Frozen in a sepia photograph, Jordan and I sit side by side, he in his hospital bed and I in a chair pushed to his side. He is talking now, but little of what he says resembles conversation. I see his eyes dart from wall to wall. ”Mom, where did you find this place? On line? This is a dump. Were you trying to save money or something? Why am I here? Did I do something wrong? Is that why you are punishing me?”
I laugh until I realize he is serious. The doctors warned us that his withdrawal symptoms from the morphine-like drug he was taking could include confusion and even delusions. I try to reason with him. ”Jordan, we are in the hospital. I know you don’t remember, but your heart stopped, and we have to stay here until you recover. Do you remember anything?”
“What are you talking about? I am ready to go home. Why are you keeping me here? Let’s go right now.”
The night nurse notices the commotion and comes to check on us. ”Hey, Jordan. How are you going tonight?”
“Good. I am ready to go now. Where are my clothes. Mom, I want my clothes.”
He does not have any clothes at the hospital. Everything he was wearing was cut off and thrown away in the emergency room. We only have his coat and the contents of his pockets, wallet, keys and a few receipts.
Jordan pushes himself higher up in an attempt to get out of bed. The nurse puts his hands on Jordan shoulders. ”Whoa, there buddy. You are not going anywhere.”
“Yes I am. I have to go to the bathroom.”
“No problem. Just do it. You have a catheter tube inserted into your bladder so you can go right here.”
“Mom, what is he talking about? I am not going to pee here. You know I cannot do that. Let me up. Why are you doing this to me. I have to go to the bathroom. I am not going to pee in the bed. I would never do that.”
The nurse looks at me and warns Jordan. ”If you do not calm down, I will have to restrain you.”
This is killing me. I don’t know what to do. Jordan does not understand what is happening to him. I come closer and whisper in his ear. ”Honey, I love you. I would never hurt you. You cannot get out of bed because you still have tubes attached to you. Please just relax. It is okay to pee right where you are. Look here, “I say lifting the catheter bag for him to see. ”It will go right in here.”
“You are worse than the mom in Gray Gardens,” he screams. ”I hate you. I hate you.” More determined than ever, he starts to throw his legs over the bed.
The nurse comes back with an attendant and two belts. The attendant holds Jordan down while the night nurse straps him in….one over his chest and the other over his legs. Jordan screams, flailing his arms and crying. His contempt seers my heart. Needle in hand, Nurse Mike says, “Now, Jordan, I am going to give you a little something to calm you down.” His nod assures me that everything will be alright. I remain by the bed watching as Jordan finally drifts off to sleep.
Awaking the next morning, I find Jordan sitting up, smiling and talking to the day nurse. All the nurses love Jordan, but this one is a little too perfect. Not one strand of her platinum blond hair is out-of-place. It is 6 am and she is in full make up wearing a color coordinated, tight-fitting nurse Jackie outfit. Jordan calls her a wax doll. He obviously not upset by the events of last night. Probably does not even remember what happened. He laughs and tells the nurse, “I am here because I have a bad cold. I want the really good drugs.”
She smiles, “Don’t worry, Honey, you are in the hospital where we always have the best drugs.” We both laugh.
Next thing we know, someone comes in and removes Jordan’s catheter. I guess last night made a big impression. Then the nurse’s aid asks Jordan what he wants for lunch. Our regular nurse suggest tomato soup and crackers.
Things are now progressing at lightening speed. A tall-red headed man from physical therapy gets Jordan out of bed and puts him in a walker. ”Okay, Jordan, what is your name?” Seeing that I am confused by the question, the therapist explains that his job is not only to help Jordan walk but also to trigger his memory.
Jordan snickers. ” My name is Jordan.”
“Good, what year is it?”
“That must have been a good year. Let’s try again.” Jordan never gets the right year, which is 2010.
“No worries, we will keep working on it. Look, lunch is here.”
By now, Katie and Leah have joined us. Everyone is excited to see Jordan up. We put him in the big arm chair and place his tray within reach.
“This is so exciting. Jordan, you are eating. You are really eating something.” I am beside myself.
Jordan gives me that look….a look so incredulous that I know he is coming back to himself. It is a real Jordan look. One I have seen so many times in the past. Leah, Katie and I all make knowing eye contact. Then, in classic Jordan style, he says, “Mom, it is just tomato soup and crackers. It’s not like it is sea bass from Tsunami.”
Conversation fills the room with light heartedness. We talk about the theatre, about yoga, about, the weather and other wonderful mundane subjects. Then Jordan looks intently at the three of us. ”What am I doing here? You are all way more fucked up than I am. You’re the crazy ones, so why am I the one in here?” We laughed until we cried. He still does not know exactly why he is where he is but his mind is beginning to process. His cynicism stands in stark relief to out tepid environment.