the surgical story / by Reginald Crump

He responds, "Bruton High School!"

They say I look young, but I have to admit it's been years now since I've been in high school. The face I recognize immediately. Almost as if it was yesterday, but names from decades of meeting folks start to come into play, all at once. He gives me another clue. 

Oh, my god!

It's been forever.

Literally!

I can't even believe it what an amazing surprise! It's been literally since graduation day.

How in the hell are you? What a random place for us to run into each other.

Well... you run into me.

I haven't been running in years and by the looks of my condition at the moment I won't be winning any marathons anytime soon. I'm just hanging out here, w/ my IV's, machines and HGTV.

Have a seat.

At this point I've got nothing but time to kill.

For nearly four hours, we went into great detail about our adventures following high school years.

We laughed about our New Breed attitude in High School and the over accessorized fashion terror we caused. Wardrobe combinations, Punk/New Wave, walking hallways as a runway.

I wasn't shocked to find that we'd both traveled the world and maintained a desire to do so.

We laughed at the push back that was given, growing up in a small town and how ironic it was that he now works for the hospital and noticed my name as soon as it popped up in the system.

Monstah Black isn't so common.

We talked until almost 1:30 in the morning. We exchanged information and vowed to keep in touch. He ensured that I was in good hands and that we'd connect soon.

Life is so strange how it leads you in one direction and then the next. Reconnecting with family and friends seems keeps one grounded in this ever changing world, where seasons blur into each other, creating confusion, a little chaos, disorder and sickness.

I was grateful to have had a friend pop through unannounced. Someone I'd least expected. Someone who drifted into a completely opposite direction because life happened. Yet somehow on Christmas Eve 2016 our paths were meant to cross again while I lay in this hospital bed.

Oh so grateful.

Shortly after he left the nurse entered. Checking my vitals, pain level and to once again plug me in to the vibrating bed for circulation.

Certain that I'd be able to drift off into a comfortable sleep I closed my eyes and there I was, back again, floating and topsy turvy'ing through space as if nothing happened and everything was ok with the world.

It seemed like only a matter of minutes before the next shift of nurses entered to check my vitals.

Somewhere in the mix of this hospital stay, mornings began including a shot into the side of my stomach. Everything was always explained in detail. When it wasn't I asked. At the time it seemed as though I'd be able to hold onto that information forever. Honestly, I've never been known for my memory. Unless it was related to something kinesthetic and even now that seems to be less prominent.

Oh, the blessings that come with advancement.

The needles have at this point become less frightening. Usually because I focus on the fact that if I can endure the pain of a tattoo needle, body piercings or the disgusting taste of a celebratory shot of alcohol, I shouldn't flinch when having to drink medicine or at the prick of a needle.

Before I know it, breakfast arrives bright and early. It's Christmas morning. It's still way to early to call anyone. It's about 6:30 or 7:00am.

Mmm, breakfast. My favorite. It's Christmas morning right?

 I deserve to have real bacon, real sausage, eggs, pancakes, juice. Why not? After inhaling breakfast I drift back into sleep to the sound of HGTV.

Again a nurse enters to check my vitals, ask my level and pain and oh yes, a shot in my stomach.

Originally I thought I'd be heading home on Christmas night.

Not so much.

The hospital is a ghost town and the only people working are those who agreed to work. Probably because there are no children at home to cater to the sugary, glistening, fun filled excitement of Santa shimmying down a far too narrow chimney stack. No children, anxiously waiting to open freshly wrapped packages to reveal the brand spanking new tricycle that they asked Santa to bring.

The phone rings.