Joseph (My Naked Hospital Roommate)
So, if you read my earlier posts, I promised you the story of the naked hospital roommate. People have been asking since then for me to tell it, and I feel like the holidays are a perfect time. I mean, if you can’t tell the story of a naked crazy person who gives the gift of annoyance (and more) to his ill roommate at Christmastime, then when? What? Never? Pfft. It’s the season of giving, so shut your pie holes and listen. Happy holidays!
You may have read about the long and convoluted set of circumstances that led to my being diagnosed with lymphoma, but let’s recap. It’s got more twists and turns than a telenovela, so escuchame. On my first trip to the hospital, I was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. My hemoglobin was lower than Black Friday prices at Target, and the ED was just as crowded. So, they filled me up with a few units and sent me upstairs to wait for an endoscopy the next day. That night, I had the room to myself, so I spread out and prepared for a sleepless night. Trying to get actual rest in a hospital is like screwing for virginity – it sounds like a great idea but in the end, you don’t really accomplish anything. So, the next morning after a few hours of broken sleep, they wheeled me down to the endoscopy suite.
After I was done came the bad news – my intestine looked like it lost a fight with a snow blower, so I would have to spend a week in the hospital while things calmed down, you know, so they could try again. Off I went, back to my room, thinking I’d be all alone and able to process my anger and disappointment alone. Unfortunately, when I got back, Joseph was waiting for me. See, this is Christmas themed.
OK, so it wasn’t THAT Joseph, but still, he had a beard and he was older. He introduced himself and then asked, “What’s wrong with you?” Hospital is kinda like jail in that way – cell mates share their rap sheets, so I obliged. I explained about the RA and how docs thought years of swallowing NSAIDs gave me a bad ulcer. We didn’t know it was cancer yet. Joseph said “Oh… I hate doctors, they always tell me I can’t leave.” I said “Yes, that sounds awful,” really hoping he’d stop talking so I could take time to eat and reflect on my situation in peace. I took out my horrible hospital food and prepared it. As I was about to take a bite, I heard Joseph call my name. I responded, and then he said: “What’s wrong with you?” Déjà vu. “Ok,” I thought, “I’ll bite. Maybe he misunderstood.”
I explained again about RA and how the doctors think my prolonged used of ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medicine had given me a bad ulcer. Joseph said, “Oh.” OK, so, that finally settled, I went back to eating my horrible hospital food and turned on the TV for good measure. As anyone who has stayed in a hospital room knows, turning on the TV is hospital speak for leave me the hell alone. I finished buttering my muffin (pro tip: the muffins at the hospital are always at least edible), and cut it into four, like I like, turned on a rerun of Naked and Afraid, and was savoring popping the first quarter of my acceptable tasting, warm, buttered muffin into my mouth. I picked it up excitedly, and then I heard Joseph ask, “Hey, what’s wrong with you?”
At this point, I was convinced Ashton Kutcher was going to jump out of the bathroom with a camera crew and tell me I was being Punk’d. No such luck, though, it seemed my roommate was just a run of the mill weirdo. So, at that point, I just decided to ignore him for a while and hope he drifted off to sleep. It worked better than I expected, and I fell asleep for an hour or two myself. Unfortunately, I was awakened by a naked Joseph standing at the foot of my bed. Now, when I say naked, I don’t mean gown on, peek-a-boo style or simply open in front. No, this was full on, free-love, Baby Light my Fire style nudity. Taken aback, it took me a few seconds to realize that Joseph was trying to show me something. He came around the side of my bed and began to give me the full lowdown on why he’s upset that the nurses aren’t washing his family jewels correctly.
OK, so not the run of the mill weirdo. He gave me the lowdown on the improper genital washing, complete with a live power point presentation, and when I say powerpoint, there were no computers. I shook my head. “Crazy sh*t happens to me way too much,” I thought. Eventually, the nurse walked in and I convinced him to “air his grievances” directly to management, aka her. She coaxed Joseph back into his bed and then came over to me. I told her about the all-nude senior citizen revue I had just been privy to and suggested that maybe she call for a psych consult. The nurse said, “oh yeah, that’s probably a good idea.” Yeah. Probably a good idea.
Things were quiet until that afternoon when psych eventually showed up. They asked Joseph things like “do you think people are generally out to get you?” He said yes. “Do you believe that most of your friends will betray you?” He said yes. “Are you keeping track to get them back?” He said yes, definitely yes, they were going to pay in the end. Just then the nurse came in and whispered something in the psychologist’s ear. The psych assistant turned to Joseph and said “did you assault your roommate here? He says you did.” Holy sh*t.
Naked and afraid
After they pulled the pin on that particular Joseph grenade, the brilliant psychology doctors just left, leaving Joseph ample time to plan how to cut out my spleen with a plastic spoon or write REDRUM over and over again. All that was going through my head was “If this guy thinks people are out to get him and hates doctors then I definitely just made the top of his list.” Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, because – you know – the terror. Eventually, I got an hour or two, but it didn’t last.
I awoke to Joseph, sitting in a chair next to my bed, naked, looking like the Godfather of Strippers about to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I stared at him, afraid to make any sudden movements. He looked back at me, obviously assessing my spleen deliciousness, and after staring at him some more I finally said, “I need my spleen!! Uh, I mean, can I help you with something Joseph?” He said “yes.” Then he stared at me again. I was frantically trying to find the stupid call button with my other hand, but, as usual, the damn thing fell on the floor, and ended up between me and the naked angry paranoid man. Eventually, I said, “so what is it I can help you with, Joseph?” He paused for what seemed like ages, and I was absolutely convinced he was deciding if he could pull my spleen out through my mouth. It seemed like forever. Finally, Joseph said, “the nurses aren’t washing me right, look here.”
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