Did you know that when you are visiting someone in the hospital, you risk a temporary kind of parking paralysis. You may park with half of your Buick’s ass askew into another parking spot. You may feel that you have pulled into the spot all the way when in fact, half of your car is sticking out into the driving lane. You also may be a hooker with 7-inch wedges and a handicapped parking tag for your vintage 80’s era Firebird with T-tops. This is a thing, you guys. It’s a real thing. There should be a telethon, because dayam. Dayam.
It’s Day 39 of Esteban’s hospital sentence. I don’t think “Day 39” adequately explains what kind of hospital lethargy you begin to experience. The expectation of going home is gone. There’s nothing but this place, these walls, that window with the shade that is always drawn. We’ve outlasted five bouquets and two mylar balloons. You know how long those freaking mylar balloons last? A long time.
Things I have learned:
- The fastest way to get attention from doctors in the hospital is to wear a pair of bright orange Tieks. I’ve pretty much been wearing the same pair of Brooks running shoes for the entire time I’ve been here, but one very warm day I wore a pair of orange Tieks with capri pants and I couldn’t get in the elevator without someone in scrubs not only commenting on them but exclaiming how much they want a pair and were they really as comfortable as they say (they are). I wear them all the time in Green Bay and no one ever knows the brand name, but here they not only know exactly what they are but also how much they cost (way too much). Apparently even surgeons aspire to become trust fund yoga mommies.
- For what it’s worth, as comfortable as Tieks are, they are defied by the sheer amount of walking I must do at this giant maze of hospital. Back to the Brooks shoes the next day, which do not attract nearly as much attention.
- Danskos are the number one preferred shoe of doctors, nurses and basically everyone that has to walk the miles and miles of hallways in this gigantic hospital, but only the waterproof ones, for obvious germ-destroying reasons.
- Doctors are horrified by hospitals. Think about that for a minute.
- Nurses have seen everything. Nurses are basically saints on earth. I don’t know how nurses do what they do, but I’m in awe of them and their ability to withstand daily heartbreak and grossness and then taking a lunch break to enjoy a meatball sub.
- If I never see that hospital cafeteria again, it will be too soon. I have exhausted all of the edible everything and am down to just grabbing a pretzel roll and peanut butter whenever I absolutely have to eat there.
- There are Amish people staying in the family housing on the other side of the wall from my suite and they have been there almost as long as I have. I have a crazy urge to play Black Sabbath and Ani DeFranco at loud volume somehow corrupt their children but I’ve learned that I’m not as rebellious as one would imagine.
- They are actually not Amish because they don’t cover their hair and the men shave, and also they drive cars, have computers and I saw one with an iPhone. My Google skills are defied by “plain clothes religion who use technology” and I’m too afraid to ask them what kind of religion they are. Non-Amish Amish people, if you’re reading this, what are you exactly? Anabaptist? Huttite? I’m dying here. Also, I enjoy your elaborate braids on your womenfolk.
- I’m working from Esteban’s hospital room and thus am subject to whatever daytime television Esteban is watching/sleeping to. I’ve basically been subjected to 24/7 of NCIS and Law and Order reruns (I vetoed SVU because I can’t handle it). He has oddly tired of the non-stop crime dramas and instead watched some bad TLC reality shows instead. I learned that there are people who buy houses without ever going inside, people who remake cars for huge monetary losses and also, enough people who didn’t know that they were pregnant until a baby appeared between there legs that they actually have a show about it.
- My favorite quote from that show: “I looked down and there was a baby in my sweatpants.” That’s right up there with my other favorite reality show quote, “The crackers keel my life.“
- Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the perfect hospital food, with a few rules that must be followed. 1) Don’t leave them in the fridge. They need to stay frozen or they become little stale gross things that eventually get moldy (which is somewhat relieving) and 2) Do not buy the healthy ones. You save calories and sugar, but at what cost. WHAT COST?!
- After you’ve been in the hospital for about two weeks, the rules change. For instance, the surgical team has now gotten so familiar with us that they just refer to each other by the first name. “What did Maurice say?” “It’s Caitlyn!” “Let’s ask Abby what she thinks.” All of them except for the actual surgeon, whom everyone respects with reverence and austerity, so much so that when even he accidentally dropped an F bomb in our room, it felt like some kind of victory.
From all indications, we’re on the last lap of the Gastro 500. Fingers crossed.