The Last Word, April 2022

Sunset in Borrego Springs, CA.

The Last Word—for discerning readers—by author Gregory Zeigler.

Something to do.

We have recently reposted an exhaustive list of environmental mysteries on Free Range Writers. The list ranges from Edward Abbey to Gregory Zeigler (no, seriously) with my partners in crime, Beason and Butler in between. Check it out. (

Something I wrote.

Kind and discerning readers, forgive me for taking a different tack this month. Many of you know I was in Borrego Springs, CA on April 15 picking up our trailer for the winter and dealing with a serious infection in my left leg when I fell and injured my right knee. That resulted, as they say on the cop shows, in a ride in the back of the bus (ambulance) to the nearest hospital, in Brawley, CA, close to the Mexican border. Brawley often sees temperatures in the 90s in April and well over 100 in the summer.

For writers, all is material and I wanted to share this extraordinary experience in a hospital which I found to be right out of J.K. Rowling. Let me begin by saying, I feel I got good care for my infection at Pioneer Memorial Hospital, although my injured right knee was all but ignored, including one moment when a kindly doctor originally from Afghanistan, who looked a lot like Groucho Marx was examining the wrong knee.

I had a virtual kaleidoscope of doctors, including Dr. Digdigan, a caring woman originally from India. Dr. Whyte, a knowledgeable black doctor from Jamaica with an elegant accent, and Dr. Chu who appeared to be Chinese-American. I thanked Dr. Chu for seeing me on the weekend when he said he only worked on the weekends. All-in-all, including two doctors in the emergency room who convinced me I needed to be admitted (for which I will always be grateful) I was seen by at least seven doctors.

The hospital was a model of diversity. The staff was approximately 95% Hispanic. I have always wondered what it would feel like to be in the minority. This was my chance. Everybody was warm and caring.

I was hooked up to IVs delivering antibiotics with few breaks and had to always ask for help to get up and visit the bathroom. I hated that dependency. But I did score one minor victory. The hospital wanted to label me “non-ambulatory” and a “fall risk” and administer three shots a day in the belly to ward off blood clots. I politely refused, arguing that I was ambulatory and while off the IV was doing laps on my walker around my room (no more boring than a treadmill) for at least 50 minutes a day.

There were three earthquakes while I was there. One moved a piece of furniture in my room three feet. There happened to be a Hispanic woman mopping my floor during the largest, and I overheard her praying in Spanish. I just had to hope her prayer would cover everybody in the room. When I asked a nurse if there was a plan for earthquakes, she said, “not that I know of, but this is an old building.”

At one point there was a loud beeping noise in my room which I assumed was coming from one of my machines. I called the duty nurse and she said, “That noise is not from your room, it is the fire alarm.” I laid back down not feeling reassured.

Then an angel flew into Palm Springs. Dimmie, my hero, rescued my wounded and sorry ass, driving home over four days and acting as tow driver, nurse and cook.

Jackson is where I am now recuperating and seeing local doctors. Memories of my time in Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Brawley, California linger like a fever dream.

Happy reading.

Gregory Zeigler, author of the Jake Goddard and Susan Brand eco-thriller series.

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