Diary of a John Doe

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Chapter 8: September 2, Last Year

Hi, doc! How have you been?

Yeah, it's been a while. Things weren't very good for me, doc. I've gone through some trouble and paid the hospital a visit, but I'm back, hehe!

Oh, Mr. Nitwit told you? Yeah, doc, it was that annoying cough that was with me the other time.

It's true, you did warn me, but doc, you know how it is, it's hard to take care of these things here. We don't have much we can do but take the bull by the horns ourselves. What we can do is keep our head strong. If the head weakens, no body can stand it. So I go trying to keep my head free, without this weight, to avoid that everything ruins itself for once. It's like we talked the other day, doc, it gets to a time that the head unarms itself to take it, but if it turns to sickness and worries, then everything's screwed, because then it will end up working together with the sickness to take down the guy that has nothing to do. It's not easy, doc!

So, doc, after that day we talked about, it got colder, you remember? The rain lasted a little longer and the weather got dry, then it was freaking cold. That cough was getting worse, and it turned into a drier cough. My chest was really loaded and wheezing a lot. Even awake it would wheeze, standing, sitting, anyway. It was getting worse for some days. Mr. Nitwit even wanted to try a doctor somehow, but I refused saying that I was getting better. And I really was, doc, it got real better, it got real stronger, hehe! I make jokes now, but it was no joke at all. But I wanted to avoid giving Mr. Nitwit a headache and try to stay strong. I know you can't get a doctor to people like me, unless in extreme cases, if you get what I mean. And Mr. Nitwit would get angry, which wouldn't be good for that high blood pressure of his. Cidão had been around here by the end of the day to see me, brought meds and teas that Mr. Nitwit's wife would send, but it didn't make much of a difference, the thing was official.

Besides all that, doc, weakness came. We don't eat well and that situation let me with no appetite, too. I wasn't hungry for anything. There was even a little hunger once in a while due to lack of food, but it was very little. People from the soups at night also came by in those nights and they came in good times, when this light hunger would get at me. I think that without that, things would be a little worse; they kept me a little stronger, and you know how it is, warm soup in a cold night is very good! But, as I said, weakness came and made my head get worse; soon, everything got worse. We're out of will to do things, too, you know? We end up giving the white flag and then the sickness gets over. And it wasn't any different, I think that a week after our talk, I spent almost the whole time lying down, with body aches and that naughty cough. Then, doc, there was a night, I think it was a Thursday, that I woke up coughing a lot, but a lot indeed. My chest sneezed when breathing and when I coughed it felt like there was a ball of thorns that would tear everything inside, you know? It hurt a lot at each cough. Coughing turned to be very hard and I started to feel scared. But the actual fear, real fear, came some minutes later when my throat started closing in. The air wouldn't come, doc. At the same time that I would try to suck air in, I coughed with that pain. The body started to soften, I don't know if for the lack of air because the pressure was dropping, but I got all soft, tingling. The air almost didn't get in and the little that did was expelled by the cough out of control that happened each time more. Sight started to even get dark, doc. You can imagine how I got scared! Then, an even stronger cough came that made me choke. You know when we're going to throw up, that we lose control of breathing, so, that's how I was: I choked and everything started to turn around. Suddenly, with a lot of pain, a catarrh ball came out - excuse me, doc - it was very big, thick and full of blood! That's right, doc, there was a lot of blood and it even spilled from my chin. I was desperate and sure that my time had come. I remember when I saw the blood, I looked at my brothers that were scared looking back at me and everything got dark.

They ran to Mr. Nitwit and woke him. Once more, Mr. Nitwit was clever in calling the ambulance and not saying who it was to, but at the same time the night soup guys were arriving and, seeing the ambulance's delay, they themselves stuck me in the VW wagon and took me to the hospital. They told me that Mr. Nitwit got very nervous and the brothers even more. You know, we live together and end up growing some feelings for each other. So, doc, the night soup guys rushed with me, I don't even know if the ambulance got there, but they took me to an emergency department nearby. They said it was tough for them to assist me, it seems they tried to suggest another place, for no apparent reason, but a guy from the night soup angrily insisted and they made people assist me, hehe! That's what I say, doc, people out there don't want us around.

When I got to the hospital, I almost wouldn't breathe anymore. I was cold and unconscious. To worsen things up, it was all crowded. I think it was the time of the year: you put the cold, the dry air, more pollution together and people get real sick. I just know that they put me on a hammock, took me inside, but left me in the corridor, can you believe it? Even being the way I told you, I stayed unconscious in the corridor. Lucky me, the night soup guy wasn't content in taking me to the hospital and fighting to see them taking me as a patient, but he sneaked in to see what they had done to me. When he saw me in the corridor, he started a fuss and almost caught a new doctor by the neck, hehe, that's what they told me, doc. Good guy, this one, isn't he? Oh he is, because if it wasn't for him, I think I would have died right there, in the hospital corridor. I mean, the hardest had been done, which was me getting in as a patient in hospital; then, I'd pass away for lack of assistance.

