Today is July 14, 2008. Day number 14 of being in this bed. The bright sunlight shone through the window, waking me up at my usual early hour on a warm, summer day. In my semi-conscious state, I thought about what errands I had to run and what plans I had made with friends and family for the day…
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
The nagging loud noise that would drive any person mad quickly snapped me back to reality. Not two minutes later, a nurse came in and began with the daily entourage of questions.
“Good Morning, how are you today? Can you tell my your name?” I looked at her blankly. Of course I know my name.
“Ch…. Ch….. Ch….” Why couldn’t I just say it? Just spit the damn name out, I told myself, this is ridiculous. The nurse patiently waited for the correct response, but I just couldn’t do it. My tongue and vocal chords just would not cooperate with me. Oh forget it, I give up, and with that, she handed me the menu to order breakfast.
I want “pan….pan….pan…”. The nurse paused and remained patient, so I tried again. “Pan….pan….pan…” Luckily for me, either my mother or father were by my side and knew that I was trying to say “pancakes” and placed the order for me. But this was absurd. Why the hell couldn’t I just say what I was trying to? To further complicate matters, I was fluid restricted so I couldn’t indulge myself too much with a beverage. As if the brain thing wasn’t enough of a problem. I was trapped inside my own body – unable to communicate with the outside world and confined to the bed.
For everyone who works from 9-5, do not fret. There is absolutely nothing on TV worth watching during those hours…unless you
watch SportsCenter repeatedly, over and over, or are a woman who has an interest in daytime soap operas or Maury’s latest paternity results reveal. For me, SportsCenter always won. At all other times, I was in a holding pattern. On occasion, I would walk around the hospital room with the assistance of nurses, even if it were only a few steps. Today, the nurse came and asked if I wanted some fresh air. Of course I did. My parents were awarded the privilege of wheeling me outside. I call it a privilege, but was it really? Being wheeled out of a hospital like an invalid at the age of 24? If only I could have gotten out of the chair and ran for the car and headed home or expressed my desire to them that I want to go home – that would’ve been the pinnacle moment for me. I can dream. But if nothing else, it was an experience to sit there and watch the hurried businessmen scurry off to work, undoubtedly worried about being late or the phone calls they needed to make. I was one of them a few weeks ago – it’s amazing to me how insignificant those daily work worries are to me now that I am here. How did I get so caught up in it all?
The fresh air was nice, but reality sank right back in once I returned to my room. A speech pathologist entered, smiling and telling me that we were going to work on my naming ability. Maybe today would be better. I should be improving soon – no, I need to improve soon. Attempting to pry words out of me, she showed me flash card after flash card. I could rehearse a Shakespearean soliloquy in my head, but verbalizing the image of the dog or the umbrella was still virtually impossible.
I. Am. A. Complete. Failure.
I remain patient on the outside, but inside I am screaming and terrified that this is it – this is my new life.
Despite my fears, the home run derby at Yankee Stadium is on and Josh Hamilton just smashed 28 homers. As I watch, I feel a sense of normalcy has been momentarily restored to my life. At the same time, I realize it’s been two weeks here and I feel like I’m spiraling down into the abyss. The only other thing I can think of is that I could bounce around from floor to floor, or hospital to care center, but I may never see my house again. Yale New-Haven Hospital is my new home and I must learn to embrace it.