Thursday, July 29, 2010

Imagine this:

You are in a small room, maybe six feet wide by twenty feet long. There is one TV placed in a central location on the wall opposite of where you sit. Regis and Kathy Lee, no, I mean Kelly, are on. You and six other women are reclining in pale green vinyl chairs. You all have IVs hooked up to different liquids. Nurses come around every so often asking if you are nauseated, if you have a headache, if you feel flushed. They provide the ice packs that you must punch to activate. They put these ice packs behind your neck to lower your body temperature. Every so often they draw blood.

Husbands must sit in the even smaller waiting room. One husband sings just under his breath to his wife. You have chosen the recliner by the window. You look out at the vastness of the hospital. You can see where Hopkins stops and the poverty begins. You think about what a hard time you had finding the transfusion unit, how it was like trying to navigate an airport-- not Heathrow, but maybe Atlanta. Your pituitary gland has been activated, which in turn activated your adrenal gland, which in turn spiked your cortisol, which, in theory, your body has a very hard time processing.

You need to eat graham crackers so you don't vomit. You look at the IV in your arm and think about how there is a needle in there. You wonder what would happen if you moved your arm in the way people do to show their biceps, if the needle would bend with the movement of it or if it would puncture the vein. You are, of course, interested in the absurdity of all of this.

Your time is up. The nurse, gently, even lovingly, removes the IV and all the tape. You press down on the opening in your arm. The nurse puts your three vials of blood into a plastic bag with your name on it, she puts an orange piece of paper in the bag, then seals it and deposits it in the type of vacuum tube banks use for their car side service windows. Your blood is pulled to the lab through hidden shoots in the walls.

You walk out of the hospital into the heat. You order an everything bagel with low-fat cream cheese. You want a latte with skim milk. You are given a plain bagel with cream cheese and a small black coffee. You don't fight with the clerk, you just sit and eat. You drive home.

2 comments:

PaperPinwheel said...

beautiful...(the mention of hopkins gave me the shudders)

Kate said...

Thank you, Jenn. Hopkins gives me shivers, too!