November 16, 2011I am tremendously relieved to see my mother, and step-dad, enter my room. I have no desire to be in the hospital anymore, and the thought of how I am going to maintain, and improve my health, hardly crosses my mind. Meanwhile, a few of the nurses are here to discuss my medical discharge, and provide my mother advice on what to do next.
My healing place has instantaneously become a whir of anxiety, an early reminder of one of the troubles that I used to medicate with alcohol. The brief moment of comfort is vanishing in a flash with the help of my miniscule memory retention, and what ADD on LSD must be like. There is nothing to be afraid of, and I cannot pinpoint the source of my panic. There may be no need for fright, but my fear is real.
I understand I am losing my grip on reality, as I have been throughout this entire ordeal. Tumultuously struggling to maintain, during my incessant grind of survival, is absolutely exhausting. I attempt to eavesdrop on the exchange between my mother, and the attending physician. He will sign off on my discharge from The MUSC Hospital.
I overhear several terms I recognize, but with all of the meaningless trivia in my noggin, I cannot recall what some of them refer to. The word Hospice stands out, first and foremost. A definition I have always wondered about, but have never looked up, or ever used, for that matter. All I can envision is a hostel for sick people while the doctor's next whisper is assisted living. Unfortunately, this is the most logical scenario in the coming weeks.
"Mr. Todd," a voice says to me.
One of the nurses has me by my right wrist. Her thumb can almost reach the second knuckle of her middle finger.
"Oh", I chuckle. "How ya doin'?" I respond.
"That's what I was going to ask you, Mr. Todd," she says. "You finally get to go home."
"That's what they tell me," I manage.
It is difficult to wrap my head around the fact I am finally leaving this place. In a material sense, I have nothing left. My wallet is bare, I cannot work, and I will never have any food and beverage related job from here on out. It has always been inevitable that my age would surpass the length of time I could spend in such a career. I have my IT degree as an Network Administrator, and even that is ten years old.
Until now, I have been pulling off the college bar business, with my deceptively younger looks, and demeanor. Now, I don't have that. I can't move an inch without the threat of shitting myself, which makes me wonder how I am going to accomplish self-hygiene. With the passing of each moment, I am filled with guilt, regret, remorse, and shame for all that my mother has endured, and what is yet to come.
Presently, my focus turns to the detaching. All of my IV tubing is being closed off by valves, and separated from their respective bags, one by one. With each clamp, and release, I am left on my own. Another nurse is removing the heart monitor electrodes from my torso. The familiar beat of my heart is no longer pulsing through the room. The silence is eery. I assume I will feel my heart stop, but I shudder to think of what comes after.
Right on time, my Florence Nightingale, the friendly nurse who loaned me Hunter Thompson's "The Rum Diary" has arrived. I have grown a misguided crush on this girl who is really only doing her job. It is my own delusion that she may be interested in a man crippled by his addiction to alcohol, but it seems plausible to me.
I still have some visitors lingering as my mother begins to pack my things. I feel terrible for what I have done. Of all people, she deserves none of this. This is not the boy that she raised, but it is the undeniable result of my alcohol dependence. It is up to my mother to nurture, and care for me for the second time in our lives. It is evident that the first go around was much more of a pleasure, than a daunting task.
My Nightingale is joining the crew that is liberating me from all of the machines. All of the hoses are closed tight, and the next step is unsurprising as they begin to remove the needles from my veins. Each insertion point leaves a trickle of crimson, and is quickly covered with virgin white cotton gauze, that is irrevocably poisoned by my blood.
I look up at Florence without moving my head, and say with unabashed confidence, "You're going to miss me."
"Of course, I will," she fibs. "We all want you to get better. You can do that at home."
"I know," I tell her. "I will be back, though. I swear I don't always look like this."
This is a half-lie because I am not sure how bad I actually look. I have still managed to avoid the mirror in this room.
"I know you don't," she says. "Come see us when you are better."
"I will. I know I will."
I think I am the only one who feels that I have any chance of returning.
Nurses on either side of me attempt to lift my hospital gown over my head, as my bed begins to whir, and straighten me into an upright posture. However, any position should be handled as if I am a puppet on strings. In this moment, I think of Metallica's "Master of Puppets", a song about addiction. I can hear James Hetfield belt, "Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings/
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams/
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing...".
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