I woke up many times at about 1 a.m. by my calculations, although total guesswork would be a better descriptor. The gurney was still extremely uncomfortable as I lay in the hallway waiting for them to take me to my next destination. It felt like they were playing three-card Monte, getting moved so much, hiding me from someone. But who would they hide me from would be the question? I spent several hours in this hallway and a few more in that room as they shifted me time and time again like a giant game of whack-a-mole.
Startled from my slumber, they rolled me down the hallway, into an elevator, and to the fourth floor. I briefly sat in another hallway and was eventually taken into a room of my own where everything looked dated and well-worn. The phrase putting lipstick on a pig came to mind as I looked around; the room had extreme wear and tear on everything. However, they tried unsuccessfully to make the room look acceptable and presentable. I commented on the relatively small TV, which seemed like 40 inches, and they told me it was one of the larger TVs in any of the rooms, which was kind of sad.
Medical assistant Janet came in first, introducing herself and explaining that she would take my vitals. Minutes later, nurse Cindy had the prescriptions I brought, a few required medications, and still zero information or insights on my illness. It disappointed me that they held firm to the no-information rule they seemed to have, keeping my issues a secret, like who Batman is. Still extremely tired and hungry, I could not think straight to ask the questions and plead for answers they were unwilling to share.
The first morning, I woke up when Joe, from the kitchen staff, brought my breakfast, then quickly turned and left the room. I was famished and ready to tear into even hospital food like a starving badger, as I had not eaten since the previous day’s breakfast. But still paralyzed, I realized I had to wait until someone could help me eat, which devastated my psyche. Even with whatever degree of disability from MS I had dealt with in the past, I could always feed myself independently. Nothing rips away your manhood, dignity, and pride like being spoon-fed Jell-O, like some invalid.
Finally, medical assistant Holly came into my room to take my morning vitals and inform me of the procedures and how-to’s. Nurse Heidi entered the room next with the daily regimen of morning medication and vague information and clear-as-mud statements. I requested help to eat since paralyzed, and they told me they would act as soon as possible. Several hours later, I remembered scrambled eggs, bacon, and oatmeal were inedible when old and cold. This iced meal was after sitting on the bed table untouched for many hours, getting chilled as I continued to starve, waiting for someone or anyone to help.
On day two, after many hours of extreme boredom, Bill from the kitchen brought the midday meal, which sat taunting me like a mirage to a man in the desert. Next, medical assistant Carol entered my room to take my vitals, asking if I was going to eat, obviously forgetting I could not move my arms. Then, Nurse Sandy entered the room, and I hoped to receive some great wisdom about my ailments and why I was there. Sadly, Sandy gave me no new information, only sharing more vague statements made of smoke and mirrors.
Although the medical staff changed every twelve hours and personalities differed each time, the day-to-day life was the same, simply mundane. So on the fourth day, I was happy for something different when a wound specialist nurse came in to examine me for bed sores. She found several unopened hotspots where bed sores began forming, so she ordered an air bed to be delivered that day. This new-age technology would replace my current ancient, very used, highly uncomfortable bed and make sleeping almost enjoyable again. Within seven hours of deep slumber on this new air mattress, I was no longer paralyzed and happy as a clam. First, I needed clarification about what had happened, but I received no information.
This three-and-a-half-day period of paralyzation, requiring help for everything, deeply devastated my dignity. But, the time frame also let me see how some people can have an extreme care for their fellow man and others show a lack of common human decency. In the medical field, you should give up the need to always be right and the courage to say you are not the most intelligent person in the room. I never want to see another September 11th, but I would love to see another September 12th as the togetherness and kindness shined through, which is something the human race needs.
Kindness, not critiques.