Monday, May 30, 2011
Tall, lean, grey-haired, blue-eyed, handsome. He asks if I need anything. He checks the IV, the epidural. He checks the wristband.
He sits on the chair, crosses his legs, and out come stories. His friend restores classic cars. They moved here from Tennessee - he lived on a cattle ranch - he once ordered deluxe steaks online - his ex-wife knew a man who worked in film - Starbucks has a special at the corner shop - and on and on and on.
He's funny, he's witty, he draws you in, he makes you laugh.
It's afternoon. My door is open but my curtain is closed. I drowse and while my eyelids flutter, I hear his voice in the hall. On and on and on.
It's the second day post-surgery. I move my bowels - a welcome milestone, but unexpected at that moment. I soil the bed-pad and my gown. I push the call button and ask for help. I unplug the electrical for the epidural and roll the stand into the bathroom to clean myself. The voice continues in the hall. Classic cars. Trips to Hawaii. The cattle ranch, again. His wife loves to cook.
I change my gown, and peek out the curtain. "Just a fresh bed pad," I say. "And I'll be done in five minutes. You can re-set the epidural timer."
"Be right there." Laughter, then another patient interjects with a question. "I'll be right back," says S. The voice goes off down the hall, and when it returns another story begins. He once met an architect who designed churches. Stater Brothers is just down the street and cheaper than Von's. When will he shut the f**k up?
The nurse's helper brings the gown and smooths the bed pad over the sheets. I slip on the gown and tie it, then plug the epidural back in and settle into bed. The epidural beeps, "Re-set...Re-set...Re-set.." flashes.
I wait, and wait, and finally press the call button. A woman's voice answers. I say, "I'm ready for the epidural to be re-set."
"I'll tell S," she says. Five minutes, then he strides in as though coming over to watch TV. He fiddles with the keypad, and the machine quiets. He sits and makes himself comfortable, forearms on knees.
"So you're good! Congratulations! How was it? - no, don't bother, there's such a thing as TMI!" He rolls the machine over and checks my blood pressure.
His eyes cast down to the frame of my bed. "That bag is bothering me," he says, and pulls the chair close to the hook where my Foley catheter bag is suspended. He grabs a plastic beaker from the cabinet.
Words continue without pause. What's that large gold building out the window? Is it east of Lincoln or west? He unhinges the spout from the bag, then holds the beaker near. A thin yellow dribble splashes the floor, then hits the target. He used to run, he says, but sometimes on weekends he has to work and he doesn't get in the time he needs. There's a great Italian restaurant up in Westwood, do I know it?
The beaker looks like a pint of clear golden lager. He goes into the bathroom and flushes it down. Another half-pint, another flush and a towel mops the floor. We talk about blood pressure, Weight Watchers, Egyptian cotton towels.
"No, no, I'm fine," I say, and lean back on the pillows, closing my eyes, exhausted.