Friday, September 16, 2011

More Cancer Drugs, and Why I Hate Pepito's Parkway Theater

Yesterday I met with the Palliative Care doc. I have previously joked that one could become a palliative care doc in a weekend correspondence course, since it seems like they only prescribe 3 drugs: morphine, oxycontin and methadone -- all for severe pain, and they're essentially the same. It turns out that Palliative care can help with a cornucopia of things. They can prescribe drugs for stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, depression, insomnia, anxiety... you name it: we cover it all up. But that's all they do: prescribe drugs. So they're more like a cross between a pharmacist and a general practitioner.When I mentioned that I wanted to explore more non-prescription remedies, feeling that I wanted to be on less pills, not more, it became clear that there is little that the Palliative care doc and I have in common. She gave me a pamphlet for a place across the street that does all of the natural stuff including massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, etc. It was clear that she didn't think much of it, but she's a pill-pusher by trade. I'll call them today and see how they work with insurance, if at all.

Also in the course of the meeting, Dr Bonzo (the pill-pusher)  expressed surprise (or pretended to, anyhow) at all the methadone side effects I was having, including during my tapering off. None of them should be happening. I love hearing that. Sr. Bonzo gave me the option of switching to oxycontin (remember Rush Limbaugh?) and after careful deliberation with my mom I chose to switch to it. They are equally addictive but I hope that it will treat the pain better with fewer side effects. So far (2 doses in) it seems more neutral with fewere side effects and as-good-or-better pain control. The big worry for me is that taking oxy-(fill in the blank) *does* feel good, whereas methadone does not. I am worried about this, long term. When trying to avoid addiction, your painkiller should not be any fun to take.

So, then we go off to Pepito's Parkway Theater in Minneapolis to see Cinematic Titanic. This is basically the Mystery Science Theater 3,000 guys (MST3k) doing their bad-film-riffing live in front of an audience. I haven't seen them live before and I was very much looking forward to it.

The show was great. What happened *at* the show will make me forever think less of Pepito's and the Parkway Theater.

Here's what went down. So, were sitting up front at these table things (we paid extra to have tables closer to the stage) and I have to get up to use the restroom during one of the warm-ups. I had part of my bladder removed about a year ago, so I have to go more often. Its annoying but livable. I come back down the aisle and find that my chair has been removed from my table and there is a guy in a wheel chair siting there. He's probably in his late 20's to early 30's . I should probably point out that I'm not alone at this table, and it seems like everyone figures out at the same time -- me, Jen, my brother and the wheelchair guy, -- that something is up and he can't sit there. The usher realizes his mistake (he had seen the empty seat and had made room) apologizes and and moves the wheelchair guy about 2 feet away from Jen (in a pretty open corner of the auditorium). Now, I don't think I'm being overly-sensitive, here, but I notice that the guy is very fixated on Jen and is staring at her openly. She may have reflexively smiled at him when turning around to talk to (what she thought was) me, not knowing that they'd made the switch. Maybe he has taken this as her being interested in him, even though -- when she figured out a split second after turning around to talk to "me" that it *wasn't* me, she said to the guy, "Oh, you can't sit here. There's someone sitting here already." This is fairly unambiguous, I think. It sounds like it was polite but direct.

So the guy is now about 2 feet away, so close that the wheelchair is in contact with her chair. He keeps looking at her. It's making me uncomfortable. I do obvious stuff like put my hand on her arm and she eventually feels uncomfortable enough to move away, closer to me. Not because he's in a wheelchair (which is neither here nor there) but because he's staring at her and creeping us both out. Some movement catches my eye and I realize that the guy has opened up the front of his sweatpants and is actively rooting around in there with both hands. I don't know what he's doing, but it goes on for about 30 seconds. Possibly he's adjusting his catheter (I wore one myself for 2 weeks and they are very uncomfortable -- though I never once adjusted it in public) or maybe its something worse. But regardless, I really don't want this happening 2 feet from my girlfriend. Call me strange and old fashioned. Let's also bear in my that I'm trying to have a relaxing (and not inexpensive) evening out to relax and forget about chemo and cancer for awhile. 

So, I storm up to the lobby, find a burly-bouncer looking guy doing nothing whatsoever, and explain the situation. I get a blank stare. The 3 women at the concession counter slowly stop talking and also stare blankly. I'm trying to find every was to say (that I can think of) that some guy is -- as fas as I can tell -- trying to expose himself to my girlfriend in their theater and they appear to be giving it about the same priority level of a squeaky seat. Somewhere in there, what with my persistence and increasing disbelief that no-one cares about this sort of thing at Pepito's Parkway Theater, the burly-bouncer dude says "I'd better tel.... ( I can't hear the name) and wanders off in the opposite direction, away from the theater, in no particular hurry. There is clearly no preplanned process here for any sort of security concern.

Still fuming, I go back down into the theater. Mr. Fun-in-the-pants is leaving as I sit down and mutters something about "leaving your 'perfect town'". A few minutes later a managerey type comes and asks me for the story, starting from a place of disbelief, as If I'd said there were aliens coming out of the walls. I explained my story clearly again and the guy, extremely dubious, said they'd "try to keep an eye on him". I would have expected that he'd be asked to leave at very least. No, they're still trying to find a place for him. They come back a few minutes later and say they'd like to put him here, in the same exact spot. Next to Jen. I say no: he needs to be far away from us. And I had to insist. I get a look that makes it clear they think I'm being insensitive.

