Toney’s been in the hospital. On Sunday she left work because she felt horrible: nausea and a tightness in the chest. Then she started throwing up. I thought she was having a heart attack, and took her to the ER. By the time we arrived there, her stomach was hurting really bad and she was actually groaning. What in the hand-rolled shit is going on?! I was hitting at about an 8 on the Freak the Fuck Out meter.
They ran a bunch of tests on her, and quickly decided (well… the hospital version of quickly, which is pretty damn slow) that her gallbladder was the source of the trouble. And that caused her pancreas to become inflamed, which is why her stomach was hurting. When the doctor eventually came strolling in, seemingly without a care in the world, he announced that Toney would be staying with them for a few days.
And she was there until yesterday afternoon. They were pumping her full of saline solution and antibiotics, and she feels a lot better. They say the gallbladder will need to come out, but there’s no super-urgency. Probably within a month, somebody told her.
I’m glad she’s home. The whole universe felt off-kilter without her around. I could be gone for six months and nobody would notice. “Hey, what happened to that fat guy with all the sarcastic remarks?” somebody might say around Week Four. But take Toney out of the picture for a few days and the whole operation collapses.
I have a few random hospital notes for you guys today, and then I’m going to return to work. I haven’t been there since Friday, so I’m going to be doing the backstroke through a frothy sea of bullshit in a few hours. Let’s get to it, shall we?
— Shortly after we arrived at the ER, they took Toney through a door marked EXAMINATION ROOM, and I heard nothing for a long time. I was pacing around, nervous. Also, I thought I might avoid contracting whatever horrible disease some slumped and hacking woman was suffering near the check-in desk. I was trying to give the spores a moving target.
Finally, the exam door swung open and a middle school girl shouted, “Jeffrey?” I went rushing over, and she took me into the room and closed the door. Oh god… is it bad news?? “OK, step up on the scales for me,” she said. Huh? I was very confused. Do they weigh patient spouses now? “Jeffrey Zelinski?” she said. “Oh, sorry,” I told her, and left. And the legitimate Jeff gave me a dirty look as he made his way toward the room. Jeffs can be so judgmental.
It was like the beginning of some bad movie where, due to a series of wacky misunderstandings, I end up on a gurney being rushed to an operating room. “No!” I’m shouting, before they silence me by strapping an oxygen mask to my face. Next thing I know I wake up with a fully-functioning vagina, or somesuch. To tell you the truth, I haven’t really thought this thing through…
— The nurses knew almost immediately what was going on with Toney, and let us know their thoughts. I appreciated it, ‘cause the doctors are stingy with the information. In fact, the guy never told us a thing until the next day. Even though they started treating her for something, he wouldn’t tell us what or why. I know there are liability concerns, etc. But it’s extremely frustrating. The nurses were great, though.
— One woman came in and started going on and on about how they’re the lowest paid people on the staff, and everybody else thinks they’re “high and mighty,” and looks down on them. “Especially the nurses,” she said. I’m not clear on who this person was, or what function she was performing. She might’ve just wandered in off the street, for all I know. But she had the bitterness of champions.
— While we were waiting around for what felt like hours – mostly because it was hours – in the ER exam room, we could plainly hear what was going on with other patients. I heard a nurse ask a woman when she last had a bowel movement. “This morning,” she answered. “Did it look normal?” the nurse wanted to know. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, hoping for an interesting answer. Like “Well, I happen to have a photo of it on my phone!” But she just said yeah. It was anticlimactic, and also not the kind of information I needed to have.
— I also heard an old lady, with a terrifying death rattle, tell four or five people that she’s getting married on May 4, and going to Florida on her honeymoon. This woman was roughly 125 years old. I was expecting the nurse to say, “Well… your charts say differently, dear. You’ll be lucky to make it to sundown.” But she just shouted, “How wonderful!” Wotta rip-off.
— There was a unisex bathroom near Toney’s room that I used a couple of times to offload Eight O’Clock Bean Coffee. And inside that phone booth-sized room was the most complicated toilet I’ve ever seen in my life. I wish I’d snapped a picture. The thing had hand rails, bicycle grips, an assortment of baffling seat attachments, a ridiculous elevation, etc. I’m unclear why somebody would need to strap themselves into an elaborate shitting-cage, but apparently they do. For a second I got confused and thought I was boarding Space Mountain. Thankfully I was just standing. I really didn’t want to get too close to that apparatus.
— While I was visiting Toney Monday afternoon I heard a mournful male voice coming from down the hall: “Nuuuuuurse… nuuuuuuuuurse…” “Is that a ghost?” I asked with alarm. “Is it somebody who died here in 1979?!” This kept going on and on, and nobody was reacting. Eventually he started shouting, “I need a toilet!” Just hollering down the hall. Then I heard a woman scolding him, telling him to use the call button. She wasn’t very happy with his makeshift paging system. If it had gone on a few more minutes we probably would’ve heard, “Wipe! I need wiped!!”
— Since Toney’s pancreas was inflamed, everybody on the staff asked her about drinking. Toney drinks very little, believe me. She’s one of those freaks of nature who can have one beer, and that’s good enough for her. What the hell, man? Once that switch is flipped with me, I have to keep on going until I reach oblivion. In any case, she was getting repeatedly grilled about her relationship with alcohol. And one Asian nurse, who didn’t speak perfect English, asked, “So, do you drink beer all the time?” That’s how she put it. “I think you’re looking at one of my old charts,” I wish I’d said. Unfortunately for Toney, she can no longer have her three drinks per week for a while. It’s sad.
But she’s home now, and they’re going to schedule the gallbladder surgery soon. I’ll be freaking out about that, as well. I hate all things medical, and imagine the worst at all times. But my mother had the same thing done a few months ago, and it was close to being an outpatient procedure. Three small incisions, I think. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I hope.
And I need to go now. I don’t really have a Question for you guys, so please make of it what you will. I have a car dealer story to tell, as well. I’ll bring you up to date on that situation next time.
Have a great day, my friends!