I was drifting ... peacefully; just enjoying the simple pleasure of a warm summer day, lying on the floating platform anchored in the middle of the small lake. I was enjoying the quiet of no cars or crowds around there at the State Park near my uncle's house. Our family went there at least three times each summer when I was growing up. At least we had until I had gone off to college.
But ... that was years ago. Why am I out on that floating platform now?
And that soft beeping sound I keep hearing; what's with that?
And ... SHIT! Why does my body ache so damned much all of a sudden? Oh, SHIT!!! My chest and side are in agony!
I may have groaned out loud. I don't know. It was dark all around me. I could not see anything, and I could only hear that damned beeping, and then the rustle of cloth and a couple of footsteps close by. I heard a voice -- female -- I think -- speaking softly, but with some measure of authority.
"Get the doctor. He seems to be coming out of it." Then, I lost all sensory contact with everything and I guess I went back into a deep sleep.
I don't know how much later it was after I had had the summer lake dream and had partially awakened in agony. But I was coming awake now to the realization that my eyelids had quite an accumulation of that crystalline stuff. You know; the stuff that seems to gather when you have been asleep for quite a long time without having rubbed your eyes reactively in your sleep. That is when you are so absolutely dead to the world that your arms and legs do not move while you are sleeping.
The lights in the room in which I was awakening were dim at the moment, and somehow it registered to my brain that it must be nighttime. I guess the logic centers in my brain were cueing to the fact that I was in a hospital and that the very low activity level around me lent itself to the atmosphere of a night shift.
The pain that I remembered having felt when I had last come out of my slumber was not gone by a long shot. But it was now a recognizable dull ache -- and not a small one, either -- but at least it was not an overwhelming press in the left side of my chest as it had been before. The loopy sensation in my head and the dryness in my mouth seemed to bring back memories of how I had felt when I had taken Percocet following my arthroscopic shoulder surgery to remove a bone spur back a few years earlier.
But, why the hell did I need Percocet? And why the hell was I in a hospital?
The last thing I could remember was leaving my office at the airport, heading out to get in my car to drive home for the evening, and then ... a movement in my periphery, a large shape coming quickly at me, and then huge pain in the side of my head, and falling, and ... darkness.
Believe me. I really tried to stay awake after I began to realize my current situation, but I could not.
The next time I awoke, there was a friendly, not-too-homely, smiling feminine face above mine. Next to that face was a hand holding a small penlight. I realized pretty quickly that this lady must be part of the ward staff and that she was checking out the reaction of my pupils while holding my eyelids up one at a time.
"So," she said in a voice that sounded as if it belonged to someone who had smoked at one time, but had quit a few years earlier, "you seem to be ready to join us at last."
I did not say anything until she let go of my eyelid and allowed me to blink. The crusty eye stuff was mostly gone. Either I had wiped it away myself in my sleep or else someone had taken a cloth and cleaned it away for me.
"Why," I began and felt the dryness in my throat. She must have heard it, as she reached beside the bed and brought back a small cup of water with an articulating straw. I gulped the water down once, coughed softly once--oh, shit; that hurt; took another swallow, and then attempted to clear my throat.
"Why," I said again, "am I here? What happened?"
"Mr. Reese, you are in Saint Elizabeth's in Covington. They brought you in here Tuesday evening. It would appear that you were attacked and beaten in one of the employee parking lots out at CVG."
I did not say anything for a minute as I tried to let my brain process what she had said.
My name is Glenn Reese, and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. But my workplace is just across the Ohio River, on the Kentucky side, at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport -- a name long enough that a lot of folks related to the airport or airline industry and the surrounding community of Covington, Kentucky, know it simply by its International Air Transport Association airport code as CVG.
"Tuesday, you say?" I said at last. "What day is it now?"
"It is just after midnight on Thursday morning. You have been out since they brought you in on Tuesday evening; and then there was the surgery, of course." She began to check out the electronic IV delivery system next to my bed before she continued.
