Friday, December 23, 2011

How Phoenix Tried to Kill Me - Part 4

I spent most of my first day in the hospital in one of those curtained alcoves that pass for patient rooms in ERs. Trelina had to leave eventually to pick up Jasmine, and it was about that time that the attending doctor decided that it might be a good idea to semi-quarantine me, just in case whatever plague was filling my lungs was contagious. They closed the door and decreed that anybody who came inside had to wear a surgical mask. They even tried to get me to wear one, but I just laughed my wheezing, half-conscious laugh at that. It was hard enough to breathe without installing a filter over my face, after all.

A nurse came in at one point and had me breathe some medicated mist through a tube for a few minutes. This was the first respiratory treatment of literally dozens over the next couple of weeks. When we were done, she left me with a plastic cup and mentioned offhandedly that I might want to try to cough some phlegm up into it for analysis. As she didn't make it sound urgent, AND I didn't have to cough, AND making myself cough hurt like a bitch, I took this for a suggestion only and ignored it.

This will be important later.

By that evening, they'd moved me into a sealed room in the hospital proper and started getting serious about filling me with pain-killers and antibiotics. I was only sort of aware of the fact that I was still under quarantine, partly because my head was still fuzzy from the pneumonia, but mostly because the quarantine room wasn't at all different from a normal hospital room. I even, I was told, had a sweet view of the hospital helipad from that room, even though I never saw a helicopter coming or going.

I've often thought that if I ever had to spend any time in the hospital, I would use it to catch up on reading and writing. What better time to do that than when you're forced to lay in bed most of the day anyway, right? The thing I didn't take into consideration was that I would be so uncomfortable that it essentially made those activities (or anything that required more than ninety seconds of concentration), impossible. Fortunately there was a TV on the wall, and even though there wasn't a DVD player attached to it, I did have some basic cable channels. Thus began my two-week Food Network and Travel Channel marathon.

I did eventually spit into that cup the nurse had left me, but when they brought me another one, I just put it on the bedside table and forgot about it. Nobody had made a big deal about it yet, and coughing still hurt, so I just laid in bed for the next day or two, No Reservations flickering on the opposite wall, and waited for the doctors to decide what to do with me.

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