Friday, January 8, 2021

Baby Let's Cruise, Away From Here

Broccoli Bar Platter from the night before, when things were swell

He sat like a gargoyle at the edge of the hospital gurney watching everyone.  His shaved head darting right and left.  People were screaming and moaning in layers of sound from multiple directions.  Let me out of here or I'll kill you!, a man threatened at the other side of the room.  Brother!  Brother! A woman screams every two minutes, who sounds just like Fran Lebowitz.  We are in the emergency unit of Maimonides Medical Center in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.  The scene is straight out of a Scorsese film. It's overcrowded and chaotic, probably a typical Friday afternoon.  My side-eye glances reveal blood on gowns, limbs are cock-eyed and assorted other attrocities as we pass the first room of triage.  Some people are in extreme pain, others are very old, and I imagine them dying quietly alone. P tells me not to look.  Now we're further in a packed holding room, and they're parking me sideways in the hall.  I get moved a few times, finally to the corner.  I'm at the emergency for the second time in a week.  This time because I passed out and then my body went into some sort of mangled shock.  My hands, arms and legs froze contorted and it felt like a solid wooden board replaced my bladder.  Later it would be revealed I had COVID again.

But this story isn't about me, it's about the day my partner transformed into one of our most treasured icons.  Yes, P Tom Cruise'd the shit of me in the hospital.  A very intense Nigerian doctor came to take my symptoms but had zero patience and difficulty understanding my phrasing, which he seemed to hold against me.  I was having a hard time getting my words out and the good doctor was basically yelling at me for not being clear.  He didn't know what teeth-chattering meant, so I finally had to lift my mask to show him.  With eyes the only visible tool, I looked to P for help and he seemed to take the side of the doctor, mansplaining my symptoms.  The intimidating man (who I found later was in training) walked away and P was 5 inches from my face within seconds.  I swear his voice was that of Mr. Mission Impossible himself.  'We... are... managing them!' he said to me with an equally intense urgency.  'Stay with me here!  We need this man on our side, this place is insane right now."  And I complied immediately.  He was right, there was nothing to be gained by splitting hairs on bowel movement descriptions or what constitutes falling with this giant hothead.  Besides, we will most likely get sick IN here, so the best thing to do is manage out of it and quickly.

A tough nurse said I wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom but my bladder had been the boss this week, so we defied her rules and she simply stopped and yelled "Support her!" to Patrick.  An older lady came to take my blood and set up an IV as if she was a short order cook preparing the breakfast special on the busiest day of the year.  She poked and taped and was finished in less than a minute.  The IV came undone but no one noticed as my arm turned to ice. Another woman frantically handed me a pee cup that everyone made mention of but no one ever collected.  Others came, all asking similar questions yet somehow each one repeated back some inaccuracies and for some reason everyone called me a smoker.  Hours later we were double masked, and even more critical folks were wheeled in.  An elderly man walked by several times, pulled down his mask and hacked up a boatload of phlegm in our general direction.  

Image result for tom cruise intense scene

A tough looking drunk  guy that possibly came out the wrong side of a bar fight was put right in front of us and I prayed he wouldn't wake up.  P focused on his movements.  I wanted to get out of there.  He continued to stand guard and after a few tests and pokes, and two COVID tests, I was released.  P got us out of there and into an Uber.  It was now dark, late and very cold.  

The next morning the urologist would call and tell me I had COVID.  He said to get an Oximeter, and to return to the hospital if anything gets worse.  Worse? I thought, What would that look like? 

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