Feeling a Little Green?

Nov. Thurs. the 5th.  It was one of those mornings when I randomly put on matching underwear.  As I’m pulling out the purple set, I think, What was that movie?  Where a girlfriend told her friend, “Good thing you wore matching underwear today,” as she sat in the hospital bed after an automobile accident.

Fwd>> 9:00 p.m. Marek and I went grocery shopping.  We tried Kaufman’s, a new store they put in in Žižkov, where one can actually park their car without paying for it.  Kaufland’s as it turns out is a store where one can not only get groceries, but other products as well.  Sort of a mini-Super Walmart.  While shopping, I experience this voracious growing thirst.  I no longer take notice of the individual products they have logistically places throughout…I’m purely focused upon the cashier checkout line.  My throat is sandpaper and I need to quench it.  We finally get to the final lap of liquor lined isles with smidgens of non-alcoholic mixers.  I reach out for some green ice tea and throw the bottle into our cart.  Oh, I can’t wait to throw this one down, I think.  The minutes at the checkout counter turn into decades as the cashier woman is way too shocked about the existence of pre-packaged Chinese flavored vegetables.  I push through past the cart to slip out of the conversation, and to speed up the bagging process which Marek has started.  We are down to the final few groceries, As the cashier announces our final bill.  I throw the lettuce into the last bag, and push the cart out to the way to give me ruffle space.  I crazily start hunting through the backpacks and bags lined with products.  Where is that damn iced tea!  I’m dying here!

Where did Marek put the iced tea? If I had my hands on the iced tea, I would have packed it where we always do, in the backpack! I thought. In despair I looked up at Marek.  He was waiting patiently as the cashier woman confusedly started at the debit card reader.  I started to scramble through the bags once again.  Finally, I notice a bottle outline through the bag which is in direct center of the cart.  The pressure of all the other heavy products seemed to be caving in on this one, thus making it more difficult to push back the items hugging the iced tea.  I pulled out the red capped iced tea, twisted off the cap and took an immensely relieved gulp.

GULP. Gulp.  What?  What is going on!?  What the hell is this?  They forgot to flavor the tea? With a full unswallowed gulp still sitting in my mouth I brain cry, Oh, SHIT! Oh God…oh God…oh God.  It’s the Lamp Oil!  What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?  Do I pretend that it’s the ice tea.  What the hell are you still doing? I opened my mouth and with kerosene induced vapors, I spewed it all over me and the floor in front of me.  I stood there in bent over shock.  In horror I stared down at the millions of droplets and puddles that I produced.  My body started to sweat with pure embarrassment and with eyes still glued on the floor I silently pray that nobody saw me.  I slowly looked back up, accessing Marek from feet, up.  He was punching in his debit card code.

Meekly I whispered, “Marek.”

He didn’t hear me and proceeded to stare at the debit card reader which was taking agonizing minutes to process his card.

“Marek!” I stammered, “I’ve got a problem.”

In worried disdain he turned his head and came towards me with a handful of paper towels the cashier gave him.

“What’s going on baby?” he genuinely asked as he wiped the green slime from my face.

Oh shit the cashier lady saw me.

“Um, well I accidentally drank this!”  I pushed the Lamp Oil bottle into him.  He backed away from the slimed bottle and calmly said, “Read the back and what does it say?”

Blah-blah-blah.  SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY!  Right there in plain English!  Oh God.

“What are we going to do?” I asked as we sat into the car.

“Well, we are going to the hospital, baby.”

“Don’t you think that we could just call a doctor?  After all it just says to seek advice and not visit.”

“There is no doctor working this late (9:45 p.m.). Plus by the time you find one, if you do, they’ll just send you to the hospital anyway”.

“Doesn’t Mediconet (our healthcare provider via Marek’s office) have a 24 hour line?”

“No.”

In vain attempt to not visit a hospital I shuffled through my brain Rolodex. “Well, maybe the general doctor I saw once at Karlovo namesti?  I think they are called Medical 24 or Online 24.  Doesn’t the 24 mean 24 hours? I have their business card on the fridge.  Or maybe in the desk.”