Oh, doc, I already thought of it, that they could have left me unattended because I was a guy from the streets, but I prefer not to think like this that much. You know why? They assisted me right in the corridor - of course, after the guy's arguing, hehe - but that's when I woke up. I was still in the corridor, on the hammock, and I was taking serum with some medicine that turned it yellowish. I woke up weak and still confused. After a while, I could look around and saw that the corridor was full, so the rooms must have also been crowded. I think here was a bad will and lack of people to manage so many sick people. There were charismatic nurses; there were doctors that treated us as if we were a clipboard sheet on the hammock's foot, and so on.

Since I was still dizzy, I soon fell asleep and woke up only the morning after. The place wasn't very good, doc. Even with the cold, the sun rose and warmed the hospital walls and then a very bad smell came, you know, smell of people mixed with medicine, smell of wounds. I might have collaborated with all that smell. The corridor was yellowish, not for the paint color, but for the dirt. The floor hadn't seen a broomstick for a long time and it seemed to be part of the trash bins. As the hours came by, the air got heavy and thick, you get what I mean? It was hard to breathe...

The hospital was moaning. Not that during the night it wasn't, but during the day it got worse. I can explain! The sick ones were many, the problems and diseases were many, and little were the people to take care of everybody. The pain and tears were each time more listened and felt through the corridors and by the people that worked there, I believe, they would also regret about where they ended up at, but that's life, isn't it?

That's tough, doc. I mean, the guy staying in the corridor of a hospital waiting for assistance or even being treated. If he's in hospital it's because the thing's already not good for him, don't you agree? Well then, the guy goes to hospital, very sick, needing help and yet he has to wait to, you know, be assisted and solve the whole situation. And since that was a small district hospital - to tell you the truth, I don't even know if it was really a hospital or just an emergency room - the people that go there are not people in good life conditions. They are poor people, with no resources, and with no one else even. You see my case, but I'm complaining for me, I have my motives, my reasons; but there are a lot of people there that are pitiful, doc. One of them, for example, that was in a hammock a little ahead of me, had a very ugly wound in his leg. I don't know if it was something to do with varicose, a very badly treated wound, but it was very ugly, hard to look, you know? And I'm telling you, I think that most part of that bad smell came from that wound. Ah... It wraps my stomach just remembering it: it moved, doc! I think it was with worms already. That man would groan from time to time – those were the worms eating him alive, dear Lord!

Another very bad case was of a small, old, very, very old lady, skinny and tiny. She was laid down on the floor, and from what I managed to see it wasn't on a mattress, but in a bunch of cloth. Poor lady, doc! She moaned in pain, wouldn't sleep and talked all the time the name of a man that, from what I heard from the nurses, was her son that had long left her in a shelter, but not before taking everything she had. You see, the person spends a whole life of heavy struggling to build and keep a family and in the end, she has to go through all this, alone, abandoned, having death as her best friend, because only death would free her from all her suffering. That's sad, doc.

There were even kids, doc! In some situations you couldn't believe, especially nowadays. Kids are too pitiful for the heart, doc. It's best not to comment these things with you, who's a father. It's sad and at the same time it makes us angry, doesn't it? Well, but let it be, we're not talking about this.

You know, doc, I'm a man blessed by God, I have a lot of luck and that's why I don't like to complain. Everything could have been much worse, but thank God I am here telling you all of this. Those people were real sick, that's why I preferred to be quiet and wait for my turn and Lord's will, oh yes, Thank God, may He keep on watching us, even being who we are and having done what we did!

Oh no, doc, it took them some time to assist me again. When I woke up, the serum bag was ending and after it ended it took a long time for somebody to talk to me. Only by the end of the afternoon did a doctor come to talk to me.

Yes, people passed by, sometimes running, sometimes rambling, but no one would stop and I didn't have the courage to call anyone, you know how it is, I was already very happy to be there and thought it was better not to annoy the guys even more; who knows what would be like if they got annoyed at me? So I stayed quiet, tried not to stare at anyone. It was better, doc, I know my place.

No, doc, I didn't eat a thing and I was with no serum on me, right? But I wasn't very hungry either; I think the serum was very loaded.

