chapter 4: a few things about hospital life

and so there i lay, in a bed made for a sick person.  in a room built for a dying person.  in a body capped with a swimming head.  looking around, i noticed a few things about my surroundings and myself.  first of all, the tv.  i was in the hospital for 5 days…i never turned it on.  never cared.  my head hurt too bad.  my eye also.  never had the desire to find out what was waiting on the other end of the wired remote which lay at my side.  one exception:  my compadre, nominated for a Tony, was to be on the CBS Evening News.  i thought about the contrast:  he’s at the top of his game tonight; i’m at the bottom of mine.  he’s playing Jerry Lee Lewis, and tearing it up.  but i’ve got a great ball of fire in my brain, and it’s tearing ME up.  who would’ve dreamed that i’d be watching him and his piana bangin’ rock, from a hospital bed with my own very different kind of rock?  a rock…that’s the way i started to view this thing, at some point.  like a rock in my shoe.  except, it’s a rock in my head.

the news never came on.  somehow i missed it.  kept the sound down.  never paid much attention.  but kept the tv on long enough to know that the Evening News had seemed to miss the evening.  oh well…

the hospital provided some very nifty hotellish samples.  of toothpaste.  lotion.  soap.  gonna take this home and get gussied up…but for now i’ll take it easy on the ladies…although the middle-aged blonde nurse seems like she may very well hanker for a hunk of cheese.  i did take advantage of the soap.  once.  why shower more than once?  it’s only five days.  benjamin franklin bathed far less.  and what am i, chopping wood all day?  no, i can barely even sit up.  not exactly working up a sweat.  but i’m glad i took advantage of the facility; nice shower room!  and the strangest toilet i’ve ever seen.  it looked like R2-D2.  kind of made me feel special…how’d they know i loved Star Wars?  5 star theme decoration?  check.

and speaking of the toilet, why did every nurse have to constantly ask me if i’d…uh…used the bathroom.  not the bathroom.  but the bathroom.  every second, “did you do it yet????”  “NAW, man, why don’t y’all just mind your own BUSINESS????!!!!”  and what the crap (no pun intended)?  –you’ve got me on a liquid diet!  what do you think is gonna (not) happen?

when they finally did allow me to eat, i was impressed.  the short rib?  tender love.  the bread pudding?  melted in my mouth.  if you’re in L.A. and you’re hungry, and you’ve got a suprasellar mass located near the optical tract and ya might die…bon appetit.  but get there early; the dinner crowd fills up the ER by around 6:15.

eating is one thing…seeing, hearing, and thinking is another.  i kept the light off.  hurt my eyes.  i kept the tv off.  hurt my brain.  i kept myself off.  hurt to be on.  and i wondered:  is it really a good thing to visit someone in the hospital?  i wanted no visitors.  maybe if i’d had a messed up ankle, then yeah, come over and we can play checkers.  but a brain issue?  i’d say visitation is not only unnecessary; it’s unwanted.  let me sleep.  same would probably go for anyone in my shoes.

and there they were:  my shoes.  i don’t have time for this sickness nonsense.  i’ve got things to do.  dreams to fulfill.  goals to reach.  a life to live, to the fullest.  i refuse to be a lame duck.  hospital gown?  forget it.  i never even took off my chuck taylors.  for five days, i lay there in my sneakers, holey jeans, long sleeve shirt and yankees cap.  i’m not ready to be a patient.  i’m not ready to accept the frailty.  i won’t.  i’m just gonna lie here and take it all in, sleep as much as possible, and be myself.  in this bizarre situation.  on this ridiculous detour.  in this scene that should’ve ended up on the cutting room floor.  i’m here.  it’s my life.  hollywood changed Elvis, but the hospital won’t change me.

but there was one thing that kept my attention,  one thing that did change things, in a huge way…

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