The Three Tiers (Part II)

So at least a reprise of the tiers since everything is ass-backwards in the blog.




I think I covered doctors in the previous post, the nurses are next. They travel around the halls dragging two machine-like stands with them (stands is the wrong word but I don’t know what to call them).

One is the ubiquitous blood pressure machine. Anyone can take your vitals, but usually (during the day it’s a nurse) who also has in tow a second rolling edifice to dispense drugs.

Taking of the vitals. Apparently you can’t take a patients’ vitals too many times. You take them when he’s eating, washing, sleeping, shlepping, peeing, waiting to pee, watching the ultra everywhere tv (the main occupation for the bed ridden), talking to his friends, talkingd on the phone, dreaming, thinking, day dreaming, getting an infusion, and if both arms are busy, you can slip a cold cuff around his ankle.

The same goes for taking a patient’s temps. You can rub a star-trek like roller across the cranium, you can stick something in the ear (although it doesn’t hurt and you’ve had it done a million times already, the nurse or aide feels compelled to tell you that they are taking your temperature.

No kidding? I thought you just liked to go around checking orifices. That may be true as well.

The nurses aides overlap on the taking of vitals.

The aides, are usually the ones that wake you at night to check your BP.

It is one of the mysteries of hospitals, at least the ones I’ve been in. They do everything they can to make you better, medically – and everything they can to make you sicker.

Two things that will help you recover: sleep, a sense of being taken care of, and good food, these items are missing.

So the doctor has ordered blood around 5 pm. That gets translated into a troll entering your partitioned room with her cart and tubes, waking you to take blood. She is usually in a hurry. She has ten more subjects to draw blood from before the sun comes up and she must get back in her casket.

There was one of these vampires who had the knack of waking me from deep rem sleep without warning and sticking me without a word.

I remember yelling that I was in the middle of a beautiful dream and she had to wake me before drawing blood.

She looked at me with bloodshot eyes, and I thought I saw fangs, and she was gone before I knew what was going on.

One very friendly nurse, who thought she knew me from the neighborhood, taught me the secret of getting through these painful situations, and it does work – sometimes.

Make some sort of sound when the needle is about to go in. For example, she said, I’ll count one, two, three, and on three bark like a dog.

It’s possible she wasn’t a real nurse, since I never saw her again.

But the theory was that the brain couldn’t think of two things at the same exact time.

It happened to be Halloween night in the neuro ward, and there were a few nurses with fake fangs strolling around.

I warned my neighbor, who was kneeling and praying on a mat that I was going to make a noise in a few seconds. He replied with a middle-eastern accent not to worry, and as the nurse counted to three, on the spur of an inspired moment I howled like a wolf.

My neighbor continued with his prayers and a group of fanged nurses appeared, laughing.

They all knew I had gone crazy by then and couldn’t take anything seriously.

It had gotten to the point where the neurologists that visited every day were apologizing for asking the same dumb questions: what day is it? Do you know where you are?

Yes, I began saying. I’m in Graceland.

I’m goin’ to Graceland. My tavellin’ companions are ghosts and empty bott…

No really. Do u know where you are? No kidding?

How ’bout purgatory?

We have to ask.

Mt. Sinai. Neurology section, or wing. NYC, NY. Zip code 10029. It’s Monday. And if you turn around, you can see all the answers on the board behind you that is supposed to help us keep a sense of time and place.

Afterwards the neuropsychologist comes by. She’s my favorite. Doesn’t wear a white coat or any specific uniform. Shiny red hair and crispy twinkle in her blue eyes. Big smile. Immediate crush. Whenever I try to find out more about her, she says: you know the rules.

Which is true. After 20 years of therapy I know the rules.

I have to think hard to remember her name, which I do, because I made it a point to remember – but so cute.

After a few sessions, she says – you’re an interesting case.

Thank you, I reply. Why?

Because you don’t seem depressed at all. You’re humor, is it real, or is it a defense mechanism?

I don’t know, replying. But it’s working. This is, after all an absurd life.

Read the Joseph Heller book: Something Happened. I think that’s the name. That might give you some insight.


Published by Dave

My name is David Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City. Or I was before I had two strokes. I now write from a Nursing Home.

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