I noticed that we were no longer in our neighborhood.  “Baby, we need to go the to hospital.  How do you feel?”

“I feel that a green Pine scented demon has taken over my lungs and if he lights up a cigarette I’m going to explode!”

We pull up to Vinohrady Hospital, with the entrance gated.  Strange, what do they do in emergencies?

A small man emerges from his shack and asks us where we need to go.

“Emergency,” states Marek.

“What kind of emergency?” he asks.

Isn’t that a question the doctor should be asking?

“Just a general emergency doctor,” retorts Marek.

He starts writing down the license plate number, but runs into the shack for second.  “I love how your car is more important then me,” I say. “What the hell, did his pen stop working?”

He opens the gate and dark maze of buildings unfolds before us.  With car still idling, Marek asks the parking attendant, “So where do we go?”

“Where do you want to go?”

Sighing patiently Marek says, “My girlfriend accidentally ingested some chemicals.”  The parking attendant moves his eyes onto me.  Yes, sir-ree…I’m that dumbass. I think.

“I guess internal then?” said the parking attendant. “Go to the right and follow the road down to the second building on the left.”

****

We are greeted by a friendly smiling nurse, who asks us what the problem is.  We explain and give her the bottle of Lamp Oil, pointing to the Czech medical warning.

“Did you throw up?” she asks.

“No.”

“How do you feel?”

Like a gas tank. “My lungs feel funny, the bad air is stuck there and uuhhhh, my heart hurts.” I say in my simple Czech medical vocabulary.

She couldn’t get around the thought about how this actually happened. As I’m explaining again one more a fellow nurses head pokes around the door to have a look.  The doctor,too shortly followed.  Great, I now have an audience.

The doctor takes the bottle and peers over her glasses to read the bottle’s fine print.  “I can’t read this!  Here nurse, read this for me.” the doctor commands as she returns it to Nurse #1.  Nurse #2 exchanges an empathetic glance with Nurse #1 and disappears.

Should she be practicing medicine with vision like that? I wonder.

The doctor starts fretting, “Wait read that back to me again!  What was that chemical?  No not that one the other one…no wait what was the first one?  Start to read again! Slowly!”

Nurse #1′s eyes widen with masked infuriation as she continues reading.

“Nurse (#2)? Nurse (#2)!” harps the doctor.  Nurse #2 sluggishly reappears around the corner again.  “Call internal medicine at (someplace) and find out where Miss Kohout will have to go!”

Well, right here no?  Maybe she can’t see me.  Maybe I’ve turned into Slimer from Ghostbusters.

Marek starts to ask why.

“Unfortunately, we can’t admit Miss Kohout to our hospital because she’s a resident of Zizkov.  And it looks like she’ll probably have to stay the night under close observation and it’s better for paperwork to have that happen in your area of residency. ” the doctor says as she’s writing my diagnosis.

I’m glad I didn’t come with a dismembered limb.

I start coughing up pine induced poison.  “Well, we have to hurry then, since we have to got to yet another hospital.”  I quietly tell Marek.

Hawk-ears doctor says, “Don’t rush, it takes anywhere from 4-8 hours before symptoms arise.”

Great my death toll will ring at 1:45 a.m.

***

Welcome to Zizkov Hospital, good luck getting in.

Welcome to Zizkov Hospital, good luck getting in.

On the way to Zizkov Hospital I learn that they preventively can’t do too much for me until actual symptoms arise.  We get to the Zizkov Hospital in a short 5 minutes.  We get to the front iron-wood clad locked door.  Marek says, “Let’s find another entrance!”

“There has to be a door bell here somewhere, we are in the Czech Republic after all!  Everything has a door bell!” I anxiously say.

“Well I don’t see one here.” says Marek. I point to the European light switch with an hour glass-like logo on it.

“That’s probably it,” I say squeezing it.

