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Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006 12:29 am

Revenge of the nurses

Our patient discovers something worse than illness

I am strong! I fear only soy milk and . . . kidney stones.

I’m in and out of sleep here, and someone named Judge Judy has just sentenced me to death! She holds court above me. I stand alone, down below, trying to explain my side of a legal conflict concerning a shirt mangled by a dry cleaner. The dry-cleaner dude is rambling on in lies, so I interrupt him with truth. Judge Judy tells me to shut up.

“Shut up,” seems mighty unjudgelike to me and I tell her so. She repeats the “shut up” and screams out, her neck veins pulsating, “Just between you and I: I’m the judge here, not you, Mister!” I tell her, “Therein lies the problem” and “It’s ‘between you me,’ not ‘between you and I.’ ”

More words fly back and forth. My last words, said well below the range of human hearing, sound something like “You itch!” Apparently, as compensation for her terrible English, Judge Judy has been given super hearing powers — hence my death sentence.

I’m awake now, and the nightmare is over. I’m in a hospital bed — for real. I’m confined here for four days for two surgical procedures. I have kidney stones the size of Idaho! I cannot move. Every body opening has a tube inserted. I am “tubed” immobile.

The stones are not life-threatening, I will not die here. On the other hand, with kidney-stone pain, the death option is not to be dismissed out of hand. Years ago, during my first stone attack, my wife and I were on vacation, driving a Western desert road, 45 miles from “anywhere” — and when the stones hit, I asked her to hail a passing cowboy, steal his squirrel gun, and blow my head off. She declined.

I admit that when finally we reached a hospital, I was a bad patient. In that hospital, the one help-button summons record had been 1,006 calls in a week. I broke the record by noon my first day.

“Yeah, I know you have six kidney-transplant patients to care for, but what about ME? What about MY discomfort?”

I am committed this time to do better, to not whine for help — and, with the support of a cooperative morphine drip, I’m doing OK. No complaints. Nonetheless, there’s a nurse underground network to be appeased, and I owe dues.

The “out West” nurses have obviously informed the Springfield nurses, and they’re ready for me. Oh, they’re professional and caring; I’ll get the best of medical care. But I have dues to pay.

A TV bellows ear-piercing babble!

I’m “roomed” with someone hidden away behind a sheet divider to my left — he watches daytime TV! Sound cranked up FULL BLAST! I am bound tight! I cannot escape the senseless bleating.

I try reason: “Hey, guy in the next bed! Can ya turn the TV down, friend?” No response; the noise continues. Maybe there’s no living person there at all, I haven’t seen or heard anyone. Maybe it’s just . . . the nurses’ revenge!

The dope dripping in from the IV works its magic again, I’m slipping away . . . I’m . . . I’m the illegitimate son of a guy named Edward Quartermaine from a soap opera called General Hospital.

There are 41 characters in General Hospital, all of them are illegitimate offspring of Edward Quartermaine, including Edward’s mother and possibly Edward himself. Twenty-two of the characters have amnesia; 11 of the 22 have double amnesia, in that they already had amnesia when they were conked on the head a second time and they now suffer amnesia on top of amnesia.

A girl named Lesley Lu, a high-school cheerleader with “grade” problems, has just won a proxy fight at a Fortune 500 company and now serves as company CEO — in my stead.

I plead my case to the board of directors, pointing out that she’s a 17-year-old cheerleader with a learning disability, and then . . . Judge Judy flies in and rules that Lesley Lu wins the day because she has amnesia and thinks she’s Bill Gates and everyone knows that Bill Gates runs a helluva company. Then Judge Judy sentences me to double death!

That evening, in a state of near-consciousness, I try straightforward logic with my roommate. “Hidden Man, if you turn on daytime TV tomorrow I will smother you dead with your pillow.” No response.

The next morning, as I labor again between consciousness and sleep, something called The View blares in my twilight zone. A four-woman jury is considering my death-sentence appeal. They do not hear me, for they are “always talking, never listening people” — they spew out; they do not take in. They all share a spit handle, turning it, slowly roasting me over hellfire. I cry out for Judge Judy to execute me — now!

A nurse comes in and turns off the TV; all is square. Dues paid. Ordeal over. I am strong! I fear only soy milk, kidney stones, and . . . daytime TV.

Contact Doug Bybee Sr. at dougbybee@sbcglobal.net.

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