The room is quiet, almost zen-like in it’s tranquility. The IV pumps purr and the ventilator swooshes in and out. Occasionally, the IV pumps brazenly sound off their alarms, diiiing-doooong, indicating that their precious serums are done infusing.
The trash cans are usually overflowing with the yellow paper gowns and bright blue gloves every person must wear into the room. No matter that the cans are emptied 3 or more times per day, often I must pick up the trash that litters the wood floor. It’s an odd costume-party tradition that mandates the guests leave behind their borrowed costumes.
The tap, tap, tap of the nurses computer keyboard competes with the lessor tap tap, tap tap, tap tap of my laptop’s keyboard. Sometimes we chat in soft voices, hushed whispers that belie the fact that the babe in the enormous hospital bed might be abruptly woken up. The eclectic sound of modern hospital room jazz is more often than not, accompanied by the sound of feet shuffling softly through the room.
Barely audible over this finely orchestrated swish, hum, tap tap tap are faint piano lullabies softly filling the room with tunes such as The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Frere Jacque and Brahms’ Lullaby. The songs have been repeated on an endless loop for 2 months straight. The black iPod settled in its matching docking station is loaded with several weeks worth of music, but these particular songs have been chosen for the peaceful atmosphere they project.
The lights are usually dimmed. The room’s only window to the world outside is small and even during the day, very little natural light seems to be able to penetrate the darkness. The wintry view of the roof-top picnic area is depressing at best and the shades are closed against the cruel tease of snow-covered picnic benches.
Across the room, ugly white and yellow curtains hang crookedly at the large sliding glass doors. They are drawn against the bright lights and the sight of the nurses station, successfully eliminating the bustle of activity outside the room.
One small work-light glows over my hard fold-out cot and the tray table that doubles as a computer desk. The other source of light glows harshly over the meticulously organized medical supplies, strategically placed away from the main attraction in the room.
He lays there on his side in the over-sized hospital bed that no small baby should be allowed to lay in. The stark whiteness of the hospital linens glow against the dusty blue of the wall he faces.
Brightly colored, hand-sewn baby quilts adorn the bottom of the bed. Changed each day, they are the only reminder that the babe is more than just a patient in this room. He is cuddled with soft fleecy blankets that help keep his diaper-clad self toasty warm.
His uber-soft black and white plush zebra is snuggled between his outstretched arms. Each arm has a single IV catheter. Somehow multiple medications are pumped simultaneously into him through the jumbled string of IV tubing connected to those whirling pumps. Those pumps that keep his life-force flowing through him.
But even the breathing tube and the spaghetti of IV’s can’t hide the chubby cheeks and pudgy hands. In fact if you could just ignore the tangle of tubes and the wires monitoring his vital signs, he’d appear to be like any other eight-month old baby taking a nap…..
In the five months that I stayed in the Hospital with David, we had several different rooms. While my favorite was the big sunny room in the corner, Room 541 was the last one we called home. This room wasn’t as big or as sunny as the previous room they moved us out of, but it was cozy and we made the best of it.
This post was written for The Red Dress Club’s Weekly Memoir Writing Prompt. This week’s exercise:
Think of a room from your past. It can be any type of room at all.
Take a mental picture of that room.
What happened there? What is it like? What is the atmosphere there? What are the smells, the sounds, the sights? How does it feel?
Now reveal that snapshot to your reader.
Take us to that room.
And try to do it in 750 words or less.
Critiques are always welcomed.