Megan’s Room

Published January 15, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

Megan lay in the bed, covered with a thin off-white sheet and a blue scratchy blanket so threadbare it was almost a trade description offence to call it a blanket. It was quite cold and the flimsy hospital gown didn’t offer much warmth either. If she had a bit more meat on her bones she wouldn’t feel the cold as much but advancing years had dissolved the fat and muscle from her.
She pressed her buzzer by the side of the bed to ask a nurse for another blanket, they wouldn’t rush to her, she could hear them talking inanely at the end of the ward about a holiday last year or the year before. The pinging of the fluorescent light flickering above Megan’s bed was temporarily drowned out by the sound of the patient on her left, Mrs Brown, chewing sloppily open-mouthed on whatever inappropriate food her family had dropped off half an hour ago just as visiting time was ending. Mrs Brown was diabetic yet her family kept feeding her chocolates and sweets. Mrs Brown never talked, she just chewed loudly or expelled wind.
Megan’s right ear was not spared disturbance either as Miss Nash had been violently coughing throughout the night and had still not dislodged whatever it was that was causing aggravation, she was trying her best to though as the sound of spitting phlegm into an echoing pan had been intermingled with the hacking cough.
Megan closed her eyes, tired of staring at the nurses’ station, where they had now turned her buzzer back to ‘off’ but were still debating Ibiza or Magaluf. Over the generic hospital smell, which reminded Megan of the fluid in her departed husband’s insulin injections, there was a pungent stench of disinfectant still lingering from an incident of vomiting from a lady opposite whose name Megan didn’t know. She’d only been brought in a few hours ago, a replacement for the lady who died in the night, Megan didn’t know her name either but she’d been lying there a few hours between discovery and removal, maybe the disinfectant was masking the odour of death as well as the vomit.
Clacking footsteps increasing in volume towards Megan’s bed made her open her eyes in time to see a nurse stopping at the end of her bed.
“What is it?” said the nurse, “What did you press for?”
“I’m getting a bit chilly love” said Megan, “Could I have another blanket please?”
“Do you really need one? Everyone else will want one if I get you one.” Said the nurse.
“Oh” said Megan glancing at Mrs Brown and Miss Nash, both looking blankly at her, “I’ll be ok then.”
The nurse plodded back down the ward without saying anymore. Megan stared at the cold metal bar at the side of her bed, left permanently up as she could not get out of her bed unaided, and tried to remember how many days her son had said she would be in there for.

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