A relaxing weekend at a hospital

This is based on a true-enough story. Creative liberties have been taken where the facts are boring, or do not contribute well to a narrative, and there’s a few thinngs which in retrospect ought to be removed for pacing reasons, but it’s my story and I like weird asides with “lore” details, and I think they add something to the reader in the know.

Very little “happens” here, it feels a little trope-y at the end, but I stress the true-enough inspiration :slight_smile:.

Content Warning: allusion to bad mental health stuff, death.

A relaxing weekend, or, how I learned to let go and love the pad.

She woke up a little, first becoming aware of a cacophony of sounds, with no rhythm and of such varying quality and tone that she would soon not be able to understand how she was asleep at all before.

Her ears were splitting, her brain and heart pulsing against eachother, each vying needily for her attention. She went to rub her temples and felt a tug on her wrist.

She woke up a little more, now aware of a sterile, blinding, light, to which she could not understand her previous obliviousness thereto.

She stared straight ahead and up, as she was slightly angled up, at a hung and tiled ceiling metal grid, the same kind as in any office building, Looking down, or forwards, she was still wearing the same clothes that she remembered wearing, her clubbing outfit consisting of black jeans, a long forgotten band t-shirt and a red zip-hoodie. Her purse was right there, between her foot and the bars of a hospital bed, and presumably so was her phone. Past this, she could see a queue of identical such beds, stretching as far as she could see (at minumum six beds before the hallway turned a corner). Along this queue, doctors, nurses and other workers moved along, checking charts, using doors into further rooms and hallways she couldn’t see, and occasionally asking questions of her fellow queue-mates. When she saw a doctor walking towards her, she went to adjust herself to ask a question when -.

Thump! Her wrist tugged against her movement and she slipped and fell back those two inches, into the mattress.

“Oh, you’re awake, good!”

She became suddenly aware of the man sitting in a chair across the narrow hall from her, facing her bed, but who was engrossed in his phone.

The doctor kept walking past her, her gaze apparently focused on someone behind Sophie.

She quickly became acutely aware of her right wrist, which was covered in a padded strap, which was attached via six inches of flat fabric strap to a bar on the side of her bed.

The man to her right remained though, he was wearing scrubs, but didn’t seem to be a doctor or nurse: no tools or nametag, stethoscope or clipboard, marked him as anything she could gather.

“Jesus, where am I?”

The man glanced up from his phone, and very slowly and matter-of-factly responded,
“You’re in the bed queue, you’ve just left Emergency, and you’re waiting on a section bed”.

His voice sounded practiced and tired, like a cashier asking if you wanted to join a store loyalty programme, he had clearly said these words a lot of times, and clearly had no passion for the job of repeating them.

She wasn’t satisfied with that answer, but didn’t think he’d be any use in clarifying.

She groaned and lay back down, struggling to find a comfortable position to lie in, to move into a spot she could return to blissful sleep, but the sounds and lights continued to bang against her dome, as her hangover began to creep, til the sensation would overwhelm her senses.

What felt like an hour or so later, she realized that she was in a new place. She was in a lot of pain though, and couldn’t locate the source. She thought it was a leg? No, her stomach? No, maybe her elbow? Her muscles ached, and her eyes begged for sleep.

This new place would have been quieter, but for the patient yelling incomprehensibly, and the nurse responding in kind.

Sophie tried to return to that spaced out zone she had been in moments prior, but failed. As she focused on a point on the ceiling, someone entered the room.

It was a nurse, who began to chat to her.

She introduced herself as Linda, and as she checked her blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and poked and prodded at her in a variety of places, she explained the situation to Sophie as she understood it.

Sophie had been out drinking with some friends, and had a little too much, and said a few things that were a little concerning, which if they had exited a sober mouth would have been laughed off.