A buzzer goes off, which allows us entrance into the building.  Standing in the foyer an old man dressed in a sweatsuit stumbles out from his smoky guard shack room.  “Where are you off to?” he asks.

“Emergency.  It’s still the only thing open at this hour isn’t?” says Marek.

He points us the way.  The waiting room doesn’t even have the lights turned on.  We flip on the switch to figure out which of the three doors may be ours.  We hear voices in one and decide to knock.  The door within a few seconds becomes widely ajar.  A brimming young lady opens the door, that’s odd for this hour or really any hour, I think.

We explain to her why we are here and that we’ve been sent here with a diagnostic note from the Vinohrady Hospital.  She steps out of the way to welcome us further.

“Please have a seat on the examination table,” smiley nurse says.  We continue with the same spiel as before.  Actually, again repeating my story now for the 4th time (2x per person)  I guess it’s pretty unheard of that a 31-year old would drink Lamp Oil.  I start coughing pine scented bursts.  The flavor in my mouth tastes like I’ve had a few shots of toxic Absinthe chased down by a Blue Spruce.  I really could use a real drink, I think.

“Please take off your shirt, we are going to do an EKG.” says Bertha (my nickname for hearty Nurse #2). I do as instructed.  I go to lie down on the bed, when Bertha demands, “Everything must be off from your waist up!”  So much much for wearing matching underwear today. My eyes nervously jet upon Marek who is sitting on my right holding my coat, purse and bottle of poison.  His eyes nod with approval.  Ok, Suzy, it’s all okay…he’s already seen you naked. I calm myself down.

Bertha connects me with a mirage of mini suction cups which measure random heart beat points.   Meanwhile, smiley nurse is on the phone with a doctor confirming the next steps to my treatment.POP! – POP! – POP! go the suction cups.  I’m told the EKG looks good.

Smiley nurse says, “Main Doctor (So-and-So) and I are admitting you into the hospital for an overnight observation, shall any adverse side effects arise.”

“Wait really….hrrmmm (cough-cough)?” I say.

“It’s really best this way.  You’ll stay in the intensive unit, where the nurses will watch over you and you’ll have a buzzer in case anything would go wrong in the night.  In the morning we’ll run a couple more tests, which is a simple check of your throat and a lung X-ray just to make sure you don’t have an infection.”

Oh great, I think, I’m on a great roll with the Gallery this week.  Besides breaking a vase, showing up late for a meeting and now not showing up at all, I’m golden. “Marek, can you please call the gallery (owner) and explain the situation so I don’t sound like a complete dumbass?”  I ask.  Marek leaves the room.  Bertha comes over and asks me to take off my pants and shoes.  My eyes widen with fear, which is stopped short by her handing me over a white hospital gown.  I quickly wrap myself in it, but am stopped short of the 3-inch gap running down my back.  I guess it’s not one size that fits all. Nice nurse comes over and measures my blood pressure and listens to my heart beat.

Next thing I know there is a wheelchair waiting for me, all complete with a seat diaper.  I really hope they are not anticipating something I don’t know.  It’s not 1:45 a.m. yet!

Nice nurse wheels me out of the room backwards.  Two elderly ladies are curiously staring at me and filling the room with their whispering.  YES, I’m 31 and I drink lamp oil! I mind shout.

Marek joins us as we take the elevator up to the 3rd floor.  I’m faced with a door that says, JIP (jednotka intenzivní péče) – návštěvní hodiny: denně 10-18 hod., max. 15 min. They weren’t kidding, they are really taking me to the intensive unit!  Visitor’s only 15 minutes!  What is this crap?

“Say your goodbyes.” smiley nurse says to us.We buzz for permission to enter the intensive care unit.  As soon as we enter, I’m shocked by the faint haze polluting the room, there is no “hospital smell”, but instead it’s hidden behind the nurse’s smoke.  Oh, God.  I’m now really going to explode. I think as I double check to see that this is the intensive care unit.

