Actual conversation at Baptist Hospital between my wife and the charge nurse after i was moved from ICU* to a regular room:
Wife: My husband is in 7625 …could he have a cup of water?
Nurse: He’s not there yet.
Wife: yes, they brought him down a few minutes ago
Nurse: no, he’s not there yet.
I had been there for over 1/2 hour at this point.
Needless to say, they also forgot my lunch, which in retrospect was probably a blessing. I eventually got a snack at 3:30, three and 1/2 hours after I was moved to the room. Within minutes after the remains of the snack were cleared, supper was delivered. Is there some late night infomercial that features a device that positively drains any possible taste remaining from over-cooked broccoli? I’m pretty sure that Baptist Hospital got a really good deal on said device.
*Oh yeah, I guess I’ve been blessed with a stomach lining that enjoys the holi-ness of the occasional ulcer. I was feeling less than chipper last Saturday, loitering around even more than usual on a couch near the new TV. As long as I just laid there, equilibrium was at least a distant cousin. At one point after an extended phone conversation, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized that something was really wrong. You really do see star-like apparitions when you are about to black out! I achieved a familiar prone position on the hardwood floor and asked my wife to call for an ambulance. Sadly, I’ve been in such a state before and realized fairly quickly that blood was not circulating normally through the old framework, and instead had chosen a small aperture to spill willy-nilly into passages not intended for circulation.
I made it to the hospital where the nice folks filled me back up with blood and stuck a camera downward (believe me, the downward spiral is much preferable to the upward method). A small geyser was quickly noted and patched. Ironically for the next 24 hours much blood was taken back for testing, usually moments after I had fallen asleep. A stay in the hospital is not for anyone who really needs rest.
I’m also convinced that the insurance companies have conspired with the chefs behind the hospital ‘cuisine’ in the hopes that said foodstuff would encourage the patient to quickly vacate the premises in hopes for victuals with more than a passing acquaintance with a spice or even taste. At one point a breakfast tray contained a bowl of gruel that even David Copperfield would have refused.
My stomach really wasn’t that happy about very much – cuisine, unwanted apertures and general invasion. The pain became quite intense at times and I was offered morphine as a palliative. Not one to turn down my host’s offerings, I nodded intensely and before you could say Pacman Jones, the warmth of the blessed Code3 pharmaceutical was channeling through the bloodstream so recently off-course. I don’t know how most people react to morphine, but I saw things. I saw real food. I saw the Knucklehead with a side of ribs. I saw more nurses than actually exist in Baptist Hospital. I saw Drew Barrymore and I did wonder what she was doing there. And cruelly, I saw my daughter with her best friend sitting at the foot of my bed. They seemed as real as the heart monitor wires attached to various parts of my body. I actually conversed with them, even knowing that it was pretty amazing that Erin had actually made it all the way from Peru.
It was both a wonderful and mean Father’s Day trick of the drug. I never actually teared up from all the pain and the frustration of my utter helplessness, but I can tell you that I did cry when I realized she wasn’t there. But, I can also tell you that my cell phone rang late Sunday afternoon and miraculously enough I did hear her voice, and it wasn’t an illusion. The heart monitor wires were singing.
Visits from good friends and number one son were also quite the curative.
After two and 1/2 days of blood re-fueling and blood-letting with occasional side-trips on morphine, I was sent home, a weak, but blood-levelled man. I ‘get’ to sit around for a day or so here at home recovering. The blessed taste of real food and the unbelievably good fortune of being married to the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known and three kids I love more than life itself all pushes up against that tendency for me to feel sorry for myself and my stupid stomach lining. I’m luckier than I ever deserved.