Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just a small town girl...

I ended up at the emergency room last night. Nothing major, just needed to get an ultrasound to confirm if I had a hernia or not, and I did not want to wait until next week. I like to get things done immediately, it irks me when I cannot.

Sitting there, surrounded by people with various illnesses and injuries, and so many overweight, poorly dressed, faded people, looking wrecked by life, looking like they had never had a good day in their entire existence.

This people used to be kids, used to be teenagers, college students, burger flippers, whatever.

What happened?

Looking around at them, I was suddenly swearing to myself that I would never be like them. I would never let my mind and body go like they had. When I, theoretically, reach old age, I do not wish to be the overweight women who has to be shoved by two burly men into the back of an ambulance, shoulders buried in the rolls of backfat. I do not want to be confined to a walker for all of my movements.

I need freedom. I need the freedom to move as needed, to run, to travel, to love.

I was there for a little over three hours. The doctors were unable to discern what was wrong with me. All of my tests came back perfect, no sign of inflammation or hernia. Gallbladder, liver, kidneys, healthy. Appendix departed my body years ago.

I eat healthy. Fresh fruits, vegetables, eggwhites, unsalted nuts, lots of water, various forms of meat (though I prefer fish)... this is my normal diet. Just add in a little too much coffee, some chocolate milk, occasional pack of chocolate M&Ms, and there's my intake for the week.

Hospitals, especially the emergency rooms, have always been a love of mine. I'm addicted to people watching, and in emergency rooms, emotions run high in all spectrums and communication goes rough and honest. Walking through the waiting rooms, families sitting quietly together, all of them with their minds on one of their own under the knife, awaiting verdict to be delivered by a masked man in teal scrubs.

It's a building of honesty and chaos, yet perfect monitoring systems, perfect measures of control and maintenance.

No wonder that I love it so.

When family members end up in a bed for a day or months, I'm more than happy to spend all of my free time with them, eating in the cafeteria, watching the interactions between staff and vistors, browsing the gift shop for odd figurines, books, magazines, uplifting religious stained-glass mosaics. Baby gifts, for girl and boy, get-well cards, flowers of all assortments, crossword puzzle books for those long evenings waiting in a chair made completely of right angles, always shifting, attempting to find that one spot that will ease soreness. The silver rectangular boxes on wheels travelling down the halls, laden with trays, the constant scent of broth trailing behind them.

You read and you wait.

You read in darkened rooms with curtains drawn, a silent TV flickering over you, the nurses walking by, the sounds of buzzers down the hall, the metallic slide of curtains being drawn shut next door, murmured instructions as a patient is being shifted, the phones ringing at the desk with soothing, monotones of the operator.

You wait for the flicker of eyelids, the quiet moan of your family member waking, and the book is set down as you go to their side, smile, talk, offer to read to them, or do crossword puzzles together if they are feeling particularly perky. My grandmother always loved the Jumbles in the paper, so we would buy the large print collection books and write the letters on the patient whiteboard so we could unscramble them together, making our own when we ran out of puzzles.

Sitting in ICU, with her so tired, watching the television. Flushed Away became a love of mine, they played it often. I would sit and read, sit and watch the screen across the room, running damp pink sponges on white plastic sticks over her dry lips when she woke.

We would sit in shifts. My father or mother would come in, putting on the yellow smocks, masks, and hair nets. My glasses would fog up as warm breath would rise, so I would perch them precariously on my nose, hoping to afford enough space so I could see.

That was an interesting time in my life. I had just quit my job, yet to find a replacement. Moved out of my parents' place again, due to too much fighting and rage with my father, attempting to keep my space from them while still visiting my grandmother... not often enough.

The day she decided to cut life-support, they called me at 5AM. They said that she had decided to go and she wanted to see me before she died. So I drove the 40 miles down to the recovery place she had take residence in, kissed her cheeks, hugged her, hugged my family, and watched them pull the tube out of her throat that was keeping her lungs going.

Blood came up with the tube, getting on her lips.

She made a wet gurgle and died immediately.

I wrote a piece about her to one of my friends. I'll have to dig that email up.

1 comment:

  1. glad that everything seems all right - and hope you feel better soon. i still enjoy stopping in from time to time to read about your musings and adventures. warmest wishes.