Over the next few days as I remained in the ICU, I was finally putting together what had happened to me. I had literally died for a short time on the operating table, and then had been brought back to life. The scars on every part of my torso would serve as a reminder of this experience for the rest of my days just in case my mind ever thought of drinking again.
I was visited a few times by a couple of friends during the short time where visitors were allowed. However, most of my time was spent laying there in bed alone with only my thoughts to keep me company. I always thought that when I died, I would have people at my funeral that were truly sad I was gone, but through this experience I realized that I would have been forgotten quite easily and not very many tears would have been shed. It was like Scrooge being visited by the ghost of Christmas future and seeing that no one would have cared when he died because of how he had lived his life.
The most disturbing part of being in the ICU at Hospital Mexico was the deaths. These deaths are a regular part of life in an intensive care unit, but at Hospital Mexico, they occurred more frequently. While lying there in the hospital bed there is not much to do except take in your surroundings. Many people were not as lucky as I was to get out of there alive. All of us in the unit were hooked up to a heart monitor, and from time to time you would hear one flat line. At that point, a group of nurses and doctors would rush in and try to revive the person. Most of the time it would be too late. After 10 to 15 minutes they would cover the body with a sheet and start processing the paperwork on the death. Many times the corpse would remain there covered for hours before they would finally move it to another location. To say that this environment was a little bit disturbing was quite the understatement.
After a few days I was moved to the 6th floor in Hospital Mexico. If I were to label this area, it would be called, ‘The Floor Where People Stay that are Between Life and Death.’ About every 2 to 3 days they would wake me up and tell me that I needed to go into surgery. They were nice enough to tell me in Spanish what they would be doing, which of course, even with my knowledge of the language, I still had no idea because of the technical terms they were using. Plus, I do not think my brain was functioning at full capacity. Each time they rolled me under the surgical table lamp and started to put me under, I hoped that I would not wake up. I wanted to be back to that peaceful place I was before instead of living in this nightmare.
After each surgery I would wake up in hope that this would all end. I wanted the pain to go away and the feeling of complete solitude to fade. I had no desire to eat or put nourishment into my body, as I kept sinking further into a state of depression. At night I would lay there staring at the ceiling knowing that no one I cared about was going to be showing up to give me a hug or hold my hand. If I died it was not going to be with a bang but with a quiet whisper that no one would hear.
After a couple of weeks, I was transferred to the 7th floor. This was where people that were in stable condition were placed. The best part about this room was the fact they placed me by a window so I could see the outside world. This connection probably gave me a little bit of hope that I was going to get out of there. Although the view was not the most beautiful of things; watching the vehicles travel up and down the highway put something inside me, a desire to recuperate and to again be a part of that world.
The days were all basically the same internal battle for me. My goal was to keep the people around me believing that I was strong and in no need of help, while inside I was dying of sadness. Each morning I was given a cold sponge bath and my wounds were cleaned. While getting a sponge bath would be great if given by a beautiful girlfriend in a private situation, this was not a happy moment. Normally they would bring breakfast during this, and by the time the bath was over the food would be cold. With the depression inside welling up, I never ate very much.
After breakfast was over I would lie back down and try to sleep, but with the pain it was next to impossible. Then, almost every day around the same time, my “Guinea Pig” moment would occur. A doctor would arrive with about 5 to 6 students and they would pick up my 2 inch thick file and start explaining to the students what I went through. They would ask me to show them my various surgical wounds, then the doctor would close with “Ese hombre es un milagro de dios.” Which means after everything I went through it was a miracle of God that I was alive. I know that it is important for these students to learn, but after the first week of this happening each and every day it quickly got old.
The rest of the day would consist of lunch and being poked and prodded whenever possible. I did not eat much due to both the depression and the fact that if I had to go number 2, it was quite the ordeal. I had to yell for a nurse which would come when she was ready. My diaper would be removed and the bed pan would be placed under me. After using the potty I would then need to be cleaned by a nurse as I was unable to perform the task. Each and every time I had to go through this humiliation, a little bit more of me died inside.
About once a week someone would come and visit me. I enjoyed the company but could tell that most of the time the visits would leave me feeling worse than before they came. When my ex-boss came, he would let me talk to people on the phone which was how I found out that the Playboy Model used my being in the hospital as an excuse to start screwing some other guy. That was a pleasant revelation while going through my personal hell.
Each time my ex-boss came, he would talk about how my parents were not there, and if he was in the hospital and his parents did not come, he would want to drink and wouldn’t have much hope. Thanks for the dagger in the heart, asshole. That coupled with his ridiculous stories about how he had “fucked” his girlfriend Priscilla while she was drunk, and wanted to know if I had ever had sex with a drunk woman, did not precipitate any good feelings for me. If I was over the age of 50 and telling stories about how I had sex with my girlfriend while she was drunk to an employee, then please shoot me right then and there. I felt bad for his girlfriend because of the way he talked about her, and I did not even know her. Then, after he and the others came and visited, they would leave and I would be left in the hospital bed while they continued on with their lives.
The worst part of each day was at night. Six days a week while the other patients in the room had friends, family and loved ones visit, I would be lying in bed alone craving any kind of human interaction. From time to time a family member of one of the other patients would come and talk to me as they saw no one came to visit me very often. I would talk about anything they wanted but after a few minutes they would return to their family member.
After visiting hour was over I would roll on my side and stare out the window and into the night. I would ask for the pain medication to be put into my IV, as it was the only way that I could try to sleep for a few hours. The nurses would do one last walk around to see if we needed to use the rest room before going to sleep. If you didn’t and you went number 2 during the night you could end up sitting in your own feces for a few hours before they would come and clean you up.
Then the lights went out. This was the only time I could let down my shield and express the hell that was raging inside me. All the questions would run through my head…….Where were my parents and why were they not there? Did no one really love me? How long was I going to be in the hospital? Was I going to die? Would I ever accomplish any of my dreams, or had alcohol and drugs killed them?
In my wakened state, these questions both angered me and destroyed my soul. The pain medication would begin to take effect as I tried to control myself from crying. I had to prepare and put on my strong demeanor because each and every day was another battle. Most nights I would bury my face in my pillow so no one else could hear my sobs.