It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
It’s never truer than when you land in the hospital.
Some come in and leave with a baby.
Some come in and leave without random body parts; like gall bladders.
Some come in and leave with additional body parts; like pacemakers.
Some come in and leave with someone else’s body parts; like kidney transplants.
But no matter what, you will never leave with the same amount of blood you walked in with.
It’s the law. You have to pay tithes and the currency is red-hot pumpin’ vampire juice.
I came to visit my girlfriend in Room 694 of the swanky new eleven story hospital. It has the best views in town and boasts a garden on every floor, including full size trees.
Already I was worried about root damage in the walls where tubes and wires were connecting her body to vital fluids and chemical cures.
She had been fainting and ill in the night and called for an ambulance to escort her to the emergency room.
“If you just walk in, the waiting room is overflowing. If an ambulance takes you, you get a room quick,” she informed me, “and besides, the cute young EMTs just pick you up and whisk you away.” This, with a sly smile.
She was poking her way cautiously around in a bowl of tortilla soup. The first bowl of soup she ordered from the hospital kitchen menu was the cream of broccoli which turned out to be a complete disappointment. “Nothing like Panera,” she mourned, “I called the kitchen and had to order something else. I don’t understand. Breakfast was so nice.”
“It’s hard to mess up a fruit cup.”
“This looks hopeful,” she said, and dumped the container of chips into her soup.
Just then, a large apologetic man peeked around the curtain.
“Yoohoo,” he said softly, “Your doctor has ordered some blood work STAT and I’m here to collect.”
She held out an arm while sipping with the other.
I had to look away because only a fool will watch a vampire at work.
After a few moments of quiet, I dared to look over at her face, and it was pinched with pain.
“Does it hurt?” I asked.
She shook her head and gave a mighty burp.
“Oh, excuse me,” she said, and put down the spoon.
“Thank you,” said the vampire, rolling away his cart full gallons of blood in tiny tubes.
They must do shots in the break room when no one’s looking.
She settled back onto the pillows and closed her eyes.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, sitting up to the soup again, “It just wears you right out, having a draw while you want to eat and have to pee, all at the same time.”
I raised my eyebrows at her.
“Well, I’ve got a diaper. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.”
A perky petite young lady walked into the room.
“Hello! I’m the doctor at large today. How are you feeling?”
“Fine, except for being so weak.”
“Initial tests indicate you’re blood pressure is spiking and dropping randomly. The blood work shows you have anemia.”
“No kidding. You just had it all sucked out.”
“I’ve ordered up two EKGs and an MRI. Your records show you were here recently for this same issue, and we’re getting to the bottom of it. Get comfortable, you’ll be staying a while.”
The doctor left, and I watched three more spoons-full of soup go down before a young man barreled in.
He had a complete EKG sonogram on wheels and proceeded to hook her up to the video monitor.
I settled in to watch the show, wishing he’d brought popcorn and Twizzlers.
It was like looking for a baby but finding a beating heart. Instead of finger and toes, you could see valves, chambers, moving blood. I realized I was breathing right along with her as he said, “Breathe in, now hold it. Okay, breathe out…slowly…hold it! Good.”
From the way she was ogling the tech, I imagine her blood pressure was going up again.
As he finally rolled off into the sunset, we discovered that the soup had taken a turn for the worse. It was stone cold.
My girlfriend gave a sigh. “They keep telling me to eat. How am I supposed to do that?”
A nurse walked in.
“The doctor has ordered an endoscopy for you tomorrow,” he said, “That’s a tube with a camera, a flashlight, and a laser on the end of it. We send it down your throat to your stomach and have a look around. Just want to make sure you’re not bleeding internally somewhere.”
I looked at her.
“Keep your mouth shut!” I suggested.
“They’ll just put it somewhere worse!” she pointed out.
The nurse walked out but was replaced by two interns. They had a walker and a fat black strap.
I got ready to pull some defensive judo moves. This was getting out of hand.
They rolled up to the side of her bed and explained that it was time to freshen up and walk the hall. They didn’t want to take the chance of her fainting on them.
As they tossed around sheets, gowns and body parts, I covered my eyes with the end of my scarf.
She laughed as her black belt went on. “What are you doing?”
“Preserving your dignity.”
Really, was I was the only one left in the building attempting that?
“I’ve got to go,” I said, “but I’ll meet with the warden and try to negotiate your release.”
“Hard to believe I get all this plus room service, just because I fell down in the middle of the night.”
“If only fainting spells were still elegant. I’ll have to write about this in my blog, you know.”
“Hey, what happens in the hospital, stays in the hospital.”