When we graduated from high school, my best friend, Ronald decided to join the Armed Forces, but discovered he had a double hernia. Before he could be accepted he had to have this repaired and went into Chester County Hospital for the operation. There were complications, incisions coming open and he caught a contagious infection that placed him in the isolation ward for a period of time. He was a very sick puppy. The contagious ward was in the basement of the hospital and to visit him you spoke through a window too the outside. It was very surreal to be kneeling on the ground talking to my friend through this wire barrier over the windows. He complained to me there were two babies in the contagious ward and they took turns crying. I wrote this piece at that time. (The photo is a more recent of my friend on another hospital visit, not from those dear dead days so many decades ago.) [This story also appears in my All the Monsters in My Mind blog of short fiction as part of the book, Wilmillar and Other Towns.]
ROGER IN THE HOSPITAL
Larry Eugene Meredith
I am behooved to tell the sad tale of my good friend, Roger Walters. I must say it sent a pang of deep regret to see him lying on a hospital bed (of course also a great deal of jubilation that it was he and not me). His face was pale, not at all its normal wallpaper paste white (it was encouraging to see some color in his complexion.) Then, a-sudden, he stared from his bloodshot optics to the ceiling in fright, something that sent terror through me as well, for he was lying on his stomach at the time.
A look of unparalleled fear contoured his face. He stopped in mid-breath, froze in this position. And then the sheet was pulled over his head and face.
He was hiding from the spider on the ceiling. Oh, the sufferings my friend has suffered since he went to the hospital for a routine operation.
He went into the operating room that day back in June with the fear of having a sponge left in his lower regions. He was assured doctors are careful and keep a specific count of the equipment they insert. His confidence was indeed shaken when a dreaded discovery was made after surgery. They took out one more sponge than they had put in.
This was indeed strange for Roger had one other operation in his whole life. He had his tonsils removed when a boy by Doctor Hiram Hickle, better known as Old Doc Butterfingers.
One afternoon the floor nurse walked in while Roger was hanging the doctor (in effigy). She was rather angry about this. Roger was not supposed to be out of bed that soon. She told him to ring her if he wanted to hang any more doctors. The nurses would be delighted to help. In fact, they would even supply the doctor.
Roger’s new doctor was extremely gentle. He claimed to have magic fingers. This made Roger quite happy, but he still didn’t want his back rubbed daily.
Roger was in and out of the hospital three times since the initial Herniatum neresursum gapduplicisum (which is Latin for double hernia operation, I think, but what do I know, I flunked Latin – curse you, Miss Horner), a total of thirty-two days, four rooms and two floors. He was becoming quite annoyed at receiving recall notices in the mail, especially when one came with an infectious infection.
He spent more than a week in the contagious ward, stuck between two babies who worked separate shifts. Such crying...and have you ever seen a grown man cry? It’s terribly embarrassing. For gosh sake’s, Roger, pull yourself together.
The nurses in the hospital are against him for no good reason other than he attempted to push the head nurse out the window. The other patients are mad at him because he didn’t succeed. That was when he was on a higher floor. The contagious ward was in the basement (closer to the morgue for convenience). It’d be kind of silly and fruitless to push someone out a basement window. What are they going to do, fall up? Besides those windows had wire cages around them so no germs could escape.
They discovered he was allergic to penicillin, but this wasn’t what needled him. His main complaint was they kept giving him blood tests.
“ Blood tests?" He said. “They took so much blood one time that I lost ten pounds.” If you saw Roger in those days and he lost ten pounds; then you wouldn’t see Roger.
They let him play the radio, but drew the line when he wanted to practice his Sousaphone.
He almost got drowned right after his third operation. During the procedure there was a call claiming a bomb was hidden in the hospital. When they noticed that Roger was ticking they threw him in a tank of water. Roger probably would have drowned if his surgeon hadn’t asked if anybody had seen his wristwatch.
After his fourth operation, he was told to go home. And that is the end of Roger...in the hospital, that is.
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