Revenge of the Grammar Geek: I’ll take my dignity back please

Revenge of the Grammar Geek: Ill take my dignity back please

Kelly Weber, Staff Writer

The nurse uncaps a blue marker and stands next to the whiteboard in my room. “What’s your goal today?”


“Yeah. For some people, it’s putting on make-up, some people it’s getting out of the room—what’s your goal?”

It’s hard to know how to answer that. Currently, I’m still waiting for the team of specialists to arrive—it’s been three days, and there’s been no sign of them so far between the slurry of blood pressure cuffs and tests to confirm that, yes, indeed, I do have _____ medical condition. I’m an adult and stuck in the children’s ward (decorated with frogs) because of the overflow of people in the med center.

It’s a Saturday in early March, some time before teaching, and today I’m allowed out of the room long enough to clean up and look presentable.

The preparation for leaving the room without an IV is a plastic sleeve sealed over my arm with enough tape to keep the Scotch company in business for three years. I’m repeatedly asked if I’m capable of walking on my own. “Yes, I am.”

I’m still rubbing a towel through my hair after I’ve cleaned up, and am walking back to my room when a team of doctors approaches behind me. Next to me and my Batman T-shirt, they look more like lawyers: brown suits, broad lapels, shiny gold nametags.

They ignore me and pass a file back and forth among them. I hear my name; then I’m just “the patient.”

Finally, I turn around and extend my hand. “Hi,” I say. “I’m the patient.”

Whether they’re more surprised to see me up and about or speaking coherently about my symptoms, I’m not sure. The long-expected meeting with these specialists, for which I have been held here through the weekend, lasts approximately thirty seconds. Long enough for a recapitulation of the same things all of the nurses have told me about my condition. Then the suits leave.

I ask what the next step is, then. The nurses chart, walk in and out of the room, ask me if I need anything, always seem to forget that nobody’s told me what the next part is, what happens now. The afternoon-shift nurse asks me: “What’s your goal?”

What goals can people set in a place like this?

On the one hand, I know. I want what the people who put on make-up and move around the room—who find themselves drained by the very med center keeping them alive—want: dignity.

And yet—nobody has the answers here. The names and faces keep changing, everyone asks me what kind of ice cream I want and to rate my pain, nobody listens to me even though I’ve been through this song-and-dance six times already.

I finally answer the nurse. “I want to go home.”

“Okay.” The blue marker squeaks: HOME.

“I’ll get your ice cream.” The nurse leaves.

Footsteps pass up and down the hallway, all wearing the same white shoes.