Febuary 8

It was a Sunday night. I was in a hospital room with two other patients. On of these people was a woman in her 50s who coughed constantly. She would shoot glances at me while coughing. She coughed with her mouth wide open and never covered her mouth. She was asleep now and even when asleep she was causing me to clench my stomache in a rage. She was a snotty sounding breather as she slept. I could her the mucus in her nose with every breath she took. The light from the hallway fell into the entrance of the hospital room. It was my 18th night in hospital. The other occupant of the room was better. She was a young single mother who did not have a home. At the moment she was staying with friends and these friends would come in and visit. They would bring her baby with them and they would all gather round the bed and talk in low voices behind the blue curtain that would be pulled around in order for some privacy. They would talk in Arabic. The young woman visitor would walk by my bed to make her way to the toilet. She wore a bright blue head scarf and her big brown eyes would sparkle as she caught my eye and smiled at me. Her smile was so sincere and stunning. I would grin back at her and wish I could think of something to say in order to start a conversation. That day a social worker had come to help the single mother sort out Centrelink and a place to live. I found myself hoping that it all worked out for her. I really wanted to see and hold the baby. Instead I kept my earphones in my ears and kept reading.

I was sitting on my bed reading when my night nurse had come in to introduce herself. They do this during changeover and I missed her the first time as I was listening to music from my laptop, through ear phones. The little earphones that go in your ears, that start to hurt after a long while of wearing them. I looked up from my book to see her motioning at me with her hands. She was waving them in my face and smiling at me. I wondered how long she had been doing this. I took out my ear phones and put my book down.

‘’When I first saw you I thought you were a tiny doll.’’ She said to me in a light Spanish accent. ‘’What is your secret to looking so young?’’

I looked at her and say unsmiling. ‘’No sunlight due to extensive stays in hospital.’’

‘’Oh, no.’’ She says cheerfully. She bustled around my bed, knocking it a lot as she fiddled with the observations machine. She got the blood pressure cuff that was connected to the machine and started putting it around my tiny upper arm. I sighed and said what I had to say for the hundredth time. ‘’The big cuff wont give you an accurate reading. You need to use the small cuff that is in the drawer by my bed.’’ The clumsy nurse gets the small blood pressure pump. It says small adult on it and there is a line of different sized adults on the cuff. These adults are simply a white outline but the adult that is best for the small cuff is coloured completely in white. It is small, yet, not the smallest. She takes my tempreture and is pleased with how stable everything is. She leaves me alone.

It is late when she comes back. I have stopped reading and am under the blankets of my bed. Not asleep though. The snotty breather is asleep and thus I can never be. The clumsy nurse comes to my bedside and says softly. ‘’Can I take some blood, sweetie?’’ I groan and want to say fuck off. But this is part of the kidney ward. I have been told the importance of these blood tests. I still grumble though and start to sweat a little. I have very little faith in this nurse. It concerns me how often she knocks the bed with her hips and drops things. I do not want her giving me a blood test. I put out my left arm and place it on top of the covers so she can get to the vein. She switches on the light that floods my bed with yellow brightness. I squint and close my eyes against the light.

The clumsy nurse gets a tourniquet and puts it around my upper arm. My arm is bare as I am only wearing a black singlet. She tightens the tourniquet. Some of my skin gets caught in the buckle and as she tightens the tourniquet it pinches the skin and stays pinching. The sudden pain is bad and I cry out. Clumsy nurse panicks and tighten the strap more and it pinches more. I scream again and start to cry. ‘’I am so sorry darling.’’ She says. I am unmoved. I am more involved in my pain than in making her feel better about being clumsy. She is unable to undo the tourniquet and my upper arm skin is still being painfully pinched. I am sweating profusely now from the terror that I feel in the prospect of her actually wielding a needle and putting it in my vein. I do not trust her.

‘’Please get somebody else.’’ I say through my tears. I am so hateful towards her in my mind. How the hell is she a nurse? I think. If I’m here for another week I will refuse to have her as my nurse. She goes away and comes back with another nurse. I like this one she has taken my blood before and I start to relax. The other nurse loosens the tourniquet and rubs my arm. The clumsy nurse is still hovering around my bed and knocking it. I want her to go away. I want her to let me be. ‘’I am so sorry my darling.’’ She is saying and she sounds almost ready to cry. ‘’She is my little doll.’’ The clumsy nurse says to the other nurse. The other nurse takes my blood swiftly and with ease. The clumsy nurse wants my forgiveness and I give it to her. It is a relief when they both leave. The nurse who gave me my blood test shuts off the light above my bed and I put my arm with the cotton bud and tape, back under the blankets. I close my eyes and hear the snotty breather.

She had not been woken by the drama.