Read Part 4
When I woke I had no idea of my whereabouts or what had happened—last I remember, the state still held me captive in the warehouse. Now I lay prostrate on a hospital bed flanked by other, recently vacated beds in an area that seemed the hybrid of a waiting room and an intensive care unit. The first indication of seriousness came from my mother’s presence. Though my parents lived 260 miles from the warehouse, she hovered over me and gently explained that I was a patient in some hospital; “they” had removed my appendix nine days ago and encountered complications that pummeled me into an unresponsive state.
My appendix had burst, resulting in toxic shock syndrome; I’d barely sidestepped death. As far as I’m concerned, the incompetent mouth-breathers that wildly misjudged my symptoms shoulder responsibility for this avoidable disaster. At the time I assumed only tampons caused toxic shock syndrome, and then just occasionally. I couldn’t ask my doctor any questions; apparently he didn’t consider me worthy of a visit. I completely understand—complicity with involuntary manslaughter would compel me to make myself scarce too. In most cases, an appendectomy is performed via a laparoscopic procedure. My case required a full-blown laparotomy. The surgeon needed far-reaching access to cleanse my stomach cavity of toxins splattered by the ruptured appendix. His patently half-assed stitching brought to my mind’s eye the flounced edges of a tarnished drink tray that a spastic monkey had tooled.
After I’d snapped out of my unresponsive state, “they” moved my extremely ill ass to another part of the ICU in the hope that my condition would stabilize. I never slept more than twenty minutes at a time. The doctors—both enthusiastic interns—had mandated that I wear canvas leg warmers a.k.a. pneumatic compression devices. The almost-a-doctors didn’t intend the devices to insulate my calves but prevent blood clots from developing. The devices felt uncomfortable and constricting; the motor connected to them emitted an annoying hum. Like many relatively subtle ongoing nuisances, the canvas leg warmers proved briefly tolerable, then became a constant irritation.
One of the secretaries from the floor insisted on checking in with me every morning at the beginning of her shift. Often I tottered on the verge of elusive slumber when she stuck her cheap-perfume-reeking jowls in my face and crowed “Good morning!” She represented the multitudes of hospital employees who delude themselves that they’re noble medical professionals when in fact their jobs don’t in any way involve the direct care of patients.
The night nurse regularly injected me with an impotent sleeping aid. My requests for pain relief medicine that I genuinely needed were met with skepticism; the nurses invariably administered a virtually ineffectual substitute for the real drug. The microcephalic doctors’ initial misdiagnosis of my stroke followed me and continued to frost my agates.