Sunday, September 16, 2012

chapter 17 Mucus Membranes


Three months in life has settled into the dull routine of never ending eternal boredom.  Honestly I was having more fun when people were trying to kill me.
I have gone through two more roommates in rather quick order.
First Lila.  She is 50ish Asian woman, fat, overly dressed for the occasion and make up applied with a kabuki actors attention to exaggerated detail.
Lila is attending a dinner party where great matters of art are being discussed.  She talks on and on in Mandarin her hands giving dramatic flourishes to her every pronouncement.
The party never ends.
2am the second night.
“Lila, if you and your dinner guests wish to continue discussing the finer points of Chinese opera could you all go out to the day room to do it?  I need some sleep.”
She gave me that look.
The help should know their place and not interrupt
And the party went on with increased volume.
So I began to sing.
“ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall ninety nine bottles of beer.”
She was not amused.
Next roommate was Agnes.  Agnes was a zombie.  She was all over one color from hair to toe nails, a ghastly yellow brown, like a cigarette butt left in a mud puddle.  She had suffered a stroke at some point in her life and so was left with little in the way of movement or expression in her face.  She smoked.  And that was all she did.  She would lift a cigarette to her drooping gray mouth, light it, and suck it down.  She never took it out of her mouth till it was completely ash.  She never said a word except for a mumbled “Have you got a cigarette?”
Rooming with a zombie other than being kinda creepy would at least be quiet so I felt pretty good about it.  Until nightfall.  It’s true, zombies really do come alive at night.
Her bed was trying to kill her, and she fought back with a fierce energy I had no idea she possessed.  She beat her pillow, wrestled with her blankets and sheets.  She rose from the bed and began tearing it apart.  Off with the blankets and sheets and pillow, tossed to the floor.  Then the mattress likewise thrown to the floor.  
She wrestled with the mattress for a bit, beating it into submission.  Then she carefully remade her bed.  My grandmother would have been pleased; she used hospital corners when she tucked in her sheets.
She lay down.  But the bed was only fooling it’s submission.  The battle once more commenced.
And repeat
And repeat
And repeat
“Hey you want a cigarette?”
I knew that would get her attention.  Her yellow brown eyes swung to me alight with greedy fire.  I hold the cigarette up, swinging it back and forth, her eyes following the cigarette.  Gave me the shivers the woman was just creepy.
“I need some sleep and your making that impossible sooo. Here’s the deal.  I give you a cigarette and you go out and smoke it and no more bed making.  If you let me sleep I will give you a cigarette every night.  No sleep, no cigarettes.
She shuffled over and grabbed the cigarette and left for the smoking patio.  She came back and..
Well, I hadn’t really believed that the bribe would work.
There were two patients on the floor who had their own rooms.  I eyed them enviously.
The next day I stopped Burt on his rounds.
“Hey Burt, I know space is limited and you are not set up for privet suites but Patricia and Lula have their own rooms.  So I was just wondering, what do I have to do to qualify for some sleep?
“Yes,mmm, well. We don’t really have privet rooms. It’s just that, Patrica and Lula, well, they have been known to bite people.
Patrica and Anna.  Patrica was a tiny little woman in her later middle years.  Every inch of her a lady, (Every inch she was like 4’9’’, I swear I have never felt so tall before at 5 6’, A height that is usually neither tall nor short. Around here I am the giant in munchkin land)  Patrica when she was patrica was the sweetest little thing ever.  But watch out when she starts giggling,  Evil Pat comes out in the giggles.  Evil Pat is a foul mouthed demon tempered little dwarf.  
Lula is a former crack ho’ dying of AID’s.  She is an African American woman shrunk down to a diaper clad toothpick in a wheelchair.
Evil Pat and Lula hate eachother.  Course Lula do love to fight.  Lula would know before anyone else when Patrica was about to flip to evil Pat and she would wheel herself over toward Patrica.  Circling around in her orbit till Evil Pat made her appearance and battle would commence.  
Evil Pat screaming the foulest racial insults, hands clenched into tiny little fists at her sides lipstick colored spittle foaming at her mouth, and Lula in her wheelchair screaming racial insults of her own brandishing her empty water bottle and threatening to bob Evil Pat over the head with it.  I found it most entertaining.
