The Bedpan

Everyone wants to visit you in the hospital.

The guests kept coming and finally, Nurse Ratchett had had enough.

If this gal hadn’t been a nurse, she probably could have been a linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs. Her arms were about the size of my legs. She had the demeanor of a linebacker as well.

“Okay, all of you, clear out! I’ve got work to do here.”

My friends stared in amazement.

When no one moved, she raised her voice an octave. “Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. Why don’t you folks go to the cafeteria and get a snack. I need to check Mr. Williams. You can come back when I’m finished.”

On the way out of the door, Jerry quipped, “Walt, maybe you can save her sometime. If she needs samples of your urine, blood, semen, and stool, you can just give her your underwear.”

Dad chuckled, and Nurse Ratchett glared as they filed out of the door.

Things were going better than I had hoped for. She checked my blood pressure, took my temperature, and listened to my heart. As she was packing away her goodies, I rose up and swung my feet over the edge of the bed.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“To the bathroom.”

“Nope. Your chart says you might possibly have internal injuries, so you have to stay down until the doctor runs some tests.”

“But I have to—uh—you know.”

“Then you’re going to have to—uh—you know in this.” She pulled a bedpan off the closet shelf.

I looked at the plastic contraption. I’d seen them before, but I’d never used one.

“Look, I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I can certainly walk to the bathroom.”

Then she got that look that I’d once seen in the eyes of Mean Joe Green.

“You’re fine when we say you’re fine. Do you understand? Now get your feet back in that bed.” She plopped the bedpan in my lap.

When I didn’t respond, she gave me the look again. “Well?”

“Well, I’m not going to use this thing with you standing there watching me. I’d like some privacy.”

She shook her head and started for the door.

“Oh, say, I haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday. Am I permitted to have breakfast?”

She picked up my chart again. “I’ll see what I can do.”

When she was gone, I picked up the bedpan. The first thing I noticed was that it was cold. Brrr. I turned the thing over, hoping that instructions would be printed on the backside, but there were none. With my luck, they would have probably been written in Chinese anyway.

They must figure that everyone instinctually knows how to use one of these things. Like it’s something innate that’s passed down through our DNA. If so, there were definitely some deficiencies in my gene pool.

So do you lie down on the thing? I tried it and nearly broke my back.

So do you sit on it? Do your legs stick out in front of you on the bed, or do you turn it sideways and let your legs dangle over the edge?

I tried it both ways, and the only way that it was comfortable was to dangle my feet over the edge.

By the time I had turned it and climbed on top, I had exerted more energy than just padding the six steps to the bathroom.

So there I sat, perched on my plastic throne, and to my dismay, nothing happened. It was obvious that my bowels were balking. I was tempted to just chuck the whole thing and march over to the real toilet, but to be quite truthful, I was scared of Nurse Ratchett.

Then I saw it, and an idea formed in my head. On the little table next to my bed was a box full of rubber gloves. Normally, I hate seeing those because it usually means that someone is going to be sticking something somewhere I don’t want it stuck.

I grabbed a pair of the gloves, slipped them on, and put my ear to the door listening for footsteps. Hearing none, I slipped into the bathroom and did my job the way it’s supposed to be done. Fortunately, the resulting deposit was solid and a floater.

I reached in with my gloved hand, scooped up what was left of yesterday’s lunch, and plopped it in the bedpan. Nurse Ratchett would never notice the difference.

Being a cop, I realized that if I was going to commit the perfect crime, I would have to destroy the evidence.

I peeled off the gloves and was about to throw them in the wastebasket but checked myself. She might see them there. I looked at the stool. If it could handle some of the stuff I’ve deposited over the years, surely it could handle two little latex gloves.

What I hadn’t thought of was that these little gloves, unlike my previous deposits, had fingers. Evidently, one or more of those little fingers had clutched the innards of the stool, and I watched in horror as the water, instead of circling and disappearing, steadily rose to the top of the bowl.

“No! No! Nooo!”

I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard the water stop. Another drop would have put it over the edge.

I looked around and saw a plunger in the corner. I grabbed it and slipped it into the water. Of course the Law of Archimedes took over, and the water displaced by the plunger overflowed into the floor.

The waves caused by my plunging sent more cascades over the edge, and by the time the gloves had been dislodged, there was a mess to clean up.

I grabbed a towel and was on my hands and knees mopping up water with my butt hanging out of the stupid hospital gown when I heard, “Mr. Williams!”

