It's not every day one gets the pleasure of dining in bed, especially while hooked to oxygen tubes. This morning I woke up completely short of breath. It took the wind completely out of me to even tie my shoes while getting ready for work. I wondered what on Earth was happening? Was I having an asthma attack, perhaps the aftermath of my recent bout of bronchitis? Was there something in the air making it difficult to breathe? No, my room-mate said he was just fine. Was it the coronary effects of last night's Paul Bunyan corn dogs and onion rings finally bringing to pass the big one, wherein I come to join Elizabeth, Fred Sanford style?
I rested for a while and decided I'd be able to go to work but I was out of breath again already by the time I reached my car, thirty feet away. Granted, I realize I'm not in the best shape anyway but this was ridiculous. Something was wrong and I decided I'd better visit the big blue building and get checked out in the ER. I honestly thought they'd just give me a quick asthma inhaler and send me off to work, but suddenly I was sat in a wheelchair and whizzed into a room where I was immediately put in a breezy backless robe, hooked to oxygen and various other tubes and wires, poked and prodded, measured and manipulated. Scary, really. If you ever want to swiftly bypass the waiting room at the ER, the magic words are "shortness of breath."
They decided to book me into Room 355 after I failed the "oxygen test", meaning that the level of oxygen in my system is too low without a sexy tube of the stuff shoved up my nose. "You just won yourself a ticket to the hospital" said the nurse in enough of a sarcastic tone to make me love her despite the grim news. After all the fresh oxygen and some kind of lung-opening mist treatment, I was feeling good enough to skeedaddle, but I was stuck for further tests at least, if not overnight.
Of course, the first thing I noticed after settling into my luxury suite was a classy little laminated folder labeled "Room Service Dining Menu." Room service? I laughed. The soft-focus photo illustration on the front features a gourmet chef delicately sprinkling herbs just so across a plate of lovely braised chicken and veggies. I wanted to call "room service" right away, but alas I was due for a cat scan soon and they wouldn't let me eat first so I wouldn't upchuck all over their expensive machines. The cat scan was weird, dizzymaking, and the injection of "iv dyes" into my system made me indeed woozy, warm and pukey.
So I was delighted when the nurse finally gave me the go-ahead to order lunch - I hadn't eaten a bite all day and all the trauma had made my tummy growl. Oh, the options! Breakfast is served all day but pancakes weren't really going to cut it and I can't say that eggs and cheese seemed fun with mystery chemicals still coarsing through my veins. I would order a burger, but I pictured a dry puck of a thing, and French fries are sensibly not listed as an option. "Grandma's Macaroni and Cheese"? Isn't that what landed grandpa in the hospital? A peanut butter and jelly sandwhich actually sounded good, but didn't offer enough oomph. What I needed was some good old meat and potatoes.
I dialed the number."Room Service?" "Yes, I'd like, um...Tender Beef Pot Roast With Homemade Gravy, Whipped Potatoes, a Wheat Roll, Broccoli, Carrots, Fresh Baked Cookies, and an orange juice." I expected her to say "OK, that'll be $47.99" but instead she just piped "That'll be up in 45 minutes!" and hung up.
45 minutes later, on the dot, a gray young girl arrived with a large gray tray with an ugly gray circular plastic dish, like a cement UFO. Not a terrible appetizing visual presentation, to be honest. Inside lurked an equally gray clump of meat, some nuclear enhanced veggies, and a pile of potatoes that were "whipped" in more ways than one. The saving grace? The brown gravy, a form of which can only be found in institutional facilities like this. Just salty enough to counter the extreme blandness at hand. The wheat roll looked like it had been sat upon by a healthy phlebotamist and the accompanying Promise Lite spread added insult to injury. The orange juice was tiny, presented in a wee pudding cup and finished in one swift gulp. Finally, the homemade cookies were unexpectedly edible, quite good actually and will be what I might have to live on if (God forbid) I have to stay here for any length of time. I've got my laptop and there's some hot wi-fi here, so I'll be a'ight.
Healthwise, I still dunno what's going on at this point, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to live. Heart conditions run in the family and I'm pretty sure this will turn out to be related to that kind of thing, which means last nights Paul Bunyan was the last time I get to indulge in that kind of thing for awhile. Salad city here I come...