Unfortunately, she had made whatever this unfortunate joke was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some good Samaritan who misheard her informed a waiter, who passed it on the bar to cut her off, who went beyond the call of duty and informed management, who was feeling a little extra cautious that day and phoned the police, and by the time the comments made their way to them, the game of telephone had mutated what was probably admittedly a joke with friends into a serious incident.
Sophie’s confusion must have been evident, as Linda went on to explain, “after the ambulance had left the bar with you, the police went back through the story for their report, and by the time the heard the actual original comments…”. Linda trailer off.
“Anyway, procedure says 72 hours from getting a bed, or as soon as a doctor says you’re good to go, so try to enjoy your,” she glanced at her watch, “Saturday morning, and you should be out in no time. Take this as a relaxation day, like any other hangover day, except you have me instead of being stuck in your bed with a headache!”
Sophie nodded, raised her hand as much as she could, and queried with her eyebrow.
“Oh, of course, you should have been let out already”, Linda exclaimed, reaching over and around, “but you’re still confined to the ward, and you have to remain visible to staff at all times”.
Again Sophie nodded.
Linda produced a clipboard covered in documents, and then asked some general administration questions. Emergency contact, if she needed a slip for work or college to excuse an absence, allergies, religious affiliation,
“Just in case you slip and break your neck!” Linda cheerfully explained.
Sophie burst out laughing, “you probably shouldn’t be saying that on a psych ward”, she managed to force out, between giggles.
“Well, you definitely can’t say it, rules say I have to do all sorts if a patient makes those kinds of jokes, but someone has to!”
They quickly continued through, with more and more boring boxes to tick and forms to be filled in. Eventually Sophie asked for water and an aspirin.
“For a hangover?” Linda paused, “I can’t give you anything without a reason. Best I can do is paracetamol and a glass of orange juice?” Sophie smiled and two of the former were produced.
“With that out of the way, I can go grab you your drink to wash them down now, but before I go”, Linda stood up and turned around, pulling something from a press on the wall, “are you okay to change yourself or do you normally need help?”

Sophie was confused, but very quickly realized what she was asking, as she shook her wrist and repositioned, her sodden jeans squelched against the rubber-wrapped-foam beneath her.


I am interested to see more!

Some more tropes. This is all still vaguely set in the real world: insofar as I’m basing the story on a recent hospital stay of my own.

Have some ideas on what to do, but love hearing feedback from people - if you have any suggestions, fire away. If you hate my prose, let me know how to fix it!

As before, CW: mental health allusions, hospital setting.

2 ~~~

“Well, you see the thing is -”
Sophie stumbled over her words to try to explain that she didn’t normally need to wear protection, but by the time her mouth was open and she had started saying something, anything, in her own defense, when Linda grabbed her own hip as it started beeping.

“Sorry Sophie, serious emergency, I gotta go, if you need help with putting on your pad, call someone, otherwise there’s group art therapy in an hour, I’ll send someone over to you with a gown for you”.
Sophie was too stunned to respond, and as the nurse pivoted to leave the room, Sophie noticed that two of the walls weren’t actually walls, but dangling blue cloth looking things, stretching from the ceiling to a foot above the floor. Linda exited by flinging her arms near them, and as she did, Sophie tried to get a better idea of where she was.

Sophie looked around, she was in what could be described as the “back corner” of a dorm like ward room, and looking around, most of the seven other beds were empty, though all showed some sign of life: clothes or bags or phones plugged in to charge. On either side of each bed, including her own, was a chair and a small cupboard, and a bedside table. There was someone sleeping in the bed to her immediate left, and across from her was a girl who had positioned herself with her head on the center of here bed, and her feet running up the wall. Sophie could see that the girl was scrolling through social media absent mindedly. Next to the head of the girl’s bed was a pinboard, with a few laminated sheets of paper with some few words and symbols stuck to it: “Jewish”, “low sodium diet”, and “suicide risk”. The three signs showed a Star of David, a red “x” through a salt shaker, and a bold “!!!”, respectively.

After Sophie realized the presence of this sign, she scanned the rest of the room. One of the boards informed of a diabetic patient, signified by clip art of a chocolate bar and a syringe. Sophie laughed at that one a little, and sitting up to crane her neck to see the rest, a small squelch came from the wet rubber mat under her. She hopped out of the bed, accidentally kicking the small stack of diapers that had apparently been sitting on her bed at her feet onto the ground. She picked them up and moved them … she looked around for somewhere appropriate… into the drawers on the bedside table. She had no intention of wearing them, it was bad enough that she had lost her dignity in being here, she didn’t need to wear diapers.

Sophie realized how uncomfortable her crotch and legs were once she was up and moving, and as she looked around from the better vantage point of being stood up, she saw a paper towel dispenser near the doors to the ward, walked over to grab some, walked back, wiped the urine off of her bed, and then closed her curtains, pulled her sodden jeans off, and patted down her legs. They were a little red and a lot itchy. She began to wonder how long they had left her chained to a bed covered in piss.

“Feels like they should have a duty to make sure I didn’t get a skin infection”, she thought to herself.
She smiled at her successful leg and bed cleaning, but the paper towels were not doing anything to make her jeans more wearable, and even though she was happy that the rubber mattress was clean, the sheets on the bed were stubbornly damp, so she would not be able to get back there yet, so she gave up and dropped the sheets and her jeans onto the chair in the corner. She took a cursory search through the area to see if there was anything to protect her modesty.
Besides the diapers she had put out of sight, there was nothing here. She signed and stepped back, and noticed the sign above her bed. “Atheist” and “suicide risk” adorned the left and right flanks of the pin board, and right in the middle was one that said “incontinent”. She have to clear that up with someone, she resolved.

