Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In a strange bed, last day

examining room cabinet
Feel like shit. All I want to do is sleep. I'm in a hospital. My liver's crapping out on me. Cirrhosis. What the hell does the liver do, anyway?

I need a drink, but I doubt I'll get one here.

The TV's on. Sports channel. How many games have I seen in my life? More than I can count. I'm fifty-eight now and started watching when I was ten. So that's ... a lot of games. I can't remember more than a few incidents from all of them, and even those aren't clear. They were always drinking times.

Let me alone. Shit. Every five minutes women are coming in and bugging me. They pull me up higher in the bed. Why? One takes measurements, one takes blood, one looks at the machines I'm hooked up to. Another tests my swallowing to see if well enough to eat. I hear her say I'm not. Will I be soon? I've been catheterized. I'm glad I wasn't awake when it was going in. I'm not going to look at it.

These women speak loudly to me and use my name a lot. It hurts to hear them. It makes me frown. I have tubes in my nose, for oxygen. I try to remember to inhale deeply through my nose. That should help me feel better. I do it, but it doesn't.

There's a girl here. I'm not sure who she is. She's nice. She's not wearing a uniform and doesn't talk like the other women, but she helps me do things. Who the hell is she? There's something about her face. Wait. She's holding my hand. Wait. She just called me Dad. That can't be right. I haven't seen daughters for years. No, scratch that. I have seen one of them. The oldest. Her name is ... now why can't I remember her name? I think it's her.

More women are here. It just never stops. Christ. There are two of them. And my daughter. The two are speaking to me, loud, and asking me things. I keep hearing the word "up." They want me to get up. Now? Shit. They're swinging my legs over the side of the bed and lifting me into a sitting position. The one of the two who seems to be in charge is kneeling in front of me and telling me to open my eyes. I do. She's so young. I can tell she doesn't take any crap from anybody. She's pretty. I lean forward and put my hands on her shoulders. They're firm, taut. "You want to hold on to me?" she says. There's a walker behind her. What am I, ninety-five?

I try to get up, but the thought's not getting to the body. I feel my left side give up, and sag. "You want to lie down?" the woman says. I try to say yes but it comes out as a grunt. The two help me lie down and cover me up again.

More people, more stuff going on around me. They're all doing lots, but I feel worse and worse every hour anyway. Doctors and others ask me questions. Do I know where I am? Do I know my birthday? The TV is off. My daughter's holding my hand. I can hear her. I want to open my eyes and look at her, but I feel so awful I can't. When can I go home? 

It's dark. No one's here, but the door's open and I can hear people doing things across the hall. I hear talking, laughing, fingers rattling on computer keyboards, phone calls being made, carts wheeling down the hall. I feel worse. Everything hurts. Two women come in. Different from the ones I saw during the day. One is teaching the other how to do something. I try to tell them how bad I feel, but words aren't coming. I moan. I moan again. They say things to me. The one teaching the other goes to one of the machines. I hear her telling the new one how to adjust the drip. Adjust the drip. I don't know what that means, but soon after she does it, I feel OK and go back to sleep.

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