The lights shining right onto my face have finally been turned off. I double-check my bed's position - too upright and I'll have trouble falling asleep, too low and my back will ache. I ask for one last drink of water, but take just a sip and place the cup on the bedside table. It will have to last me the night. The man in the bed opposite mine is still on the phone, conversing in deep tones. It is joined every now and then by an outburst of piteous groaning from the old man near the window, restrained by lashes so he cannot get up and pull out the catheter leaking dark yellow ***** into the bag on the floor by his bed.
I drift off into a restless sleep, roused every few hours for my vitals to be measured. Your heart rate is low, every nurse says. Athlete's heart. It's as reassuring as the cool night air, the silent peace when even the mentally unstable moaning old man is asleep (he wakes muliple times throughout the night, moaning himself hoarse and back into slumber). The nurses come and go, gowned wraiths cloaked in the semi-darkness gliding with their equipment and medicine trolleys. The red fluid level in the tube by my side heaves with each breath I take. Alarmed, I wave someone over to tell me that the blood will not flood back into my lungs.
Mornings creep from the windows into the room, no more than a purple light that turns to orange, then white. The chill of the night gives way to a steadily rising warm humidity that seems to dilate time, the minutes worming into sore patches of my torso from laying too long without changing position. I waste away bedridden, lung collapsing further. The course of the day contains little more than still more waiting in vain for good news, interspersed with bland meals that I painfully finish, hunched in a half-sitting position with a limp left upper body. The ward comes to life again, a sickly bustling blur. The slow heat lingers several more hours after the last visitors have gone, long past sunset. There is scant comfort here but sleep, yet even that never comes easily.
The verge of death seems so distant it's hard to believe it's been little more than a month since I stood on that horizon.