A Hospital Story
From my bed
looking forward I can only see my feet and the darkness outside. Mom
is by my side
. The light from the lamp
is behind her; I see only a shadow
. She has her hands clasped
in front her lips and an empty pail
between her legs. When the cold air fills the room I can breathe. Exhausted, I lie back down. Twenty minutes later, I throw up, and then lie back down. Dad comes in with some clothes. I vomit again. We struggle to put the clothes on. Even though there is nothing to throw up, I do it again
. My stomach hurts and I have a terrible taste in my mouth.
"Can you walk?" Dad
helps me up.
"Yes." He and I walk to our neighbor's car, a tiny, white hatchback
. The car's motor
is running, and the front doors are open. I feel that I have to throw up
again, but the feeling vanishes in the crisp
The car ride takes a quarter
of an hour. My dad jokes with me by swerving
the car left, then right, then left again. It's very enjoyable and I smile weakly from the back seat. The streets are deserted and we even run
some red lights
, stopping suddenly in back of a gray Dacia
, just outside the hospital.
Dad asks me if I can walk
"Yes." We walk for three minutes
and I say, "No
" and throw my arms up. He picks me up.
When we get to admission I vomit
. There's only bile and spit to throw up. I'm left gagging
with a bitter
I take the same bed I always take. Before I fall asleep, I vomit twice
more. A nurse comes in and hooks up my IV.
Usually, I was admitted to the same hospital in Bucharest
. It was a large complex where each type of disease had its own room somewhere
. My disease
's room was buried in a one story building, on the outskirts of the complex. My disease's room had thin, high beige walls and windows that didn't
open anymore. It had a once shiny floor and a medicine cupboard with medicine near the door. It had a hole in the wall over the bed next to mine where we could see
in the other room. A rusty, light green metal nightstand accompanied every one of its twelve
, rusty green
, one mattress beds
. Despite its nauseating amonia and bleech odor, it was obvious janitors had long since given up
cleaning this section's bathroom
The group of rooms that I was in didn't have doctors on call, just nurses
. Doctors visited them every morning at seven before they went to
work. Otherwise, the nurses were our only glimmer of medical attention. We saw them four times a day: In the morning when they escorted the
doctors in and bullied
us up from our sleep. At eleven when they came around with fries
for those of us who got
them. At two when they served lunch and lastly at five when they gave us our pills. Otherwise unless we wandered outside of the room, we didn't really see much of them.
The nurse wakes me up. "Come on! Get up, big boy like you, you should be up by now. Come on
." The light pours through the big windows and
makes me squint
. In the bed on my right there's a girl about sixteen
. Two beds down and across there is an unshaven older boy, about eighteen. There is a nurse
by his bed also.
The girl gets up, stretches and bids
everyone a good morning. She yawns. She's wearing a nightgown, the sheets are still covering her
legs. The doctor comes in with a stethoscope hanging loosely around his neck and a clipboard
in one hand. He stops first at the girl's bed. I sit up and turn around
and hear the girl lift her nightgown. The unshaven boy is also
facing the windows. His mom probably told him also to turn around when doctors come to check on girls.
"Does this hurt? How about this? Mm-hmm... cough." She feigns a cough. "Stronger." She coughs again. "Okay, well, I'll just sign the release.
You're out of here today
." The bed squeaks and there is a shuffling of feet. The doctor slowly comes around to me and sists down on my bed.
I'm still looking away from the girl, examing the rust
on the iron part of the bed facing me. I lift up my pajama top and wait for him. "Right, how are you Alex
?" he flips through some papers. "How was the attack? Pretty bad?"
"Okay. Hmm..." He looks at his pen and hands it to the nurse standing behind him. She takes it. After a little bit of searching she hands him
another one back. "Do you have a black one? Just that I started in black and-- Oh, thank you." He takes the other pen. "Okay let's see here." He puts his stethoscope on, wets his lips and proceedes. It's cold, and I shrink back. "Cold, huh? Breathe." I breathe heavily. "All right." He writes something and then gets up. I let go of the pajama top. The doctor goes on
to the boy who was lying down with his shirt off.
back down. Dad didn't take anything for me to do, and it is seven. The sun floods
the room and I watch a cloud
ease past the window. The doctor leaves. The girl leaves. I look after them and fall asleep.
come in, each carrying two plates of fries. One of them waits by the door, and looks around. She comes up to me. "Where's Iacovici
?" She barks at me.
"I don't know." I shrug. The boy is sleeping. The nurses leave and I fall back asleep.
I wake up and look around. Outside it's beautiful. There are no clouds in the sky
. Two men walk beneath the window talking about forgein
. I can't tell what the time is, but I'm sure it's past twelve
. Except for a fly buzzing around, everything is still. The girl didn't make her bed before she left. I wish I could get up. I wish for food. I never get food the first day I'm here; I'm get food through the I.V.
. I decide to just go back to sleep. It takes a long time for sleep to come, and I think about the soccer
game on Saturday and what was going to happen to Remi in my book.
The door creaks open. It's mom. "Hi dear
. I'm sorry, work wouldn't let me go." They never
let her go anymore. Because of me, she has to
leave early too much, so they don't usually let her go. She is carrying a black bag. She gives me a hug and a kiss. She takes out two squares of chocolate and smiles. I devour the chocolate. "This is your book, right? I also brought you this," she says taking out another book,
. "Thank you." I say taking the two
books and putting them on the nightstand.
"How are you doing?" She says, taking my hand. "What did the doctor say?"
"I'm OK. Bored
. He didn't say anything."
