Goodbye Wolf by Nik De Dominic
From the author, Nik De Dominic:
"My pulmonologist once told me that the medical community would always have an interest in me because I was an uncommon presentation of a rare illness. Recently, I admitted myself to Los Angeles County Hospital's emergency room because of shortness of breath. In the past, I would've driven home, slept it off, but I'd had open heart surgery about 2 and a half months prior. That day my baseline was blown, I was having difficulty finishing sentences, and couldn't complete activities of minimal exertion that a week prior I could've ran circles around (see what I did there). Because of a fear of heart attack I was almost immediately given a bay, around 50 minutes after initially standing in queue to check myself in. The sheets hadn't been changed and there was a large blood stain where the previous patient had labs drawn. Blood, also, on the rails of the bed and some of the terminals. A man who I imagine was admitted against his will kept leaving his bay, accosting the ER doctor, referring to her as nurse, demanding back his knife - his property - which was taken from him upon his arrival. Every five minutes or so I'd see his shuffling silhouette behind my curtain, him calling nurse, nurse. Another patient howled in pain as his charge argued with him for his compliance. Rate your pain between 1-10. 9 because a 10 I'd be dead, he said. The behavior is most likely narcotic seeking, someone else. As I struggled to breathe, Janna wept and caressed my forehead. These horrors, all, though, backdrop. Both employee and patient become accustomed to these spaces because of the sheer amount of time spent there and despite their initial terror, these spaces become everyday. They have to. Overheard: my charge nurse cancelling her Verizon International Wireless Plan because she hasn't used it since her trip to Dubai; the patient in the bay across urging his cousin to leave his girlfriend because she lies, she is lying. Not sure about what, but something. And one doctor informing another that a sale at Joann Fabrics is about to end and though she glossed it and didn't see anything good her colleague should still check it out. Ok, those, like death, are all endings, but you get what I'm saying. These banal moments the most common and only punctuated by code blues and other emergency, despite whatever an NBC drama sells us. Goodbye Wolf attempts to explore these spaces, the interstices of everyday and, frankly, incredibly scary shit. Chronic disease through the lens of backpage horoscope. Organ failure through vegan donuts. The anxiety of not being able to breath through tropes of fairy tale and the fantastical. Suicide and issues of mental health as postage stamps. The same pulmonologist told me lung disease sounds a lot scarier than it is, and he was right. As my wife and I waited for chest x-ray and EKG to ultimately be cleared without needing critical intervention, we made shitty jokes on a text thread with our five closest friends, a text thread that mostly consists of what new restaurant one of us had gone to, the ages of late night hosts, and more generally our television consumption patterns. That day, news of a child born and the baby's picture. A true and beautiful rarity. Her birth and that new show with what's-his-name surely more important than what any test would find. We had to believe that, know that, or how else would we have survived?"