Legs failing to hold his weight, Vincent was lifted onto a stretcher by a male nurse. He took a few breaths before he lay his head on a small pillow. His body ached. The pain went through his arms and legs like hot skewers thrust in his veins. All day without food. More tests. More procedures.
“I’m exhausted,” Vincent said. His eyelids a weighty burden, tried to close.
“Heavy meds and dialysis. Kicks your ass sometimes. But you will feel better in a bit,” the nurse explained. Oxycodone dripped slowly through an intravenous bag with electrolytes. He entered his vital stats on a mobile pc.
“Where’s Nurse Ratched?
Vincent had a habit of calling people he didn’t know by names of TV and movie characters.
“Forty-something brunette, 5’ 9’, grey eyes, bad attitude….you know…the charge nurse taking care of me the last few hours.” Vincent reached for the cup of ice chips left by his bed. He chewed like it was a meal.
“That may be Monica, gone for the day. She’s one of the nicest nurses here. She will be back tomorrow.”
Vincent tuned out the nurse he thought favored Chaz Bono and focused on his predicament.
‘How could this be,’ he reasoned. Several hours ago he felt fine and was talking to his wife. ‘I was going to file a complaint against those nurses talking about my case outside my room. They said I was in recovery. I heard them. I guess what I told wife is coming true.’
“I’m dying.” He said in a whisper, barely lifting his head off his pillow.
A cool breeze went through Vincent’s hair as Disney characters moved along hallway walls. Dan from transport, a chubby black man with an afro and long sideburns, wheeled him into an elevator. ‘Fat Albert’ Vincent thought. He heard the song Back in Black by AC/DC blasting as a ringtone on Dan’s phone as the lift bounced to their destination. Dan hit the mute button and allowed the call to go to voicemail. The motion of the elevator along with the bumpy ride made Vincent nauseous as he was wheeled into a new patient room.
“Room 3322. This is your spot for the night my friend,” Dan said with a smile.
“Thanks… Dan,” replied Vincent yawning non-interest.
Dan shaped his right hand like he was about to give a hi-five while visually locating the left side of Vincent’s face. Before swinging at the intended target, he took a deep breath and decided to leave the room.
“Asshole,” he said under his breath.
Vincent looked towards the sunlight from a window that provided a view of the Atlantic ocean when the Venetian blinds were left open. In the opposite bed, was a teen boy, black, with wavy hair. Maybe 15 years old, the same age as his daughter. Eyes closed, he too lay immobile like Vincent did the other day. The weight of an illness strapping the teen down without physical restraints. He wondered why he had a kid in his room instead of another adult, then realized it was he who was out of place.
“Hello Vincent,” Dr. Chadman’s greeting came as he entered the room. Not wasting any time Vincent used the last of his strength to ask his doctor questions.
“What the hell is wrong with me? I shouldn’t be so weak. Am I dying? I thought I was getting better. Tell me the truth…please.” Vincent wanted to bring on tears, but he felt all cried out. He waited for the doctor to give him comfort like the children in the hospital. He waited.
“Well Vincent, the good news is the antibiotics are working. We won’t have to amputate any limbs. The bad news is you may have to have dialysis treatments the rest of your life. We put you on the donor list for a liver and kidney. Getting either one of those organs will take a while. My job now is to keep you healthy until the time comes for the transplant. You feel wiped out because of the strong meds for the pain we gave you. By tomorrow, you won’t need such a heavy dose and you will feel better, trust me on this, OK?”
“Why am I in a children’s hospital?” Vincent asked in a foggy state. He hoped the doctor would answer him. Maybe he could threaten to sue the hospital later for something and settle out of court. He had to find a way to turn his sour lemon fate into sweet lemonade.
“You’re here because I am the best doctor to treat sepsis in the state. If you had not transferred here, you would have died Saturday afternoon in Saint Ann’s Emergency,” Dr. Chadman answered the facts, as he saw them. “I can arrange to have you transferred back to Saint Ann’s, but I know your history. You would do much better staying here and going home in a few days if all goes well.”
Dr. Chadman looked at Vincent’s medical history file on the mobile patient pc and checked his vital history for the past few hours. Everything was normal for a man completing his first dialysis treatment.
“I’ll check on you again when I complete my rounds,” he said lightly as the door closed behind him.
After Dr. Chadman left the room, Vincent silently shed tears. He whimpered like a child sent to his room without supper. He saw more Disney characters in this room. Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Snow White, and Seven Dwarfs. Vincent felt eyes other than Disney watching him.
He looked over at the opposite bed and saw the teen staring at him.
“What are you looking at Erkle?” Vincent said to the teen as he reached over and slid his
privacy curtain closed.
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