“Molly, honey?” Grandma Claire was stirring in her bed. She couldn’t find a comfortable position.
“Yep?” Molly was in the big chair with the lap desk across her knees. This had become her normal post from right after school until it was time for the Meals-on-Wheels van to arrive. She was finishing a paper for English. The assignment was “My Visit to the Hospital,” but Molly had re-titled it “The Worst Writing Assignment Ever,” and she was struggling with her final paragraph.
“Can you help me with this pillow?”
“Sure.” Molly helped Grandma Claire into a sitting position and re-plumped the pillows behind her. Grandma Claire seemed short of breath. “Do you need your oxygen for few minutes?” Molly asked.
“Maybe so,” said Grandma Claire. She lay back and smiled weakly at Molly. “You’re such a help to me on days like this, Molly Tea Cup. You should be out chasing boys instead of tending an old Granny.”
“Hmph,” said Molly. “Except I hate boys this week.” She reached for the mask and opened the valve on Grandma Claire’s oxygen tank. “I hate my teachers, too,” she said. “You’re not going to be happy with my grades.”
Molly settled down with the lap desk again. “I’m late with this paper,” she said. “Mr. Jensen won’t like what I’m saying, but I hate his assignments. So I guess we’re even.”
Molly had “visited” the hospital many times, of course, but it was nothing she wanted to write about. She had gone with Rhinehart and Grandma Claire to The Cities every time the doctor decided to try another treatment. At first, Molly was sure that each trip would be the last. In her hopeful heart, she knew that this treatment would be the one that finally worked and that Grandma Claire would come home, rest for a few days, and life would soon be back to normal. Grandma Claire, too, was always optimistic. Maybe this time they will figure it out. This time, she would say, the new meds will work. Except they didn't.
In conclusion, wrote Molly,
Grandma Claire murmured from behind the mask. “You shouldn’t be late with assignments, Molly. You owe it to the teacher to do your best.”
I must say that this assignment has been like a paper cut across the knuckles. I hate hospitals. I have a great deal of experience with hospitals and many good reasons to hate them. I hope I never have to see another one.
I hate doctors, too—all of them—and I hate all nurses except our hospice nurse Joanne. I hate stethoscopes and x-rays. I hate pills, potions, powders, Taxol, Draxol, Taxo-Draxo-tol and all other forms of chemo poison. I hate waiting rooms, examination rooms, blood labs, radiology labs, pressure cuffs, oxygen tanks, and machines that go “Ping!” Especially machines that go “Ping!”
“It will be fine, Grandma Claire,” said Molly, studying her last few lines. “I’ll catch up. I’m just behind on a few things.”
I hate hospitals, she wrote.
||I know I said that before, but I feel it is worth repeating, because I hate them so MUCH. I hate the tubes they stick in you, and the blood they draw out of you. I hate hospital gowns that leave your bare butt showing. I hate the cup they make you pee into, and I hate the yuck that they make you spit up from your lungs. It is no exaggeration to say, in short, that I hate everything IN a hospital and everything ABOUT a hospital.
Grandma Claire was still restless. She pulled the oxygen mask to one side.
“Molly,” she said. “When will Rhinehart be here?”
Molly looked at her watch. “About an hour,” she said. “Is your pillow okay?”
“I’m not sure I can make it that long, hon,” said Grandma Claire. “Do you think you can give me my morphine shot?”
“Sure,” said Molly. She hated giving Grandma Claire her morphine shot.
“I know you hate needles.”
“No, it’s fine,” Molly said. “One second.” She scribbled furiously on the page.
I also hate needles.
I believe I have given this due consideration, and I can’t think of one thing I hate worse than hospitals. Except this assignment. And possibly the bonehead who assigned it.