open all night

He’s stretched out across a bench in the waiting room.  Dirty denim shorts, work boots.  His legs are pale, but scraped and bloodied.  His face and arms are reddened from working in the sun.  Bad tattoos adorn his legs and arms.  Blue, indistinct artwork, partially obscured by grime and dried blood.  Elbows and forearms bearing more cuts and scrapes.  His pale red beard is about the only hair on his head.  He’s there alone.

What is most noticeable is the pressure bandage covering his chest, barely covering the large spot of blood on his white t-shirt, just under the back of his ribs.  He’s trying to sleep in the emergency room at three o’clock in the morning. 

We’re sitting across the waiting area, watching the large, wounded working man attempt to get comfortable on a hard bench with no pillow or blanket.  Getting the call just after midnight, we brought a friend to the emergency room for treatment.  Since we are not family, we’re relegated to wait.

It’s the largest trauma center in the city,  and the place is a veritable smorgasbord of bad shit on a Saturday night.  We wait.  An older Amish couple walks by quietly, pager in hand, and takes seats to our left.  Within a couple minutes, they are called back to the triage desk.  We watch.  A younger man in a wheelchair parks to our right, as his girlfriend heads to the restroom he mutters “I hate this place”. 

There are stories.  Too many to count.  Too many to process. 

Checking in with the triage nurse, we are told it will be at least another hour before we are allowed back to see our friend.  With flashbacks to my days of late night clubbing, i remember that there’s a Denny’s all night diner just down the street, so we leave to grab breakfast. 

Another human buffet of late night creatures is assembled at the restaurant.  Two city cop cars are at the curb, and a man is being ‘interviewed’ by police as we walk in.  Four in the morning, and we have to wait for a table.  The private security guard, who is doubling as hostess, tells us we’re lucky because we missed the 2:30 rush as the bars close. 

Our waitress, Amber, seems harried but busts her hump to keep the coffee mugs full as we wait for our meal.  She tells a story of the table of assholes who had come in at rush hour, and made it sport to ship the food back repeatedly.  She also says a man beat the crap out of a woman awhile back.  Just another night in her nocturnal paradise.

Returning to the emergency room, there are even more people in quiet clumps in the waiting room.  i wear a blanket from the car to keep hypothermia at bay, since the room is kept at subzero temperatures – maybe to reduce blood flow in the waiting area.  A nurse made a mercy run through the room, handing out blankets as many people were now bundled under lightweight hospital white covers, fighting off the artificial Arctic chill. 

The bleeding working man is still trying to sleep on the bench.  Alone.  By 5:00 am, we are still waiting.  Time to check in with the triage nurse once again.  She tells us to go home, get some sleep and call back later in the day.  Commenting on the assembled carnage, she lets us know that it’s pretty typical for a Saturday night.  i find it heartbreaking, mentioning the poor bleeding guy on the bench…

“Yeah, he called me some pretty nasty names when I checked him in…”  Many people still rely on emergency rooms for their primary medical care.  She tells us “I have some compassion, but when we’ve already seen them three times this week… and they are coming in just because they threw up once?”

As we leave, we stop at the security desk for a parking validation card.  The security guard, seeing me bundled in my blanket asks “You leaving because of the wait?” 

“No, we brought in a friend and were hoping to get back to see her after she was admitted”.

Walking to the car, i realize “That mother fucker thought i was a patient!  Shit.  i know i look bad, but jesus…”

Goofin’ at The Raisin Ranch Hilton

Getting Mom settled into the cardiac rehab facility* tonight, it was wonderful to see her in great spirits. It was a difficult week for her – and my whiney, emo-bullshit is of no real consequence. She’s the one who had a lung loogie declare war on her…

We are not a family of ‘wasting away’ people**. We know how to eat. We eat when we’re happy.  We eat when we grieve.  We eat until the bitter end, then ask for refills, dessert and a doggie bag.  As she was packing away her dinner tonight, it was clear she’s enjoying the rehab center food more than the bland, virtually pre-chewed and dessicated items brought to her last week in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

When i asked about her breakfast this morning…

Mom: It wasn’t bad – I ate everything they brought. But when I asked for some cinnamon sugar for my oatmeal, the nurse said “Honey, this ain’t the Hilton”.

daisyfae: Oh no she didn’t!  Tell you what, Momma. You’ve earned the right to do this, and after all you’ve been through, you are allowed to do whatever you want when someone says snarky things to you… You don’t have to let people talk to you that way!

