Nothing Else I'd Rather Be Doing

For a few seconds I believe the bed has swallowed my entire body, leaving only my eyeballs. At first I can feel nothing else, and my brain seems to still be wiping the dredges of the anesthesia off - for the time being it can only send a few bursts of signals to my eyes. All I see are the glaringly obnoxious fluorescent lights above, then the curtain divider, and then from the corner of my eyes the machines with all of its wires that are all heading in my direction.
Meanwhile the room has begun a slow counterclockwise tumble: the ceiling melts into the wall, the fluorescent lights look like they're about to fall on to me and then there it is -- the tips of my fingers brush past the top of the cast. The familiar dimpled ridge texture of the fiberglass cast sends my brain shooting down memory lane, and then it all comes back to me: a rod surgery on my left tibia.

I yak up stomach bile as I always do after operations. It's the final signal that says: okay your body is awake now. The nurse holds out a small cup of water for me as I hungrily gulp it down, like it's some kind of mirage that might disappear on me any second.
It's sometime between when I first remember what has happened and the time I am given my first sips of water that the pain hits.
"It was a long surgery, Sandy. Far longer than anyone expected. It lasted 6 hours and Dr. Shapiro had to make 4 breaks into the bones." The nurse tells me.
Still not really able to form complete thoughts yet, I make a sound that is something between a groan and a cry. My hands grasp at the fiberglass cast, fingers scratching at a leg that only that morning I had been able to touch the skin of. Now it lay in several pieces, with all kinds of hardware screwed into the bone - that thought alone made me squirm.
"Don't be afraid to push the pain button, okay?" She put a small buzzer into my right hand, the one that wasn't already swamped with I.V.'s swarming about. I nodded my head, half rolling my eyes to tell her that I already know all too well what the pain button does.

After my vitals are checked again, and a room upstairs has opened up I am rolled to the 9th floor in a room that is across from the nurse's station. It's the room I am always in after rod surgeries, a single room to myself with the border of animal decorations going around the walls. The first night after surgery is always the worst for me. The throb of pain ebbs and flows all throughout the night, the morphine makes me frantically itchy, and my dreams are a mix of lucid reality with the backdrop of pain medication. In short: I have no idea what is going on.
Several times an hour various nurses will come and check on my vitals. But the blood pressure stands that give my arm a gentle hug at midnight, then 1AM, 2AM, 3AM.. has appeared to me as various morphed alien-octopus creatures with tentacles that squeeze for a bit then get ripped off.

In the dim of the night light, and mixed with the neon glow of the machines I could tell he was wearing a large blue cookie monster t-shirt. Must be one of the perks of working at Children's Hospital I thought. Rarely do I remember anything about my stays as an inpatient, especially during the first night after an operation - but for whatever reason the guy checking my vitals that night made an impression. He was going about his business, jotting down my numbers and adjusting my oxygen mask when all of a sudden I blurted out:
"Wouldn't you rather be somewhere else?" 
He stopped what he was doing and looked down at me, smiling,
"No of course not! If I were anywhere else I wouldn't be able to help you and there's nothing else I would rather be doing." 

To this day I have no idea what spurred on my question. I don't remember what my thoughts were before I asked it, but it's pretty obvious that I wanted to be somewhere far away from the 9th floor of the Children's Hospital in-patient floor. But his response comforted me the rest of that night, I remember I slept as comfortably as I could knowing that despite my drugged and broken state of being - there was someone in the world who wanted to be there to help hold me together.

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