Good Sam

June 28, 2015 at 9:04 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny..., Waxing Nostalgic)

For my baby...

For my baby…

After visiting Angel, it was time for responsibility. I don’t avoid responsibility. I try to make it work for me. To make it fun. That’s pretty much my life’s mission, to make fun out of misery. So why should visiting a hospital be any different?

Rain had been in the hospital for a couple days. I hadn’t heard from her, but that’s not uncommon when she loses her phone. (Which also isn’t uncommon; she loses an average of two phones a month.) When she called and left a room number, I figured I should investigate. The hospital is in the swanky part of town, it’s a hot gorgeous day, girl-watching should be at a premium.

Plus, I can peek into my girlfriend’s medical chart and see what’s really going on…

I know the route to Good Sam too well. It wasn’t the first hospital in my life; that was Eastmoreland General. Good Sam was where my daughter was born, and where I went for emergency stitches after I’d over-methed and broke a quart of Heidelberg beer by squeezing too hard. (“HE-Man!”) When my older sister was close to passing, they sent her to Good Sam. It was the last place I saw her alive. Hard to believe it was eight years ago. I’d met Rain for release a couple times, but hadn’t been inside in a while. It was a busy place in the daytime.

I waited patiently at Information, thinking I knew the way but wanted to be sure. (“Room 486, like the pill…”) Other than a “last door on the left,” I knew where I was going, thanks to the East Indian tween looking to be helpful. The nurses gave me a hard look but said nothing. I peeked into Rain’s room. She was sound asleep.

I looked at her wall chart. Thanks to my ‘delicate foot situation’ a couple years back, I am proficient at deciphering medical gobbledygook. I noted the antibiotics, and the narcotics. She was maintaining a pretty good buzz just laying there. I probably could have snooped more, but I saw enough. She was on a normal diet, lots of fluids, with antibiotics.

Good Sam is known for being compassionate to patients with opiate addiction problems, but this looked like more than a simple ‘get me over withdrawal’ hospital visit. I nudged her leg a couple times, caressed her forehead. When she didn’t stir, I took out my bright purple pen and wrote her a note. “Dearest Innie, You looked so lovely sleeping I decided to let you be. Sleep well, and call me when you wake up. Love, Outie <3” I set it atop the brownie she’d passed out upon, and left quietly.

I’d made it three trolley stops when my phone lit up. “WHY’D YOU LEAVE? You should have woke me up!” She had been crying.

“I tried, babe. You looked so peaceful.”

“Well, you didn’t try hard enough.” Sniff.

“Would you like me to come back?”

“If you want to…?” In that sexy voice that said “If you know what’s best for your love life you best get your rosy red ass back here, pronto.”

“I’m only a couple stops away. Hang on.” I was off the trolley, turned around and back within minutes.

“Hi, Charlie!” she said as I walked into the room. She introduced me to her nurse, “This is my guy…” I got a big ol’ kiss. She’d put on makeup since my creepy-crawl a few minutes ago. “Wipe your lip, babe. How ya doin’, Charlie?” She was in fine spirits.

I sat at the end of her bed. We held hands, I reminisced about the hospital, about my uncle and his war stories. We shared more than a tear, and soon I was restless. “I’m gonna go, but I will be back tonight.”

“Can he take me outside for a bit? It’s such a nice day out…”

The nurse had come for a dosing. She shook her head. “If you want to walk around on the unit, it’s okay. But if you leave the floor we have to disconnect your IVs, and if you go outside we have to discharge you.” She looked me square in the eye. “We’ve had some problems.”

“Well, I don’t need a cigarette THAT bad,” laughed Rain.

“No, you don’t.” The nurse and I said it in unison.

I kissed her goodbye again, (“Wipe your lip, Charlie!”) and made for the bus. I would return later, after a nap. I’d gotten up stupid-early in order to catch Angel at work.

The nap went on longer than expected, and I snapped to around 9 PM. I hustled about, showered the sleep off, smoked a big bowl and chugged some medicated vitamin water. Popped my last Vicodin and made for the train. It took ninety minutes to get to Northwest Portland, in which time the drugs kicked in and I was in full-on nostalgia and love mode.

I deboarded on 23rd & Lovejoy, walked the two blocks to the hospital doors, which were… Locked. Shit. Sign says “Go To Emergency”. Other sign says “Emergency Entrance Closed, Enter next to Hospital Entrance.” Which is where I was. I took two steps to the right, and the door opened. Neato. A uniformed cop came up and asked, “May I help you?”

“I’m here to see my girlfriend, but the door is locked. I know where I’m going…”

“Talk to admitting.” He pointed me around a corner, where a young nurse was dealing with an agitated tweaker chick.

“Where ya going?”

“Room 486.”

“What’s the name?” I told her. “Just be quiet. Visiting hours are long over.”

I thanked her and was on my way. I could feel security burning holes in my back with their cold, grey eyes.

This was more like it. I like my hospitals like my cities, at night when they are quiet and abandoned. I rolled the hallways without cautionary glances and suspicious questions. The nurse on Rain’s floor gave me a fast glance but said nothing. I pushed her door open, she gave a lazy glance, and when she saw it was me she lit up like a pinball machine. “Hi, Charlie!” Watching a 55-year-old woman turn into a teenage girl over me is something I will never get over. Or want to. “You could have called. I didn’t expect you to come all the way back this time of night.”

“I did it because I missed you, and because you’re a lot easier to find up here.” I hate cruising Old Town at night looking for her.

“Well I appreciate it, baby.” She squeezed my hand.

It turns out she had sepsis, which can be deadly if not caught early. She’d been passed out on the street and taken by ambulance to Good Sam, who got her up and running again. I returned the next day, about 1 PM, and she was being readied for discharge. She thanked her nurses, who were almost sad to see her go. We waited across the street from Emergency, waiting for a cab. She smoked her first cigarette in five days. I wanted to slap it out of her hand, because lung malfunction is a leading cause of sepsis, but I didn’t.

I was just happy she’s still around to make my room smell like cigarettes and perfume.

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