I’ve noticed a few things since I quit smoking dope and cigarettes. One is that the Internet is actually totally fucking boring. I’ve also started having really vivid dreams and I’m horny all the time, I guess to make up for being emotionally dead for the past two years.
Last night I dreamt I was at the bookstore and the power had gone out, there were candles everywhere. While engaged in some co-ed rough-housing, I developed a stigmata: I noticed my chest was covered in blood, pouring out of this wound on my right side. In the reality of the dream, the wound was an injury acquired earlier which had been opened in the course of the energetic foreplay session. In actual reality, my wound is on the left side, but it was identical with the dream injury. Anyways, there was blood everywhere and the cut was sort of bubbling when I breathed, so I decided to go to the hospital. Like I said, the power was out, and when I went outside I saw that everything was covered with ice. I got into the car and started making my way to the hospital and discovered that the brakes didn’t work. (The dream car had about ten different pedals, which I could barely reach.) I was starting to get pretty flustered and said, out loud, (in the dream), “This can’t be fucking happening!” Of course it wasn’t, and I woke up at that moment.
* * *
The reason I’ve had to quit smoking is that last Saturday that I had a “spontaneous pneumothorax.” This is where bubbles on the surface of the lung called “pleura” — they’re a kind of congenital defect — randomly explode and then your chest cavity fills up with air and blood and then you die. I had one before, about five years ago, and I was in the hospital for a week with a tube in my chest. Not fun.
The facial expressions in this medical diagram are uncannily accurate.
While I considered my options, I made some breakfast, then had a shower, then finally packed my bag with stuff I’d need at the hospital, (Ian McEwan’s Atonement and a sketchpad). Then I walked down to the bus stop and waited for the 99 B-Line to Vancouver General. I knew I had a few hours at least and I felt very calm, serene even. It was pretty surreal. Some guy at the bus stop kept trying to make small talk. Even through the pain and existential reflections related to the brevity of life and so on, I was still checking out girls. The bus took forever, but eventually I made it to the Emergency Room.
When I got to the hospital I began the first in an seemingly endless sequence of questionaires. No, I have no allergies. No, I’m not on any medication. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say the pain is about a four. Maybe a five. I don’t know, I actually had a really hard time answering that question, which I was asked about five times a day for the next three days. I decided to go with five, and then just increment or decrement depending whether it was getting worse or better. It’s good to have a system. In my first triage interview, the question was to ascertain my level of urgency, selected from a drop-down list consisting of:
3. Very Urgent
5. Not Urgent
Ok, I’m making the last one up, but the others are accurate I think. It took the admitting nurse a few moments to decide on a category, while she consulted a chart pinned to the wall just out of my line of sight. I was relieved when she chose “Very Urgent,” because I knew I wouldn’t have to wait very long.
* * *
When I finally got a bed AND a room, I was given yet another questionairre by my nurse, Lolita. One of the questions was about whether I had any particular religious affiliations or rituals which needed attending. “No thanks, I’m a nihilist,” I said. “I believe in nothing,” I added, for clarification.
“You read a lot of books and you don’t believe in God?” she asked incredulously, as if these two attributes were mutually exclusive. I indicated that this was accurate. I felt we were beginning to diverge somewhat from the literal text of the questionairre.
“So why is it that we have two nostrils instead of one?” You see, she felt that the fact that we have two nostrils was an strong indication of God’s design and His love for humanity. I wasn’t about to argue Intelligent Design vs. Evolution while being prepped for surgery, so I just smiled and adopted a bemused expression, as if to say “A clever insight! I will ponder this deep and interesting question at a more appropriate time.”
* * *
The rest is boring and involves laying in a hospital bed for three days on morphine and then laying around at home for a week. THE END :(