Real Food & A Terror Filled Night

“Goodnight, Steve,” Terri my pretty blonde nurse said. She wasn’t only my nurse but she spent time with me and knew some of the people I knew. Terri was the sunshine of my life at that time. She always peeked her head into our quad bed recovery room before turning out all lights in the nurses station. The wall facing that station was smooth-face green block up a third of the way, then the other two thirds up to the ceiling, were glass so that the nurses could keep visual tabs on us.

When I was mostly weaned from the IV tubes and was whispering my likes and dislikes to her she discovered my penchant for Italian food.

One late afternoon, Terri told me, “I have a special treat for you at suppertime, but you have to promise not to tell anybody. I could lose my job over it. I know it’s been months since you’ve had real food” (I should have taken the hint.)

“Can you give me a hint?” I struggled getting the words out but she did hear me.

The response everybody gives and Terri’s was no different was, “Huh,” and she leaned into me and listened intently. I loved the attention she gave me. She honestly made me feel good about my crippled self.

“Could I get a hint,” I asked softly not wanting another besides her, to hear.

Terri whispered into my ear, “I’m not supposed to be doing this and the only person who knows other than us is,” and she nodded toward, Elizabeth. “I bought you a Caesar’s Salad from Cossetta’s.

You’re on a soft-food diet and the reason for that is because you have no gag reflex. Your lungs could fill with liquid. They fear that you may get pneumonia, but I have been keeping up with your charts and all and I think the salad would be ok. Elizabeth knows your vitals and she will be in here with me watching the monitors, while I feed you. Should be fine, what d’ya think?”

“That sounds terrific, Terri and thanks.” It had been about three and a half months since tasting anything other than hospital food or not even tasting it just being nourished from the drip, drip, drip of that tube going from the pouch to my stomach. Really this was the first experience with real food in a long time. Luckily, I hadn’t forgotten how to chew,

No one could see the special privilege I was getting because the curtain around the bed was pulled shut. I was fed the taste sensation after everybody had been given their – drip-drip or re-chewed-looking suppers.

The salad didn’t harm in the least and Dave Cossetta had even prepared the cheeses (Provolone, Fontinella, Mozzarella) especially for me, cut up small and drizzled with their house blend Italian Dressing. It came with authentic, baked on the spot, Italian Bread, which of course I was not able to have.

Each smaller than bite-size forkful was brought to my mouth with care by Terri. Elizabeth stood near the stand at the side of my bed with watchful eye. They had me chew each bite, like, a hundred times. It was a supraglottic swallow, Terri said. I couldn’t even finish the salad even though the taste was marvelous.Terri was so nervous and I hadn’t done this (chewed) for months and this new way of eating made sure I ate slow.

I thanked her much and she kissed me on the cheek.

Continued….. I’m back…

Everybody Had Gone Home

The nurse’s station was still and absolutely quiet. Their lights were shut off except for, low wattage lighting that seemed to create a halo. The nurses had gone home – now was the time to be vigilant.

Two guys in hospital garb slid into the nurse’s area, sat and poked around for awhile, being ever quiet. Of course the doors to our room were closed at this time of the night. They got up and walked towards me. Could they see that I was awake? They opened the doors to our room and slithered in.

My suspicious mind and feelings told me that this had happened many times before. This time I was awake. They would not get me, I decided. I kept my eyes open wide to get a good look at the perpetrators; I will report them to the nurse in the morning. Ha-ha they don’t know they are being watched.

Bear with me while I try to explain the weariness and fear that I felt that night… not being able to sleep was a good thing. Why are they here now? I surmised the time to be about three A.M.

Those two scoundrels tip-toed in. I couldn’t see what they were doing…I heard though. I could hear the curtain surrounding the bed opposite me open and then close quickly.
The next bed’s curtain opened and the the guys mumbled about. I heard them slip inside the curtain. You ask how I know? My hearing seemed stronger in the stillness and because I could not see, I listened more intently.

The slider hooks could be heard as they moved along the bar holding the curtain. They moved closer to my bed. I heard the curtain around my neighbor’s bed being slid open. I heard a grunt and then one with a high-pitched voice spoke a little louder than he intended, I’m sure.

“Lift,” the voice squealed and I heard a rustling of the sheets.

Then a heavy sounding weight of sorts had been put down…”One to go a lower voice said.

These guys were in here for one reason only; they are really sick, twisted, demented and unscrupulous. Taking advantage of us who were so vulnerable and unable to protect ourselves.

I was thinking of how to defend myself as they mysteriously moved to and pulled my curtain open. Anybody who would take advantage of other humans who were unable to defend themselves…Hey wait a minute! Isn’t the fear of being raped and being unable to stop it the fear of all women since Eve? I am now woman-like in strength – probably even less – more child-like. I would not be the least bit surprised if a woman could take me.

How will I get the nurses to believe me in the morning, how will I ever get anyone to believe me?

I began screaming and kicking wildly (could only kick with one weakened leg the right leg would not move. I tried throwing haymakers with my weakened left. Again my right arm would not move either. They lifted me and gently set me down. They must’ve laughed and scoffed at my weakness and ineptitude.

Then I heard one of them say, “It’s okay, the sheet is dry.”

An old adage says: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

'North Memorial - I was airlifted to this hospital from a smaller hospital close to the accident site and my home, in Wisconsin. The two months pent here saw me in a coma.'
'Region's hospital bought out Ramsey Hospital, but I stayed ion the top floor of that rounded tower  That was only my second hospital in four months...soon to be transferred to the first of three nursing homes and would finish out the year at a Brain injury Rehabilitation Center in Milwaukee, WI. July of 1988 - July of 2015 were the worst years of my life.'
'Cossetta's Restaurant where Terri got the salad for me.  Before that, Mama Vitali, came to visit me.  Many Italian and non Italian friends. Most of whom I would never see again.'
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Elizabeth Dill
Elizabeth Dill Can’t imagine what it was for you after your wreck finding it hard to eat and talk. Sounds like you had some wonderful nurses. Waiting for the story to continue.

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