India 3424, FEMALE (I Told You I was Sick S1:E6)
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
For some reason, hospitals now refer to foodservice as "room service." See what they did there with your expectation level? Well played, hospitals. Well played.
I didn't fully awaken until about 9:00 the next morning. According to the whiteboard hung on the wall across from my bed it was Sunday, July 25th. I repeated that date in my head a couple of times. I knew that someone would be asking me my name and what day I thought it was. I wanted to be ready.
My nurse instructed me to dial certain numbers into my hospital phone to order breakfast. The phone had large, easy-to-read numbers and no confusing extra buttons. I dialed the number and someone picked up.
"Room Service, how may I help you?"
"I'd like to order breakfast."
silence and tapping on a keyboard
"I don't see that name. What is your room number?"
"What floor are you on?"
"I think I'm on the second floor. My room is officially called Stroke 9."
silence and tapping
"You may not be in the system yet under your own name."
huh? should I tell her I'm not beyonce?
I remembered that Alan had taken a picture of my wristband.
"Hang on a minute. Let me look at my wristband."
There it was. My codename.
"Oh, yes! I've found you! What would you like to order?"
According to my wristband, I was born on January 1st, 1901. I was 120 years old. Perhaps I should order an age-appropriate. Slimy oatmeal? Pureed bacon and eggs? Ensure?
I decided to play it safe with an order of scrambled eggs. Any 120-year-old could certainly handle questionable hospital scrambled eggs. No teeth are required to down forkfuls of "farm fresh" hospital eggs.
It was about 10 AM by the time my tray arrived bearing the scrambled eggs. I was glad to see that tucked within the cellophane wrapper beside my plastic flatware were packets of salt and pepper. Glancing towards my door to see if any hospital personnel were lurking about, I quickly opened the salt and let it snow over the vivid yellow scramble. Changes in habits were looming in my future. I considered those eggs to be my "last meal" with "sprinkles."
After breakfast, I was walked about in my room by two physical therapists. Ten baby steps to the door and ten baby steps back to my bed. My right leg was slow to act and wobbly at best. I should have sang "If I Only Had a Brain" to match my scarecrow gait. The PTs helped me lower myself down onto my bed. I curled up and tried to take a nap.
Knock-knock-knock! "I'm Cindy-Lou-Who from speech therapy! I'm here to check your cognitive abilities. We need to see if the stroke affected your ability to recall and/or process information."
Having sat with The Meems during such testing, I had already begun to prep for the test by piling up information in the frontal lobe of my brain. Glancing at the whiteboard to verify the date, I placed "Sunday, July 25th" and "Houston, Texas" into my mental storage container next to "President Biden" and the name of the hospital. I couldn't for the life of me remember the Vice President's name. Here's to hoping Cindy-Lou-Who graded on a curve.
"Do you know where you are and why you're here?"
I responded appropriately despite the heavy urge I felt to blurt out "It's my 5th birthday and we're at Disneyworld! I love you, Snow White!"
"OK. Now we're going to do something a little different. I'm going to say FIVE words [holds up FIVE fingers] and ask you to repeat them. Then, I'm going to say them a second time and ask you to repeat them again. We'll talk about some other things, then I'll ask you to say as many of the words that you can remember. Do you understand?"
I understood all too well.
Have you ever gone into the grocery store without a list because you only need FIVE things? You came out with twenty-three things, right? And, I'll bet that out of those twenty-three things only THREE were on your mental list of FIVE things.
My palms began to sweat.
Holding up five fingers she said, "DOG.....APPLE.....RED.....HOUSE....SANDWICH." [These are not the exact words she said. Red is the only one I can remember without pushing the name of the president out of my brain.]
I repeated the words, and we repeated the process.
Then, she said, "I'm going to set a timer for one minute. I want you to name as many letters that begin with the letter F that you can think of. Are you ready?"
At that exact moment in time, I could not for the life of me think of ANY words that began with the letter F save one. And, I was too much of a lady to say it aloud. The temptation to rattle off "F, F-ing, F-ety-F-F" was strong. Instead, I glanced towards Alan who simply shrugged.
My brain scurried back in time to my first year of teaching elementary school when a student stopped me on the way back to our classroom from lunch to tell me something "important." "Kyle K. said the F-word at lunch!" "Kyle K.?!" He was a very sweet boy who didn't seem likely to cuss like a sailor. "How many letters did the word have?" "Four." Dang it. "What did it end with?" "T." I was stumped. I couldn't think of a menacing F word that ended with T. "Will you spell the whole word for me? You won't be in trouble." "F...A...R...T..." I straight up laughed in the child's face.
Checking off the two F words at the top of my list, I gulped and began.
flower. flowering. flowers. floral. florist. funeral. funnel. um. forecast. forecaster. forecasting. um.
Then, nothing but crickets. I paused and looked at the speech therapist.
"You have twenty more seconds."
Then, she began to give me hints.
"It's a number." four. forty. five. fifty.
"Oh, fromage!" I said feeling like Einstein for coming up with a word without a hint.
"If a house is burning down, you might see one of these." fireman. firetruck. fire hose.
"Time's up! Now, can you tell me those five words we talked about a minute ago?"
"Red? That's all I've got. Red."
I didn't ask to see my report card. It was what it was and is what it is.
Once the therapist left the room, a strange sense of entitlement washed over me. I looked at Alan and said, "Well, f***." And, it wasn't Kyle K.'s F word.
Love and Kisses,
PS. On March 3, 2022, I will celebrate my 121st Birthday. I will expect gifts.