The Good Patient
At a neighbourhood gathering last night The Songwriter was asked if I was a “good patient”. I, of course, answered for him and in the affirmative, though he could be heard faintly muttering in the background, something that sounded suspiciously like the word “stubborn”. But I couldn’t be sure. Truth is, I’m rather ursine when I am recuperating. I crawl into my four-poster and sleep till I’m better. I prefer to be alone, the constant presence of Edward notwithstanding. I don’t want visitors, food, or entertainment. Flowers are appreciated, of course. Flowers are always appreciated. And the occasional kiss on the forehead, as long as I’m not contagious.
Though my recent hospital stay only lasted a day and a half, I think the nurses who cared for me would say I’d been a good patient. I made no unreasonable demands; my only request being for crushed ice and cranberry juice. ( Of course I did spill the forthcoming cranberry juice down my front which made me look like I’d been attacked by a wild animal and which gave one nurse a bit of a fright, but I blame this little incident on my lack of coordination brought on by the after effects of anesthesia.) I did what I was told which is, in my experience, the best way to get along in any sort of hospital setting and is highly advisable when one wants to be released as quickly as possible. Any tiny problems I may have had I blame entirely on the above mentioned anesthesia and subsequent pain medication. For example….
At her first visit, my night nurse flipped over my chart and exclaimed,
“Wow! You do not look your age!”.
This of course comes in as a compliment and leaves as a worry because what she’s really saying is … “you’re a lot older that I thought you were”. I mumbled some sort of thanks along the lines of … “no make-up… genetics… sunscreen” as she continued on in rapid fire patter saying.. “Yeah you know people always think I’m a lot younger than I actually am. Gotta love that, right?”.
Now, had I been in my right mind, i.e. not drugged, I would have politely chuckled and agreed with her. Instead , in my altered state, I heard myself say, “Well, let’s see now. I’d say you were about forty-eight.”
The room got quiet and she replied, “Yeah, well, my hair’s pulled back and I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m forty-five.”
Damn. Never insult your nurse first thing out.
Then there was the issue with the bed. It remains my contention that they shouldn’t put all those buttons on the side of the railings if they don’t intend for one to push them. After considerable experimentation at about three in the morning, I can tell you that it is possible to get oneself into such a position that it will indeed require a nurse to straighten one out. Fortunately, the nurse who took care of this particular problem seemed to find it endlessly entertaining, so I think she’d give me high marks on diversion alone, particularly as it was she who later found me sound sleep with my soup spoon held aloft in the air as though I were conducting The Boston Pops. She proceeded to laughingly tell me this was a sure sign of someone who never takes pain medication: give them some and they flop over like a fish.
Then there was the owl. I was fortunate to have a room with a huge triple window, unfortunate that said window did not open. In my opinion, being of the belief that fresh air is in itself restorative, all hospital windows should open. (They could always be set someway so that they didn’t open wide enough for people to escape, if that’s the worry.) Sometime in the middle of the night, I was watching the moon chase the clouds outside my closed window when I spied, through the trees, a huge owl on the window ledge across from me. He was massive and still, and he appeared to be staring right into my room. I would fall asleep for a few minutes, awake suddenly, and yes, he was still there. Even I had enough sense not to call the nurse about this, but I was amazed, if also a bit unsettled.
Next morning I saw him to be a gargantuan plastic owl, the sort farmers put in fields to ward off rabbits. I couldn’t decide if this type of trick was actually appropriate to play on people in hospitals, but decided it probably was.
Yesterday I negotiated Whole Foods in a shopping expedition for strawberries and flowers, so I would say I am well and truly recuperated. There was a bit of a discussion between The Songwriter and myself when I attempted to take the stairs instead of the elevator. (It was just one floor, for pete’s sake.) I assume this is where his use of the word stubborn would apply, but you’d have to ask him about that. I’m just happy to be almost as good as new.