Tag Archives: hospitals

Coming To

The unmistakable chime of a monitor echoes

Intruding into darkness

Awareness creeps up like a shy kitten


I feel chest tubes

Painlessly weird

Opening my eyes I see the nurses’ station

So many devices and displays

It’s like an aircraft control tower

I look at the nurses

They’re looking back at me solicitously

I close my eyes

To dream of other cities and waking up there

A tour of unspoken words

I wake up in every city I’ve ever been in

Slowly drifting in and out of dreamplaces

Places that don’t quite make sense

Finally, I wake up here and I’m present


There’s less pain than I thought there’d be

But pain is present

I remember I’ve had a heart defense

Accounting for the lines attached to my body

Pings and chimes provide an otherworldy background soundtrack

A nurse comes over

Introduces herself

She shares the name Lisa with my sister

Which bodes well, I think

So did my mother she tells me later

I am extubated, the breathing tube taken out

The first unmooring of several

Breathe in, hold it, exhale

Slip slide upthroating relief slices through incipient nausea

I struggle to catch my breath

I do

Settling into consciousness I am wide awake as possible

Given the circumstances

I survey the lines and tubes attached to my body

I am unsure how many other patients there are on the ward

The man next to me is a loud talker

Voice booming out like a sideshow barker

Somehow I drift back into sleep

Until two patients across the room go into distress

One is a code blue

Gowned shapes appear, passing the foot of my bed

Until they cluster on the far side of the ward

Their ministrations succeed and the chimes stop

For a few moments there is peace

Rare peace

A time that I have come to

In this place

Where I awake



David Trudel      ©  2013



1 Comment

Filed under Cardiology, Poetry

Post-Op Second Night

Pain curls itself on my chest

In the night

Like a malevolent cat

Ready to sink its claws deep

Into my sternum

And deeper into my lungs

With each cough I fear

To make

Until I remember to call the nurse

Who brings meds

Just in time



David Trudel     © 2013





Filed under Cardiology, Poetry

Janus Place

This is a place of two directions

Where sounds are paired

Like a call and response

Chimes ring in softened doublets

Calling in twinned tones

This is a place of two intentions

Some entering to never leave again

Others here for healing and rebirth

A place of fear, pain and ultimate loss

A refuge for repair, healing and hope reclaimed

This is a place of mixed emotions

Where despairing sobs collide with laughter’s joy

Where elevators ascend to heaven and descend to hell

Carrying all, without the price of Charon’s coin

Into a timeless realm beyond the veil



David Trudel  © 2013



Leave a comment

Filed under Cardiology, Poetry

Cardiac Short Stay

Soft pastels soften coldlit glareIMG_0375

Nurses flock, chattering to each other

While caring for each patient

Their cheeriness is reassuring

Reminding me of family dinners or school reunions

When conversations ebb and flow

Sporadically moving from depth to surface inattentions

Schedules are put in place

Then torn by circumstances

Delays are inevitable in hospitals

Emergencies intrude and rearrange clockfaces

Not surprising

We know that realtime ceases to exist

Somewhere between the admitting desk

And the elevators

To compensate everything is quantified

Numbers proliferate from cubicles to vital signs

Numerology seems to be the dominant language

We passers through aren’t fluent enough to understand

But in our shared vulnerability

Smile half guarded smiles from bed to bed

Listening to the same instructions repeated over and over

To each of us in turn

There are many paths to this place

Where we are sorted into our similarities

Reduced to numerical categories

The sharp prick of needles bursts through abstractions

To pinpoint the humanity we brought with us

From the streets below



David Trudel     ©  2013



Leave a comment

Filed under Cardiology, Poetry


What to bring to hospital

According to the poorly photocopied instructions “what” includes

A translator

“If you do not understand English”

And since these instructions are in English it gives me pause to wonder


I don’t understand a lot of things

English or not

Maybe I should bring a translator of sacred mysteries, women, or hospitalese


I’m instructed not to wear nail polish, make-up, false eyelashes, hairpins or talcum powder