I’m wheeled down this hallow open corridor with patient rooms on my right and an open community room on my left.  We pull up to the only open door, the nurse’s station.

What's behind door number 1?

What's behind door number 1?

“I’ve brought you your patient, Miss Kohout,” says smiley nurse (smiling of course)  “The one that I called you about a few minutes ago.”

I peer into the room.  The wall to wall desk is chocking with papers, motion delayed monitors peering into patients room, ashtrays cascading with cigarettes and soot and boxes filled with clear IV glass bottles. “And what?” touts off Ms. Hyde (another lovely nickname which bounced into my head immediately).  “So just take her next door to #4! The door is slightly open.  Just put her there and I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Again, here is your patient,” she says smilingly. “As head nurse I’m sure you are aware of what to do.”  She looks down at me and says, “I hope you feel better.”

I think I’m really going to use that seat diaper now!  Please don’t leave me here with the dragon slayer! “Na shledanou (good bye).” I say meekly to the back of her white sneakers as she’s heading towards the door.  (I find out later that she’s a doctor.)

Ms. Hyde lunges out of her dungeon and grabs onto my wheelchair. “You’re right here already (the room is next door),” she grunts “Room #4.”

Welcome to my bed

Welcome to my bed

She rolls me to my bed and in the process we awaken my roommate, who’s radio is humming in the background.  She beadily stares at me.  I draw back the sheets and get ready to climb into bed.  Ms. Hyde mumbles off something, something I interpret that she’ll be back shortly.  I lay in bed with my belly aching. I start connect the objects visually in my room.  I look above me what looks like a electronic 1960′s communication board, that’ll probably save my life should something happen, I think.  I look on the wall and wonder where my promised safety buzzer is.  I look to my immediate left and find my bed stand rusting away on it’s wheels.   On the top they’ve left me a cardboard bowl with an empty glass cup and a reused glass IV bottle filled with tea. Below this are two pull out metallic shelves that housed some hairs and the powder of broken pills.  Under the shelf I pull out the brown pull out bowl, for vomit, I think.  Finally, at the bottom is a swinging mint green door.  I look past my head table and notice that my dear neighbor has had her eyes locked on me ever since I rolled into the room.  What the hell is her problem? Ms. Hyde scuffles in and switches on the light.  She finally plugs in my doorbell buzzer, and slides a piece of paper into a plastic paper protector. I study the letters of my name and try to crack the symbol code under my name, P-B and 3D.  I jolt my eyes for a quick neighbor check and sure enough, she’s still freakin’ staring at me?!

“I was hoping I wouldn’t wake you up, but it looks like I did,” I say, equally matching her stare.

She snaps out of her trance, “I can’t sleep here anyway.  There are too many distractions.”

“I’d be one of them, no?”

“No it’s fine.  I’ve been here for 3 weeks and it’s much better that I have somebody young in here.  I was in a different room and my roommate died.  Then I had a couple of other old ladies who just lay there mute.  One time I had one who didn’t know when to stop talking.  Then I didn’t have anybody for almost a week, which drove me crazy and I’m happy that you’re here.”

Well I’m not. “Sorry to hear all your troubles,” I try to sound sympathetic.

“Do you mind that I play the radio?” she asks.

“Well not now, I can’t really sleep at the moment.”

“Oh, good.  I can’t sleep without a radio or background music.  I need to hear it all the time, otherwise I’d go crazy.”

“I see.” I say not believing her.

“What’d ya’ do?”

“Pardon?” I say.

“Why are you in here?  she asks, “You don’t understand me?”

“Well, first off all, I’m American,” I retort “I’m trying to understand all this doctor talk and it’s more difficult when I’m tired.  I drank lamp oil.  By accident!”

I had to explain further as her face turned into a quizzical mess.  “What about you?” I ask.

“I have bad asthma and I had an infection in my lungs,” she said matter of factly. “I’m a smoker too.  You know I thought about quitting, but I read in a magazine that it’s no good if I stop smoking now.  I’ve been smoking for my whole life and if I would stop now, it would still take 10 years before all the chemicals would completely leave my body.  Really what’s the point anymore?  I’m old already and in 10 years it simply won’t matter anymore.”