No, it cannot be overlooked that this man was in a wheelchair. But it seems that Pepito's Parkway theater was ommibilized with fear by this fact. Clearly they had quickly decided that the concerns of a woman -- subjected to essentially indecent exposure -- was nullified by the fact that the perpetrator was in a wheelchair. Where do I figure in: the guy with terminal cancer. Do people add more or less weight to my claims because of my situation? Honestly, I'd hope I'd be held to the same standard as everyone else, and I'd hope that this guy would also be held to the same set of societal norms that we all establish and agree upon. If I take too much oxycontin and my pants fall off in a theater, this is a partial *explanation* for why it happened -- but not an excuse. I could still be held accountable for indecent exposure, even with the cancer pain and prescription narcotics. For the record, I have not yet done this, but perhaps I should try it at Pepito's tonight and see how they deal with it. My guess is that I'd get relocated to a better spot closer to the stage and get free Mountain Dew.

When Jen called today to talk to the manager, he did not apologize, and in fact *bitched her out* for saying that a guy in a wheelchair could be creepy. She was not saying that he was creepy because he was in a wheelchair. She was saying that he was in a wheelchair and was also acting creepy (and creepy is an understatement). She cancelled her ticket for tonight. The manager should have done mush more to protect his business and his reputation. Perhaps, when the initial report came in, having a manager kneel down and talk to the guy in a low-key way to see how he's doing/feeling would have given them a sense of his condition. Its where I'd start as a manager. They were petrified of tossing him out so instead they froze completely, did nothing, and (like so many rape cases) put all the burden back on the accuser.

I do not like how our society treats the physically (and, in this case, possibly also mentally) disabled as invisible. I have spent time on crutches and in a wheelchair and you become invisible. I have a terminal disease and technically am disabled because of it, though it is not outwardly visible, though there may be a time that I too, am confined to a wheelchair because of my condition. Being physically disabled is a lonely state to be in that I don't envy, and I don't hate this guy. What I *do* hate is Pepito's male-chauvanist "you're just a woman" attitude that they seemed to have with Jen on the phone, and their hyper-lawsuit avoidant approach (without realizing the possibility for other lawsuits becuase they are so petrified.)

Anyhow, if anyone feels like calling the Pepito's Parkway theater, be my guest. I have a ticket to go to tonight's show as well with a large group, and Jen was planning to go as well (something that I was very much looking forward to) but now she is not going and I really can't blame her. They promised to refund her ticket, but as of this writing they have not done so. I'm pissed. Not at all at her, but at this situation and at Pepito's Parkway's bungling of the situation. 

I think that if Pepitos' Parkway were to say of the audience before the show "Ok, raise your hand if you do *not* want to watch some guy root around in his underwear right next to you for a minute or more?" I bet they'd get a solid 90% or better. Though, they would likely subtract the women from those voting, because their opinions and feelings don't seem to matter. Welcome to the 1950's, Pepito's. 


colleen said...

If I was there or my Kid was there I would of called the cops and not even bothered to call management. You are right about folks being freaked out by wheelchairs. The chair is not a free pass for bad behavior.
On the Oxy question, I was on it for about 6 weeks with no issue but then again my ankle was healing and it wasn't an ongoing pain issue. I had oxycontin every 12 hours and oxycodone every 4, so there was never a tapering off. The docs told me they do better to prevent pain then to get rid of it so I can see why folks could abuse them, I just wanted to sleep and channel surf I would be a boring addict.

colleen said...

my captcha word was panti.

Deborah in MN said...

Yuck. I agree that disability or age or whatever, is not a free pass to be disagreeable, demanding or downright creepy. Indeed, it's a type of discrimination to assume that because someone is in a wheelchair (or otherwise disabled) they are incapable of acting badly. I feel like my close call with quadriplegia the past several months gives me some credibility to say that.

I know a man who has a serious brain injury and is in a wheelchair. He can be very rude, self-centered, whiny and assume that if people don't seem pleased to see him or don't like his long-winded rants complaining about his mother or social workers, it's because he's disabled. I know plenty of other disabled people who aren't like that at all, so obviously people with disabilities can have good or bad social behavior like the non-disabled.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Good for you for not being afraid to speak up! People in wheel chairs still have to live by the same social standards as everyone else! That is so gross!

Anonymous said...

I say, good for you for not backing down and giving him your seat! When Ed and I went to see Chocolat several years ago, some guy came up to us about 15 minutes into a packed theater where we HAD to sit in the handicapped seats because there were no other seats, and asked us to leave, because there were no other handicapped seats. We were at a loss for what to do, and got up and left, and there were NO other seats in the theater. We got out money back, but the theater manager said "well, you didn't have to leave, if there were no other seats..the guy was late, and you didn't have to give up your seats." Later I wished I had at least asked for some comped theater tickets, or something........


M said...

To be clear, this was *not* a "those darned handicapped get away with so much!" rant. (I consider myself to fit more into the "handicapped" category than not, personally) and quite honestly the list I'm reading here of uncomfortable or unpleasant handicapped-related incidents makes me feel that people have missed my point. It was a rant at inexcusable behavior (regardless of dis/ability status) but primarily at the theater's fear of dealing with it because of ...?. Anyhow, for the record it is still not resolved -- the theater has not refunded Jen's money and I'll be calling them Monday (probably before chemo) to talk to Joe directly.

Anonymous said...

The theater had good reason to fear doing anything -- they can be sued at the drop of a hat and accused of discrimination against the handicapped.

This is something that should have been dealt with by those present -- yourself and those with you.

M said...

Hey Anonymous, I totally agree, and believe me I tried to deal with it at the time, as I stated. Yep, they could have been sued -- by both sides. I get the impression that you believe I was in the wrong, and I stand by my position and will defend my right to complain about inappropriate behavior and expect, I dunno, *any* reaction from the theater when a complaint like this arises.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I believe you were in the right, and I would expect a refund to boot!
I also never thought you were ganging up on the handicapped!

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