I checked in the hospital for the IV steroid treatment a week ago. When a bed opened up, and I toted my stuff up to the room and was disconcerted to see that they had not cleared the corpse out of the other bed. The feet were stuck out at odd angles and a sheet was wrapped tightly around its (her?) face. I averted my eyes, well, and then I stared, because I'm me and it's a corpse. Besides, really, all I was staring at were bedclothes, since it was swaddled in a sheet from head to toe
I was a little too creeped out to go over and touch it. (Evidently I do have standards!) I thought I should just take care of my business in there and get settled in and stake my claim. Step One, unpack. Had my own nightstand, had the bed by the window. Put on my hospital socks. Adjusted the bed for reading and pulled out the excellent book a friend loaned me: Lucky You. (Unfortunately this was a large print edition and every resident and nurse tagged me a having visual disturbances since I was reading this book. ‘No,’ I'd say, ‘Holly just clicked too fast on Amazon.’) I was almost totally comfy. Just one more thing. So I huddled under my shirt and was snaking one arm out of my bra, because, it's a hospital. I have on the hospital armband and less is expected of me.
It was at that moment the corpse whined, ‘May I go out in the hall and listen to the pretty music please?’
NOT a corpse! Then the creepy Pretender Corpse pleaded hollowly over and over again ‘Please I beg you may I go in the hallway where the pretty music is? Please I beg you may I go in the hallway where the pretty music is?’ I had never actually been creeped out in my life until that moment. This, mind you, still with the sheet swathed and constricting her face. It was like that nasty Munchhausen's disease, when people pretend to be sick and go to the hospital for attention. But this woman had Advanced Munchhausen's and had to pretend to be dead.
When the pleading continued for two minutes, a nurse arrived and said cheerily to the Corpse-wannabe, ‘Hi! Mrs. W_______!’
‘Please I beg you may I go in the hallway where the pretty music is?’
'We can't put your bed in the hall. Is the light hurting your eyes?’
Well, of course it was. Anyone could see that. Evidently this woman's medicine caused eye crusting and pain and she was afraid the light from the windows was blinding her. Plus, she was in diabetic shock and hearing things, but the drugs they gave her for the mental problems her stoke gave her threw off her blood sugar. So it was blood sugar crazy versus stroke crazy. Simple case. Just tweak the meds and there you go.
Two hours later, her blood sugar was finally down to 200 and I saw her face. She had peach hair. She asked for something to write with and I volunteered a pen.
Well, those of you experienced with demented hospital roommates will not be surprised to hear that when I came back from the bathroom, Mrs W_______ had tell-tale blue felt tip marks traced down her legs then scribbled around a bandaged wound on her ankle. Which, I imagine, must have itched.
I asked for my pen back.
‘Oh no,’ she said, innocently, ‘I need it.’
‘Why?’ Because it's always good to get in a debate with a crazy person. I won't report the debate. It ended up with my seeing the pen as a danger to herself and others and my saying ‘I need my pen back.’
I gripped the pen, close to her doodly blue ankles, and she grabbed on, and I'm stronger. She is now a little inkier. I went off to inform. This was when my relationship with Mrs. W________ began to sour.
Turns out Mrs. W_______ had run off three other roommates. Not by pretending to be a corpse, no no no. Not by scamming pens and wounding herself. No, but by spending hours saying ‘Please I need my coat. I'm cold. Please I need my coat. I'm cold.’ I gutted it out in silence, but the neurology ward at Barnes has cameras trained on every bed and they can tell when the roommates begin to get on Each. Others. Nerves. (It is a neurology ward. They know nerves.) Finally the resident came in and and said ‘Do you think you can take that all night?’ I burst into tears and said ‘I don't KNOW where her coat is’ and I was hustled off to another bed. So. One Roommate down.