Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Writing Challenge

pic from yahoo image search for the movie Skins.

I miss alot of the people on 360 and lately I reposted some of my stuff there that I wrote here. There are some awesome writers out there who put up terrific challenges and I decided to still participate in the challenges on 360 with that blog. One of my favorite challenges is Carol's Random Writing Challenge which gives you a choice 5 or 6 lines that you must write a story from. So the first line of my story is from one of her choices.
The rest of it is from me. Actually based a little bit on what my grandma went through here and things I seen. My grandma had a happier ending. She beat her cancer and she is still in remission. She sued the Indian Health Service and took them for about a quarter of a million.
The more I sit and talk with my husband the more and more i get into the injustice of our people. I truly think we was meant to hook up at this point on our lives. Here is my entry in Carol's challenge.

He scuffed his toe into the dirt and absent-mindedly kicked a cigarette butt.

“Yup” he said to himself. “These Black Hills were ours. At one time.”

He continued walking up the mountain. He was burnt. Old even. At age 45, he didn’t have much longer to live. The doctor at the IHS clinic told him so. Oh well. It’s not like they were really doctors anyway. The Indian Health Srvice paid big scholarship money out to people from all over the country for med school only to hire them in their tight budget hospitals. So each hospital on any reservation that was lucky enough to have a hospital mostly only had interns. Interns that didn’t really care about the people they served and made well. All they cared about was working off their student loans just to move away when they got done “serving their time.” Then they moved to towns by the name of Duluth and Woonsocket and such. Marry a nice girl their, join country clubs and put in long hours at their practice so they can play golf on Saturdays while drinking high balls. They had babies, grew bellies and built their 401k’s. Soon the time they did at the reservation hospital became a memory, only to be brought up again when people talked of charity and giving to the poor.

“Oh yeah” the fat cigar smoking doctor once said “back in the day I worked on a reservation at a hospital. “

And he would beam and his wife will pat his belly, proud her husband had them a step closer to heaven and the pearly gates. Nodding and thinking her man could fly with his cholesterol level as it was.

He would never tell of the time he seen the woman. The old woman. He seen her X-rays. He knew, but he was tired and didn’t want to do the paperwork. He seen the spot on her lung, over the months as she came in complaining of a chest cold.

“No.” he shook his head at her “It’s ok. You are ok. Just a slight infection.” He prescribed her antibiotics and motrin and sent her home. Only to see her again in a month.

After a few months of this routine, something kicked him in the ass. "What am I doing?'He thought but how could he bring himself to tell the woman now. So he kept it up for a full 18 months. Soon I will be done here on this god forsaken, diabetic land. I can get away with it…after all I am an intern….on a reservation.

Then one day the old woman’s family took her to a ceremony. There they told her she was leaving them. They cried. They took her to a city.

They got a “second opinion?”

He panicked, he only had a week or two left here.

They saw the tumor, it had spread and grown over 7 ribs.

The doctors in the city tried. They removed it and some of her lung and ribs. Years of smoking he told them. You know these people smoke the peace pipe all the time. trying to justify why it was so bad when she kept going to the doctor.

They looked at him knowingly, but not saying anything.

The woman passed away after her other lung collapsed. The night she left this world he seen her. In his dream.

She was walking down a long hallway towards him but she never got closer.

She pointed her finger at him.

“You and your people have done enough. You must stop. We were here. We cooperated with you. We only fought for what was promised us the first time. You have done enough. My people suffer. Do you know that? My people suffer!”

He woke up in a cold sweat feeling guilty and went to her funeral. He saw the people crying. Her 40 something children throwing themselves on her dead body and crying. Her grandchildren crying. Her grandsons singing with the drum through tears. He left before anyone seen him.

The next day he caught a flight out to Woonsocket where his college sweetie was waiting to make him fat, married and a father.

One boy saw him standing there. One boy.

The boy was 15 at the time. As he grew up and saw various relatives killed off by diabetes, a stand off with the evil government in 72, and by drunken driving.

He saw it all. He heard stories of how Sitting Bull was killed on government orders.

He was told of Crazy Horse and his pride. How he never gave up his fight for the Black Hills. How he always told people to remember him when they seen the Black Hills.

He remembered growing up hungry, waiting for rations. For government issued commodities. He heard stories around the inipi ceremony fire. Elders saying that each Indian was promised land to farm. Then the land was not suitable for farming. How the Black hills were promised then taken away. How, if we sold them we would bankrupt the U.S. government.

But the pride of the people would not ever sell out.

He finished his climb on the top of the mountain and he went to work. As he worked he thought lastly of his grandmother, lying in her casket. Not able to be buried like hers that went before her because it was illegal. He thought of how the doctors in the city advised his mother to take legal action against the Indian Health Service for letting the cancer spread in her lungs for almost two years. He remembered the young doctor standing there at the funeral, looking at his watch and rolling his eyes.

He finished what he was doing. He finished it.

He stood up and began to sing.

He pushed the button to detonate.

He died at age 42. He didn’t blow all of Mount Rushmore up but he put an good dent in the head of George Washington.

He did it for his people.

And for Paha Sapa. The Black Hills.

For Carols' Random Writing Challenge Number 7


Josie Two Shoes said...

Excellent story, Dana! I've also heard my share of horror stories about IHS. For anyone to receive less than the very best medical care is shameful and unacceptable.

Next journey to the top of the mountain... send more dynamite. I'll buy.

Alissa said...

That was an awesome story. I've never heard of IHS. That's sick and wrong if that's how the care really is there.

Gina said...

Incredible writing, Dana! You capture desensitization common in healthcare, unnecessary suffering, the agony of loss, and the desire for justice and retribution in a system that has often failed to meet needs. As a nurse, I have always thought that a clinic or hospital is only as good as the skill and TLC of the nurses who are the primary advocates for the patient. Time for some serious change on the homefront.

Very thought provoking!