After my friends visit, the night shift isn't any different. I'm still in the ICU. I don't know if its the same room because everything seems dark now. The walls are more of an earth tone khaki color.
I don't have an inkling where the new window came from. There is one in the door now. I don't recall that being there. Still that doesn't mean it hasn't been
The usual window is still here. This fenestration has a network of chicken wire fence locked inside, like the one that the Indian gentleman bashes through in One Flew Over The Coo-coo's Nest.
There is a lighthouse glow coming through. On the other side, there is a kiosk, or a nurses station. It looks like an information booth for tourists.
The person minding the newsstand continuously has their back to me. Of course, I still need water. Every time one of the staff approaches the hostess, I wave my hands to try to get attention. The unmannerly tweaks pretend they don't even see me over their peer's shoulder.
My babysitter seems pretty combative thus far. She seems more perturbed by me than concerned. She finally comes into my room, but I can tell she dreads it. She has grown tired of our encounters, and she's showing it with all of her aloof mannerisms.
"Why aren't you asleep? Its three o' clock."
Damn it. I didn't need to know that. "I don't know."
There is a television hanging near the ceiling on my left. She sets the channel to what must be a replay of a football game. Oh yeah. I forgot its football season. I gaze at the game for a moment, and then realize I'm not even paying attention to what's going on. I can't read the score, and I don't know who is playing. I notice a player with tree trunks for legs running a lot. He has a red jersey with white lettering, but I can't make out his name.
A new girl just walked in. It seems like there is always a staff member in my room now. She talks to the cranky lady for a moment. The winch tells her of the medicines I'm due. The drugs are starting to sound familiar; Diazepam, Librium, and Oxycodone.
I'm always in agony, but I don't want them to think that I'm only asking for meds because I'm an addict. I'm not faking. I am fucking hurting. They always ask me to tell them how much it smarts before they massage my abdominal distress with pain killers.
There are three numbers.
"On a scale of one to ten. One is very little pain, and ten is excruciating."
The graceless nurse presses hard on my left colon. "Here?"
She pushes her hands into the bottom of my gut. "Here?"
I pull in air through my teeth and wince. "Nine."
Then, mashing into my right side. Not a question, but a statement. "Here."
They ask me to describe the pain. I don't get it.
"Is it a sharp pain or is it a dull pain?"
Hmm. "It feels like a boulder is sitting on top of broken bottles in my abdomen."
The head nurse mumbles something to her apprentice and leaves us. Much better. I don't feel like a cowering dog with the new girl. She's younger, and talks to me. Not at me. She even smiles, which is not contagious in this arena of sickness.
I guess the student nurse plans on being here for awhile. She's brought a book. Hunter Thompson's first book, The Rum Diary. How fitting.
When I ask her about the paperback, she says I'm free to read it while she's seeing other patients. Its a kind gesture, but I can't read it. By the time I read two sentences and start a third, I've forgotten the first. Hopeless.
When the aspiring nurse returns, she has my meds.
Hello. They are not pills. These are going in the IV.
When I wake later in the morning, my friend is gone and she forgot her book.
Maybe she'll be back.
Maybe I will remember her.
Photo: Hunter S. Thompson