ACT II Scene 4
[On phone] You know what? I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with me. Or at least what’s causing it. [pauses] No, no we don’t have any results back, but here’s what
I’m thinking. Right before my leg went numb and I lost my words, I had eaten a sandwich. So, I think I have a gluten allergy! It all makes sense! [pause] Oh, oh, ok. Well, call
me later then, I want to talk more about this.
Roommate pushes nurse call button.
Nurse enters the room.
I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with me and I want to run an experiment. I’ll need your help.
is running a fever
so I’m going to pick
her up and take her
to the doctor. Will
let you know what
the doc says. How
are you? Any word
on surgery time?
her I love her
and give me details
DAD: I hear
I trust Mom is
texting and calling
enough for the
both of us.
MAIL: 117 unread
WAYNE: I ran into
John this morning
and he told me
what’s going on!
a fucking nightmare.
Tell me the truth,
how is John holding up?
WAYNE: It was clear
he hadn’t shaved.
Maybe for a few days.
He had the girls with him.
was their hair?
about John or the
girls. What’s the
news on your end?
to have surgery.
There is a
stone up there
that I can’t pass.
WAYNE: So what,
they just go up your
twat and yank them out?
GEMMA: I’m gonna
give you a pass for obvious
reasons, but you
get we have more
than one hole down
WAYNE: Happily, I don’t.
What can I do to help?
There is a knock at the door. Dr. Singh
walks into the room and tinkers with
machines, picks up clipboard on end of bed.
Gotta go. Just
John, ok? I think
Millie is sick.
WAYNE: Can do.
Miss you, kid.
Ok, so here’s the deal. We are trying to get you on the OR schedule, but it’s proving difficult.
What’s the holdup?
It’s just a classic ER Darwinism. We have to prioritize those people who don’t have beds.
No, no. Those who don’t have a hospital bed. Those who just come into the ER.
But, I came into the ER.
Yes. But then you were given a bed.
But, that doesn’t make any sense.
And I’m not trying to suggest it does.
Would I be better off to just check out of the hospital and then walk back into the ER?
Absolutely. But we wouldn’t allow it. You’re in too bad of shape to check out of here.
Ok, so NOW when do you think the surgery is?
Tomorrow. You’re on the books for late afternoon.
So, you’re gonna starve me again?
Can we negotiate about the ice chips?
We’ll consider your request. Now, let me tell you what we’re doing.
Putting a stent up my kidney, right?
Yes. You’ll be under anesthesia. We will go up through your urethra and place a foot-long stent that will run up into your kidney and help it drain by by-passing the stones. Then, when you get home, you’ll get the second surgery to blast up the stones.
So the pain I’m in now...that will go away with the stent, right?
Well that’s some good news.
But the stent will present a new kind of pain.
The stent causes discomfort. Nothing like you are experiencing now. But it’s not pleasant.
Will I be able to fly home?
Oh...right. [makes a note in chart] We will need to load you up with some Valium. But you’ll be able to do it.
What should I expect from this stent? Will I be able to work?
Of course, of course. It will just make it feel like you have a constant UTI. It will burn when you pee. It will cause back pain. And crossing your legs will be, well, just don’t try and cross your legs.
So sounds like sex is out of the question.
Oh god yes. An orgasm with a stent in would cause your kidney to spasm. You don’t want
any part of that.
I was kidding.
I’m not. Don’t have sex.
Well if I can’t cross my legs, I can’t make any promises.
Also, walking will often cause a spasm. And sometimes sitting will feel uncomfortable.
Ok, so after the surgery, what can I do?
You’ll be fine to email. Take a phone call or two. [pauses, looks through papers on clipboard] Now, there’s going to be a lot of pills to take. One that relaxes your ureter, one to help the pain, one to relax kidney spasms, one to relax your bladder, one to help you sleep, one to keep you awake, and one just to help your throat muscles stay relaxed through all the pill swallowing.
Ok. Can you maybe give me a cheat sheet?
Yeah, sure. We can write down the instructions. But what pharmacy do you want the prescriptions sent to?
Oh, the Walgreens on 15th. In Tulsa.
No, no. You need to find a local pharmacy. You’ll need to take ALL of these pills before you even attempt to board an airplane. Especially the Valium.
Ok, it’s just that I’m not from here. I didn’t even know what hospital this was until yesterday. I don’t even know the name of the town we’re in. And even if we find a pharmacy, I don’t have a car. How am I supposed to even get to a pharmacy?!
Uber. I’m going to send it to the CVS on Broadway.
