Secret Candy, Escape Plans and More Ways to Bond in the Hospital
I had been there a while. A week, maybe two weeks… who knows? It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re confined to the pale, dreary walls of a hospital room.
I had seen patients come and go. With each of them I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from blurting out, “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! Maybe you’re unaware, but I was here FIRST! It’s MYYYYY turn to leave! Get in line!” As it turns out, that’s not the way things work in the hospital. But I was all too aware of that by this point. I was, of course, a frequent-flyer, spending just as much time inpatient as out.
As each new patient was rolled in on a stretcher, I usually expected to have an elderly person as my new roommate. After all, I was in a hospital, and hospitals are supposedly for old, sickly people — not young girls in their twenties who just a few years ago were working hard on their college and graduate education.
But one time, to my surprise, there was a roommate who was not so different from me. Young? Check. Talkative and interactive? Check. Seemingly had a sense of humor? Double check. For those of you reading this who aren’t professional patients, I’ll let you know that this is pretty much as good as it gets in the roommate lottery.
We spent the next week or so getting to know each other and each other’s families. We laughed together. We dreaded when one particular nurse came on shift together. We were “shushed” by nurses for our antics late at night, violating the ever so strict “quiet hours” rules. My amazingly awesome roommate’s husband would also bring in contraband on a regular basis. No, not drugs, nor alcohol (though at times, that would’ve been the most helpful). But food from the outside. For me, who was unable to intake solid food (and on occasion had a big NPO, “nothing by mouth,” sign hanging over my bed), this was a giant, Costco-sized bag of Dum Dum lollipops, which I will never look at the same way.
We also cried together. We supported each other through hard-to-handle diagnoses. We hugged and reassured each other. We offered to switch places with each other if we could during those rough times. We drew blue prints and made escape plans for how we were going to discretely escape from what was affectionately known as Hotel Hell. But then we would get ourselves together, and make a pact: if one of us kept going, the other would, too.
And more than three years later, we are still close friends. And I would still consider that miserable hospital stay as one of the best, simply because of the friendship that came out of it.
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