So, the doctor came to talk to me by the end of the afternoon. It was a new guy looking very tired, you know? He quickly looked at me and looking at the clipboard file, greeted me saying my name. I even said that he could call me "Joe", you know, wanting to chat, but he didn't pay much attention. He was quiet for a few seconds looking at the file and wrote something. I looked at the serum and stopped a nurse that was passing by. He asked him to give me another bag of those with some meds that I don't remember the names of. So he turned to me and said that I was lucky, that I was with a very severe pneumonia and that I wasn't supposed to have lived more than that night. You know doc, even in the cold way he talked to me, I felt quite relieved for being able to be there in that moment, even dealing with those cold words and expressions. I could see a good person under extreme conditions. He was a good man in a difficult time, I know how it is.

So, he told me that I was with a very severe pneumonia and would have to take some more meds and stay under the hospital care for a few days. Looking at both sides and thinking aloud he said something like "where are we going to put you in?" As if he were without an answer, he sighed, scrabbled a few more things in the file and told me that I could be cool, because I would recover; however, I should rest and be under meds.

I never saw that doctor again. A couple of hours after that talk, that nurse came and changed the serum bag. At the beginning of the night, a very charismatic nurse came and told me she would take me to a better place for my recovery. I even thought it was a bedroom, but she took me to another room. I couldn't identify what room it was, but a patient's bedroom it surely wasn't. It must have been some sort of storage or some non-used assistance room. It was quite small and had a tiny window full of rust and that probably wouldn't open anymore. It was badly lit, too, with only a very weak bulb light that gave that sensation of fire lamp, you know?

I stayed there for three more days, taking that serum, and once in a while they would bring me something to eat. You see how it is, in this situation the hospital food is a feast, hehe! But it was alright, I was quiet, slept a lot – I think due to the meds – and time passed by real fast. On the last day, in the morning, a doctor came and, after examining my file and myself, told me that I could leave. She asked me if I had anyone to pick me up and I said no and there was no problem, that I could go by myself. She looked again at the file and told me that there was a contact and she would ask the reception lady to call that. She made me several recommendations, but most of them could not be followed. You know doc, living here and this way, there's no way. They changed my serum bag once more, I had lunch and by the middle of the afternoon Cidão came to pick me up. Ah, doc, you have no idea how happy I was to see Cidão! He told me that they called Mr. Nitwit - that must've been the contact that was on my file - and he had gone there to pick me up. Can you imagine, doc? Mr. Nitwit dismissed Cidão's service and gave him the car so he could pick me up. How nice can these people be, doc! Oh yes, thank God! If it weren't for them, I don't even know what would be of me and the brothers here. Not to mention the night soup guy: without him I wouldn't have lived past that night, God save and guard me! Yeah... Golden people!

Now I'm better, oh yes, doc. I know very well that the time I spent in hospital is not much for my problem, but they had to open vacancies in there to assist other people and I am what I am, I couldn't stay there for longer. But they took care of me and I got better. I'm taking care here, Mr. Nitwit is helping me a lot with the meds, soup, food, and those blankets there. The cough is quite better, now in the right sense, hehe. My chest is still loaded, but not like before, it's clearing up, you know? The body aches are gone, oh yes. Weakness has decreased. But to meet my brothers again and be treated so well as I am being treated was the best of my meds, it did me some good, just as talking to you here and now.

You know, doc, I think that day I actually faced death, but I am a man who's really blessed by God and the Holy Mother, because I have wonderful people around me and I got very lucky to have been assisted in that hospital. I thank God every day for all of this, oh yes, oh yes...

Oh no, doc, that's nothing... It's a way of seeing life, the good part of life. I'm alive, I can continue here and live each day of my life and I try to take advantage from it. No one's life's easy, not even from the people who have everything, doc. There's always something missing, there's always something that doesn't fit in; but we have to look at the whole picture and try to take the best possible of everything that happens to us so that life's scale tips to the good side. I always say, doc: it's the details that make and destroy our lives. Just like the grains of a sand castle. We have to find these details, live the good ones and take care of the bad ones, so that we get true happiness.

No, no doc, there's nothing to worry about. Mr. Nitwit got the meds in a prefecture pharmacy and there's enough. I'm very well taken care of and feeling much better already, thank God! You can rest assured that I'll still be around here for a while, bothering you with my talks, hehe!

I know that, doc, you are a very good person and does it wholeheartedly. Also, I want you to know that your attention helps me very much, not only in my recovery, but in my days here, simply being the way you are. Talking is always good, especially to who gets these talks with an open heart and cheerful spirit like you. Thank you very much, doc. You are a valuable person and I know that God is watching you and all your family. You all are in my prayers.

Of course, doc, feel free.

Deal! Next time I will be better, yes! You can bet I'll take good care of myself and you can be unconcerned.

Thank you, doc, for you and for your family, too, stay well, and may God be with you, oh yes, thank you, doc, thank you, see you when I see you!

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