From behind The Blue Curtain ...

I'm not sure where to begin with this post.  Back in July, I was on the Covid Hall of our local hospital, and I came back out.  I wasn't being treated.  I was there for my Mom.  I had taken her to the doctor for a wound center referral only to be sent straight to the ER.  They let me go back with her into the ER.  Unheard of in the Covid age.  And there I sat behind the blue curtain for hours until she was finally admitted.

I haven't talked about it much, not the details except to my immediate family, a family friend who is a Nurse Practitioner, my closest friends and my Assistant at work.  I haven't wanted to talk about it - it was all such a shock.  

We were on the Covid Hall for 5 days!  I never let myself realize that pretending it was normal for the hospital windows to be covered up in thick plastic, for there to be a giant vent tube attached to another part of the window now boarded up all hooked up to a ventilator.  You couldn't see out.  At night it was never dark with streetlights from the streets below shining eerily into the plastic.

A few months before I had gotten hooked on the TV series "Once Upon a Time."  We watched season 4 probably in late June and when the villain the Snow Queen came on the screen we looked at each other and said "Mrs. Claus!"  When you have kids, you see "The Santa Clause" movies a lot!  (Luckily, they are very good movies.  We just watched the first one again last week!)  

I then decided I would do a Google search on actress Elizabeth Mitchell to see what else she'd done.  (I had heard of "Lost" and "V" but I've never watched them)  From that search, though, I discovered her sweet online fan club and that she loves to read books so I started following her on Insta.  She had a post about Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" which looked interesting so I checked it out.  That was one of the books I happen to have with me in the hospital room as I carry several books in my briefcase every day and a book wherever I go in case I get time to read.  

I read "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" late at night under the muted street lit glow gleaming from the thick plastic.  It was cold in the room.  I slept on the couch that turned into a single bed with a slight adjustment of the large plastic cushion.  

The book kept me mesmerized until I finished it laying there on that hospital couch.  And eerily, I had no toothbrush with me so I used the new one a Nurse left for my Mom (she was unable to brush her teeth at that point as I was feeding her and so she didn't need it).  After I rinsed it off, I wrapped it up a brown paper towel since I had nothing else to use to keep it from getting messed up.  And then I read the toothbrush scene in "The Ocean at the End of the Lane."  (It's an awesome book - I reviewed it in my other blog on books, https://booksfrommydad.blogspot.com/2020/07/feed-by-mt-anderson-and-ocean-at-end-of.html)

I felt like I was living that book.  I had never read any other books by Gaiman, but had seen a couple of movies based on his books.  I've since read his "What is Art?" which is a great book to read if you are in the arts.

With this massive life change amidst a pandemic, it is books that keep me going, plus friends including one who sat with me (from a distance) in the hospital chapel while my Mom went through a procedure, and oh yes at the time also what I called "the magic bracelet," the hospital bracelet.  It was the only way I could get in and out of the hospital.  

I have another friend who is a nurse who told me later on, how brave I was for staying all that time in the hospital with my Mom.  I don't ever feel brave, but I know I am tough.  I've been presented with a life change of now being a caregiver to my Mom.  It was unexpected, but I know how lucky we both are to have made it back out of the Covid Hall.  

I believe in books, love books, have stacks of them in my home office to read, check out way too many from the library, and created a Book List (some I found from friend's posts, Elizabeth Mitchell's posts and others from book reviews because yes I read those too looking for yet more books to read).  I've also written many myself  - my favorites are "The Mailbox of the Kindred Spirit," "Intent," "The Poet Next Door," "Poetry in LA" and "A Sunless Sea."  My first audiobook of "The Mailbox of the Kindred Spirit" just came out so I was listening to the audio tracks to approve them in the hospital and grateful to be playing them for my Mom who by that time had been moved off the Covid Hall into a regular room.  

I could probably write a book about all of this, but I don't think so because it's way too personal and not my story entirely to tell.  Instead, I wish for you to stay safe and healthy and leave you with this poem I wrote in the hospital room,

 

                                    The Blue Curtain by LB Sedlacek

                                   

The ER is different

than I remember

the waiting room divided

by sheets of plastic

and the myriad of

questions

do you have a fever

have you been tested

have you been around

anyone who tested positive

do you have chills

loss of taste

these questions asked at

the door, at the check in

counter by the nurse

who wheels my Mom back

behind the blue curtain

and asked again by the

phlebotomist and finally

by the admissions clerk

these questions ringing in my

ears like bullets to the head

we sit and wait behind the

blue curtain

and I am not Oz

we are not in Kansas

there’s no red heeled clicks

to save us here

the shoes, their shoes are

all different colors

(red, purple, white)

but the uniforms all

blue, dark or sky

I sit in the room

behind the blue curtain

on a blue chair

while my Mom lays

on blue sheets

enduring needle pricks

and blood draws

over and over

I count the number of

blue gloves on the wall

the screens flicker numbers

I don’t understand

and it is quiet except for

the hum of machines

and the ambulance calls

to the center of the room

I have a patient

has a fever

has tested positive

can I bring her in

they tell him NO

NO the Covid hall is full

I sit double masked

sunglasses on to protect

my eyes from “it”

and read poetry

every book I have

(I didn’t bring enough books)

and I write a few

lines

enduring the myriad of

 

people appearing and disappearing

from behind the blue curtain.













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