Contrary to popular beliefs, I never saw the light at the end of a tunnel or that of my life flashing before my eyes. I really thought I was going to die that day. I didn't think about what happens after death before nor during my suicide attempt. When I regained consciousness two days later on a hospital bed, I didn't receive any heavenly or spiritual dawning. Instead I found myself peeing through the catheter that was still connected to my bladder. I was awaken three hours later by a female nurse casually pulling the tube out of my penis. The pain was so unbearable that I fainted back to sleep. A different nurse woke me up for my first meal. A covered tray was brought before me. I wasn't hungry, in fact I felt full. Still I checked what was on the menu. It was a good thing that I didn't feel like eating. Before me were a tiny glass of orange juice and water, along with what seems to be vegetable soup containing a pea, a bean, and a sliver of carrot, and a bowl of watery red jello.
I was consistently tired the first day after waking up. I kept dozing off intermittently. Whenever I'm awake, I familiarize myself with my surroundings. The whir of machines, the tacky green colored curtains that enclosed the area of my bed giving me an air of semi privacy. Comings and goings of medical personnel. Sometimes I could hear them gossiping, once they were chatting about what I presumably did to be in this state.
"I could hear you." I hoarsely shouted. To my dismay, they just shushed me right back and reminded me that there were other patients in the ward.
Tubes and needles were still poking me all over my arms. I was admiring the IV that was stuck in the back of my right hand when a male nurse I've never seen before opened up my curtain and began flipping through my charts. A smile on his face.
"Good morning. I see you're up and about." He was handsome. I was suddenly aware that I was not wearing any underwear underneath my robes that were riding up my thighs. I was trying to stealthily cover myself when he moved to my right side.
"Don't bother. I need to put my hand up your robe anyway to check your stomach." That didn't stop me. I was tugging one last time when he snatched my right arm and brought it up to heart level and proceeded to take my pulse. I was startled, not because of his abruptness but because I could now feel my testicles and patches of my organ exposed to the cold air. After he was done, he scribbled something down on my chart then lifted my robe until his calloused and very cold hands were touching my abdomen. As I gasped, he began to knead and press all over.
"Does this hurt?"
"How about here?"
"A little but not really."
"Hmmm. You seem to be doing fine. Don't worry about the latter. It's just the charcoal." He said and started scribbling again on the chart.
"Yes. After they pumped out your stomach--which by the way they found 20 muscle relaxants and 30 codeine tables--in went the charcoal to absorb the rest of the poison that were already broken down and may have been left still."
"Oh." Was all I could say. I was imagining the charcoal churning in my belly and wondered if they used briquette. He must have known what I was thinking as I rubbed my stomach when he said, "It's the powder and paste kind. It will pass through your system in a few days. You'll have one hell of a time when you first take a dump." Once more eh gave me his smile. He was really good looking. I'm sure he wasn't coming on to me. He is a soldier like myself and is probably trying to comfort me with his small talk. It was working. I saw him the next two days. Always with a smile on his face. Calling me by my first name which he constantly mispronounced and corrected each time. The name on his tag was Landoll. Eaton is his first.
The last time I saw him at the hospital, he was pulling a night shift and would stop by every two hours to check up on me and chat.
"Still awake?" Poking his head in between the curtains. It was a little after 2 o'clock but seeing his wide eyes expecting, woke me up instantly.
"How many cups?"
"6 but that's not the question. Are you awake?"
"I'm talking to you, aren't I? What's your diagnosis?"
"All right smart ass. Just for that I'll pencil in an order for an enema. STAT."
I laughed and was instantly shushed as he pulled a chair next to my bed. We talked for almost an hour. He said that he didn't need to do anything until his rounds 15 minutes before 4 o'clock. He told me not to eat the cake for the next day since the 'nasty' cook was working the night prep. Whom he once caught scratching the inside of his pants while kneading biscuits. He also told me a story about a patient who fell on his ass and ended up having a second hole. The patient was then carried by his wife and neighbor to the emergency room wherein the physician's assistant patched up the extra hole. Unfortunate for the patient, the PA was laughing so hard that he accidentally patched the wrong hole and had to redo the procedure.
The conversation went melancholy when he recounted the last time he worked on ER duty. The night was awfully quiet and slow. A few of the staff had started playing scrabble whine on-call residents retired to a room to catch much need shut-eye when they were notified of an accident. An unlucky motor cyclist was sideswiped by a car as it was making a right turn. The biker and his bike was run over, trapped under, and was dragged a good 80 feet before the driver of the car managed to stop. The biker should have died but he was still breathing and coherent by the time the paramedics arrived. He was conscious as they wheeled him in the ER but started coughing up enormous amounts of blood and later died, 5 minutes from the moment nurses and doctors started working on him.
"So, why did you do it? Everybody is saying that you were drunk. Your blood alcohol level was 0.06 and that you mistakenly drank the pills. I think it's about something else."
"I don't know. I wasn't drunk. I was sober." I turned on the TV hoping he would drop the question.
"Ok. I wont bother you anymore. It is the last day that you're staying here."
"I'm not going to see you again? I mean, I'm leaving the hospital?"
"No. They're just moving you to the 4th floor for further evaluations. As for seeing you again, maybe we will. Here's hoping that it's not back here." He had his hand on the curtain, about to make his exit, when he turned back towards me.
"One more thing. The next time you feel like doing this again, make sure you go talk to somebody instead. If not this Crousteau you've been calling in your sleep, find someone else. Just don't do it again. Ok?"
I didn't know what to say. I was just hoping that nobody else heard me talking in my sleep. If word got out that I was calling Crousteau's name, someone in my chain of command might go find out who he was to me. Killing myself was one thing but to be found that I was gay would be detrimental to my career and his. All hell would break loose.
"No one else knows. Just promise."
"Promise." With my word, he left, closing the curtains behind him.
I never did see him again. I thought I did once while getting a hair cut. I still think of him from time to time. He was the only one outside selected friends and my mother that knew of the reason why I tried to kill myself that day. I never did get to thank him. I hope he reads this someday. Thank you.
To be cont'd...