Tag: eavesdropping

6: Eavesdropping, my Favorite Pastime

[No photo available. HIPA laws, you know.]

He enters the out patient waiting area slowly moving his tennis-ball clad walker forward, about an inch at the time. He is by himself, dropped off at the front door by one of those medical taxis. He wears a short-sleeved blue plaid button-down-the-front shirt, bluejean shorts held up by suspenders, brown socks, and 2 different kinds of shoes – one a walking sort of shoe, the other a sandal.

“Ooooohhhhh,” the man groans at the check-in desk in the out patient waiting room. “I can’t stand here that long,” he complains to the person asking him questions, so she gets someone to cover for her and comes around from behind her desk to sit beside him in the vinyl-covered chairs.

“Do you have children?” she asks.

“Just my three cats,” he answers.

“Are you married?”

“Am I mad? What kind of question is that?” he snaps.

“No sir. Are you MARRIED?”

“Oh. Well, I was. But she up and died on me last year.”

“Do you live alone?”

“I told you I have 3 cats. Ooohhhhhh.”

“Do you have trouble hearing?” she asks.




“Do you have any incontinence?”

“Sometimes. I don’t move as fast as I used to, you know. Oooohhhhh. How many more questions? I can’t take much more of this.”

“Do you have hemorrhoids?”


“Hemorrhoids. Do you have any?”

“Yes, and they hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.”

“Are you allergic to any medications?”

“Yes. I have a list somewhere.” He pats his shirt pocket. “I take a lot. And I’m dehydrated. I’m going to throw up cause I haven’t had anything to drink since midnight. That’s a long time, you know.”

The woman asking the questions goes to fetch a nursing assistant. “Mr. X, what seems to be the problem?” the nursing assistant asks the patient.

“Oooohhhhh. I can’t take much more of this. Y’all wouldn’t let me have anything to drink since midnight, and it’s 9:30 in the morning. I’m going to throw up soon. I’m dehydrated.”

“You shouldn’t be dehydrated yet,” she assures him.

“Well, I AM. And I’m about to throw up all over this place if y’all don’t get me some water and get it to me fast.”

“I can’t give you any water, sir. Not before your procedure.”

“Well then, get me a barf bag cause it’s all coming up. Ooohhhhhhhhh.”

The barf bag is fetched and delivered to the groaning patient, and the question asker returns to her seat next to him.

“Is that better, Mr. X?” she asks.

“Ohhhhhhhh. What did you say?”

“Is that any better?”

“I haven’t been able to drink any water so I couldn’t take my pills so I can’t tell you which one is bitter,” he explains. “Oooohhhhhh. You better get that barf bag ready because I’m dehydrated, and it’s coming up. I have low blood pressure. I need something to drink.”

Barf bag rattles threateningly. Moaning and groaning continues.

“Could we continue with the questions now, Mr. X?” asks the question asker.

“Ooooohhhhhhh. I guess so. How much longer? I can’t take much more of this. I’m tired of standing.”

“But you’re sitting down, Mr. X.”

“Ohhhhh. Well, I’m dehydrated. And nauseated. And I’m going to throw up. I’m sure of it. Did I tell you I have high blood pressure?”

“I’ll be right back,” the question asker tells him.

Two minutes later, a wheelchair complete with someone to push it appears to take Mr. X to his next destination. As you might imagine, he exits much faster than he entered. “Where are you taking me?” he demands to know of the wheelchair driver. Then, before giving the driver time to answer, he adds, “Can we stop by a water fountain on the way?”


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“I’ve stopped for some ice cream,” he said into his cell phone,
standing in the center of the ice cream shop,
talking loud enough for all of us
and those in the sandwich shop next door to hear.
“Do you want me to bring you something, hon?”
And in that single question
from the lips of a man I’ve never seen before
and will never see again,
I missed my Daddy in what can only be called
a tsunami of tremendous ache
that lingers right beneath the surface,
regardless of how many calendar pages I’ve torn off.

~~ :: ~~

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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