Last Night in the Hospital?
Dinner: snack packet of humus and pretzels and an ice tea. The cafeteria worker, the same one I have seen countless times in the last week, glanced my way and said, "$7.61."
"You're kidding me," I replied. "Seven dollars and sixty-one cents for that?" I wished I had walked to Panera Bread, spent two dollars more, and gotten the Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa salad. It is amazing, by the way. Try it.
"Four dollars work?" His expression was flat, but kind as he punched in his employee id.
Be advised. Hospital cafeteria food prices are negotiable for those who start to look familiar.
Nathaniel has spent thirteen of the last thirty-one days in the hospital. That does not include an ambulance ride and four hour emergency room visit. His hand surgery. His bronchoscopy. And now a nine day illness. It is not only cafeteria workers who are starting to recognize my face. Janitors. Unit secretaries. Nurse Practitioners. The woman at the front desk who gives me a new name badge each day. She does not ask my name. The Amish couple with the child in Cardiac Intensive Care. Nathaniel has his own fan club. Top of the list might be the night nurse who wore his Mater-from-Cars-movie-just-for-Nathaniel-t-shirt tonight and switched with two other nurses to get Nathaniel as a patient. Despite all their smiling faces and kindnesses, I am ready to go home.
Nathaniel had a fantastic day. We increased his feeds to full home doses. We reduced his respiratory support to our baseline regiment. Think Lighning' McQueen fast through recovery. If nighttime saturation rates stay above ninety-two percent on two liters or less oxygen and he takes his full night feed without issues, we are home tomorrow.