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Tuesday, October 19, 2010



"The Moon In The Morning"

Finally! I had spent weeks in the hospital bed after the accident with both legs broken, a concussion, and countless bruises and scrapes. I won't even go into the operations. For a moment, I was able to take my mind off of all of it as my nurse, Linsey (without a d), rolled a stylish-looking wheelchair into the room.

"And how are we doing today, Mr. Williams?" she asked brightly.

"Marvelous," I grunted, as she pressed the button to raise the head of the bed to a near-sitting position.

"Good, good, good," she said in that I-am-ignoring-your-sarcasm-young-man tone, on which I had given her much practice over the last seventeen days.

She backed the wheelchair against the wall so it faced me.

"Doctor Krishnapuram has given the approval for us to get you out of bed for a few hours today. It'll be good for your muscles and your skin." She smiled. "And it'll make it easier for my orderlies to change your sheets."

"As long as it's--" I groaned in mid-sentence as I grabbed the bed rails and forced myself to sit up, "easy for them." The room dipped and swayed slightly as my head adjusted to a position that it hadn't seen in a while.

"Careful," she said, grabbing my shoulders to give support.

It took some effort to get my cast-wrapped legs over the edge of the bed, but a few minutes later, I fairly flopped into the chilly vinyl of the wheelchair. With her characteristic speed and efficiency, the nurse had my legs strapped securely into the supports and began to carefully maneuver the chair toward the door, taking care not to bump my injured limbs on any of the ugly hospital furniture.

The wide corridors of the third floor appeared busy, but passable. Two orderlies wasted no time diving into their opportunity to change the bedclothes without having to shift my barely cooperative body around.

"There, now," my nurse said cheerily. "You can spend a couple of hours chatting with the other guests. For your own safety, we do ask that you stay on the third floor."

She smiled and took a hard right, back toward the nurses' station. I took a hard left and headed for the more open spaces.

Directly ahead, light spilled in through a large plate glass window which offered a view of the sky over Broad Street. A half-full moon was beginning to fade into the hazy blue of morning. As I approached, I noticed with some disappointment that the ledge was just a bit too high to look down into the street from my seated position. With a cautious glance behind at the now vacant nurses' station, I pressed my weight against the arm rests in an attempt to gain just enough height. My mending legs howled in protest.

The street below was bustling with Wednesday morning traffic and pedestrians. A cabbie blew his horn as a bicyclist zipped between him and the car to his right. Just another morning in the city. My arms began to shake with exertion and I flopped unceremoniously back into the chair, slightly deeper into the cold vinyl this time.

I backed away from the window and heard someone gasp. A woman glanced nervously at me as she walked past, carrying an armful of flowers and shiny helium-filled balloons.

Not sure what to make of all that, I turned the chair to my left and wheeled down the front side of the building, enjoying a exhilarating sense of freedom just by being out of sight of the nurses' station.

"Good morning," an elderly man greeted as he shuffled past me, an aluminum cane in one hand, pushing his portable IV drip with the other. I smiled happily and nodded back.

The chair still chilled my mildly chapped skin, but it was worth it just to be out of that bed for a while. Two kids ran past me at full speed as their mother trailed behind, juggling a purse and a large bouquet. She shouted at them to stop and motioned back in the other direction. The boys came running by again, glancing back at me and giggling. Insensitive little brats! They disappeared down at the next bend in corridor. Onward, I rolled.

To my left, the elevator doors opened and four suited professionals, three male and one female, brushed past me in a whirlwind, somehow leaving it certain that I was beneath their standards for noticing. A moment later, I heard the woman give a short, shrill laugh at something. Probably me.

I made another left hand turn at the end of the corridor. There were less people here and I mostly just watched the fluorescent lights overhead as I wheeled slowly underneath them. My atrophied arms were starting to tire slightly under the unexpected strain and I could feel my lungs laboring a bit. No matter.

At the end of this corridor, I made yet another left, beginning to feel a bit like a race car driver. A set double doors opened automatically as I approached and I could again see the nurses' station ahead, this time occupied by three people, two women and one man, none of them familiar.

They seemed busy shuffling through forms. With just a bit of luck, I might be able to slip through, unmolested by a courteous and efficient health-care professional. I made the left, past the station and started back toward my room to begin my second lap around the floor.

Nurse Linsey appeared from a doorway across the hall from my own room and began walking toward me with a warm smile. As she approached I heard several bursts of laughter from behind. Linsey paused for a moment, a look of confusion spreading across her efficient and courteous face.

"Umm, Linsey?" came a female voice from back at the station, "When you put a patient in one of these new chairs, you need to make sure they're wearing a second gown. If you don't, their backside shows through the gap under the back rest." I could almost feel her pointing.

I felt myself blush slightly as Linsey stepped behind me to observe.

"Well, Mr. Williams," she said dryly. "You've just spent the last twenty minutes mooning the entire third floor."

"So, that's why I'm cold?" I asked.

There was another burst of laughter.
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