When I spent six weeks in the hospital in 1984—first at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey, then at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York—some of the nurses started feeling almost like family. And, like family, nurses can sometimes be a bit too frank.
I was admitted to Englewood because of heavy bleeding from my 17)ulcerative 18)colitis. My 19)hemoglobin level was 5.6—the normal number for men (as all nurses know) is between 13 and 17—and the admitting nurse 20)offhandedly said, “I've never seen anyone alive with a hemoglobin that low.”
I thought my wife, Deb, was going to faint.
A week later I was 21)bundled into an ambulance and packed off to Mount Sinai, where the days passed in a “22)Matrix”-style blur. I remember the nurses calling, “Keys!!!” and the big fist of keys zipping and zooming up and down the hall floor…the old man with a thick 23)Yiddish accent chanting, “Noice(编者注：noice实为“nice”，带有犹太口音的人发“nice”一词听起来与“noice”相似), noice, noice!” …the nurses wrapping my arms, sore and 24)swollen from all the 25)IV needles, in hot towels.
Finally I had surgery to remove my 26)ravaged 27)colon. Post-op there are always those 28)disorienting moments as you shake off the 29)anesthesia. 30)Angelic visions 31)flutter about the bed, 32)swabbing your forehead, slipping ice chips between 33)parched lips, and you wonder: Heaven? Or recovery room?
“How're you feeling, Mr. Jennings?” Recovery room—34)whew!
And most recently, for my prostate cancer, I was treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. Except for a 35)flip-flopping energy level, I'm doing well. Every three months, I get my 36)PSA tested—so far, so good.
It made me smile that the nurses there called the two round, plastic 37)drains that dangled from my side“38)grenades.” And it was one of my grenades that made one young doctor understand that I was more than just another “prostate cancer, post-op.”
I can't recall her name, but the doctor had been told to remove my drain, my last grenade. She needed to grab it firmly, then tug. Instead, she held it 39)tentatively, as if it were a 40)surly 41)garter snake, and 42)waggled it inside my body.
It hurt. I got dizzy, nearly threw up and broke out in a cold sweat. When I told her I was going to pass out, she 43)sheepishly went and got help.
Real help. She went and got a nurse.