Friday, February 6, 2009

1st Encounter

I shuffled into the common room, grateful to be able to spend some time out of my bleached and sterialized hospital bed. The IV makes me feel like jerky movements are a death wish; one false move and I envision the needle slicing through my veins and coming out the other side of my arm.

But those are not the things you are supposed to think about in hospitals. You are supposed to think about getting better, not the likelihood that something else will go horribly wrong in the safest place possible. But people seem to forget how many die in hospitals. It might as well be a shooting range.

The TV is on but no one is really watching; night envelops us all even though it is 2p.m. I hear the Divorce Court narrator come on; he tells the predicament of the twisted, bitter faces of the couple on the screen. Their love has morphed into a battle between power and revenge- and they wonder why we are so depressed here?

I see a woman reading on the window ledge. The sunlight floats in around her shoulders; she looks like a dimly lit neon sign which is about to die. Instead of the regulation hospital gown, she is wearing nurse scrub pants and a ZZ Top t-shirt.

She looks up and squints at me; whether it is from the sunlight or confusion, I'll never know. I look down at the crumpled outline of my body through the cheap guazy cotton and I know this is not the time or place to be hitting on women.

The IV stand and I meander over to the least dirty-looking chair. I pretend to read a Dr. Suess book I found in between the cushion and armrest. The crusties in my eyes make it hard to read. I put the book down, sigh, and realize it may be an eternity before I am out of this place.

No one is speaking or trying to make conversation. We each have set up clear walls made out of our own misery and self-deprication, and the nurses are the only ones I make eye contact with. They assume I am still sick from having my stomach pumped, so they don't hassle me to come eat lunch with everyone else. This makes me feel better than any drug could.

My life does not flash before my eyes as I drift to sleep in the paisley arm chair. 'Green Eggs and Ham' buries itself into the side of my leg, but I welcome the bruise from the pointed corners. At least it means I could still be alive.

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