"But I don't want you to worry about that right now. You need to rest and get well. Your doctor will be doing her rounds sometime after seven, and I am sure that the police officer who was here earlier will want to speak to you."
Police? Well, yeah. I guess if I were attacked and beaten, the police would get involved somehow.
But who would have done this to me; and why? I noticed that she had not said anything about my being robbed; just attacked and beaten.
I closed my eyes and tried to 'feel' myself out by imagining each region of my body mentally, since it hurt too much to move right now.
Head? Sore on the right side above my ear ... and a whopper of a headache; kept under control by the effects of the Percocet, no doubt.
Neck, shoulders, and arms ... stiff, sore...
Warm pin-prick feel of the IV catheter in my left arm...
Chest and abdomen ... aches like a mother!...
And now I can feel an ache in my groin ... oh, shit ... it's my balls ... what's up with that...
Legs and feet ... can't seem to feel any difficulty down there ... I mean I can bend my knees and wiggle my feet and toes without much in the way of discomfort.
Shit ... I guess that about does it. For the areas that are not injured or achy, the bed sure feels soft and comfortable.
As for the rest; thank you, Percocet.
And that's all I remembered until later that morning.
Luanne! Does she know where I am? Did anyone contact my wife?
I awoke in a panic and immediately regretted my sudden movement as the pain in my chest, side, and groin let me know that I was still in a hospital bed, evidently as a result of a beating. And I had no clue as to the reason behind the beating or any clue as to the identity of who did it.
"Mr. Reese, calm down. You don't want to put a strain on your sutures. And I certainly don't want to have to do them again." This voice sounded feminine yet determined.
When I opened my eyes, I saw the stereotypical white smock with hospital badge and ubiquitous stethoscope around the neck of a doctor. But this doctor was a woman who looked to be about forty-five or so years old, with hair that looked, with the able assistance of her hairdresser, to be about thirty-ish; and tired and experienced eyes that looked to be about a hundred and fifteen.
Dr. Crabtree was her name, according to her badge, and she examined me quickly but thoroughly. I was a bit embarrassed at having a woman examine my 'package' when she pulled to covers aside and lifted my hospital gown. I tried to suppress a groan when I felt her hand on my balls, as she gently lifted them, evidently to check out her handiwork, if her comment about sutures from before were any indication.
"I had to take care of a torsion that had developed in your left testicle caused by the bruising following the assault on your groin area. It appears as if someone struck you above the right ear; and, when you fell, the assailant kicked you several times in the groin, along with giving you several kicks to the ribs. That is why your thoracic region will be sore for a while and why I had to operate on your testicle. If the bruising, coupled with your torsion condition, had continued down there for many more hours, I would have been forced to take the left testicle."
I don't know how my facial expression looked to her at that moment, but my gut was churning at that point with the natural aversion any man feels about a threat to his reproductive glands.
Dr. Crabtree continued, answering my unasked question. "You should not worry about your manhood at all, Mr. Reese. It's all there. And I predict that, if you follow my post-operative instructions and stay with the topical testosterone hormone regimen that I am prescribing for you over the next few weeks, you and your wife should be able to continue in wedded bliss, meeting each other's sexual needs and expectations in no time at all after you heal." She held my left hand loosely as she said this, noting my wedding ring.
"It might itch a bit when the sutures begin to dissolve, but I am sure that you and your wife can figure out who will apply the zinc oxide ointment to the affected area in order to ... make it better." Dr. Crabtree had a twinkle in those ancient eyes of hers as she said that.
"My wife," I said, "has anyone contacted Luanne? She was out of town on business--her job. Has anyone called her?"
"I will check with the floor nurse and have her give you an update on that. Saint Elizabeth's is pretty anal in its approach to HIPAA laws. But the nurse can get the next of kin notification business worked out with you and make sure that any authorized family members are apprised of your situation."
.... There is more of this story ...