Mom: Oh, I don’t know…

daisyfae: The next time someone says anything like that to you, i want you to say “Suck My Dick”. Can you do that?

Mom: (giggling… a lot… almost enough to stop chewing her ham…)

daisyfae: OK, that may be a bit much to start. We need to work up to that.  How about “Suck My Junk”? Could you say that?

Mom: (giggling) oh, I don’t know…

DQ (catching the spirit of the game): What about “Bite Me”? Could you say that?

Mom: (snorting) I could say that!

These people are going to be counting the days till she’s outta there!  At least those with no sense of humor!


* It’s a “Rehab Facility”. There are long term patients there, as well as short term rehabilitation patients. We are trying hard not to call it a “nursing home”…

** After surgery for colon cancer and 3 1/2 years of chemo, Dad still weighted 280 lbs when he died.  We don’t waste away…  Just not how we’re wired!

The ICU Follies

With just a few lesser tubes remaining, Mom is up and walking. This morning, after two full hours of sitting up for respiratory therapy and breakfast, and a walk along the hallway in the cardiac intensive care unit, she needed to stop by the restroom before settling in for her morning nap.

The nurse had given her the morning medication just after breakfast – which included a mild pain pill since the walking puts some stress on her body. As Mom came out of the restroom, the nurse noted that she seemed a little wobbly – and asked “Are you feeling dizzy? You seem to be more unsteady.”

Without missing a beat, Mom said “I’d be a lot more steady if you’d remembered to pull up my drawers”. Looking down, they were still around her ankles…

Her sense of humor is coming back. This is a very good sign… 

An artist’s rendering.  Much, much better than the real deal…

Sneakin’ and geekin’…

Two steps forward, one step backward today in the cardiac ICU with Mom. Pneumonia threat has backed off – whew! That’s the scary one… And the intestinal problems have been managed more effectively, making her more comfortable. But the newest issue is a slight heart arrhythmia – common a few days after heart surgery.

An annoyance today regarding her IV’s. She had plugs and tubes coming from her neck, arms, and hands – and they began to get dicked up*.  Morning Nurse recommended a pericutaneous intravenous catheter to manage ports better – and it would also make Mom more comfortable.

In the meantime, the damn IV pumps would become “obstructed”, and alarms would sound.  Around lunchtime, Mom had been up all morning and was exhausted.  The IV pump alarms had kept her awake the night before, too.  She was trying to sleep, but the damn alarms kept waking her up.  The nurse would come in, play with the lines, then hit the “reset” button on the pump.  Alarm off for five minutes.  Alarm on again, waking her up.  Repeat for about 30 minutes…

Finally, since the nurse had explained that it was just the saline line becoming “dicked up”, i started hitting the reset button myself.  At least until Nurse Ratchet** caught me – and recommended that i stop playing with the equipment.  i apologized, of course, promising not to do it again – but continued to sneak over and hit the reset until Mom’s nurse returned from lunch and just shut the damn thing off…

It’s during the family medical situations that i regret not going into the medical field.  Unfortunately, i’m insanely squeamish about the gooey-sciences, and have a tendency to pass out at the sight of puncture wounds. 

But give me electronics and gadgets?  Hoo-AHH! 


* It’s a medical term. When i hang around hospitals long enough, i pick up the lingo… i’m a veritable sponge for occupational lingo.

** Not Mom’s nurse for the morning, so she wasn’t used to me and probably thought i was trying to “put her down” to collect the inheritance to pay off gambling debts or something…

Teddy Bears and Marxism at the Hospital

Mom’s doing ok – about 2 days post-operative and she’s been up walking, is gaining strength, but still very tired.  Issues with trailer park behavior are minimal – although i’m considering bringing a baseball bat tomorrow just in case.

Scores and Highlights:

     – Recovering from invasive surgery, such as bypass, includes a regimen of coughing.  It helps keep pneumonia at bay, brings up excess lung-butter and exercises the pulmonary system.  The challenge is the suture line – too much pressure and internal organs make unwelcome cameo appearances.  Hospitals routinely use a device known as “Sir Koff-a-lot” to aid patients.  It’s beautiful to see all of the patients in cardiac intensive care – mostly elderly – clinging tightly to their bears.  Mom is quite fond of her bear, and wants him tucked in with her before sleeping – “in case i need to cough”.  If she didn’t look like hell, i’d take a picture.  When she’s feeling better, we’ll need to name him.  My suggestion?  “Loogie”…

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