Thursday, July 15, 2004


Continued from
Part One: This Is How It Happens
Part Two: Emergency Room


They say you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it.

When you are all alone in a hospital room, trapped in bed, weak from hunger, you have a lot of time to think. You think about the Big Questions in life. How Did I Get Here? What Do I Need To Change My Life? Why Are There Only Fifteen Channels On The Hospital TV?

I had forgotten what it was like not to have cable TV. I mean, how do they expect people to get well in the hospital when you give them no reason to live?

With tubes attached to me in four places, one of which was a catheter attached to my penis, I was effectively bed-ridden.

I have had nightmares like this, where I am chained to my bed, surrounded by naked, beautiful, nubile women trying to convert me back to heterosexuality by giving me endless hot, steamy blueberry muffins. With no exercise and fatty food, I would quickly become hetero. How did they know that homosexuality is caused by six-pack abs?

Being helpless and immobile is disorienting. Without access to distractions, your imagination starts to go wild. Coupled with a gnawing hunger, you can start to think that your smiling, slightly deranged looking nurse is really somebody who has been reading your blog and fancies that she knows you. Like, really really knows you.

She wants to ease your pain, help you through your Misery in hopes that you would write about her in your blog. You hope that there are no wooden mallets in the closet.

Your heart races every time she injects something into your IV drip. You wonder if that air bubble slowly going through the tube is going to kill you when it reaches your heart. When you are still alive several minutes later you are relieved.

The first two days in the hospital were the worst. I was exhausted even though I had not moved from the bed. I could not read. I didn’t have the strength to prop up the hardcover book* Brian brought for me to read. The words on the page competed with the pain caused by the tube in my nose as they struggled through the neural pathways to my brain.

The pain won. All I had left was the brain capacity to passively watch TV. Or read teen magazines. What is it about teen magazines that makes you feel like you need to write a fan letter? I desperately wanted to write one to Benjamin McKenzie of The O.C.

TV was dismal. Basic channel line-up. Reruns of reruns, Spanish language programming, bad movies you’ve already seen a bazillion times. My limp hand was flipping the remote to the next channel, next channel, next channel, mechanically like a zombie or the last time I had to give my ex-boyfriend a handjob.

Drowsy, wide awake. Numb, in pain. Should you ask for morphine even though it makes you throw up? Being in the hospital really screws with your mind. What am I asking?!? Morphine? Throw up? Sign me up, Mary Kate!

I was glad when my friends came to visit because it relieved the tedium even as I wished they would get the heck out and leave me alone. They would chat with each other or flip through the channels until the requisite amount of visiting time is over and then there is that silence where everybody looks around, trying to decide if they want to be the first one to say they had to leave.

Then you are alone.

God, I wished I had cable TV.

As Seen on Hospital TV

Channel Guide: this is a list of all available channels in your hospital room. Press the up or down button to change the channel. If both your hands are in a cast, then you’re S.O.L.

1 – Welcome Channel
Welcome to our Hospital. We will provide you with the best health care we can provide or the quality of your health insurance, whichever is lower. Don’t wish you chose the PPO plan now? If you need assistance, press the red button. If you want to experience being in a gay bar, press the pink button and all the male nurses on the floor will come to your room, stand around and ignore you.

3 – Chapel
Camera monitor of our Hospital Chapel. Mass daily at 6am and at noon. No sound provided for your convenience—you can sleep through the service just like you were right there in the chapel.

4 – Telemundo (Spanish)
Talk Show – "I Slept with My Mother’s Lover"

6 – Univision (Spanish)
Talk Show – "I Slept with My Daughter’s Lover"

10 – Religion Channel
Currently: A debate on the existence of Heaven and Hell. Very useful information if you are currently hedging your bets. Highly recommended if you are considering your options in the afterlife.

13 – Clock Channel
It is now 9:59am. Coming up on the Clock Channel: 10 o’clock.

2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12 – CBS, ABC, NBC, UPN, WB, Fox
Reruns of the shows you wouldn’t watch the first time around. Or another airing of The Bird Cage.

* "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Leather" by David Sedaris

Next: Discharged

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: This Is How It Happens

Part 2: Emergency Room

Part 3: Misery

Part 4: Discharged!

Look what I found: Panty-less Nurse on Parade
How to give a Muslim Handjob

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