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Onward and Upward to Hospice

John W. Pinkerton


After over a month struggling with my breathing, my wife and a nice nurse convinced me that I needed to visit a hospital.  After various versions of “No” and a few finger gestures, I agreed.

I was wheeled to a room almost immediately.  I noticed a pair of shoes on a counter and asked the nurses about them.  They seemed a little discombobulated by my inquiry and removed the shoes replacing them on the shelf with mine.  For the time I forgot about the shoes.

This was followed by seven more days of torture: x-ray, CAT scan, blood samples, injections, pills, potty chairs and urinals, and consultations.

At least the food was good, and they didn't kill me.

A young doc dropped by occasionally.  He seemed to me to be very smart and paying attention to the task before him, me.

He changed his mind about his diagnosis more than once but finally came to the conclusion that I was broke and should get on hospice and go home.

We talked to the hospice people a couple of times and agreed once they assured me that I could get out of hospice relatively easily.

This is my third vacation at this hospital.  Each time I visit, the staff seems to improve.  They're mostly young people who have worked their butts off to get where they are.

After my first couple of days,  I realized that I had not insulted anyone.  My new goal was to maintain this record for the entire stay.  I made it, kinda.

One nurse complained that I continually yelled at her.  I responded that I was simply responding to her requests in a firm  voice and then I gave her advice: “Don't take crap off of anybody.”

Of course I talked a lot: a lot of hospital stories from past adventures and even an old joke which was well received---it's the one about the fellow whose outhouse fell in and he began to yell, “Fire.”  It seems to me that jokes aren't passed around the way they once were.

I decided to take an ambulance ride home so Linda could remain home and not need to drive to College Station.

I offered to drive the ambulance home, but the lady declined my offer.  When we got to the house, things got weird.  She freaked out over the cats and refused to come in the house.  The young fellow with her assisted me into the house and all ended well…more or less.

Of course I'm home now.  The oxygen and I do battle each day.  I try to get a little work done.  Some days I can and some days I can't. The one thing that has not diminished much for me is talking.  Drop by and I may let you get in a word or two.  No promises.

Oh yeah, about the shoes in my hospital room: during my last day in the hospital they moved my shoes from the bench to a pile of my stuff on the couch.  That's when it occurred to me why there were orphan shoes on the counter when I entered the room.  I realized the fellow who owned them no longer needs them. 

For the time being, I still need my shoes.