The Bumpy Road to Recovery

Why the heck is he waving at me? My husband was sitting in a chair against the wall, holding his puffy parka and a bundle of newspapers that he’d read to pass the time during my 4-hour cochlear implant surgery. He waved again and smiled weakly. He was always queasy around injury.

“I don’t think she should be going home tonight,” my daughter said to the nurse who had just handed me a vomit tray. My girl is tough so it scared me that she thought my home care might be over her head. I agreed. I should stay and throw up in the professional-looking vomit tray and not go home to our plastic bucket.

“Oh. She’s going home tonight. She’s going home in an hour.” The nurse was yelling. The cochlear implant meant that in a few weeks I’d hear better but right then, I was almost deaf. She removed the IV and slid the stand to the corner where my husband still sat holding his jacket. He’d stopped waving but was still mute.

“Is your bladder full?” shouted the nurse.

“I don’t know,” I answered. I had no idea if my bladder was full. Wasn’t that a medical question? Didn’t they have machines to know all that? More reason for me to stay if I had to be in charge of knowing everything.

There was no more discussion. The nurse and her aide hoisted me to my feet. We traveled to the bathroom, two cops hustling a reluctant criminal to his cell. I’d better just do what they say, I thought.

In the bathroom, the nurse settled me on the toilet. She reached across me and pulled several yards of toilet paper off the roll, handing me a wad as big as a soccer ball. I could read the message in her eyes. Wipe yourself, sister!

When I came out of the bathroom, exhausted and missing my vomit tray, the bed was gone. It seemed planned to me, the whole ‘is your bladder full’ gambit a ruse to get me out of bed so they could snatch it.

In place of the bed was a chair. I sat.

“Do you need help getting dressed?” asked the aide. I nodded, knowing now that resistance was futile. She helped me with my underwear and jeans, handed me my shirt and jacket. She considered replacing my hospital socks with the ones I’d walked in with and decided it wasn’t worth it. She said something, looking down at my feet but it was too soft to hear. She looked up at me and smiled.

“What did she say?” I asked looking to my daughter.

“She said she likes your boots.”


This was my submission to the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop 2016 contest (very slightly edited). It didn’t win but most of the entries didn’t win so I don’t feel too bad.

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