Back in February of 2014, our dad was in the hospital for yet another hip revision surgery. After a lengthy “recovery” from a previous surgery (I use quotes because he was never really able to fully recover from that mishandled surgery four years earlier) he was understandably nervous about another hospital stay. The staff suggested a family member stay the night so that when he wakes up discombobulated the next morning, he’ll have a familiar face to make him more comfortable. I was available and happy to volunteer so our mom wouldn’t have to do it and could have a decent night’s sleep in her own bed.
After it being the hospital’s suggestion and basically a hotel for sick people, you’d think a bed, cot, couch, something, could be offered to a guest they’ve invited to stay the night. However, it would seem that not only were they ill equipped for people without injury or illness to sleep there, but the night staff seemed confused as to what to do or offer me — they had no knowledge of my staying there. Awesome. What they were able to come up with was a hard, thick, pleather recliner put in a public waiting area. What I learned that night is that after hours they turn off lights in public waiting areas of hospitals. So, the idea was for me to sleep with various staff and possibly visitors walking by in the dark, mostly empty hallway I was situated just off of. I was uncomfortable for so very many reasons that night. This recliner thing was a mess and I was completely unable to find a comfortable position. The thin blankets did little to keep me warm in the cool, stagnant air. In the off chance I did doze off, I’d wake up to the distant, rubber-soled footsteps of a night nurse starting at the far end of the hallway and getting louder until they passed through the electronic, staff-only door to my left.
To add to the eeriness of being in this dark, unfamiliar, hushed place overnight, the entire time I was watched over by an insanely creepy painting of a woman holding a baby in a rowboat. The baby’s soulless, black eyes glared at me, waiting for me to sleep so it could occupy my nightmares.
Resistant to surrender and delirious from exhaustion, I took a picture of the painting (for evidence when they find me catatonic in this Godforsaken chair the next day) and texted this to family members:
creepy baby won’t stop staring at me…
watching me ‘sleep’…
thinking evil creepy baby thoughts…
Later, still disturbed by my unwanted voyeur and wanting it to know I was aware of its motives, I composed this:
creepy baby knows my thoughts
i know creepy baby listens, waiting, watching
creepy baby has seen too much already
creepy baby is calling me
or am i calling creepy baby
Yeah, it was a rough night. However, the surgery went better than expected and I was able to comfort my dad in the morning.
And I survived — except for the night terrors. the horror… the horror…
*I need to point out that I am not heartless enough to think I was suffering more than any other person in the hospital that night and wouldn’t have switched places with any of the patients — or staff, for that matter — for all the creepy baby-less nightmares in the world