“Soo..”  I smile toothily at Burt.  “All I have to do to get my own room is bite someone?  Do I have to bite a patient or can it be one of the staff?  I mean biting the mentally ill just seems wrong but there are a couple of staff members I wouldn’t mind sharpening my teeth for.”
Burt looked decidedly uncomfortable.
They decided to try me with one more roommate.  MaryAnn, from a west Virginia trailer park, has impulse control, and anger management issues.  First night she would insist on playing Jerry Fallwell on her little tv all night.  I resonded by playing my cd of Alster Crawlies greatest hits.  Having established each other’s limits we settled in and got along.  She had a sense of humor anyway.
  I have been in the hospital for about three months when I get a very bad cold.  I have held out for two days not wanting to break down and ask the merry pill pushers for cold medication but there is a limit of misery I’m willing to put up with.
I dragged my weary self to the desk of the night nurse.
“Could I have a Sudafed please?”
“Su-da-fed?”
Odd, risperidone, quetiapine, colozapine, adivan, all roll of hher tounge easy enough but su-da-fed, like some strange language being tasted for the first time.
“Yes a Sudafed or a benadril, nyquill would be great but I don’t want to be greedy.  What ever you have will be fine, thank you.”
He frowns at me.  “Why do you want a Sudafed?”
(Why?  Well I heard ity is a hallucinogen if inserted anally and I want to test it out)  (no be nice, be nice, be nice.  She just wants to make sure I don’t intend on using the Sudafed anally),
“I have a very bad cold and I want to get some sleep with out drowning.”  It’s one of those breathing is a serious issue, kind of colds. Ewww.
She frowns at me, pursing her lips together.  "No I don’t think so.”  She said.
My brain shudders to a stop.  (HU?  They have been shoveling pills down my throat since the day I got here.  Handing out multi colored pills like pez and now I’m being refused a Sudafed?)
“There’s nothing really wrong with you.  You just have a cold.   Few days rest and you will be fine.  And Sudafed doesn’t really help, just relieves some of the symptoms.”  She lectured me.
(And what do you think a Sudafed is for ya daffy bitch?)  
(Be nice, be nice, be nice)
“Excuse me but relieving some of the symptoms is what I need a Sudafed for.  As for that now honestly you give me pills every day not one of which actually cure anything.  The best you can say for any of them is they relieve some of the symptoms for some of the people some of the time.  Sudafed on the other hand relieves some of the symptoms for most of the people most of the time.  So on that scale Sudafed is a far more effective medication.  Not to mention the pills you all give me every day have possible side effects ranging from weight gain (thank you all so very much for that one) and constipation, to sleep disorders to possible liver damage.  As to any long term effects of the drugs you ‘give’ me (I have some trouble with the word give but people who are forcing you to do things rarely like the word force to be used) You can’t really say most of the pills you all handout haven’t been around long enough for even ten years worth of study.   Sudafed on the other hand has far fewer and less troublesome side effects”
“No there’s nothing wrong with you.  You just have a cold go to bed.”
And once more my innocent faith in the persuasive power of logic has been completely misplaced.
(Think, think, must think, need Sudafed, can’t think)
I take out my sodden handkerchief and blow my nose. Trying to clear some space in my brain for a thought.
She looks up and frowns at me again.  “Ohh and you shouldn’t blow your nose.  It doesn’t really help and can damage delicate mucus membranes.”
(MUCUS MEMBRANES……..Ohh that did it.)
I took two steps forward and sneezed explosively right into nurse mercy’s frowning face.  Nurses have certain preprogrammed responses to external stimuli.  Case in point, health lecture 101.3a.
“You should always cover your mouth when you sneeze you can spread germs that way.”
“That’s right.”  I said and stood there giving her my best slow and evil Grinch who stole Christmas grin.  “And if I don’t get a Sudafed . Right. Now. That, is, exactly , what, I, am ,going, to, do.”
Her brain shuddered to full stop.
I took a step toward her waving my sodden hankie.  She pushed back rolling her chair as far away from me as her desk would allow.
“I am going to drag my feverish bleary eyed self from floor to floor, ward to ward, room to room, seeking out each and every one of you sanctimonious sadists, every doctor, every nurse and orderly in this hospital.  And don’t you worry hun.” I snuffle wetly into my hankie.  “My mucus membranes are producing more than enough to go around.”
I snuggle into bed sighing happily as the Sudafed begins to take effect.  Forget the Adivan, give me the Sudafed every time.



2 comments:

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