So no sympathetic Pride Parade cross dressing in the cards for this adventure

It is okay to wear face cream, deodorant and acrylic nails

Maybe I should rush out and get some face cream to wear

Just because it’s allowed


I’m advised I’ll have hair removed from my groin and/or wrist with a clipper

Slightly better than a hot wax treatment but about as appealing

Before I’m punctured

Allowing the passage of a fine tube into the blood vessel

There are no nerves inside the blood vessel

They tell me I won’t feel the passage of the tube

Carrying some fluid of an undisclosed nature

That will be mixed into the circulation allowing for a series of x-rays

Which will result in 3D images of the inside of my arteries

And the wall of my heart

I wonder if it will show the golden repairs that mark past heartbreaks


Major complications are rare

But the chance of stroke, embolic event, kidney failure, cardiac arrest or death

Is one in a thousand

Which is way better odds than the lottery I play but never win


A small patch dressing will be applied to the groin area

A sandbag will be placed over the dressing for pressure for approximately two hours

Interesting, in case of flooding I’ll be in a defensive posture


In case of any severe pain, malaise or fever report to the emergency department promptly, the discharge instructions state

Malaise is a pretty broad term

Not uncommon for poets and social commentators to encounter

I look forward to contacting the ER should I feel malaise afterwards

For philosophical discussions of an existential nature



David Trudel   ©  2013




Filed under Cardiology, Poetry

Pre Op Thoughts

I’d be going crazy if I was still living in some of those places

Like when I was an urban cliff dweller

Looking out at a forest of concrete and glass

Seeing forty thousand pairs of eyes looking back

Makes one a little squirrelly at the best of times

Let alone a few weeks before open heart surgery

Trying to wrap my head around that thought

So I appreciate my forest oasis at city’s edge

A small piece of ancient landscape left untouched

Where my feet can connect directly to bedrock

Resonating on a time scale of profundity

Where I can look out above treetops to the sky

Where I can consider the future from a far-seeing place

I play with alternate versions of the Chac Mool moment I’m on course for

A Stoic exercise of negative visualization

Asking what’s the worst that can happen

Then imagining how that would play out

In order to prepare a strategy of positivity

It’s strange since I don’t have any symptoms

I don’t feel sick

Quite the contrary, I feel better than I have for years

But I’m told a valve needs replacing

It’s a wonderful thing to be alive today, I think

In this world where medicine has become clairvoyant

Where heart valves can be manufactured and installed

Without missing a beat

Now I have a medical team

I am conveyed from one appointment to the next

Relentlessly lining up for ultrasounds and angiograms

Until the moment my chest will be opened and my heart repaired

My sternum will be wired back together

I’ll be stapled shut

There will be no heart attack in six months or a year

The only murmur I’ll hear will be the whisper of the sea

And the wind in the trees

Singing heart songs that I will listen to

With gratitude



David Trudel   ©  2013




Filed under Cardiology, Poetry


I awoke to the nurse poking


She noticed I was at least somewhat awake

On a scale of 1 to 10

She said

How’s the pain

I felt like saying I don’t do numbers

I’m not a fucking accountant

It just hurts

Settled on 9

Which she wrote down on her chart

Oh, a chart

I recognized that

She loomed into view

You’ve had a shock

No fucking kidding dear

The meds will help

Here’s the call button

As it faded into translucent grey



David Trudel  ©  2012




Filed under Poetry

Strawberry Vale

Sirens scream

Rips the tranquility of the vale

Just another ambulance


The price of living near a hospital

Sometimes the choppers come in low over the hill

Throbbing with the urgency

Of a gunship under fire

In the night

It’s worse, startling really

To feel the house shake

Not knowing

What mangled body

What interrupted life

Which child of the universe

Is about to be

Rushed into surgery

Rushed into recovery

Or to infinity

But the tranquility of my vale endures

Against the horrors all around

Against the amplified and pervasive sound

Of sirens, cars and you and me

Of all that life can throw

In this general direction

Tranquility is timeless

Complete in itself


Free from worry, concern or attention

Free from care

It just is



David Trudel  © 2012


Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry