there was no place in the mall for him within the km. of stores. He wasn’t allowed to leave us alone at any rate, why he didn’t stop ahead of time I don’t know.
So there we were, racing on black ice, passing cars going half our speed, I’m flying around inside the vehicle unable to hold myself upright, the driver is steering one handed, the other holding his crotch, his face screwed up in obvious discomfort. We get to the hospital and were left alone anyway, the driver racing for the washroom. I got another Access driver to help unload us and get us inside, I never saw my guy again. I’m not convinced he ever returned, due to embarrassment.
It was a surreal day full of obstructionist class privilege, animosity and assholes, some bearded, some waxed. A typical day on the stroke ward in a Catholic conservative hospital system. A typical getting around as well to outside appointments listening to Fox news and pissed off drivers. They don’t seem to like me somehow….