Tuesday, March 23, 2010


January 28, 2010
Dear Diary:

Even given hospital routine, there seems to be an unusual number of people taking blood from my arm. They only have one to choose from because the other one is already taken. It’s siphoning off something from a bag way above my head. Just to increase the interest, the nurse who put in the original port placed it right in the crook of my elbow so every time I remotely bend my arm, such as scratching, it sets off an alarm bell which is only satisfied by a bustling body. To avoid giving the already over-worked staff so much trouble, I lie with my arm rigid and immobile. This matches my left leg.

I don’t concern myself with the numerous vials of blood until white coats enter the room with glum expressions on their faces. “You look very pale.” “No blush,” I say. “Are you always this pale?” “I haven’t looked at myself and I don’t want to. I’ve never gone this long without bronzer.” “We’re concerned about your blood levels.” “Oh!” “They’re dropping quite alarmingly.” “Oh.” “You’ll feel a lot better if we give you a transfusion.”

Transfusion! Arthur Ashe! Hepatitis! Rare blood disease! Someone else’s blood in my body!

“You know, the screening processes now are so thorough. There’s a one in a million chance of anything getting through.” I know that. We have the Blood Mobile come to our company. I’ve been through the screening process and in my view it was too thorough. However, I still don’t like the odds of one in a million. I’m finally convinced when I collapse trying to make it to the commode. Blood it is.

Not so fast. The insurance company has to approve it first. I wait breathlessly. Then finally, it’s a go. A nameless, faceless person somewhere in the ether has checked the box.

I expect the transfusion to be a half-hour job. In fact, it takes sixteen hours – eight hours for each bag. Whoever you are who donated two pints of A+ blood to Berkshire Medical Center, thank you because I do feel a lot better afterwards. That is until Bob repeats his idea of beaming me into the conference. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!

I double my efforts with my home-grown nutrition program, mixing together concoctions that baffle the nurses. They tend to congregate in my room to smell the flowers and to read the labels in my health food store. They assure me that it won’t be long before I can put one foot in front of the other again. I tentatively ask them that if I had to shoot some video, is there a space they could recommend. I tell them that I don’t want grey walls – something flesh toned. One suggests the chapel with the stained glass window behind me. Perhaps we should have organ music for some background ambience!

I don’t know how this crazy idea can possibly work. It certainly can’t be live because who knows what would happen. I mean, I might even cry. The only possibility is if it’s taped and edited to cut out any embarrassing bits. But how am I going to do my hair? My makeup? I can’t even sit in a chair yet. Oh, just forget the whole thing!

I lie in bed and look at the white/grey wall in front of me with its boxes of Latex gloves and the bulletin board with the daily schedule. My eyes drift right to take in the flower arrangements on the shelves by the door. I feel better. They lift my mood. And then, as if in a wave, I see all the spas I’ve visited over the years, all those caring people who work there, all the beautiful rooms, the fragrance, the candles, the music, and I understand in a way I’ve never understood before that this is what our bodies want and need. This is the way they heal surrounded by things that nurture our spirits, that make us feel more positive, that drive away negativity.

I begin to fantasize an experiment. What if this hospital, instead of putting Latex gloves and a bulletin board on the wall, showed a mural of a garden in full bloom or a beach with coconuts washing up on shore? I wonder if patients would heal faster and be released sooner. I bet the insurance companies would love that. I bet they’d even pay for the murals.

Wait, here comes that familiar sound. “Just checking your vitals. Which is your bad leg?” I start to answer and catch myself. “It isn’t my bad leg; it’s my injured leg. And soon it’s going to be running a mile again – in high heels.”


Kim Campbell said...

I love these postings! I am recovering from a broken ankle, now fortified with a 6 inch Titanium plate with matching screws. I slid in mud at home...My ortho surgeon gave me a print of the x-ray as a souvenir. I can hop from my bed (home office has been assembled on it) to the bathroom with the aid of a walker. Reading your insights from a much more severe injury/recovery gives me hope. Thank you.

Shayne said...

Thank for the posting. I love this article. Its rally very nice and the tips are valuable for the health.