“Hmmm”, I refrain from opinion.

“Why do you speak Czech when you are American?” she asks.

“My parents immigrated in ’74 and I came back to study the language more,” I say. “I’m sorry I’ve got to use the bathroom.  I’ll be right back.”

I scurry out in a drafty mess.  I slide my feet along the cold linoleum floor to the bathroom.  Inside the restroom are 3 sinks and 2 toilets.  One marked for women and the other for men.  I rush into the womans, sit and get out my cell phone that I managed to hide.  I fire off a short message to Marek, HI BABY only to have realized that there is no toilet paper.  I look to my right, no toilet paper dispenser.  I look to my left, no toilet paper dispenser.   This is no good! Of all things I had to go #2.  I even crack open the door to see if I didn’t miss a unisex toilet roll dispenser, no.

A short while later a voice squawks from the main bathroom door, “Is everything okay in there?!”

“Yeah, but…ahhhhaaa,” I hesitant only to realize that she’s already gone. I say in English,”There’s no freakin’ TP in here!  How hygienic is that?  But who the hell cares, because no-freakin’ body cares.”

Sould I go Arabic and wipe with my left hand, I think.  No. I stand and as I’m about to flush, I notice a clean-looking paper towel hugging the windowsill.  Oh, there is a God! I go to wash my hands, no soap and cold water.  However, there is a community towel to dry ones hands!

I shuffle back into the room only to have found a roll of TP (toilet paper) hanging on the coat rack.  Pointing to it I say, “That would have been useful about 2 minutes ago.”

“Oh, that’s mine,” says my roommate. “You have bring in your own toilet paper.”

Oh silly me.   She grabs the roll on her way out of the room.  Upon returning she hands me a stash of paper towels.

“Shh.  Don’t say anything to anybody,” she whispers. “I grabbed them from the nurse’s station.”

This woman is a saint. “Thank you so much,” I say. “By the way I’m Suzy Kohout.”

“I’m Ivana Machova,” she says “However, I hate my name.  Just call me Iva or Ivča.”

We engaged in further conversation. I find out that she’s only 62. I would have taken her for 10-20 years older when I took into consideration that my parent’s are about the same age but they are so energetic, lively upbeat and happy.  She also lives a few streets from me, in our gray Žizkov neighborhood.  At about 2:15 a.m. the door becomes widely abrupt and the nurse pops in, “Go to sleep!” she commands.  Pointing at me she continues, “This one really needs to sleep.”  I look over at the clock radio and notice the time.  Oh God, I’m in my danger window now.  Now I really can’t sleep!

“Could you please turn down the radio?” I ask, feeling bad to have her turn it off when she found a TP substitute for me.

>>5:30 a.m.  Blaring head beam lights turn on. “Dobré rano!” Yells a nurse, as she’s yet flipping on another set of blinding lights.  “I need to collect….” she says, as her voice drains off.  Collect what?, I think.

Iva knows the drill and already has her sleeve pulled back on her arm.  The nurse plunges a needle into her vein cowering behind a wall of black and blue bruises.  Oh I get it now, well better her then  me.

Depeche Mode’s new song is draining off in the background, I was in the wrong place At the wrong time, For the wrong reason, And the wrong rhyme, On the wrong day, Of the wrong week….

“Pull up your sleeve!” the nurse squawks.  In a hazy glare I rub my eyes to get the fog out.  Resting my arms by my side, she starts to tug at my sleeve, within seconds the needle is in me.  In a foggy state I somehow noticed she’s not wearing latex gloves.  Oh Depeche Mode, you think you are so funny! I think.

