I hate hospitals. It's the smell. They always smell like antiseptic, disinfectant, medical achohol, and that sickly orange goo they give you before a blood test. But, it's always the first thing you notice when you wake up in one.
The second is the feel. Starchy cotton. Not rough, but not exactly soft, either. There's a certain firmness to it, that lets you know you're not going anywhere.
After that comes the sound, assuming your ears are working. Depending on how you got there, it's ussually one of two things. The beeping of an ECG, letting you know just how badly you screwed up. Or a gentle buzzing. Florescent globes. They may be better than incandescant globes, but they drive me batty.
Taste isn't something you notice initially, but it does creep up on you. Either rubber or copper. Rubber if you hear beeping. Feeding tubes may be sterile, but they still taste like a snorkel fresh out of the box. Copper if you can hear buzzing. You may not need an ECG, but you probably bit your tounge.
Your sight always comes last, unless it's your first time in a hospital. You know where you are. You know, that when you open your eyes, you'll see a whole lot of white. When you do open your eyes, it's the same gypsum ceiling panels you see in schools, lobbies and cubicle farms. Maybe a curtain, maybe a family visiting someone across from you, maybe a sleeping family member in the courtesy chair. It could even be a quiet night, like this one. I felt okay, but I could tell I would ache as soon as my brain could be arsed to start sending memos again. I could breath fine, and I wasn't in any pain, so calling a nurse would be completely unnecessary.
Everyone's first movement differs. Maybe you try to sit up, to get a better look around. Maybe you wiggle all your extremities to makesure they're all there. Maybe you stretch, or clutch at your head, or get up and piss off the nurses. This time, though, I picked the traditional overly deep breath, and the resulting doubled-over self-hug as my ribs protested. At least everything was working.
IV? Check. Hospital gown? Check. Throbbing skull? Check. Underwear? Of course not. I looked around, and noticed a duffel bag next to my bed. I decided to wait until morning before doing anything. Nurses can be so jumpy. So I laid down, and tried to go back to sleep.
"Adrian? Hey, are you awake?"
"Come on, open your eyes."
So I did. Black hair, with the remnants of a ruby red pixie cut, the same blue eye shadow she wore everywhere, and her signature pearl bracelet. "Hi, Jac."
"Hey. You took a pretty heavy fall. How're you feeling?"
"Hazy. Do you know when I'll be allowed to leave?"
"The doctor told your Mum that you can leave today, if you feel up to it. You had a mild concussion, and two of your ribs are pretty bruised, so you'll have to take it easy for a while."
"Where is Mum, anyway?"
"Work. She couldn't get the day off, so she asked me if I'd help you home."
"I'll be fine. I can't wait to get this out of me, though," I said, fingering the tape on my wrist. "They always make my skin itchy."
"I'll get the nurse."
After a quick check-up, a shower, and medical insurance paperwork, we were walking to a nearby bus stop. "So, what happened to me, anyway?"
"What do you remember?"
"Good question." I remembered riding around, checking out her new neighbourhood. Finding the old stormwater runoffs, and getting a flat tyre, courtesy of a broken coke bottle. Hoping on the pegs of her bike, to ride back home and get a repair kit. Riding along the access paths, going under the bridge- oh. "I hit my head on the ceiling?"
"Yep. Then you fell in the drainage ditch."
"Cripes. Good thing I was still wearing my helmet. Although it would have been nice if you'd warned me."
"I did. Maybe next time you'll listen."
"Oh, shut up. Or I'll tickle you."