"Well, now you have a book. Oh, here." From the bag she pulls out my chess
pieces and a board. "There's no one to play with, but maybe
there'll be other people later." She puts the pieces on the nightstand. She shifts, and the bed squeaks. She takes out a small clock and places it next to the books. She tells me about her workplace. She says later this year, Ioana and I will be able to go pick cherries. Won't that be fun? I remember picking strawberries in the mountains. We smelled of them for two days afterwards. We had strawberry jam with bread and crackers too. I tell her I look forward to picking cherries
. A little while later, Mom
leaves to get the bus.
The next day I finish my book
. I'm so happy about how it turns out that I don't feel like going on to the next book. I spend most of the
day in bed re--reading parts of the book I liked. Early in the morning, the unshaven
older boy leaves
On the third
day of my stay, in the middle of the day, they
were brought in. Now I would have some sort of company that was my age. Their
was with them.
After they settled down and the mother told them to be nice and went over with them what they shouldn't do, they all moseyed
over to my
There was a simple greeting
. The cutomary how long have you been here, and then the mother extended a piece of fried chicken
. I took it
without asking if they were sure. When we engaged in some sort of conversation, the mother retreated and left us alone. Mihai, Gheorghe and I hit it right off. Gheorghe was seven, about my age but the age difference didn't make Mihai stop being friendly with us. They came from the country but we all liked Steaua
, the better of the three Bucharest soccer
teams. They were excited about Steaua's big win yesterday. Steaua
was going to win the UEFA cup
that year in an exciting match with Barcelona
. Although the details escaped us, we all knew this at this point.
There wasn't a TV
, and we couldn't go outside and play. All we could do is sit around and tell jokes
and stories. In his fourteen years of hospitals, Mihai had amassed
a tremendous amount of jokes. When no one was tellng a joke, we tried to run around the massive room. The nurse promptly came in and commanded us to stop.
On our third
day together, we had dried up the well of things to do. Gheroge had saved us from boredom by spontaneously jumping on the bed,
claiming he could touch the ceiling if he did long enough. He bounced
high and then he bounced on the bed next to his. It seemed a lot more un than the closed chess game
Mihai and I had going. Gheorge bounced towards us, across the aisle and onto the bed we occupied. The chess pieces flew
off the board
and I knocked the board onto the floor
also. Mihai and I started jumping on the bed.
A shadow crept through the window and we froze. We scrambled down. If the nurse had looked our way when she passed by, she wouldn't have
a thing. We lay down on the two beds we were bouncing on. As soon as she was out of view, we resumed. Quickly the game
evolved into tag across the beds. The man who was "it" was allowed to touch the floor while the other people could only touch one bed twice before they had to move onto another.
By some sort of miracle, we spot the nurse coming back with an important looking blue binder. Again we all sit down where we were and talked.
Gheorghe, who was next to door panicking
, sat down on the floor where he was. I was all the way across the room, next to the window. Mihai,
who Gheorghe was chasing
, lay on the bed. I knew that this couldn't possibly look normal, yet she passed by. We converged in the middle of the room. The door burst open and the nurse
rushed in. From the middle of the room, we turned to see her.
," she said, adjusting her puffy hair and shaking her head back. She exited. When her shadow disappeared, we collapsed where we
stood. After a few moments of heavy breathing
, we decided that we should really stop this. It wasn't healthy, especially for us.
Soon enough, I was "it
." I chased Mihai but he was older, and he could bounce across the aisle. Then he stopped. I tagged him. According to the rules he couldn't tag me right back, he had to touch
two other beds first. I lay down, exhausted. Gheorghe realized that he was next and
started bouncing away. Then he
stopped. The both stared ahead at the nurse. She had a wicked
smile, her arms folded across her chest
Both Gheoghe and Mihai were still standing up on their respective beds. She ordered us to hand over our underwear
and our pants.
We stared at each other. Mihai shook his head. Gheorge turned to the nurse, pleading. "We'll be good
, I promise." She said again we were to give her our underwear.. I got under the covers and removed my underwear and pants and gave
them to her. By the time she picked them up, Gheorghe had already taken off
his underwear. Mihai was urging him not to do it from across the room. I suddenly realized that I didn't have to do it, but it was too late for us two. She'd taken them. Mihai, on the other hand, kept his. When she came over to pull
them off of him, he bounced away. She was an old lady in her 50s and a little over--weight. Even though Mihai suffered from chroic asthma, she had no chance
. After a while of chasing him, she threatened
him and left the room satisfied with herself.
I spent the next few hours in agony. I'd read my book and I didn't feel much like talking
. In my book, there are five main characters that
are on a terrific adventure
in a forgotten cave. I wish two girls would come in, then we could be like the group in the book. And we can go on an adventure, discovering the entrance to a forgotten cave. I realize there are no forgotten caves in Bucharest. Even if there were, we would be able to run for ten minutes before one of us required medical attention. Also, I had no underwear. The book mocks
me for a few more pages. I put it down and went to sleep
At night, she came to tell us to go to sleep. I had crumpled the sheet around my waist. For some reason this bothered
her, so she came over to cover me whole. She picked up the sheet. I gasped at her "No
!" She laughed and went to get our underwear
pants. Gheroghe coughed
the entire night but was fine by the time the doctor came.
During visits, we told Mihai's mom what the nurse did. She wasn't very impressed
. Neither was my mother
. We didn't tell the girl who came in the next day.
I kept pretty much to myself, my books
and my bed
for the remainder of the stay. I kept a very careeful eye out for the nurse. I spent a
lot of time thinking about the nurse. Whenever I saw her in the hallway, I ran
back to my bed and started reading. When I left the hospital, I lost contact with Mihai and Gheorghe. It took seven years for my new appartment to get a telephone line, and, at that time, we were both in the process of moving. Three years later
, I saw Mihai briefly. He didn't recognize me, and I never worked up the courage
to say to him.