I awoke quite early feeling quite rested mainly because I had forgotten to turn off my alarm clock in my cell phone from the day before and it went off dutifully at 6:15 a.m. I was pleased with myself for making having made it through the night without the need of a sleeping pill, which the nurse had left on my bedside table just in case. I was actually planning on taking it just to see what one felt like, now that I was having a drug fest that day, what stop. But I fell asleep instead. I was a novice junkie. In a sense, that was good news, because anytime you can hold off on that, it means things are going all right.
I decided I would keep the pill and use it recreationally at some future point, since slumber is as diverting an activity as I can think of. Meanwhile I looked out the window and noticed a whitish glow in the lower end of the sky with an orange fringe on the horizon. There was a soft hum inside the room…that hotel air-circulation system sound. I kind of felt between being in a Hilton and an Airbus at the same time.
A few minutes later the door opened and the nurse appeared and asked how I was doing. I was getting used to this. Every once in a while a member of the staff appears to bring some novelty into my life. The nurses here are kind and provide just the right amount of attention without being overbearing. And when they haven’t heard from me in a while, they poke their head in and check if everything is all right. Now, that’s what I call good service.
Most of the time they pay a visit to replace my intravenous bag or add another tiny sack. They hook me up for a few minutes and then return to remove it. Either that or they stick some injection in me while they ask if I am feeling fine. That little action always unnerves me because they draw some fluid from the tube and then shoot it back into the system. I place my fullest faith in their understanding of this procedure and assume they know what they are doing, but I swear I think that every time they push it in, I think something horrible like my veins were going to pop.
And then they would leave without saying a word. I guess it is my right and duty to actually ask what they are slipping into my bloodstream, but I never did, embarrassed at my ignorance or afraid to sound as if I didn’t trust what they are doing to me. So I just smiled and said thanks. They didn’t seem to think I should be privy to this knowledge and because they spoke in such nice tones I just let them go about their business without a single protest. If I were the target of a planned euthanasia fanatic, I could not have made their job any easier.
Since it was early in the morning and I had little to do, I decided to take the time and see just what I had dripping into my body. I hooked on my glasses and decided to look up at the clear plastic. There was very little in the way of practical information other than the letters NaCl 0.9.
Now I never studied Chemistry because I was considered too dumb to do so, and with good reason, but over the years I have learned enough about chemical symbols (mostly through crossword puzzles) to know that Na stands for sodium and Cl for Chloride. Hmm. Sodium Chloride. Now, I thought to myself, wasn’t the stuff that Nazi spies would keep in the form of shirt button and take as a last resort instead of being captured by the enemy? Was I, it crossed my mind, gazing at my last sunrise as it floated over the solar-paneled rooftops of the new apartment buildings in suburbia Madrid?
In reality it was a kind of saline solution, administered to keep me from passing out. I appreciated the thought, but that wasn’t good enough for me. They staff had sorely underestimated my appetite.
You see, one of the sole reasons I let anyone take a knife to my groin and open me up was the short-term benefit of having breakfast in bed. I knew it wasn’t going to be one of those grease-packed delights known as an English breakfast, but just the image of someone placing a tray of food before me while I lie quietly with expectant eyes, was enough to make it worth getting slashed. The meal was a step down from what I was hoping for, some coffee and two muffins, but accepted it gratefully and dug in. My real beef was with the coffee, a large cup of milk and a packet of instant decaf. The missing stimulant was intentional, if you as me, which brings me to my point. Why? I mean I had been administered painkillers, antibiotics, sodium-chloride (I think), and offered a little sleeping pill. Since when is a touch of caffeine life-threatening? Oh, well, you can’t get everything you want.
On top of that, she took my special night drug pill or whatever it was from me before I could hide it. Things were looking grim that morning.