~no one wanted my brother~born 14 months after me~a sin he would pay for all his life~that of being the unwanted & unprepared for child~even beyond our parents~maybe it is his stigmata~I don’t care to believe in such~but the evidence has fallen me down~

~Jack {real time}~

God willing & all things equal, an adage that has very little to do with people like my brother & me. I started to tell our story in my novel, Momma’s Rain. Jack wouldn’t read it. It hurt too much. He continued to live hard & mean. I intend to finish the series, American Camp: Frail Monsters/Wounded Souls, the chronicle of a family, my brother and me in particular.

He has been in SICU at Denver Health since November 1st. I have been told he has a crushed ribcage and pelvis, arms and legs broken, a perforated colon, punctured lung, pneumonia, and staff infection, etc. He has received a tracheotomy and is on and off the ventilator. Agitated and angry, heavily medicated and sedated, communication has been difficult at best. I’m not sure he remembers the end-over-end automobile crash that landed him in the hospital. He may not understand where he is. He has been through a number of surgeries to date and has years of convalescence to look forward to.

Friday, November 18, I went to visit him. The lights were off in his cubicle. His body was bouncing up and down, legs kicking wildly. An angry nurse informed me I was not allowed in the room to visit him. Our conversation and details of the incident are explained in the following letter which I have sent to administrators, directors, and board members of the hospital.

Jack’s hair is important to him. More than important, it is as religion, a principle he has fought and suffered to keep throughout his life. Beaten by parents, jail keepers, and guards all his life, it is a statement of what he is about, what the battle for life means to him. Sometime within a couple of days after the 18th someone at Denver Health took that from him. I want to know who, why, and when. When he asks, when he is able to ask, I want to be able to explain these things to him. I cannot give him back what those in authority take away. Guess I’m selfish in this case. I want to know why. I want to know who. I want to know when.

23 November 2011

To whom it may concern,

My name is Tom Sterner. I am elder brother to John Sterner who is currently in your SICU #216. John (we call him Jack) was in a horrific end-over-end car crash Nov. 2nd in Commerce City. He was taken to Denver Health and has been in the care of the hospital since the accident. Our family has been unable to effectively communicate with him because he is heavily sedated, in shock, pelvis encased in a cage, tracheotomy, ventilator, etc.

Visiting him over the past three weeks I have noticed a decided difference between the day and night staff in the SICU. Day persons are generally friendly and helpful. The night crew, to put it mildly, have an attitude. Friday night (11/18) I went to visit at approximately 9:30pm. His door was closed and lights off. His bed was bouncing violently. I proceeded to open the door but was cautioned by a blonde nurse behind the counter across from the room not to do so.

“He is alone in there,” I said to her, “terrified and out of his mind. I’m his brother. Let me touch his face, maybe finally understand what he is so desperate to tell me.”

“Oh, he’s talking all right,” the nurse replied indignantly. “It’s very clear to me what he said before he was medicated just now.”

“Yes!,” I exclaimed, “What did he say?”

“Hmph!” hands on hips, anger evident in her every action. “Fuck you!” she said.

“That’s wonderful,” I replied, “He’s fighting for his life, angry and aware. That’s great news!”

She sneered at me. “We don’t have to take that kind of abuse. He also kicks at us. He needs to learn that’s not acceptable.”

“My point of view is that he is waking into a horrible nightmare, unaware of his feet kicking and, yes, cursing his torturers. Please allow me to console my brother.”

“Go ahead, do whatever you want!” she said offhandedly.

My daughter, Christy, and I went into the room and did what we could to calm him down. His arms are restrained to the side rails of the bed. We have been told that he is bolted to the bed as the cage must be rigid to support his pelvis while it is mending. He was extremely agitated. It was clear he wanted us to release the restraints, heartbreaking to realize we were unable to do so because he is in that crazy place and would probably further injure himself. A few minutes later my brother’s son, Jack, went to see his dad. A male nurse and brunette female were standing over the patient, scolding him, “We don’t kick the bed and nurses in Denver Health SICU!”

We are of Cherokee descent. Our hair is a sacred component of our spirituality, what folks think of as religion. A number of times my daughters asked to wash their uncle’s hair so they could comb it and put it into a braid. The nurses’ answer was always no because he is too agitated, can’t sit up right now, etc. Monday morning (11/21) my youngest daughter asked for a cool cloth to wipe the sweat from Jack’s face when he was brought back to his room and could she please brush and braid his hair.

“That was all taken care of last night,” a nurse (Nicole) said tersely.

They took my brother’s hair. They scold him as if he were an impudent child. They act as if he walked in, healthy and hale, strong of voice, flinging epithets into their faces and threatening them physically.

Reading your Patient Rights statement, specifically: B. Receive care and treatment that is respectful, recognizes your dignity, cultural and personal values and religious beliefs, provides for your personal privacy to the extent possible during the course of treatment, and promotes a positive self-image.

And Q: Receive care that is free from neglect, exploitation, verbal, mental, or physical abuse, or conditions that are not safe.

My brother is fighting for his life, being tormented and punished because of his lack of decorum in SICU. It is amazing he is alive, a testament that the doctors attending him know their business and that he is engaged in the battle. Please address the drama and abuse in SICU. His body is torn, dignity has been ripped from his head. I want his hair. We are not trash.

I fear for my brother’s life and have called your Patients Advocate phone number this morning. I listened to a recording, made its only numerical choice other than 911. I left my contact number with the robot and wonder if and when I will hear from someone representing Denver Health, maybe a whisper that my brother’s life is worth saving.

Officer Chris Dickey (#2905 303-289-3755) from Commerce City has also been to visit Jack several times. He is in charge of the investigation of the crash. I realize these “professionals” have a job to do but shouldn’t saving Jack’s life be the number one priority?

My brother’s son, Jack Sterner, is the first contact as far as making decisions regarding his father. His phone number is 720-364-3171.

I am second contact 530-605-1225 (cell phone 720-270-1602).

Neither of us were consulted in the matter of taking, of stealing, my brother’s hair.

That, of course, is a matter of record.

Concerned and waiting your reply,
Tom Sterner

Inquiries: tracy@traceliteraryagency.com
& wordwulf@wordwulf.com
©artwork & words conceived by & property of
Tom (WordWulf) Sterner©


About wordwulf

wordwulf@gmail.com website: http://wordwulf.com
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