Friday, December 21, 2007

where will you be in ten years

sitting in this bleached, sterilized, cavernously white room, i can hear my nerves prickling, my heart beating, my mind racing.
i always get nervous when i come here. no matter how monotonous the routine.
how did i get here?

the slightly chill air nips at my spine through the gap in the hospital gown. my feet still dangle about a foot from the floor, my cracked, dry heels tapping the faux wood of the platform. the hygenic paper crinkles underneath me at the slightest movement. the only life is my blood pulsing through my ears, and the sharp pain in my abdomen.
how did i get here?

i'm startled from my reverie of gazing at a diagram of a human penis by the door handle noisily clicking open. the nurse comes in, white veneers flashing from the get-go. seems her self tanner left streaks, as her bare arms peak out from her "designer" scrubs. she says something about the doctor arriving in a few minutes. i'm not really listening.

i'm wondering if this polished, prim princess with shiny new teeth and a weave has ever, or will ever sit where i sit. she looks like she's gangbanged her way through a few frat parties in her day. i smile back with my eyes and nod, too bored to give any real effort.
how did i get here?

ow. pain again. it sends a short aftershock up my back, dizzying me. the nurse notices my slight lapse in coherence and asks if i'm alright.
i mutter that i'm fine. just a slight headache.

"i can get your some pain medication if you like," she concedes, popping the cap on her hooters pen. this is just too easy.
"no it's not that bad."
"alright, if you're sure."
"got morphine?"
she laughs. i do not.
"only thing i can get you is advil or tylenol. we don't want to interfere with the plan of treatment doctor cosgrove is setting up for you."
i shrug.
how did i get here?

she leaves.
i sit.
rubbing the scooby doo bandaid on my inner arm where they drew blood, i hop down from the platform. cold tile sends coldness up through my feet, into my legs. i take a few steps. groping for the wall next to me the room starts to unfocus again.
too much excitement.
i clamber back up onto the platform, putting my head inbetween my legs. this helps me focus again.

knock knock. i lift my head up.
doctor cosgrove and his white shot hair and glasses smile from behind his clipboard, shutting the door behind him.
i scowl.

"why do you always so vigilantly dislike my nurses ashley?" he asks, smiling over his spectacles.
because they're obscene.
pulling the swiveling stool underneath him while simultaneously flipping through papers on his clipboard, doctor cosgrove shakes his head, as if exasperated with a child.
"i just don't understand how that had more qualifications for nursing school than me," i say, my head inbetween my legs once more.
"you were qualified, you just have horrible credit and couldn't pay tuition," he says offhandedly, still persistent in his search through papers.

i breathe in. there's a raspy sound inside of me.
doctor cosgrove slows his paper shuffling. i know he can hear it too.
i notice i have bruises on my legs. i'm always bruising myself without the slightest idea of doing it.
child's legs.
playground legs.
how did i get here?

i notice it's quiet now. i look up from my legs, and see doctor cosgrove watching me.
it's getting harder to tell the difference when people are studying me, and when they're pitying me.
it's always the same forlorn look.
the same furrowed brow.
the same pursed lips.
the same questioning expression.
how did she get here?

"i have your CD4 count for today."

i look at my toes.

"you're still in the clear...an excellent count of 614. better than i expected."

i remember rhymes about my toes mom used to play with me.

"now considering that your CD4 count is in a higher range than we had previously estimated, we can break down your original ARV triple cocktail to a fixed dose combination of several steroids, DDC, and Ritchnavir."

this little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home.

"this will reduce your dailies to approximately..." papers flip, "15 tablets per 24 hour session."

this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none.

"i'm still very concerned with your adherence counseling. i will set up your sessions with donna to three times per week instead of the original once a week. we still need to be extremely cautious concerning opportunistic infections. you have some abnormal filling in your lungs, which i think we're going to go ahead and have to drain them, just to be on the safe side. of course the risk is only high if your CD4 count is below 200 for it to develop into pmeumocystis pneumonia."

this little piggy cried wee wee wee, all the way home.

"ashley."
i look up.
yeah?
"that'll wrap it up for today."
i sit up. paper underneath me, crinkle crinkle.
"give this to jules at the desk. she'll set up an appointment for you to come have your lungs drained on tuesday."
he hands me a paper. i can't read doctor's writing.
he stands up, yawning and looking at his watch.
"damn doctor hours."

i hop down and start to untie the back of my gown.
he starts to turn for the door then stops, suddenly remembering his doctor's duty.
"watermelon or strawberry?" he says.
"you should know by now it's always watermelon," i smile.
"of course." he smiles over his glasses.

throwing my lollipop wrapper into the trash can (missing), i suddenly remember something too.
"i got you an early christmas present," i say, squatting down to my purse on the floor rifling through it.
"did you?" doctor cosgrove says opening the door.
"here. the gap whores them out for ridiculous prices. but i thought it would fit you."
doctor cosgrove lets out a snorty laugh.
"an HIV awareness pin. how very fitting."
"i think everyone you treat is already pretty damn aware of it anyway."

he gives me the same look again.
study or pity. it's all the same.
"drive safe, ashley."
he sets a folder down on the counter before stepping out.
prescriptions for the next four weeks.
the fourth week happens to be my nineteenth birthday.


throwing on my clothes i slip on my shoes, leaving them untied.
i notice a hooter's pen lying idly on the counter.
slipping it into my pocket, i silently apologize for wishing anything even similar to what i was on that girl.
nobody deserves that, not even someone who took my place in life, while i was dealt alternative cards.
nobody deserves to die when they are alive.
nobody.


how did i get here?

3 comments:

Rose said...

Excellent writing.

It has left me hurt in an unexpected way.

maddog said...

Startling and awesome. Thanks

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