(with dedication to brother J.D. Stevens)

Yes, I remember it well; like it was yesterday. A day largely devoid of any and all self-esteem. Yeah, self-esteem was not meant to prevail on this day of days; it was written in the stars that night.

“You need to yet have a bowel movement, Mr. Hand. It is mandatory for your recovery and release from the hospital, you know.” Yes, I knew. This wasn’t my first day in a hospital. I was well-aware of the requisite for a demonstration of all bodily function prior to discharge.

Problem: to start off, I hadn’t eaten enough in nearly 20 days to sustain an anorexic sloth and skipped meal after meal favoring a weight drop over a picky pallet. I began to eat anywhere from one-third to one-half of my three daily meals. “This shall produce, and the Daktari will rest easy,” I affirmed.

It was late one evening, and the squad of nightly nurses had finally taken their leave of meddling and fussing over me. There was a lot to do; there were a lot of tubes in me. I was known on the ward as Tube Boy. There was one of every kind of medical tube I had ever heard of sticking out of me.

There was even one tube that was rather nondescript and ambiguous in its service, known to the community as a long-stay general purpose sort of tube, and it was unclear who had actually emplaced it. There was a point where a line outside my sickroom formed with interns and professionals alike who asked: “Is this the line for intubation practice.” I fancied that it just may well be.

I had a tube in my nose that fed down into my stomach that was there from day one. It was painful to insert, and was there for so long that I plumb forgot all about it until the day I was trying to clear the stuffiness of my nose… I tallied what appeared to be a mucous mass just at the edge of my nostril. I secure it an pulled and pulled until I had completely extubated my tube, much to the horror of the senior nurse.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed over and over… “Oh my God I have never seen such a scene before… oh my Lord!”