Friday, August 22, 2008

Well, That Was Awkward

Okay, so I am down in Pensacola sitting with my my mom while she's in the hospital. (She had surgery and is recovering very well--I think she'll be released soon.) Mom was lucky enough to have the hospital room all to herself for a few days, but early yesterday morning, in the small hours, they wheeled in a roommate, another lady about Mom's age who is suffering from kidney stones.

When I arrived in the morning to do my day shift (Dad takes the nights), Mom and Dad were huddled on one side of the room, with a curtain drawn between the two beds, and Marge the roomie was on the other side of the curtain. Quarters were tight. Each side of the room has one bed, one chair, and one TV, so at least you and your roomie don't have to agree on what to watch. Mom had the window side of the room, which is also the bathroom side, which will become important in a moment.

So while it wasn't super comfortable to be sharing the room with Marge, neither Mom nor I minded much. Mom and I chatted, and I read while she napped, or fielded calls on our two cell phones from family and friends. The only slightly irritating thing about life with Marge was that she got a lot of calls on the room phone. And she couldn't reach the phone from her bed, but I could. So I was up and down getting the phone for her and then hanging it up again. Yes, you read that right: I was ever so slightly irritated to be constantly getting the phone for this poor sick woman. More evidence of my uncharitable nature, I guess. Florence Nightingale, she don't live here. But my upbringing stood me in good stead and I did it with a cheerful countenance.

Then, THEN, while I was talking to my sister on the cell phone, Marge let out this trumpeting poot on the other side of the curtain. Reader, I am sorry, because it is in very poor taste for me to be writing this. So Marge pooted, LOUD. It was very very hard not to laugh or react at all. Then, the smell wafted over the curtain, and it was very very hard not to fall down. GOD FORBID THAT I AM EVEN DISCUSSING SUCH THINGS. So then, while I am trying not to break conversational stride with my sister, because Marge can hear everything, Marge pressed her nurse call button, and asked for help with "a bathroom problem." I became very afraid that Marge had had an accident. So Marge said nothing to us, and several minutes went by. Then Marge again called the nurses for help getting to the bathroom, because nobody had come. The humane side of me (I do have one) thought, "Should I help her?" Then I thought that it was probably a bad idea and perhaps outside of my skill set, and that I might make things worse and surely embarrass her more.

While I was thinking this over and wondering what social rules pertained to our situation, Jon the nurse came in and helped Marge. He helped her shuffle to the bathroom, right past the end of Mom's bed, naked. Marge had a hospital gown, but she was wearing it suspended from her elbows. Anyway. Of course, I averted my eyes so rapidly that I probably looked like I was having a seizure. After he closed the bathroom door on her, Jon looked at Mom and me and silently mouthed, "I'M SORRY!" I wanted to marry him in that moment, because it was adorable.

There are two punchlines to this story. I found out that early that morning, right after Marge had been admitted, she had done another naked bathroom walk past Dad, and while he was averting his gaze as though all their lives depended on it, she stopped at the foot of the bed and said his name. Then she introduced herself and he realized that HE KNOWS HER.

The other thing is that I emailed my friend David, immediately, from the hospital room because I needed to describe this spectacle to someone, and he wrote back, "Thank goodness you had a homo nurse to share that moment with you." (It may help to know that David is gay.) I was like, "HOW DID YOU KNOW THE NURSE WAS GAY? Does your 'dar work long distance, or what?" He explained that straight men don't comically yet silently mouth things like "I'M SORRY." I had to acknowledge that he was right, and then as I have so often, to appreciate his knowledge of human nature.

So that happened. What are y'all doing?

10 comments:

Amy said...

That is priceless!! OMG the part about the bathroom walk is painful to read. There ARE no rules to govern that situation! Beck, beautiful description as always.

Carrie said...

OK, maybe it's wrong to assume that any male nurse is gay, but when you said the part about the silent apology, I too instinctively knew he was a 'mo. If I may say so, I probably have better gaydar than the average middle american breeder chick since we lived in San Francisco for 7 years and co-owned a building with four separate gay guys.

"Middle American Breeder." I think I just came up with a new niche magazine. Except it will be about raising cats.

David said...

Ha! My point exactly, Carrie. I know a ton of straight folks who think they have good gaydar ... and then fall back on something like profession or clothes. It's easy and crude and often just plain wrong. Real 'dar is nothing if not subtle and more finely attuned than that. It takes careful observation and years of deliberation.

And living in SF might be a prereq.

Lecia said...

Ha ha - great story! In my life before parenthood I had a career in medicine (have also had my share of time as a patient) and could write a book about things like that - they happen far, far more often than one would think!

Nicole said...

What I want to know is why on earth would anyone in their right mind and half naked on the way to the bathroom stop to introduce themselves? Maybe I read it wrong, but that's sure what it sounded like. Geez, if I'm on the way to the bathroom fully clothed, I don't stop to chat. Half naked in front of a stranger (man or woman) and I would be putting in a request for a new room! How embarrassing.

Becky said...

I know! You read that right, Nicole! The woman had some boundary issues, bless her heart.

Minnesota Matron said...

Hello, fellow Matron! Now that hospital story is much funnier than the one she had last night! And actually Florence Nightingale was a real pill in person, crabby as all get out and completely HOSTILE to her own family of origins. If you're channeling her, you're already the kinder softer version! Thanks for commenting so she can zip over here for a read. . . .

Becky said...

Hey Minnesota, thanks for coming by! I feel like I'm part of a Coalition of Matrons.

CB said...

Cringing and cracking up all at once at this story! Thanks for the note on my blog; I've been enjoying yours and now have it bookmarked. =)

susansday.com said...

I love your stuff! : ) : ) Great posts, again and again.