Driving up Kedzie just after the sun had come up, working on about an hour worth of sleep. The traffic starting to build up for rush hour, children on their way to school sleepy eyed. The car is freezing, and at a different time and place it might have bothered me. Instead, I’m looking through the small semi-circle of clear glass that the defroster has carved into the ice. I might be hyperventilating, it is hard for me to tell.
I’m coming unglued. ”She’s in he hospital,” I heard myself saying to no one. In order to drive it home I say it again, this time with feeling, “My wife is in the hospital.”
At two in the morning, I was shaken awake from a dead sleep. The situation was so much like before, but this time so much worse. The dull ache that she patiently tolerated for the last few weeks was stabbing her in the gut, and it was time to go. I somehow managed to find the insurance book, locate the nearest hospital that the bastards will let us go to. I stumbled around, trying to think of everything we’re going to need for the next few hours: Insurance card, book to read, a little bit of change, cell phone. I worked myself up into a nervous froth, trying to both predict the future and take care of my wife.
I don’t remember driving there, but I must have. She was in no condition to manipulate the car over icy streets. Instead, I must have been behind the wheel, trying not to kill us as I try to find the perfect speed between safe and fucking get there. But, like I said, I don’t remember this. I already had my memories of all the disastrous hospital experiences I had acquired in twenty-five-some-odd years. Bad IV drips killing my grandmother. My own mother, almost a year before with exactly the same problem, bleeding internally because some fucknut skipped sewing class. Psychologists telling me it wasn’t my fault my ex-girlfriend had taken all those pills. This is the first time that medical emergency has played out across our marriage, and I’m taking it much worse than I imagined.
If my hair was any longer, I would have tried tearing it out. I spent an hour pacing in the waiting room, trying and failing to get myself to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. I phoned into work, knowing that the 3:30am time stamp will tell them that I am not fucking around. Eventually, the doctors let me see my wife, and the condition was the same. Even the Demerol wasn’t knocking the pain out of her body, and she tells me this by the gritting of her teeth. The stones were all lined up in there, and the doctors want to cut her up. She mentioned the things she had been reading about olive oil and Epsom salts, and that she wanted to try that first. The doctor tells her that she is flat out wrong, and she has to go under the knife. After a short discussion about hospital policy, they submerged her in paperwork and admitted her to the hospital.
Out her hospital room window, the sky was just starting to turn brighter. I want to burst into tears as I watch her fighting to get some sleep. More than anything in the world I want to make everything better for her. I want to take away her pain and take her back home, where there are no menacing looking tubes to stick out of her arm, so nurses coming and going, no doctors asking her questions when she’s obviously in pain. I want all of this to pass as quickly as it can, so I don’t have to sit here and worry about the future of the world anymore. Eventually, she spies me silently melting down, and kicks me out of he room, home to get some sleep. I don't know how either one of us is supposed to sleep like this.
And so here I am, driving up Kedzie, back frozen to the seat I don’t want to be in, driving the car in the opposite direction from where my wife lays. None of this feels right. I’m trying not to think about calling her mother and explaining everything. I’m trying not to think about calling my own mother and causing a panic. More importantly, I’m struggling to drive the car properly through my tears.
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