Friday, October 14, 2005

The Corduroy Jacket

I was in the hospital gown with the gaping back, and Colin said I’ll never understand why they don’t make the opening at the front. I was wearing Colin’s corduroy jacket, and my feet were in my blue lace-up shoes. I was reading Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories on the tall bed with the crackly paper sheets and pillow.
You need to take off everything, even your glasses, your ring, your shoes, your contact lenses, are you wearing contact lenses?, oh, you’ve got glasses on. Even your glasses. Everything.
I thought maybe it was like going to prison.
Upstairs, I didn’t listen to what the doctors said, I was looking at their head scarves. One had cartoon animals, elephants mainly, but they floated on a white background rather than being fused together like the zebras. The other had gardening equipment. Empty pots, rakes, trowels, and garden hoses. The hoses were coiled oddly. Not in concentric circles but in vertical rows.
People kept asking me the same questions. When did you last eat or drink? Are you allergic to anything? When was your last ultrasound? I had my answers ready but I was worried they were trying to trip me up by asking too many times, or by subtle variations in the questions. When did you last eat or drink seemed like a trick, because I ate at 11, but I drank at 1. I kept saying ‘no’ when they asked about allergies, but eventually, I was going to have to tell them I’m allergic to cats.
“Oh! No socks!” the women cried, and they seemed almost to weep for my bare feet. They moved the wheelchair closer to the bed so I wouldn’t have to step on the cold floor. The bed was in the centre of a large, stark room, with futuristic lighting, the bed lit up in the centre like a work of art. She told me to breathe in the oxygen, and said this might feel a little cold in your IV, here, and I wondered if they’d ask me to count backwards, or if I’d say anything strange, and then I woke up and a friendly doctor was telling me that everything went well. I was surprised to find that it was still me.
I felt very sleepy, and a nurse ran downstairs with us to show us the phone on the wall where we could call a taxi.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just reading your blog and found it interesting you read Kate Atkinson. Are you a fan of Atkinson's work and if so, what are your favourite novels by her? I find there are some similarities between your work and hers. I am a big fan of Atkinson and am enjoying your new novel.

9:03 a.m.  

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