In a sleepless jet lag hangover I try to rest with my eyes shut.  At about 7:30 a.m. I text Marek (waking him up…whoops), BARKLEY WANTS TO GO OUT & SO DO I :-) CANT WAIT TO C U BABE

IS EVERYTHING OK WITH YOU BABY? I’LL STOP THERE ON MY WAY TO WORK, IF YOU’RE STILL THERE.  GIVE ME A CALL, IF YOU NEEDED ME TO PICK YOU UP EARLIER. M

8 a.m. – The nurse squad enters the room with clean linens fluttering us out of bed.  Just when I started to sleep again.  “Do you want new angle wings?” one nurse asks me.

I’m stuck in a mumble…”Uhhh…mmm…eeee.”

“Yes, she does,” says Iva saving the day.

“OK” I say, afraid of what I just agreed to.

The nurse holds out before me a full floor to head Cesar wrap around toga style hospital gown.  I nod in drafty anticipation.   She’s holding it up as if she’s about to put a coat onto me.  I hesitate.  The door is wide open, plus the knot on my current gown is stuck.  She unknots it for me as I back into the gown.  “Turn around,” she says looking on the ground.  Really at this point I’m not surprised that I’m not just walking around naked, I should be used to it by now!

10 something a.m. The radio starts to hummm, I’m hoping it’s you, I’ve been waiting for…Suddenly, I hear Marek’s voice trailing off in the background.  I stir in excitement.  However, he’s not coming.  I wonder what happened to him.  I look up and I see a doctor entering the room with his green smock and clunky donkey heeled shoes.  It’s Marek!  I’m am tickled “pine green” when I see him!

“What the hell are you wearing?” I ask (in English) brimming a toothy smile.

“It’s the intensive unit and you have to wear this stuff,” he says. “It’s protecting you from the outside.”

“And the smoke,” I say.  “Can you please find out when I can get the hell outta here?” I slip into the bathroom with sleeve lined paper towels as he asks.

Meeting back in my room Marek says, “Well, at about 11 a.m. they will need to look into your throat and then they will X-ray your lungs to see if you have an infection or not. Hopefully, after that they will release you.”

Unfortunately, Marek can only stay 15 minutes. Damn intensive unit visiting hours.

11:30 a.m. my roommate gets lunch.  They tell me that I’ll get lunch after they look at my throat.  “Okay,” I say.

At about 2 p.m. the wheelchair driver picks me up and whips me away.  In the elevator I hungrily ask, “So where are we going?”

“Gastronomy.”

Hmmmm, I wonder.

I’m parked in the hallway as they package up the previous moaning patient.  They reverse him through the door.  A ghastly skinny sad old man, wearing  nothing but loose robe and a urine stained diaper appears.  I’m disturbingly awake now, I think.

They pull me into the room and ask me to sit on the examination table.  We do the why did you drink lamp oil again drill (2x for old time sakes).

“I feel pretty fine for the most part,” I say.  “I just have this really bad taste in my mouth.”

The nurse comes up to me with a spray bottle and says,”This will help get the bad flavour out of your mouth.”

I open wide, anticipating that any different flavour would be a welcomed change.  After two squirts I start to smack my tongue.  “It’s not the best flavour in the world,” the nurse says.  No shit, I think, what’s even weirder is that I can’t feel my throat.

“My throat is feeling strange,” I say.

“That’s normal,” the nurse says. “It’s just so that we can look in your throat.”

I think, I’ve had this once before, but when was that?  What was that?  Perhaps at the dentist one time when I had to say, ahhhh for like an hour.

There’s a foam square pillow joining me on the examination table.  Behind me is a television monitor and a long snake like hose.  Which hole that that going to go into?

“So what’s going on here?” I ask.

“The examination will be one that you’ll never forget,” pipes in the doctor. “It’ll be fine and easy and then you’ll be able to eat again.”

He sticks a wooden stick down my throat.  “All looks good,” he says.  “Please lay down so we can get another view.”

Confused, I lay down landing my head on the square plastic pillow.  Now a stack of paper towels joins us on the bed.  Where were you guys like 10 hours ago? I think.

