Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Injury That Provokes It"

This poem is spillover from the June 2, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from lone_cat.  It also fills the "lesser evil" square in my 5-18-15 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics, and is a direct sequel to "A Cultural Control Problem."

WARNING: This poem deals with some sensitive issues.  Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It contains a hospital stay, discussion of serious injuries, prescription drug use, characters not coping very well with issues, blaming, hostile language, sexism, racism, distorted thought patterns, dysfunctional interactions, forthcoming imprisonment, and other challenges. Warning for Officer RAT, because Officer RAT is always a warning.  If these are touchy topics for you, consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: lone_cat, general fund for epic poetry, Anthony & Shirley Barrette

128 lines, Buy It Now = $69
Amount donated = $26.50
Verses posted = 11 of 34

Amount remaining to fund fully = $42.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $.50

The Injury That Provokes It

Andy lay in his hospital bed
watching the yellow light
on the overhead monitor and
waiting for it to turn green
so he could push the button
for more painkillers again.

The doctors had scolded him
for putting his gun down his pants,
but they'd done a capable job of
closing the holes in his crotch and thigh.

Everything still hurt, though.
Frustrated, Andy turned on the TV
in hopes of distracting himself.

"-- next segment Soup's On,"
said the perky announcement.
"In today's super news, sources report
that defendant R. Andrew Tanner, Jr.
will be arrested and held until trial both for
his previous charges from the Mercedes mall
and new ones pertaining to last week's incident
at the gun show. Infamous supervillain Fortressa --"

Andy shut off the TV and dropped the remote.

In the time since the original combat,
he'd gone from "Officer Tanner"
to "former policeman Tanner"
and now this bullshit.

He hated the growing realization
that he might never get his badge back,
all because of that fucking supervillain
from the mall, and he didn't even
want to think about how everyone
was saying another one had
actually saved his life.

He looked up. Yellow.

This whole circus had started
with Cold Cash, but for some reason
nobody seemed willing to pin the blame
where it really belonged, except
for himself, of course.

Sooner or later the wheels of justice
would turn, and that black cape would
get what he had coming to him.
Andy would see to that, even
without his badge.

The current situation complicated
that goal, though. The local police
had made it clear that they didn't
trust him to behave himself,
let alone carry a sidearm again,
after what happened at the gun show.

Andy had always believed that
the retaliation should be more severe
than the injury that provokes it.
He just wasn't sure how to handle that
when he'd shot himself.

He looked up. Still yellow.

The bullet had tumbled and fragmented
(as it was meant to do), punching through
his pelvis, damaging his hip, severing
the femoral artery, and in a particularly
cruel twist tearing a hole through his penis.

He'd heard it all from the doctors so many times
that it was starting to replay in his nightmares,
snatches of conversation like "ilium fracture,"
"urogenital perforation," and "possible impairment."

It would be at least two months before
he recovered enough to work again,
if he could even get a job.

He hated being injured. He hated being
dependent on other people to move
or to wash himself or to do
pretty much anything.

He looked up. Green! Finally.

Andy pushed the button.
It was the only relief he got,
these days, from the constant pain
and the worries and everything else.

Most of the time he let off steam by
arguing with the doctors assigned to him,
trying to pinch the prettiest nurses on the fanny
and shouting at the uglier ones for all of
the dumb shit they did wrong.

It made him unpopular, not that he
really cared what they thought of him,
though he was pretty sure that the nigger bitch
kept giving him sponge baths with
cold water on purpose.

Use to be, Andy got decent treatment
whether anyone liked him or not,
just because he was a cop and
nobody dared to piss him off.

Now they treated him like trash, and he
hated the thought of losing even more privileges.
It was a lesser evil than letting a supervillain walk free.

Ah well, at least he had the good drugs
to take the edge off his regrets.

The door opened with a soft sigh of air,
admitting the stern Jap who always
wore her hair pinned up in a bun
with two sharp sticks. Privately he
thought of her as Dr. Fook Hing Ho
because he could never remember
what she'd said her name was.

"Good morning, Mr. Tanner," she said.
"I am here to inform you that your
final appointment with your care team
will be today at 1 PM, after which you will
be discharged into the care of the police."

"But you said I had to stay in the hospital
for two weeks!" Andy protested.
"It's barely been one."

"Specifically, I said you needed
close medical supervision for
about two weeks," the doctor replied.
"You're out of immediate danger,
with no further surgery required
unless you develop complications
which are statistically improbable.
The prison infirmary can handle
the level of care you need."

She went through the poking
and prodding as she always did,
more thorough and embarrassing
than what the nurses did, and
she wasn't even fun to look at
while she did it to him.

Andy took perverse pleasure in
answering all her questions with
"Fine," regardless of the truth.

Eventually she left him with,
"From everything I can tell,
you're healing as expected.
Enjoy your release this afternoon."

There went his freedom down the crapper
along with everything else he was losing.

Andy looked up. Yellow.

"Fook Hing Ho," he muttered
at the closed door.

* * *


"Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it."
-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Pain control is crucial for recovery from injuries.  Giving patients control of the timing can improve comfort and reduce the total amount of drugs required.  However, prescription painkillers can be addictive and some people are more susceptible.  Conversely, harsh restrictions harm countless patients -- killing them with inappropriate prescriptions, leaving people in pain because they can no longer get prescriptions, which drives some into far more dangerous street drugs, or in other cases people stop seeking help because they can't bear being treated as criminals.  Terramagne-America does better than local-America in terms of offering a wide range of pain control options and supporting people in finding a safe and effective solution.  Not everyone necessarily takes advantage of that, but at least the framework is in pretty good shape.

Non-chemical pain control options have a different set of pros and cons than chemical ones.  For some people, techniques such as relaxation and distraction provide significant relief.  They aren't Andy's first choice, but better than nothing until his prescription reloads.

Blaming is a complex process most often appearing as a negative coping method.  It is a characteristic trait of narcissists and abusers.  There are ways to deal with blamers and other impossible people.  Understand how to stop blaming other people for your own problems.

(These links discuss weapons and violent actions.)
Ammunition for personal defense is selected based on various principles.  Rippers are bullets designed with a fragmenting jacket around a penetrating core, to cause maximum damage to human targets; similar to this design but more effective given Terramagne's higher technology base.  They are illegal almost everywhere in Terramagne. In some places, they carry a higher penalty than the gun itself.

(These links have gross medical details.)
Gunshot wounds can involve serious damage.  To extrapolate what would happen when Andy shot himself, I looked at similar cases of gun-in-pants discharges, human anatomy, and studies of firearm injuries.  In general the prognosis is pretty good, and most pelvic injuries can be treated effectively. The ilium is the rounded upper bone of the pelvis, a common location for fractures in this type of trauma.  Because the bullet fragmented and tumbled, as it was meant to do, it caused damage in different areas spreading out from the entry wound -- which is precisely why rippers are so widely banned.

The handling of patients charged with crimes is a delicate balance between preventing police from harming patients and preventing patients from harming doctors.  Police presence, especially if militarized, can escalate tensions instead of de-escalating them, thus causing more trouble than it solves.  Terramagne is more serious about medical neutrality, has tighter gun control on average, and has better de-escalation skills in general.  So they prefer to keep police outside hospital grounds as much as possible, and rely on hospital security if necessary.  They also have good enough medical facilities at prisons to reduce reliance on civilian hospitals for prisoner care.  The result is safer and saner for everyone, consistently keeping conflicts at the level of obnoxious behavior rather than actual violence.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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