Telltale Heart
Hell's Henchmen: Part Two

The agony, strain on my body and lack of oxygen, finally took their toll and I succumbed to blessed unconsciousness again. I awoke a few hours later in ICU, frantically struggling for air again but still totally paralyzed. The pain was beyond anything I'd ever experienced and I wondered frantically why they hadn't administered IV pain killers. Then I noticed that I could at least move me eyes. Progress..of a sort. But that was all. I desperately tried to move every other part of my body to no avail. All I could do was lay there, long hour after hour and suffer and strangle. Finally a nurse came in. She was forty-ish with short blonde hair and a stocky build. She wore no makeup and had a perpetually sour expression on her face, as if she hated her job and perhaps hated life as well. My eyes followed her as tears of agony ran down my cheeks. Then the unimaginable happened. She saw me following her with my eyes. She drew closer and saw the tears in my eyes as well. But instead of running out to the station desk and notifying the charge nurse that I was conscious, which is required at all ICUs after a patient has undergone a heart operation, she got in my face, smiled at me evilly and said in a very soft voice so as not to be overheard by anyone, "Well, well! Look at the crybaby! Well I'm not giving you anything for the pain, so you might as well stop crying!" Then this crazy bitch went off in the opposite direction of the charge desk and I didn't see her for another three hours!! Instead I lay there and suffered beyond anything I'd ever experienced in my entire life. My chest was on fire, full of swollen and tortured flesh, my raw bones screamed, staples and stitches pulled, every breath was an agonizing battle, the huge tubes inserted in my chest, lungs, neck, and arms all screamed, and the leg they took the graft from howled at me. And I still couldn't move. And there I lay..alone, with no one to even pay attention to me..for hours...

How much is a man supposed to take? How much can he endure before he loses his mind, before the moorings in his mind that keep him tied to the shores of sanity finally snap and cast him adrift on the high seas of madness, where every sort of multi-eyed, tentacled beastie lurks just under the waves? I like to pride myself in the amount of pain I can take, which is far more than most due to the life I've lived. But this pressed me up against the wall. I felt like a victim in one of Poe's ghastly horror stories where the poor devil entreats his captor for mercy as the fiend only cackles with demonic delight and continues to wall him up in some dank cellar. My nurse reminded me of such a fiend. What tragedy or great injustice had befallen that woman to make her so bitter and devilish toward helpless people? Or was it just men? I would never know the answer to that, but I definitely would get a deeper drink from her cup of cruelty..

Finally my so-called nurse returned, and by that time feeling had finally returned to my left hand and forearm. It was then that I realized I was strapped down to my bed! Both of my arms and legs were restrained by heavy Velcro straps around both my ankles and wrists. On my left index finger was one of those "finger puppets" they now use to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood. I began banging the hard plastic finger sensor against the metal side railing of my bed, trying to get her attention. For over an hour she deliberately ignored me, going about her routine chores in my room. Finally though, she stomped over to me and said, "I heard you the first time! Can't you see I'm busy?" She then walked over, grabbed the straps to my wrist restraints, and with a hateful scowl on her face roughly jerked them as tight as they would go, pulling my hands all the way to the bed to prevent me from signaling her or anyone else. Then a really evil grin crossed her face, frightening me in my utterly helpless condition. "I know what you want. You're thirsty, right? Well I'll fix you right up!" And with that she left momentarily, returning with two long plastic sticks. On the end of each was a large piece of sponge- like material that had been soaked in a dark yellow liquid that was definitely not water. She then bent over me and jammed one of these dripping sticks down my throat between the breathing tube and my trachea. The fluid immediately blocked what little airway I had left and I instantly began to strangle.

That horrid crap was some medical substitute for water that they use to wet the throats of patients that can't yet have any water. But I was allowed water and I knew it. On top of that, once I was conscious and breathing on my own, which I now was, they were required to remove my breathing tube. This too, was being ignored. This bitch had me at her complete mercy. I could move my arms and legs now, but I was now firmly strapped to the bed. I choked and spat. My eyes bugged from my head as I strained violently against the restraints to no avail. This monster drew back from me, stood there watching me suffocate to death and grinned!! She had this wild light in her eyes as I fought for my life. She was enjoying this immensely. It crossed my mind at that moment how ironic it was for me to go through all the hell I had just experienced, only to be murdered in my bed by some psychopathic man-hater.