“Open your mouth,” instructs the doctor.  I’m expecting the wooden stick again but instead, he places a plastic ring into my mouth.  “Hold it with your teeth.” he instructs.

What the hell is going on? The nurse swoops out from around the table cradling some hidden tool.  Without a flinch the doctor rams it into my mouth.  It fiercely rakes the back of my mouth.  I start to gag.  I can’t control my breathing.  The tube goes in a little further.  My whole body ratchets.  Tears are rolling down my face.  The tube is somewhere behind my lungs.  My lungs heave, begging for oxygen.  The tube is down at the top of my belly.  My heart is suffocating!   My whole body continues to involuntary ratchet and shake.  “Just breathe through your nose.” the nurse says, coaxing me by placing her hand on my ankle, in an attempt to prevent me from further kicking them further.

What the FU&K!  I’m dying.  Retreat!  Retreat!  What is the retreat sign?! There’s always a retreat sign when in pain.  What is it? I scream in my head.

I go into mental overload and start to hyperventilate, my whole body is 5.1 on the Richter scale.  The nurse wipes away my stinging water logged eyes with the paper towels. ”Calm down,” she says.  “You need to breathe through your nose.”

I think of Barkley.  I start to read the English labeled cabinet doors.  The bed rattles with my bodies last few bouts of oxygen searching energy.  I think of Barkley.  I mentally kiss him on his moley head.  I start to feel the alien child poking at my intestines and stomach.  I flip Barkley’s ears. I start to relax and find that I’m able to breathe somewhat normally and am even able to swallow with restriction.  After about 5 minutes the tube starts to ease out.  BBBBRRRRAAAP!  I involuntary burp.  How embarrassing…yeah don’t care.! When it’s at my throat I start to gag again and some vile comes up and lands right on the tear drying paper towels.

“Jesus Christ. You werent’ lying doctor.” I said sitting up.

“Well it wasn’t so bad, was it?” he piped back.

“I’m not so sure about that.” I was at a loss of words.  I was paralyzed at what just occurred.  I could only think of home, lying in bed with Marek and Barkley panting bursts of stink.  I kept thinking, why didn’t they just tell me what was going to happen?  In this US, this would have never happened!

Comatose I sit in my wheelchair, as I wait for the wheelchair driver to pick me up.  He never shows and a nurse from my ward shows up instead.  She wheels me out impatiently.

“So pretty busy huh?” I try to push past the terror.

She nods as she jitterly pushes the elevator button. I’m sure the elevator will come faster now. I look up and notice it’s the service elevator.

“What’s wrong with the other elevator?” I ask.

“It’s not working.” she says.

“I see.”

Five agonizing minutes later the service elevator arrives, but stopping between floors.  I’d hate to be here in a real emergency.

“Come back up as soon as you drop off the laundry,” my nurse yells down the shaft.  Instead the woman inside the elevator manipulates the elevator panel and manages to return back to our level.  The doors fully open again.  A laundry cart blankets the elevator, not allowing the wheelchair in.

“I’ll just stand,” I say.

“Ummmm…no”, exasperates the nurse.  I stand.

“Well, just be careful!” she wraps her arm around my waist, foot pushing the wheelchair back into the hallway and smacks button 3.

I’m back in my room, anxiously waiting for my lunch!  Within two minutes I’m whisked away again, but this time to the X-ray room.

“Okay, so please tell me exactly what we are going to do here.” I gang up on the technician.

“Well stand here,” says the technician, pointing to a ghastly gigantic white X-ray machine. ”Forehead facing this wall.  Arms pressed up against the screen.  And DON’T move.”

She disappears.  A latent shock chill leaves my body.  “DON”T MOVE!” she yells from her radiation free room.

“Ok.” I mumble.

She signs and flips the switch.

2:30 p.m. I’m back in my room with a steamy lunch waiting for me.  It even appears to be a dessert!  I must have died and gone to heaven. The sugar coated peaches smothered in molten white bread further awaken my senses.  I’m given endless IV glasses filled tea.  I’m parched. I’ll drink anything at this point, I think. Oh, wait that what’s gotten me in this mess in the first place!

