You've either spent time in a hospital -- yourself or with others -- or you haven't. If you have, all the stories are the same: complete lack of freedom, getting woken up at all hours with people asking you "did you pee?", having to ask a lot of questions like "what is that you're putting in my arm?" and "can I refuse this test if it's going to be that painful?" The one question you can't ask is "how much is this going to cost me?" because they don't know. You get the fisheye in the hospital if you bring this up, as if you would take lesser medical care if it came at a cut rate. I might, but mostly I just wanted to know if the little socks they gave me were on the house or $20 little socks.
My Mom and sister had arrived and were true troopers. Once they showed up, the hospital seemed to give me somewhat more respect. I could see a cooling tower from my hospital room. I was in Michigan City, Indiana. This confused everyone because my accident was in Michigan. I called my friend in Cleveland to tell him I wouldn't be coming to visit. I called my Dad who was deliriously happy to hear from me and said we'd drive to Michigan together to get my truck, the liar. Calling any numbers from the phone involved calling the switchboard and asking them to dial the number for you. The switchbord closed at 8 pm. There were no pay phones.
The bed went up and down. The TV was on almost all the time. There was a cross hanging over my bed [complain as I might, they are pissant complaints, this was a nice hospital]. They collected all my pee for some reason, starting about halfway through my visit. Something about measuring what goes into you and measuring what comes out. It seemed startlingly unscientific to me. They left big styrofoam cups of water by my bedside four times a day. I had just been in the desert, so drinking a lot was natural.
At night, they put a heart monitor on me that they said someone in the basement was listening to. It fit into a special pocket in the jammie I was wearing and stuck to little sticky things all over my chest [this was when I noticed my nipple ring suspiciously absent]. at night, with nothing at all to do, I tapped out S-O-S in Morse code hoping that I could amuse some poor Indiana basement drone. No one came to my aid.
On Sunday morning the doctor came in -- he saw me for about five minutes every morning and then handed out orders to be followed for the next 23 hours. He said they couldn't legally release me until the results of my tox test came back. They had given me one when I was admitted and it was completely clean -- no run of the mill drugs for me -- and they had, he claimed, ordered another one. There was the spooky implication there might be trouble, and for the first time I thought about being arrested.