Chapter Five

There was night and day in the I.C.U., only the night was brought about by merely dimming the existent lighting enough so that the pain drug clock could barely be seen. Visitors did not come at night. Doctors only came if emergency care was necessary. Kathy, or dim replacements for her, came with the syringes, which never hurt since the needles were always injected straight into the plastic piping running to the needle already in my body.

The pump never slept. The morphine waves could be ridden into a state of near-sleep, while the first hour of their effectiveness was in full bloom, but the pump was ceaseless in its unpredictable efforts to make sleep its fiercest enemy. The tube they ran into another drain hole was called a shunt, I learned, although the doctors never spoke to me unless it was to ask a question about some move or reaction they’d done. and then wanted direct feedback. The shunt had gone in without pain but its insertion all the way to the end, my end, had been very slow and labored. My bowels were all stitched back together, Shoot had informed me earlier, and the inserters didn’t want to risk tearing any of them apart. Once the tube was fully through me the saline flowed, not in bottles per shift or even hour, but for each half an hour. They called it the ‘sippy’ time because, when and if I ever became capable of eating again the diet would start out as one ounce of some magnesium alloyed milk on the half-hour and one ounce of water on the hour. That start, even when it converted to one ounce of Gerber baby pudding and one ounce of real milk, was referred to as the sippy diet by everyone.