2:50 p.m. the intensive care doctor comes in. “Ms, Kohout,” she says “Would you like to stay another night?”

“Why?” stunned I ask, “Are the results bad?”

“No, they are all good,” she says. “I just am jam full filling out release reports for patients and I won’t get to yours today.”

“Well, I’m healthy,” I bark. “So that means that I should be at home.  I’ll pick up the paper later.”

Surprisingly, my clothes arrive shortly afterwards.  As I head out my door I sling my purse over my shoulder.  The secret paper towel stash fans out.  The community room is flurried with nurses and dancing eyes.  I go to shove the paper towels back in, but noticed a couple of eyes on me.  I shrug my shoulders and in my best (English) mafia voice, “Whaddya gonna do ’bout it?” And walk out.

***

The following Wednesday I return to pick up my paperwork.  I was told by the doctor that I could pick up my paperwork any time during the day on Wednesday, as all the reports will be finished by Monday.  In hesitation I enter the intensive care unit again.

“Good afternoon,” I say into the nurses station.  “I”m Miss Kohout and I was here last week and I’m supposed to pick up from the doctor my release paperwork.”

One out of the four nurses looks up from the paper landmine piles and says, “Well, the doctor isn’t here. She works from 8 til 3.”

“Well, she said that she would leave it here and that a nurse could pass it on to me.” I say.

“She wouldn’t do that,” the agitated nurse complains.  “Those are patient files.  She just wouldn’t leave them laying around when she’s not here.”

“I’m just telling you what she said,” I continue. “That she normally leaves the discharge paperwork for patients to pick up later.”

Without budging she says, “I already told you that it’s not here.”

“Do you have a phone number that I could call the doctor?”

“We can’t give you her direct phone number.” she says.

“Okay, well how about any phone number that would reach any doctor?”

She scribbles down a phone number and name of the doctor on a prescription slip and hands it over to me.  I stash it in my purse between the papertowels.

***

An entire week goes by, when on a Wednesday, my day off from the gallery, I finally realize that I’ve never called the hospital.  I ask Marek to drop me off there on his way to work.  Standing before the locked mansion again, I’m blankly staring at signs, WARNING, NO VISITORS DUE TO SWINE FLU PATIENTS HERE.  I push on the door and it sways freely open.  I look to my right, no guard shack security jogging suit guy.  I shrub my shoulders and walk up the stairs to the intensive care unit.

“Good morning,” I say standing in entrance way of the nurses’ hive. “I”m Suzy Kohout and I was here about a week or so ago.”

“Yes, I vaguely remember you,” touts off impatient elevator nurse. “Although, it’s been more like 2 weeks now.”

“I spoke with the doctor and she says that my paperwork is ready,” I lied.

“Okay,” she says walking past me into the community room.  She opens up one of the 30-some unmarked shelves and pulls out my file.  Inside she immediately locates my release paperwork.

“Can I please see some ID?” she asks clenching my paperwork.

I pull out my wallet and my citizen ID card.  She studies it and hands them both over.

“Thank you and good day!” I say.

Silence.

Getting to the main landing of the building I find the door now wide open.  The guard shack attending, now wearing a security man’s jacket is puffing away on his cigarette break.  “Na shledanou (good bye),” he greets me.

“Na shledanou,” I repeat smilingly.

Finally I drank the right one of the two.

Finally I drank the right one of the two.

2 Responses to “Feeling a Little Green?”

  1. Yarka Says:

    Suzy,
    even though I wish this accident would not happen to you I was quite entertained reading about it. You have a talent for writing, girl! So, I just have to repeat my question: “When are you going to publish your first book?”

  2. Allison Meck Says:

    Whoa…..now that’s a story!!! Looking at the pics of the bottles, I can certainly see how you grabbed the wrong one:( But the important thing is you survived! And this story should definitely be published somewhere…..a true literary classic!

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