Monday, June 26, 2006

Hospital Follies, Part 4

Consistency is not one of my strengths, but I shall attempt to rectify that here, in a small way. Following my perhaps quease-producing analogy of the hospital as a rough beast into the bowels of which I had been precipitated, I consider Admissions to have been the throat, Emergency to have been the esophagus, and the prelim ward to have been the stomach. In the shallows of Thursday, April 20th, I temporarily resided in the duodenum.

It is not often (thank you, Lord) that one is wakened by the disturbing sound of screaming in the obsidian depths of early morning. That I was is something I shall not soon forget. I opened my eyes (remembering not to sit bolt upright) and peered groggily down the corridor at the end of which I was situated. In the middle of the floor twenty or so yards from where I lay, an overweight woman in a shapeless blue shift was sprawled, convulsively clutching a shopping bag and beating her fists upon the linoleum, shrieking ceaselessly, at least until an attendant materialized from the glassed-in inner sanctum of the ward and attempted to help her up and hopefully quiet her down. He succeeded after some minutes and coaxed her into the nearest empty room, after which he spent 15 or 20 minutes seeing to whatever needs she may have had. As I lay there wondering to what fresh hell I might be exposed (thank you, Dorothy Parker, for that elegant and invaluable phrase), my bladder reminded me that at no time since the previous morning had I availed myself of toilet facilities. It was forcefully borne in upon me that it would be to my benefit to expeditiously do so. To that end, I got as close to the base of the bed as I could, and half-dragged myself to the waiting ‘chair (thank you, "Jose", for leaving me that wondrous mode of transportation, you saved me from much humiliation.) The recent arrival’s room was situated two doors away from a sign on the wall that indicated the presence of a rest room, something I had registered as I had watched her being helped into her new abode. I wheeled myself to the door, struggled momentarily with it, and managed to get myself through the aperture in one piece, with my dignity reasonably intact.

Back in the bed, and after my ankle had once again calmed down, I floated anew upon the choppy waves of sleep, waking only at the appearance of "Jose", who was cheerily urging me to accept a Styrofoam tray that bore a plastic pack of cereal, a pint of 1% milk and a spoon. I gladly devoured the offering, and shortly thereafter the male nurse reappeared with another dose of medication. I even more gladly devoured that.

Things began to move rapidly after that. As I listened to a phone conversation from a girl to her parents explaining why she might not immediately be home, "Jose" came into the nook with a large green and white plastic bag labeled "Patient Belongings" and my cane. I peered into the bag and saw my wallet and keys nestled rather forlornly in a corner of the bag. I was happy to be reunited with my meager belongings. "Jose" informed me that it was time for me to be returned to Emergency, and without further ado urged me into the ‘chair (a different one, I noticed, the one with the large rear wheels had mysteriously disappeared.) I was wheeled to the elevator, a security guard accepted me from "Jose" (whom I thanked for his care and attention - he is sure to enter Heaven), and off we went.

"Mr. Mott? What are you doing here?"


(beats the hell outta me)

(patiently [get it? patiently? har har] awaiting further assaults upon my dignity)

"I was deemed to be undesirable and thrown back."

The pretty nurse from the night before was standing over me, at a loss as to how I should have managed to make my way back to Emergency (which will now double as the intestinal tract) without her having been aware of it. I smiled weakly in the face of her exasperation and lay back, hoping that my lame humor would mollify her enough to leave me alone. Scowling and muttering, she turned away and left to torment some other poor soul.

My time in Emergency this day was mostly uneventful - I spent much of the morning and afternoon observing the prosaic life of hospital personnel and the constant stream of EMTs and new patients that circulated through the corridor. I was taken to the X-ray department for a further and more comprehensive series of tests (everything, in fact, but my head was photographed) and during the afternoon I was wheeled to a completely different area of the hospital to have a thorough ultrasound conducted (the dimness of the room would have been conducive to sleep, except for the cold gel, the probe, and the constant swishes, hollow gasps and whistles of the audio representation of my circulation.)

Only two events really stand out - one patient of about my age who was brought in had apparently given the EMTs some trouble, as he was firmly restrained, and was not bashful about informing anyone within hearing distance, at the top of his voice, that he needed to be released posthaste. The other incident involved the attentive son and daughter-in-law of an elderly lady, who insisted on ignoring the strict instructions that only one visitor per patient was to be allowed. One of the nurses asked the woman to leave, at which point she became incensed and began haranguing the nurse, who was obviously unwilling to suffer the woman gladly. A lengthy expostulation followed, after which the woman was escorted from Emergency by one of the security personnel. I would have liked to have offered her my visitor spot, as I had no expectation of receiving any, but that would have been unrealistic, considering the undue attention she had already attracted to herself.

The day passed, not swiftly, and around 4:30 in the afternoon a member of the transport staff appeared behind my bed and prepared to wheel me off. I asked if further tests were to be performed and I received the unenlightening "No" as my only answer.

Next installment: I visit the rectum.



mymaracas said...

James Thurber says humor is tragedy in retrospect.

If that's true, "the rectum" should be a gas.

mtrib2 said...

I enjoyed the detailed and analytical exposition of your 'Hospital Follies'.   mark