Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trapped Humanity

Yesterday I went to the hospital. Not that I had much choice in the matter. My warden/nurse/wife made it abundantly clear that I had absolutely no say in the matter. When I was informed of this decision made on my behalf without my insight or consultation, I thought if I just lay like a lump on a log there would be nothing anyone could do to get me to move out of my bed. That is when I was threatened with an ambulance ride in my pajamas. I refuse to be one of those types of invalids. You know the kind, rolling around Wal-Mart at all hours of the day in a motorized scooter, wearing their food stained pajamas and worn out house slippers. Not that my PJ’s are food stained and as for the slippers, I don’t own any. Still, the thought of looking that disheveled is quite an unappealing thought to me.
So I did what any self-respecting injured person would do in that situation. I accepted my fate, got dressed with help and went to the hospital. Once there, I proceeded to wait almost three hours in the waiting room standing up. You see, my injury to my lower back makes it almost impossible to sit down. I’m okay if I’m lying down on my back or standing upright. The pain from sitting is almost unbearable. Okay, that may be a bit of an understatement. Imagine if every time you tried to move in any position that there were twelve very angry monkeys with flaming hot dull knives standing behind you stabbing you right next to your kidneys… then multiply that by a million. You take in so much pain that your vision blurs at the edges only to leave white hot pin pricks of veiled reality at the center. But the center is miles away, and you know that is where the pain originates from. You want to reach out with your shaking hands and trembling arms and throttle the pain into non-existence but it is too far away. You can’t reach its physical drowning in the tunnel that is quickly filling up with liquid agony.
Once there, we were told the computer admissions printer was broken and the check-in administrator was as present as bigfoot so all the paperwork landed upon one woman in a small, semi-private room with a computer an no printer. There were three people ahead of us in the queue. Me standing and trying to ignore all the bad television being broadcast to an almost full waiting room by trying to figure out what was ailing the people in the five hundred square foot enclosure. We waited and eyeballed the vending machines, two filled with beverages and one filled with snacks. One machine had the “Out of Order” sign on it. Glad I wasn’t starving.
One woman, thin and tall with several kids was angry, bitter and snapping at her kids with almost hostile words. Another woman, elderly and quiet was taking care of a small baby. The baby cooed and waved at anyone she saw. Quite adorable. An elderly gentleman hobbled along on crutches and my wife helped him get a wheelchair. He promptly fell asleep right next to another woman who was sleeping in a waiting chair when we arrived and looked as if she were in a coma. The woman who came in ahead of us sat in a chair with a vomit bag in her lap and scrolled through her phones apps. Every now and then she would get up and make a hasty retreat to the bathroom only to emerge a bit paler and less steady on her feet. Then there was the elderly couple who came in behind us, the man attending to his sick wife who could barely walk. He fussed over her and she allowed him to do so. He would gently push her hair back and whisper to her, offer her a drink every now and then and he even got up and talked to the security guard for a few minutes.
I kept my head down, focused on not being in pain and tried to play video games. It sort of worked. I just couldn’t get comfortable. Hell, I even tried to sit in a wheelchair but that experiment lasted about twenty seconds before I got up. I knew if I had stayed in that damnable contraption I’d have passed out from the photon torpedoes being shot into my lower back. I think Luke Skywalker was using my back as the death star trench. Uncool Luke, uncool.
When I did get a room, it was one filled with four chairs, three were recliners and one was a plain old plastic chair. No bed but there were five crash carts which is good to know in case I was about to die. I paced, no, I hobbled the room back and forth. My wife sat in a chair, read and checked her phone. I tried to explore the inner contents of the crash carts but they were locked so I started to root through the shelves near the sink. I found nothing of interest except infant sponges. So I decided to play with the nitrile gloves. No latex apparently in the hospital.
Right after I finished goofing off with the gloves, and my boredom was approaching the level of my discomfort the Nurse Practitioner showed up and started to interrogate me. I willingly complied. She then ordered x-rays.
I won’t go into the Battan death march to that room of torture the likes Torquemada only dreamed about nor will I go into the fact it took three grown adults to contort me into various stress poses just so they could take black and green photos of my junk and my butt. I just hope none of you have to go through what I went through. But I hope they do.
By the time I made it back to my room, my wife/warden/nurse had gone to a nice fast food place and picked me up a juicy bacon cheese burger. I’d like to say I enjoyed every morsel of that square burger and supped with the dignity of a king. Nope, I devoured that thing as if it were the last burger in the world. Ate it in record time too. Less than a minute from opening the bag to throwing the bag away. In fact, I managed to even eat some of the greasy paper the fried meat was wrapped in. Which gave me pause long enough to think…. I wish there were a bacon wrapped cheeseburger where the buns were actually made of bacon. I expressed this thought to my wife/warden/nurse. She was non-plused. I still think it’s brilliant. Just bacon, cheese and burger, no veggies at all. I’d eat it.
That’s when a new nurse came in pushing a large cart. She told me she was there to give me a shot. Of what I asked. Deluded she answered. I proposed to her immediately.
Thirty minutes later, the Nurse Practitioner had us signed out, me on a bed rest and no work chit as well as a prescription for some pain killing opiates. I went home. Sort of. We made a couple of quick stops, and once home, we stood on our porch and enjoyed the almost seventy degree weather. I informed my warden/nurse/wife I had renamed the front steps to F/U 1 through F/U 5. She laughed and said the drugs must be working.
I won’t lie, they were.
Now, I’m pretty much relegated to my bed. I have at least one more day to lie here. I’m not a good patient. I don’t like being immobile and I don’t like people doing things for me. Yet as I sit here, the weather now turned back to shitty ice and rain, the porch freezing over again I can’t help but wish I were doing something else besides being an invalid. My body is not healing fast enough for my taste. However, it isn’t really about me and what I want is it? I mean, I was doing an experiment where I slowed my life down and just as it ended a large roadblock was thrown in my way. A roadblock that literally put me on my back. Is a greater power trying to teach me a lesson? Is God saying I’m too old to continue my youthful zeal for responsibility and life? Am I to not be the one who is always going somewhere, doing something and giving the answer?
Am I human after all? Is that my lesson?
If it is, then I understand. I don’t like it, but I definitely understand.
Have a great week.


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