Ok. That means nothing to me.
The Uber driver will know. [pats Gemma’s foot]. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be in the OR and we will make you feel all better.
Sounds like you’re going to make me feel worse in a lot of ways.
Can’t deny that. See you tomorrow.
Where did we land on the ice chips?
I think you know. [turns and walks out]
Lights dim. They rise to show food being
brought in for the Roommate. She eats. Gemma
reads. Then both women get ready for bed.
Lights dim. They rise and nurses come in and
out adjusting equipment, taking
measurements, etc. Breakfast is brought in
for the roommate. Lights dim. Lights rise
again to show Gemma pacing and Roommate
asleep in helmet snoring. Lights dim.
ACT II Scene 5
Scene opens in the operating room. There is
the hustle and bustle of nurses and staff
and doctors milling about preparing for
surgery. Gemma is sitting on the bed wearing
blue booties and a blue “surgery cap”.
Gemma, this is Betty. She’s the nurse who helps our anesthesiologist. She’s got a few
questions for you as we get everything prepped. You feeling okay?
I mean how do I even answer that?
[turns to Betty] Good luck.
Hi Gemma. I just want to ask a few questions before we get started. Easy stuff and then we will get you good and drugged and get you on your way out of here. So, first things
first. What was the date of your last period?
Oh you have got to be kidding me.
It’s important to note.
If it is so important, why don’t you all make a copy of answers I gave three days ago and pass them around the office?
I’m just going to put “two weeks ago.”
Asked and answered.
Tell me what current medications you take.
Synthroid for low thyroid, low dose of paroxetine for anxiety, and daily vitamins. Plus, I also take a vitamin C chewable so I don’t catch everything my kids bring home.
How much vitamin C do you take a day?
[Shrugs] I dunno. I take a couple a day. Sometimes three if I feel something coming on, or a scratch in my throat.
Ok...[makes lots of notes] Now, has the doctor talked to you about staying the night tonight?
What? No! He promised me I could get out of here this afternoon after I recover which would give me time to make my 9pm flight home to Oklahoma.
You seem upset. I’m going to get the doctor.
Betty walks over to Dr. Fulkerson and they
whisper, looking at Gemma periodically. He
then dramatically sighs and walks over to
Gemma, I hear you are upset about my recommendation to stay over night.
THAT information gets passed around but I have to show every one I see my insurance card?
I get that you're upset---
[interrupting him and raising her voice] You told me three days ago that there’s no way on earth I won’t be out by TODAY, so I rescheduled plane flights for TODAY at 9pm. I’ve been in this hospital for four days while your nurses starve me all day just hoping I can get in for surgery. Now you tell me you’re still not going to let me out?
I don’t feel comfortable letting you fly tonight. We need to make sure you recover
well, have no clots, or bleeding, or have a bad reaction to the anesthesia.
[crying] Look, you all haven’t let me eat in 72 hours. I haven’t seen my kids in over a week. I’m in terrible pain. My email box is causing me panic attacks. And the thought of staying one more night in this place next to that fucking civil litigation lawyer, well, I just don’t have the words.
Ah, you are rooming with Dana. She’s something else, huh?
[wipes tears and laughs a bit] I’m just so ready to go home.
Well of course you are. But Gemma, do you think anyone who comes through those OR doors is happy to be here and hopes to stay longer?
And do you realize that the people you see around you worked overtime to squeeze you in
today? Did you know that a man fell off a ladder and broke his pelvis in twelve places today, kicking most everyone on this surgical team into overtime hours?
And did you know that today was a scheduled day off for me? One that I’d been looking forward to for three weeks? That I was pulled off the golf course where I was teeing off with my son, a son who up until last month hadn’t spoken to me in 15 years?
Okay. So then I need you to get some perspective. We are all on your side. We are all working for you. And we are here to make you well again. And I know it’s inconvenient. And I know you’re in pain. And I know you want to get home to your kids. But Gemma, this is a hospital. A place where everyone feels that way.
Okay. I get it. I’m sorry.
That’s the spirit. Now, let’s get on with it! [claps and starts to walk away].
Dr. Fulkerson slowly turns around
to face Gemma.
If all of you have worked double shifts [gestured around the room] and you [points at Fulkerson] just came off the golf course, where I can only assume you were drinking, is anyone really in a good state of mind to be operating on me?
Dr. Fulkerson nods to an attending in the
back who comes up to Gemma and places a gas
mask over her face and she immediately falls
back on to the bed anesthetized.
The lights dim.