The Hospital: Day Twenty-Two

Monday, July 19

The morning nurses come in and clean the room. In fact, on this day, there is a team of attendants cleaning the room from top to bottom. They are cleaning the walls with mops and bleach. I get the sense that something is coming to a close.

I do not talk or look at the other patients. I focus all my energy on staying positive and calm. I made sure to throw the water cups with the medicine from the night before away.

The morning melodic chime begins. The reception area is unusually quiet.

I make sure I am clean and ready for what will happen.

What happens next is surprising, but I was ready for anything. The doctor comes and says he has to do an arterial blood draw. I say ok. I put out my wrists. His hands are shaking, and he has sweat on his face. He sticks me with the needle in the left wrist but cannot find the correct location. He pierced me with the needle in my right wrist three times. The third time he digs the needle around, I feel faint. But I hold onto the tray table and refuse to faint. I know if I faint, my chance today to be released will evaporate. He gives up, and the nurse takes over to do my wrists. I now have two punctures, a cut on my right wrist, and three punctures on my left.

This is no hallucination.

The first patient released is the Argentinian. The nurses congratulate him on the wealth he will collect from me. He is given a bag of his clothes, and the female attendant wheels him out in a wheelchair.

Torino’s cousin is next to go after lunch. He is told that all charges against him are dropped and they deposited money into his account.

Then nurses come in for Domingo and announce that the criminal charges against him were dropped, and he can be released to go home.

It is 3:30 pm. I am still sitting on the edge of my bed. I keep thinking positively. I picture my house and chickens. I think of my spirit animals.

The end-of-day countdown chime begins early.

I sit and listen to it. Alone in Salon Bolio. For two hours.

Finally, as the chime slows, a female attendant arrives with a wheelchair. There is no one to see me off or say goodbye. All the other nurses and staff are gone; it feels like this entire floor was emptied and closed down.

I feel like holding my breath. Am I being released, or will I be placed in another room?

The attendant takes me into the elevator, and we go down to the ground floor; then we go through the maze of the hospital and down a hall where I see Maria. I am so happy I almost jump out of the chair. I am shaking. I want to cry. Maria hands me a bag of clothes, and we go to a changing room where I strip off the dirty hospital gown and hurriedly put on the clothes and shoes.

The attendant wheels me to the hospital entry area. I am holding my breath even though I need to breathe through my mask. I must wait in the wheelchair with the female attendant while Maria finds Carlos and the car. I sit in concentration. I will not be safe until I am through that hospital exit. That is all I think about. I hold back the urge to dash out the hospital door.

Finally, Maria signals that the car is there; at the same time, I see Daniel outside the door; they had said he could not come inside the hospital! I struggle out of the wheelchair and almost run to the car. I breakdown in absolute relief; I made it. I got out alive.

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7/19/21, 7:14 AM – D: Good morning Maria, I hope you are well. The doctor called me last night and said that Renee can be discharged today. Renee has to sign some papers and I have to talk to the doctor. I think today it is possible to go to the hospital and pick up Renee. Is it okay to ask if you and Mr. Carlos are available to go to the hospital today? I’m still working on the details, but wanted to ask. Renee wanted me to ask you.

7/19/21, 9:37 AM – Maria: Yes of course at what time?

7/19/21, 9:39 AM – Maria: I ask you. You have to bring oxygen. To bring it?

7/19/21, 9:51 AM – D: I don’t know the time. The nurse this morning says to call after 2:00 pm. Renee no longer needs oxygen. I spoke to her last night and her breathing is good on its own.

She doesn’t have the bacteria.

7/19/21, 9:54 AM – D: The specific issue right now is that Renee has requested the release because she is 100% healthy. The hospital says they need a notary to translate the document into English for Renee to sign before she can leave. As you know, this takes time, so we don’t know any more information until 2:00 pm, please talk to the doctor.

7/19/21, 9:55 AM – Maria: Very good news, Carlos is in San Miguel but he comes at noon.

7/19/21, 9:55 AM – D: Ok, thank you very much Maria👍🏼

7/19/21, 9:56 AM – Maria: You have to think it through, with the oxygen thing.

Let me know

7/19/21, 9:57 AM – D: Yes of course

7/19/21, 11:30 AM – Maria: I inform you that you do not have to pay anything for your mother’s hospital, because she is a resident and pays the insurance.

7/19/21, 11:33 AM – D: Okay great. The hospital will call you shortly with information about Rene. I couldn’t translate. Sorry for the inconveniences.

7/19/21, 11:58 AM – Maria: Hi Daniel. They already called me and explained to me what happens The Social Security fund has to be taken care of when discharge (discharge of a patient) It has to be in good condition Renee does not go out today The doctors are concerned about her condition .He explained to you for the insurance is very expensive and they need beds for more new patients. But such is the state of having that they don’t want her to go out.I explained to my name that you have oxygen and a lot of experience in using it.I advise you not to press for his departure and it does not sound good to be saying here, listen to the lawyer, in this country we have plenty of will to help.You must be patient. She is medically in very good hands.For me it is not a bother with pleasure and I wish all the best to have. Remember that I am a pharmacy doctor and I understand what is happening.

7/19/21, 12:00 PM – Maria: Correct take by Renee.

7/19/21, 3:12 PM – Maria: Hi Daniel. They just called me from 430pm onwards.

7/19/21, 3:25 PM – D: Okay, what time should I meet at your house?

7/19/21, 4:04 PM – D: Ready

Daniel’s notes:Lawyer SB:

7/19/21, 7:09 AM – D: Good morning SB,

I wanted to ask you when you are available to call Dr Polomo this morning? If we can try and speak with him before 1:30pm, I think it is best. The night doctor told me they do hospital releases 7-3pm. Considering my mother is ready now, I would like to get her home today. Thank you for your help.

7/19/21, 7:44 AM – LawyerSB: Hi Daniel, my morning is booked 😦

7/19/21, 7:51 AM – D: Ok, thank you.

7/19/21, 10:00 AM – D: My friend, I will make the call to the Dr at 1:30pm today if you are available then.

7/19/21, 1:55 PM – D: <Media omitted>

7/19/21, 2:15 PM – LawyerSB: <Media omitted>

7/19/21, 2:21 PM – D: Thank you, sure thing!

Our address:XXXXXXXX

7/19/21, 2:23 PM – LawyerSB: thank you!

7/19/21, 2:28 PM – D: 👍🏼

I remember crowds outside the hospital lined up to get the vaccine—everyone in masks. I did not know what to expect to see because, in the hospital, the experience was so creepy, mean, and scary. Outside just seemed chaotic, nothing like what I remembered before.

When I got home, I asked Daniel for paper and a pen to write down what had happened to me. I told him everything, and he just sat and listened. I drew diagrams and wrote down everything. The writing was challenging, and my writing was shaky because I still had tremors.

When I finished, it was 2:00 am. Daniel had gotten a member of Maria´s family to help rent an oxygen machine. I showered, attached the cannula, turned on the device, and fell asleep.

So glad to be home.

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