When I woke I had no idea what had happened or of my whereabouts—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 away 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. In a soothing motherly voice she assured me the doctors insisted that the worst lie behind me and I just needed rest. Then she hurried off to fetch my father. He followed her back to my bed, and I mumbled a greeting. I remember wicked nausea threatening to override my initial impressions; the chronology of events immediately after I woke is murky, but I distinctly remember the circumstances leading to my hospitalization.
I learned it was an early Saturday morning, which explained the empty beds—hospital administrations are Nazis when it comes to patient turnaround. A haggard CNA or orderly or whatever repeatedly stopped as she passed my bed to promise my mother that she’d eventually change my sheets. Like the rest of the hospital staff she ignored me.
My folks helped me locate the hand-held mattress adjustment control while the CNA lady wheeled a squat television stand to the foot of my bed. Again she ignored me and suggested to my parents: “This might make him all oriented. Y’know, they’ve had me working twelve hours without a break.” She turned the TV on, then rushed off to perform an unseen task.
The television showed a vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon dubbed in Spanish, which I don’t speak. Luckily the interaction between, and gestures of characters in a well-done cartoon weave the narrative without relying on dialogue. The smart-ass rabbit cast the same visage as in the olden days, but the actor reading the part seemed more the baritone Latin lover type.
Suddenly the events of the past nine days bombarded me: dimwitted ambulance drivers, fuck-stupid nurses, arrogant butcher doctors, grotesque hallucinations (and I found out later, Last Rites).