Things started to go black. The agony of suffocating is horrible beyond words. But just as I was slipping away another nurse walked in! This was a middle-aged woman with long, fire-red hair. She too however, had a hard, hateful face. My nurse quickly began using a suction tube to clear my airway and she said to the arriving nurse, "I guess some of the liquid got in his air tube. He sure didn't like it!" And they both laughed! Right then I started to wonder just what kind of a nuthouse had I checked into...

The blonde backed off and I found I could still bang on the bed rail with the finger sensor, though only on the lowest rail. I banged for a solid fifteen minutes to no avail, trying to get this new RN to communicate with me. I was in mortal agony and badly in need of some painkillers. But I was in for another big shock. This red-headed bitch came over and scowled at me and said, "You keep banging on that rail and I'm going to leave that breathing tube in you for the next five hours! How would you like that?" I nodded "no" slowly. She gave me an evil grin and stomped out. Now I was alone again to lie there and suffer. At that point I wanted to die.

I had endured more than any human should be forced to live through and I'd had enough. Better to die than suffer any more of this hell. The hours crawled by as I lay there in a living hell of suffocation and raw agony, fighting for every tiny breath, both in and out. It's amazing how slowly time passes when we are suffering or bored. We've all noticed it. I felt as if I was a mutilated survivor of the Texas chainsaw killer. Two hours later both these bitches returned and without a word came over and removed the breathing tube from my throat. I took my first deep breath in almost 24 hours, gasping as I greedily gulped down the air. Both of them laughed with delight at my desperation. I was critically ill, badly cut up and helpless as a kitten, unable to even sit up or roll to one side on my own. Just the way these two liked their men. How many other poor devils had suffered at the hands of these two? Worse still, how many had died at the hands of that blonde fiend, who would have surely done me in had it not been for the lucky entry of the red-head into my room?

Without another word they both left. Fifteen minutes later a new nurse arrived. The shift-change had taken place and thankfully those two were gone. My new nurse was a young, caring woman that was more than concerned about my condition and immediately gave me a double dose of painkillers, even though it wasn't authorized. She told me she did so because the other two had completely ignored the doctor's orders to keep me out of pain, and had failed to give me even one shot. She was livid. I was able to croak out a few words at her and let her know I was dying of thirst. She became livid when she saw I was in restraints and quickly released me. She immediately brought me a cup of cold water, which I gulped as if there was no tomorrow. She gave me a second one then made me wait for any more to make sure I didn't heave it up as so many patients do at first. But I held it down. Nothing on earth had tasted better than the cold water she had given me. The pain started to leave me in waves, and the relief was beyond description. I was able to talk better after that. I then told her part of what they had put me through. She shook her head and said, "That red-head is a devil. She's one evil woman. The blonde I don't know very well, but I do know she hangs out with the red-head. What you told me doesn't surprise me. Trouble is she's a charge nurse and very hard to get rid of." I had laid there all that time with that air tube jammed down my throat when it should have been removed as soon as I was awake and able to breath on my own. My new nurse went purple with rage when she discovered how long they had left me hooked up to that breather. At least now I had a sane person caring for me. We talked as I was able, and soon she brought me something to eat. Of course it was bland and soft, but it was ambrosia to me and aided in restoring some of my energy. I decided then and there not to tell anyone of my ordeal with those two. Not until I was safely out of that hospital and well enough to wage a battle. I did however, demand that neither nurse be allowed back in my room for any reason. Of course this marked me as a troublemaker, but hospital regulations forced the staff to comply. I was never bothered by those two witches again. I also discovered much to my delight, that my demand would go in their permanent record as well...

After two weeks in recovery on another floor, I was finally transferred to a convalescent hospital to finish the healing process. This could take from a month to three months depending on my rate of healing and the number of complications I had. Originally I had been scheduled to go to a facility called Reche Canyon, which is more like a resort than a hospital. I've been there before and was looking forward to the peace and quiet there. But as fortune would have it the place was full at the time I was to go, so I was shifted to another facility called Western Healthcare. I'd never been there but had heard it was a toilet. They were right. And this is why my ordeal wasn't over. The fun picked up again once I entered the doors of this establishment and gave me memories I'd just as soon never have gotten. Part Three will recount the final phase of my experience with the California healthcare system...

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