Monday, January 15, 2007

Doctor Doctor, Gimme the News

A hospital is simultaneously way more fake and way more real than it looks on TV. The waiting room to get a bed in the emergency room is so impossibly bright and white you can almost hear the synths swelling in the background, since you're obviously the walk-on mystery virus case on ER. Your eyes are going to roll back in your head any moment. You'll collapse.

Then the Geico gecko will do the robot.

But, on the other hand, you finally get to your partitioned cubicle and you're tying a real hospital gown around your friend, and there's a real old woman separated by just an orange curtain muttering "Ay, Dios mio, ay, ay, Dios mio," and on the other side an old man explains how his even older mother got those bruises on her shoulders, and across the way someone's liver isn't functioning properly, and a few beds down from them a man coughs and coughs and coughs and when he can get a breath explains to a doctor he's not sure why he had heart surgery twice, but he has, and he knows something else is wrong. These are the extras who, if this were actually a fake TV hospital, would be mouthing watermelon cantaloupe silently, over and over, like they taught us in third grade when we had to pretend to talk in the background of the school play about bugs. It's the volume that makes it real, the endless layers of sound you can tune in like the AM dial, all crackling voices and hissing static.

The waiting room was the better spot, however purgatorial. When Brad puked something suspiciously sanguine we decided it was time to make a visit to the hospital. Though the phrase "emergency room" may conjure blaring sirens and paramedics running gurneys back and forth and all kinds of medical action happening STAT! or whatever, the truth of the matter is that unless you come in with vital parts of anatomy on ice in a Ziploc, you're going to sit there for a pretty long time. In our case, long enough to watch Miss Congeniality, then Miss Congeniality, then that astoundingly crappy Salma Hayek/Matthew Perry movie.

The waiting room is a mix of the frighteningly sick and the merely bumped and bruised, which makes it on the whole less intense than the real emergency room. Yes, there's the baby with glassy fever eyes and the tired, worried mom wiping something green off her chin, but there's also the family who rushed in because one year old Jabez smacked his mouth on the ground trying to do the Chicken Noodle Soup dance. His mom called him Papa Bear. His grandmother arrived halfway through doing her hair, and she looked like a fifth grader had drawn her head with a marker too thick to do more than just suggest curls.

Jabez proved broken baby tooth isn't worth not clapping your hands and dancing on germy linoleum.

Everything was okay when Brad was discharged at five in the morning. Okay for Brad, anyway. The thing about hospitals is that other machines keep beeping even when you're not around to think about them.

2 Comments:

Blogger gwen said...

You guys are so good to each other.
I've got 'chicken noodle soup' stuck in my head, thanks :P

1:33 PM  
Anonymous brad said...

she's good to me. i respond with cigarette burns to the eyelids.

11:20 AM  

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