Hospitals.

Note: Again, this was written some months ago, I have done some work to it, and expanded it since then. But for now, I'll post the original.

The thing they don't ever tell you about hospitals is how they are cold. Sure, you always hear about the smell. The overwhelming sterile scent that covers your clothes and fills your lungs. It is the type of smell that only exists in hospitals yet, it's the same in every one. It is something like ammonia but like nothing else you have ever smelled. When you're here, at a hospital, it is never just the air that smells this way, it is the bedding, and the people, and everything. Everything smells like hospital.

There is the lighting too, it's unbearably bright. Each hall is bathed in fluorescent lights from beginning to end. It is the kind of light you find in huge warehouse stores like Sam's Club or HomeDepot. It makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking when they were first installed. Even most of the patient rooms have that horrid panel light, though some these days have a softer bedside light, if you're lucky.

Considering everything that goes on in a place like this I always find that it's too loud or too quiet. Like in the oncology ward, it's too quiet. You almost get the feeling that everyone is always skirting around subject, no one dares to say a word. The only sounds I ever hear when I'm in there are the incessant beeps of heart rate monitors. But in the maternity ward everything seems so much louder than it should be. Whenever I'm up there I want to 'shush' the nurses that scuffle from room to room. I want to remind them that this is a floor filled with new life, ask them if maybe they could stop their shoes from squeaking.

But what everyone always forgets to mention is how cold it is in here, every floor is cold. It's not cold like 'Thank God they have the A.C. on because this Atlanta summer is kicking my ass.' It's not like that. It's a cold that is in the air, you can breathe it. It is palpable and it settles on every surface. From the hard plastic chairs lined up in the E.R to the blinding white sheets, starched and scratchy awaiting the sick and injured; it is all cold. Cold like the bathroom counter on a winter morning, too cold to be comfortable.

So, here I am. Freezing my ass off as the second hand on the clock moves abnormally slow around the face. Thinking that the funny thing about all of this is until I was twenty I had only been in a hospital three times before. My own birth, my sister's birth, and when my friend Katie fell off my bed in fifth grade and needed stitches above her eye. But now, well by now, I have probably been to half a dozen hospitals more than thirty times, all in a matter of four years. That is an achievement.

Someone asked me a few months ago what it was like, living like this, how I felt about all of it. I had thought about it before, to myself. I mean who wouldn't resent their own body for treating them like this, for lashing out after all this time. At first I tried reminding myself that it could be worse, that I could have been worse off. But the thing of it is, after a while, this feels like the worse thing that could have ever, and has, happened. So living like this? It's not easy, by any stretch of the American imagination and understanding of pain, this is not easy. But it is my life. My mom always says to me, "Baby, we can't ask the dealer for a new hand just because things aren't going our way. We just have to play the cards and hope for better ones the next time around."

Well I've been hoping for a new hand for months now.



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