I was taken to the hospital via ambulance, and had been handcuffed to the stretcher like a dog chained to a pole. I’d had plenty of hospital visits in the past, but I’d never arrived via police escorts, covered in blood and handcuffed.
Each person we passed in the hallways of the hospital, looked at me like I was Hannibal Lecter. Women clutched their purses tightly to their sides and pulled their children close to them, while the hospital employees whispered to one another and giggled at the “freakshow” being wheeled by.
I stared straight up at the ceiling, counting the fluorescent lights as we passed underneath them. Although this was probably the only opportunity to be a part of the outside world see colors, hear elevator music and smell various fragrances I’d have in a long time, I chose to stare straight up at the ceiling.
The embarrassment and shame were almost more painful than my physical injuries. My tongue was throbbing, my body felt like it had been hit by a truck and I was completely exhausted. They didn’t want me to go to sleep until they gave me a brain scan and determined I didn’t have a concussion.
“Here ya go” the paramedic said as he snapped the breaks on the stretcher into place once I was in the room. I nodded, because speaking was to painful. It hurt to swallow, but it also hurt to allow the saliva to pool on my tongue. I needed pain pills and was secretly praying that the doctors would determine that my injuries were so severe that I needed sedation.
As the paramedic exited the room, the deputy escorting me, one I’d never seen before, followed behind without saying a word. I felt so insignificant, unworthy of a “good luck” or “I hope you feel better“, he just, left.
47 minutes had passed before anyone came in again, and unfortunately, it was the hospital Registrar. The teenager smiled nervously in my direction, but immediately averted his eyes when I forced a smile in response.
His voice was shaking as he asked me the questions, I’m assuming he was concerned that I may try to eat his face off. I wanted to run with it, really play it up. Start growling and writhing around in bed like I was possessed. But luckily for him, I was way too tired.
He glanced up at me briefly, down at my handcuffs, and back at the computer.
I paused. My heart sunk to the floor and I was consumed by sadness. I didn’t know who to say. My emergency contact person hated my guts, my father was sick in the hospital and my sister would probably allow me to bleed to death if it came down to it. I was all alone in this world. I had done this to myself.
I began crying, and it was excruciatingly painful. I tried to control the tears but I couldn’t. I wanted my mommy. I wanted someone. I was hurt and alone and felt lower than I ever had, once I realized that there wasn’t a damn person on this planet who gave a shit about me.
The kid quickly wrapped it up once he saw that I was beginning to get agitated, and he must have told someone once he left because shortly after the doctor came in.
“Hello Mrs. Johnson, I’m Dr. Fuller. You feeling okay?” he asked staring down at the papers on his clip board.
I think he meant Dr. McSteamy, because holy shit.
I shook my head and muttered “Mmm mmm”. He place the clipboard on the counter and put a pair of gloves on to examine the damage. “I would ask you to tell me what happened”, he said, gently feeling around my skull as if he was examining a melon for ripeness, “but I’m assuming that talking is the last thing you wanna do.”
I closed my eyes as he rubbed around on my head and for a moment the pain disappeared. I hadn’t been touched in so long, let alone by a man. It didn’t even feel sexual, it just felt…Nice to have human contact. You don’t realize how important it is until you no longer have it.
He pulled his gloves off, tossed them into the trash and leaned up against the counter.
“Okay, the good news is, you don’t need stitches. The bad news is, your tongue looks like hamburger meat. Since you are currently, um, incarcerated, we obviously can’t do any pain management with narcotics”.
Suddenly I hated him.
“The tongue is one of the fastest healing parts of the body though so don’t week. It will be better within 1 – 2 weeks. I am going to give you a salt rinse and some Advil for the pain. Our options are limited here. You need to rinse with the salt 3x’s a day, and Hydrogen Peroxide once per day”.
I rolled my eyes as he continued listing off the bullshit I had to do to heal my mangled tongue, none of which consisted of drugs. I wanted to punch him in the knee cap. Maybe that’s why they keep us handcuffed in here.
“As for your muscles, when a person has a seizure, just about every muscles in your body tenses up as tight as it possibly can. When you shake the tense muscles, it stretches them beyond their capacity. So it feels like you were hit by a truck, but it’s basically the same as if you had just had a good workout. The Advil should help”, he said heading toward the door.
The Advil should help. I’m a f***ing junkie. I shoot 100 mgs of Dilaudid into my veins at a time without blinking. This guy is a f***ing idiot.
“I’m gonna send you down for a Cat Scan to make sure there’s no damage there, they said you hit your head pretty hard. We will just wait for those results and if they are clear, we will go ahead and send you home – er- send you back, okay?”
I didn’t nod. I didn’t smile. I wanted to scream and demand pills, but I couldn’t. I turned to face the wall as tears began streaming down my cheeks. I had gotten my hopes up for drugs, I had been anticipating feeling better, and instead I’m getting salt water and baby Aspirin.
The scans checked out fine and I was sent back to jail. I had to stay in medical for 3 days, so they could monitor me and make sure my tongue was healing. They were also concerned about my seizure. I’d never had one before, and since I wasn’t withdrawling off of anything, it was unusual for me to have one. The nurse assumed it was stress related.
I was also given an anti-seizure medication that made me really sleepy, which was good, because every minute in medical was torture, so the more time I could spend unconscious the better.
This is certainly not how I wanted to spend my last month in jail. My emotions had been on more roller coaster rides than I could handle. One minute things were good, the next they were terrible, then they were great, then I blink and my tongue is broken and my head is cracked open.
The worst part of all of it was, I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. I stole from people, I lied, I broke the law, I chased the high, did the drugs and ruined my life. It’s my fault that all of the bridges are burned and I have no one to turn to. When you have no one to blame but yourself, you have no choice but to internalize that anger, and having no clue how to release it in a productive way – I knew I was a ticking time bomb.
I only had 28 days left in jail. I was in the home stretch. All I had to do was keep it together for a little while longer and I’d be out of here. I made a vow right then and there that for the next few weeks I would mind my own business, keep to myself, and focus on my future. The past is the past and I am almost finished with this chapter, and into the beginning of a new one.
My new mantra had definitely improved my mood, and I had begun to feel optimistic. That lasted for about 3 hours – until I was served a subpoena to testify in court against the drug dealer who wants to kill me….