Slowly I move forward toward the sunlit uplands people walk and play and eat and drink with a second thought. For the time being I am a mass of chemicals and proportions and numbers my blood oxydation is fine without tubes now. Physical Therapy has me sitting up two hours a day. A team of dedicated nurses wipe my bottom and inspect my wet stools (“No blood! “Fabiola shouted triumphantly as though I’d laid an egg). I am no longer shy of exposing my testicles for cleaning to a pair of unerotic cheerful cleaning hands. “Swelling has gone down Mr Michael!” announces Maria like the cheerleader she should be.
She likes to shave but we have to send to the OR got the blades as there are none in intensive care. My wife is not simply permitted to go out and buy blades. They have to be approved. Maria worried I would like cut of the shave. I was happy to have clean sheets and clean cheeks. Mauricio the blood tech was enchanted ‘Oh to have a girlfriend who would do that ‘ he murmured over and over again. Maria ignored him. My wife held him back
But in the end we are obstacles to time off. Mirta was eager to go get her hair done for her weekend off. Fabiola had a concert ...”If I don’t see you...” the implicit sub-text being better not to see you else you will still be a useless lump of metamorphosing beetle helpless on your back when time off is over. Anything is better than that. Father John from St Richards came by radiating disapproval and lack of love all Irish pink flesh and stern upper lip. I confessed my paltry sins but got him to accidentally slip me some ice water melt which tasted heavenly after I got Last Rites and all was forgiven: he looked at me like something a starving polar bear would discard.
The boys send photos of Rusty I pore over like a distant lover seeking portents of future harmony. Webb Chiles writes me unsentimental letters from his sailing base in South Carolina riding out Hurricane Florence. He drinks my share of the guns and tonics we would share were I there with him. Humor I enjoy as he drinks and now I can’t
My world is circumscribed by my blood pressure and my needles to which I am no longer the least bit phobic. “Need blood? Go for it,” I offer jocularly. Need to stick a basket in a vein to catch errant clots? My groin is your groin. No pain too much no humiliation too great.”
I no longer much care about politics or the world or insurance companies. I long for my breathing tube to be removed from my nose allowing a to return to eating and drinking normally. Nothing extravagant but I crave cereal with milk and fresh fruits and Gatorade with electrolytes and long cold cups of water. And sweet yoghurt. That is the extent of my world these days. Maybe Monday the goddamn tube goes. Maybe Monday I order breakfast for lunch. A Red Letter Day that would be. Indeed.