Friday, September 24, 2010
What the Doctor Ordered
Seven days since an ambulance brought him writhing with the pain of an intestinal blockage.
Five days since the operation that cut away the small section of knotted obstruction.
Two days since a nurse snapped an oxygen mask over his nose and parted lips. She explained he needed the assistance; he was a “mouth breather” and his shallow inhales did not feed his lungs.
One day since he looked at her with eyes narrowed in disapproval.
“If you came earlier, I could have gone home with you,” he said and pointed a tremulous index finger at her. “You missed the window of opportunity. I know it was on purpose.” He turned his head away from her.
Though she tried many times during each visit, no amount of cajoling or explanation could disabuse him of the notion that nurses hated him and waited for family to leave before a daily ritual of torture. Doctors told her confusion and paranoia were normal in patients his age – after all, he was still under the influence of disorienting painkillers.
After several hours of sitting and watching him sleep, while listening to the whirls and pings of machinery taking care of his bodily business, she stood.
“Leaving?” he said after pulling the mask from his face. So he was feigning sleep, she thought.
“I'll be back tonight,” she said.
“Don't bother if you're not prepared to take me away from here.”
She kissed his forehead and helped him put the mask back on his face. He closed his eyes and did not say goodbye.
As she left the unit, she nodded to the hospital staff who looked her way. Torturers? She smiled at the thought. Tonight she would return and listen to his complaints and know they were fueled by irrational fears that he was never going home.
Always was a bit of a diva – for a man, she thought and laughed.
She walked the maze of halls that were very familiar to her now and stepped out into the sunshine.
Upstairs, the torture continued.