I had an encore visit to the hospital earlier this week. Having been there two weeks before, it felt like I had never left. Nevertheless, for our purpose here, I don’t want to be trapped into the scenario of being an old man you run into during your travels who proceeds to talk endlessly about all his medical problems. What is important is that I can still pour myself a cup of decaf and put on my own clothes. Of note is the strange social meshing that goes on between you and the person you share your room with. In the collective six days I was in the hospital, I had four roommates.
The first was a wonderful man who suffered some kind of medical moment that left him driving around in his car for hours while he searched for his home. He could not remember where he lived so he drove well into the night and eventually crashed into a guardrail and wound up in the hospital. He and I bonded well via limited conversations of each other’s lives and a mutual respect for privacy and quiet. We would have made great neighbors.
My last roommate was equally compatible. He body was being probed for the cause of his heart attack-like symptoms. Since neither of us were in any pain, we, along with the nurse, had a good bonding time watching the Heat basketball team win the final game of its playoff series. We both arrived at the hospital at about the same time, had similar tests performed, ate the same “cardiac menu” meals and left within hours of each other; he with a few prescriptions, me with a little hole that had been poked in a very personal location so they could feed a camera up through my vascular system and look for any boulders blocking the highway. Our comings and goings represented a brief encounter of camaraderie and friendship…likewise, we would make great neighbors.
The other two roommates I had were completely the opposite. One arrived late at night, was in pain from some kind of blockage in his digestive tract and because of the hour, there was an attempt to simply stabilize him until morning when he would received more attention. His wife, rightfully so, did not want to wait until morning. She feared for his life and sympathized for the pain her husband was in. At around 2 o’clock in the morning she made enough noise that it caused the hospital to call out the cavalry. The next several hours saw portable x-ray machines and other diagnostic equipment being brought in and out of the room along with a parade of doctors who had been aroused in the middle of the night. I remained on the other side of the curtain, totally ignored and totally awake with all this commotion only a few feet from my bedside. This patient was rolled out of the room early the next morning and taken who-knows-where with nary a word exchanged between us. I was happy to see him and his entourage go and, luckily for me, no one else showed up the rest of the day so I was able to catch up on the night’s sleep I had lost.
The fourth roommate arrived in the afternoon as I anxiously awaited permission to leave the property and go home. He and I had about two hours together…the longest two hours imaginable. He was a wannabe left-over standup comedian ala Grossinger’s resort in the Catskills, circa 1955…or at least he thought he was. He never stopped talking. Everything out of his mouth was an attempt at Jewish humor, most of which fell flat on the hospital personnel whose origins were mostly Caribbean, but that didn’t stop him. This gentleman was harmless actually, except very annoying because he would not shut up. It took forever, it seemed, before I got my official release and left. So, where does all this bring me? It brings me to a point of recalling the infamous line from the movie, Forest Gump: “Life—or in this case, a hospital roommate—is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.” If you are sick and in the hospital, the selection is more critical. Better you should get a butter cream than a gooey caramel
Books by Marc Kuhn: THE POPE’S STONE, an historical novel that follows two descendants of a Virginia family who, despite living a century apart, share uncanny similarities in their lives; NEVER GOOSE A MOOSE, a collection of whimsical verse featuring thought-provoking “never-do’s” that children should beware of; and ABOUT A FARM, a children’s book about challenges we all face every day, regardless of where we live. All three books are available at amazon.com and each has its own .com website under its title.
Intimate details about Marc Kuhn and other exhilarating stuff at marckuhn.com
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