Pain Killer; October 8
By: Jules Hutchcroft
When you’ve lost count of how many surgeries you’ve had
Or how many he had
And you have to sleep with the lights on
So you don’t hear 100, 99, 98
Or the screams
And wake up with windows and doors on the ceiling
With giant red butterfly birds plunging into you
While baby chipmunks sit atop your curtain rods
Tupperware taped your face one minute
Until it gets switched out for a gas mask
By some demon who makes a deal with you to suck in poison gas
In exchange for nothing—you fidget but
Your wrists are zip tied to the metal bars
You hope you can use to set free the fluid in your veins
And the steam keeps on rolling in
So you think you’re in Hell
And you slither out of your container, searching for your daughter,
Because you could swear she was just there 2 minutes ago,
Or just one damn swig of ice cold water
And the morphine drips, drips, drips
In the crypt of the ICU tomb
And you can write about being fileted like a fish
Or giving a corpse CPR
And you just naturally expect to be treated
Like a whore, an indentured servant, a slave
Or just a crazy stupid person
Who apparently doesn’t know how to function without guidance
Because you crapped the OR gurney
And you don’t care
Because you can’t feel a thing.
Last night you hobbled around the house with your cane Trying to help me find the bracelet you gave me Which we located in a drawer in the bathroom in an ashtray And I said I never wanted to lose anything you gave me. We got too drunk And I ended up on the floor between your legs Looking up at you, sobbing, saying I didn’t want a date stamp on your forehead After you talked to me about life insurance you wanted to take out on yourself.
Soon you will lean over your designated titty pink chair and take a pull from my oxygen machine. After that you will end up in my titty pink chair for no good reason, I will get up to go to the bathroom, notice you’ve peeled off your golf shirt Which you never do.
You say “Get me another drink so it doesn’t hurt” And I do. Then I ask if you want another shirt And you ask for the sweatshirt you never wear, I get it out, offer to put it on you, And you say “Just leave it on the ottoman.” When I wake up 5 hours later, I’m pissed about having to climb over you sitting in my chair with my ice water in my hand. I sit in your chair and start to light my cigarette When I see your purple feet Shove my head to your chest Hear nothing And run outside and scream.
Jules Gates is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University. She has published poetry in Amarillo Bay, Blue Bonnet Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, Concho River Review, Voices de la Luna, Visions with Voices, RiverSedge, Red River Review and other journals. She has presented poetry and creative nonfiction at the SCMLA, the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference, and the Langdon Review Weekend.
“In July of 2012 I had a surgery that went horribly awry. 6 hours after I was returned to my room, I started throwing up blood. They immediately returned me to the OR to stop a blood clot. 24 hrs later, my intestines collapsed.
I had 3 surgeries in a week and a half. They sliced me wide open 3 times. Then I got pneumonia. I almost died.
When my husband finally got me home, I had home nursing care for a few months because I had an open wound on my abdomen because of what they did. I had to get more surgeries later because of the massive hernia this caused, and the bowel blockages.
My husband was a 100% disabled Vietnam Vet whom I cared for for 17 years. He could barely walk and had overcome quadriplegia, colon cancer, and renal failure by the time I had these surgeries. He was wheelchair bound for the most part.
He did his best to save me, including getting my mother to come help him (they could not stand each other).
He drove me to campus in August and September of that year because I was too weak and was still attached to tubes and machines.He died in my chair on October 8, 2012. I believe he gave all he had to give and it killed him.”