Although I felt like I was the only person in the world; with basically no friends or family there beside me on this journey through hell, I was surrounded by others trying to survive another day as well. At all times there were a total of 10 patients in the room, most teetering on the line between life and death. With each visit of family members and loved ones, there was always the chance it might have been the last. You could see the pain and sorrow being suppressed in the eyes of each visitor.
During the beginning of the recovery process after my initial couple of weeks going in and out of surgeries every couple of days, I was placed beside an older man that spoke English. I assume that the nursing staff, being tired of my assaholic behavior while going through detox and depression, thought that putting someone that spoke my native tongue would calm we down for a couple of days. They were right.
I held conversations with this man about what he has been through in life, about his family who had grown up and did not visit anymore, about his wife that had passed on a couple of years back, and about the surgery they were about to perform on his heart. Through all the ups and downs in his life, he had remained true to himself. We talked about his 50 year marriage with his wife and how he saw, when looking back, that the love they shared in that relationship was the only thing that mattered.
After about 48 hours he was rolled out of the room to have his heart surgery. He left me with one piece of advice, which sounds cliché, but is very true. “If you ever find that woman that is your best friend, that brightens every part of your day and makes your heart truly smile, make sure that you hold onto her your entire life…….she will make it worth living.” That would be the last time he spoke to anyone. He died a few hours later on the operating table. I can only hope that he and his true love are reunited.
Many of the other hospital patients were wheeled in and out of that room on Floor 7. However, there were about 3 patients that, like me seemed, to be in long term recovery mode. I did not really learn very many names of the people there. Probably because of the mix of an egotistical mind set and the fact that inside I was being torn apart with the daily battle I faced. The three patients I did get to know the best, I had nicknames for. They were Ratoncito, The Guy with 16 Kids, and Olivier’s Dad.
Ratoncito, or in Spanish “little rat”, is hard to really label as to what type of person he was. He had an infection in his ankle that was being treated. Sometimes I think he was there for the free food at the hospital. I called him Ratoncito as after each meal he would get in his wheel chair and roll around the room; asking for any leftover food that people did not eat. He would usually come to me first as I did not eat very much. Like a little rat he would sit there at the end of your bed closely guarding the food you had given him, as if protecting it from being stolen by anyone else. After eating it he would scurry away. If he was still hungry he would repeat this activity until his belly was full.
During Ratoncito’s stay in the hospital, he had what seemed to be three different women, who each brought 2 to 3 kids each to visit their father. I assume that these women did not care too much for each other, as the one time that 2 showed up at the same time, there was tension and the feeling that an all-out cat fight was about to occur. Truth be told, I was kind of hoping for it to bring some action to the 7th floor.
One day, while Ratoncito was sitting at the end of the bed eating some leftover fruit from lunch, I asked him about the women and the kids. He admitted that only one was his wife and that the 2 others were lovers with whom he had affairs. He actually had more than the 8 kids that had come to visit him. In total he had 11 children, 3 of which he did not see but that were the product of him basically whoring around with other women. While this was disturbing; knowing that Ratoncito had 11 children from 5 different women, the guy directly across from me outdid even him. “The Guy with 16 Kids” had just that; 16 kids with 7 different women.
About 8 of these children would come each and every day to see their father. Although he was not the most attractive of men, he had managed to produce at least 4 very beautiful daughters. This was actually the best part of my day; being able to at least look at them for about an hour each night.
The Guy with 16 Kids also had an infection in his lower leg. Each day the doctors would come in and try to convince him to let them cut it off. I myself had been told that they wanted to cut off my leg during the initial round of surgeries but I would not let them. In Hospital Mexico because of the number of patients and lack of available resources, the doctors see amputation as a quicker solution to long term antibiotics. Each day his kids would debate on what should be done and each day the lower leg would remain attached to his body.
After about 3 weeks of his children visiting him, a few began coming over to talk to me. I assume this was because they felt sorry for me, seeing me alone each night. Maybe the fact of the matter was that there was only so much room around their father’s hospital bed. Although they were not my family, it felt good to have someone to speak to. All conversations were held in Spanish, but I would manage a smile from time to time while talking. My craving for human interaction was intense. My favorite was when his daughter Fernanda would come and speak to me. At age 21 she was gorgeous and had an ass that was sculpted by God. I even managed to get her phone number, which was most likely given to me out of pity, but still made me feel good at the time.
The last nicknamed patient, which was not really a nickname, was ‘Olivier’s father.’ Olivier came to visit his father in the hospital almost every night. I never really found out what his father was suffering from, but he survived the hospital and is still alive and kicking. Olivier would usually come and talk to me for 10 to 15 minutes each time that he came to visit his father. It was comforting. He would look at me with eyes of sadness for what I was going through and it felt like someone actually understood the pain inside my heart that each day I would hide away and each night set free.
He even brought me a book of Joel Osteen. Although I had attended some of his services in Houston, something inside did not sit well with me knowing that his “church” was where the Houston Rockets used to play basketball. That being said, Joel’s motivational books can really help someone get through a hard time. Combining God with motivational speaking in the form of that book helped me get through many a hard day in that hospital bed.
Several people died while I was in that room. Each time they would be surrounded by family and friends in their final hours. Tears were shed and hands were held. Each person tried to be as comforting as possible in those final hours in the life of their loved one. Although we were among others, each of us was in essence trapped in our own private hell when visiting hours were over and the lights went out.
Although I was very appreciative of the people that would come and speak to me while visiting their fathers and husbands in the hospital, these were not people that really cared about me. I could see in their eyes a remorse for the fact that no one was there by my side. Remorse for the fact I had to go through this alone.
We are told our entire life “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” ; growing up playing sports as well as going through the normal ups and downs of life, getting your heart broken, losing games, and through other disappointments, I would also pick myself up after being knocked down and keep on moving down life’s road.
Each morning I would pack away my feelings of sadness and tell myself this is one day closer to getting back to living life. Each night I would stare out the window and regret all of my mistakes that put me in that current situation. I would repeat the same phrase in my head every night.
“Be strong, you are going to get through this. Forget about the mental and physical pain, it will go away. I am one day closer to getting out of here.”
Instead of trying to mentally address the emotional battle going on inside my mind, I would push it into my subconscious. I knew that in order for me to one day find happiness and internal peace, those demons would need to be confronted.
Next Up – Holidays in a Hospital Bed