Saturday, October 06, 2007

Kessler Institute

Kessler Institute is a rehab in West Orange, New Jersey. I had read the founder's biography several years before I actually got to go there to visit a friend of a friend. Kessler has an excellent reputation for dealing with folks with spinal cord and brain trauma.

My friend Jeannie had a friend named Brian who got into a bad smash-up which caused him to become a wheelchair user. He was rehabbing at Kessler. Jeannie and I went to pick him up one Saturday and took him to a park in Montclair to hang out for the afternoon.

That evening we returned and I believe I remember seven or eight of us visiting with Brian in his room. He had the bed closest to the door and the bed by the window facing West Orange Avenue was unoccupied. Visiting hours were over at eight. A bit before that-- must have been in the summer cuz the sun was still up when I did this-- I threw my car keys at Jeannie who was too young to have a driver's license and persuaded her to go pick up some pizza and some beer. She was reluctant. I was not a force to be reckoned with. I was already high I think. In those days, nothing interfered with my desire to get stoned. I remember Jeannie climbing out the window and down the fire escape which dropped to the front of Kessler and the winding driveway.

Some time later, Jeannie came back with the pizza and the beer. [And the car intact. She had not been stopped]. We were all partying, sucking down the beer and the pizza. I remember a blue haze in Brian's room from the marijuana smoke. The announcement was made for visitors to leave. A nurse came through to check the rooms for stray visitors, got to Brian's room, opened the door, took one look at all of us kids having a party, closed the door very tightly, and fled. We didn't get kicked out and nothing was ever said to Brian by the staff.

In my youthful stupidity, I imagined that the nurse and Kessler must have thought that a head-spinal injury patient drinking, drugging, and eating pizza with a gang of kids in his room was somehow good for his morale. I didn't know anything about brain injury and very little about spinal injuries. I don't know why the nurse didn't kick us all out that night. Never been able to figure that one out.

sapphoq on life