I looked up, and Nurse Ratchett was staring at my bare behind. I cringed, expecting a tirade that would make a sailor blush, but instead her attention had been directed to my little gift in the bedpan.

She just had a bewildered look on her face. “I’ve been a nurse for twenty-seven years, but this is a new one.” She got me a clean gown and fresh towels, and I climbed back in bed.

By this time she had regained her composure.

“Apparently you have difficulty following orders, and you definitely have authority issues.”

I was about to argue, but I figured I’d better just clam up. As they say, there’s no such thing as a perfect crime.

“Mr. Williams, you have to stay in bed until after your tests.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She emptied the bedpan, rinsed, and flushed. She returned with the bedpan and a gizmo that looked like the thing my mechanic uses to put oil in my car. “Now, if you have to urinate or defecate, please use these.”

She had said please, but the tone in her voice said, “Do it or else.” Just then the door opened, and an orderly brought in a tray.

“I ordered you some breakfast.”

The orderly set the tray on my bed table. I was starving, and all during my bathroom escapade I had been envisioning eggs, toast, bacon, maybe even a pancake. I was shocked to see a pile of quivering green stuff, a bowl of yellow swill, and a cup of something barely darker than water.

“What’s this?”

“Your breakfast, of course. Lime Jell-O, broth, and tea.”

“Don’t I even get toast?”

“No, Mr. Williams, you’re on a liquid diet until after your tests. Bon appétit.” I know she was grinning when she walked out the door.

I looked at my breakfast. I like Jell-O. I just don’t like green Jell-O. I know they make Jell-O in other colors. I’ve seen it. Green just isn’t my favorite color. I’ve tried green shampoo, but I like white better. I love a red, ripe tomato, but I just can’t do a green one. I absolutely hate the green stuff that grows on your food when you leave it in the fridge too long. I was perilously close to digging into my liquid breakfast when my friends returned.

Dad looked at the pitiful pile of glop on my tray. “I thought so. I’ve been where you are before. Bet you’re hungry, aren’t you?”

I nodded my head.

“Willie, watch the door.”

Dad reached into a sack and pulled out one of those fluffy, golden brown biscuits with egg, cheese, and bacon.

I almost cried. “I love you, Dad.” It just came out, and it surprised both of us.

Maggie almost came unglued. “Dad! How could you? The hospital has rules…and the tests… Walt has tests to take…and…”

“Tests, shmefts. The kid’s fit as a fiddle. And look at that swill they gave him to eat. If he wasn’t sick before, he sure would be after he ate that.”

He looked at Bernice for approval, and she obligingly nodded her head.

Maggie turned to Jerry and the professor for support, but they just shrugged their shoulders.

“You’re all incorrigible,” she muttered.

After I wolfed down the biscuit and Dad tucked the wrappers away in his pocket, I had an idea.

“Dad, before you leave, could you go to a vending machine and bring me a Mountain Dew?”

“Sure, sonny. Be right back.”

I had just stashed my Dew under my mattress when Nurse Ratchett returned.

“You folks have to leave. It’s time for Mr. Williams’s tests.”

We said our good-byes, and as everyone was leaving, the professor, who had been unusually quiet, turned to speak. I was expecting some words of wisdom or comfort from the old man.

“Walt, I hope your tests come out better than those of a friend of mine.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, he went to the doctor with a sprig of greenery sticking out of his bottom. He said, ‘Doc, I think I have lettuce growing out of my rear end.’ The doctor examined the greenery and said, ‘I’m afraid I have some bad news—that’s only the tip of the iceberg.’”

Without another word, he turned and left, leaving me with my mouth hanging open. The professor was obviously spending too much time with Jerry.

My tests went well, and the doctor proclaimed me fit to resume my normal activities. I returned to my room and started preparing my parting gift to Nurse Ratchett.

I dug the Mountain Dew from under my mattress, popped the top, poured it into the funny little beaker she had given me, and placed it on the bed table.

I had just finished when Nurse Ratchett popped in.

“I’m going off duty in ten minutes. I just wanted to check and see if you needed anything before I left.”

“Why thank you. Here, you might want to get rid of this.” I picked up the beaker of yellow liquid and started to hand it to her, but instead I brought it back and chugged every last drop.

Nurse Ratchett blanched, gaspedHealth Fitness Articles, “Oh my God!” and fainted dead away.

Geoff Bergey

Florida Native, Traveler, Photographer, Lover of Life, Clouds and Key Lime Pie.

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