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Just Minding My Own Business

John W. Pinkerton


There I was, minding my own business when I began to cough.

I often cough and didn’t think much about the first five minutes.  As it continued I recognized similarities to the coughing I went through for about thirty minutes when I had my heart attack.  Holy crap!

This time it didn’t subside after thirty minutes.  I checked my oxygen level---71 and my heart rate---155.  I surrendered and Linda called an ambulance.

Although I wasn’t feeling well, of course I carried on a conversation with the ambulance guys.  They dumped me off at the hospital and departed.

In my hospital room folks were busy taking blood and in general poking and prodding my old body.

Good news. They quickly determined that I had pneumonia.   Thank Gawd!  It could have been so much worse.

At this point I was a happy man, and coughed up a world champion lugie.  Even one of my nurses seemed to be impressed.  I knew at this point I was on my way to recovery.

At the close of my second day in my oversized room, the nurses abruptly started wheeling my bed out posthaste to a much smaller room.  It seems that someone much more ill than I had taken my room away from me.    My new accommodations were less than satisfactory---lousy TV without a remote and a bed without controls and the weirdest nightlight ever devised by man...obviously a temporary arrangement.

The next day they moved me to the fourth floor into a nice room with a big TV and a working remote that allowed me to call the nurses and order food, and a bed with controls.

Mason showed up and ORDERED me not to get out of bed without his assistance.  He did provide me with a urinal and potty chair which I could not sit on without notifying him.  That was not  a problem because I didn’t have the urge to take a crap for several days.

Mason convinced me to comply with his orders.  I came to admire Mason---he is greatly overworked but has a tremendous work ethic.  Good luck, Mason.

We were still in the time of covid and  everyone was overworked.  All the beds were full and I’m sure that a lot of the patients were not nearly as entertaining as I was.  I did try to keep it lively.  I told the nurses, aides, doctors, cleaning folks, and food service folks many of my “stories” and even occasionally allowed them to get in a word.

I apparently talked so much that when new folks were introduced to me they had already been warned  that I was a “talker.”

I took pity on one nurse who didn’t seem to know how to exit my presence.  I call it the “preacher technique.”

A good example occurred during this hospital stay.  An elderly preacher came by to “comfort” me and regretted it.  It’s not that I dislike or don’t respect preachers.  They’re just usually boring.  I had this fellow headed for the door pretty quickly.  Here is the preacher technique for exits: maintain eye contact with the patient; take small backward steps toward the exit always maintaining eye contact; the first time the patient glances away, escape.

The highlight---other than being released finally after five days---was the day I died.

I was just sitting on the side of my bed trying to urinate into a duck---I have learned that no one calls them “ducks” anymore.  They simply refer to them with the boring term “urinals.”  They were called “ducks” because they looked like ducks.  Urinals, by the way, don’t look like urine.  But I digress.

Anyway, while enjoying my urinal relief, the door suddenly opened and folks were rushing into my room.

I zipped him up and inquired as to the purpose of their visit. 

“You were coded as dead.”

“Nope.  Just peeing.”

I waved at a nurse lookilou in the hallway.  She smiled and waved back.

They seemed to be pleased that I wasn’t dead.  Me too.

Finally after five days and a battle with my blood sugar, I was given leave to depart the hospital.

After doctors and nurses won the battle with my blood sugar which was caused by other medications, they put me in a wheelchair and Mason started wheeling me toward the elevators so I could meet Linda downstairs to take me home.

I couldn’t help myself: as we rounded a corner and a waiting area with a few folks in it, I yelled, “I’m being kidnapped!”  No one seemed to care.

When we arrived at the elevator, Mason mentioned to me that it’s not a good idea to shout in a hospital because it usually draws a crowd.

I thought about that for a moment and replied, “Mason, I don’t give a damn.”

I also added, “When you’re old, Mason, you’ll receive a great gift.  You won’t give a damn either.”

I must say that the staff seemed competent: at least they didn’t kill me.