As she looked around she noticed a remote control with some buttons. “Bed up”, “bed down”, “head tilt up” and"down", and then larger ones at the top: “emergency call” and “non-emergency call”.

She paced around the room a little, still half naked with her curtain-walls drawn, wondering when the promised gown was coming. She gave up and grabbed the control, pushing the “non emergency call” button.

Maybe sixty seconds later, she heard a man’s voice outside the curtains,
“I assume the call was for your hospital gown, is that right?”
Sophie agreed, the man let her know he has been busy with an aggressive patient, and handed a plastic bag through the curtain. Sophie opened it, tipping it onto the bed. There was a gown, some toothpaste and a brush, and a towel. She thanked the man and quickly tied the gown on over the rest of her clothes.
“Sorry, my shift ended like an hour ago, can you confirm that you”, he paused, “got changed successfully, you don’t need any help?”
“Yes, sorry, changed now, could I ask you a quick favor though, I need clean sheets for my bed”.
“Yea, sure, two minutes”
She could hear him sigh, scribble something on a clipboard, and step away. He returned very quickly and shoved his arm through the curtains with sheets.
“Anything else before I go home?”
Sophie apologized and thanked him, and he left.

She made the bed up, and balled the wet sheets into the gown-bag she has been given, and folded her damp jeans over and put them away. She’d wash them when she got home.

3 ~~~

Sophie heard some talking and reopened her curtain-walls to snoop.
“Come on girl, it’s mandatory, you too newbie”
The upside down phone girl groaned and swiveled, before jumping off her bed. Sleeping beauty sat up, then threw her sheets forward, and turned away from Sophie to grab a pair of crutches. As the girl turned away and stood up, Sophie got a glimpse of between the back of her gown: a large white mass between the small of her back and below her crotch. Or at least, mostly white.

Sophie started moving herself, grabbing her phone and making her way into the hallway to follow the crowd. As the three of them exited their ward, they joined up with a crowd of maybe a dozen other girls, who trudged into a bright colorful space.
Sophie grabbed a chair between her ward mates, at a knee height table covered in glue, crayons, some other assorted art supplies and a few types of pasta. An instructor introduced herself and Sophie zoned out, and followed along.

There were a few tables, each surrounded by chairs which were both too small and too big; they were incredibly low down, but quite wide, and the seat was slanted back, so your knees were naturally higher up than the rest of you, so sitting in the chair felt a lot like squatting. Everyone seemed exactly as bored as each other. The art instructor kept talking about the therapeutical aspect of creativity and gave some buzz words. The longer she talked, the more obvious it became that the woman had no psychological or therapeutic training. Eventually, after the longer fifteen minutes of Sophie’s life, the art teacher left and everyone immediately began to talk.

Over the rest of the hour, Sophie learned the names of her cell mates. Daria, the aloof and social media obsessed one, had had a breakdown during exams week, and Liz said she was in for “normal depression stuff” but wouldn’t elaborate. She learned from the two of them all of the hidden rules one needed to know to survive a few weeks here, though she did stress she was only there for the three days. They told her about the nice staff and the ones to avoid. She learned where the girls hid their contraband, and the code to access the roof if they wanted to smoke. Despite the “suicide risk” meaning there should always be two sets of eyes, only halfway through the art class, the place was empty. Daria and Liz invited her up to the roof to relax, and she agreed to follow them upstairs, but she’d grab her phone from off her bed first. The other two left, and she was left with her thoughts and …

As she went through the practiced motions of standing up, she looked down to grab the side of her very low chair, and saw that the front of her gown, in addition to some new paint, glue, and glitter stains, had a wet oval in the centre, and as she stood up, she removed her ass from the wet puddle it has been sitting in.

Sophie didn’t know what to do. Maybe there was still too much alcohol in her system, she rationalized. Maybe they had given her something which disagreed with her body.

Either way, she didn’t want to continue to sit in her own filth, so she ducked back to her dorm-ward, passing the communal bathroom, and formulated a plan. She grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself, making sure to hide her shame, and navigated the hallways past all the other rooms to find a member of staff. The first one she found was at makeshift desk in the middle of the hallway, tapping away on a keyboard.

“Hey, could I ask you a favour?”
The woman looked up at her, quizzically.
“I managed to get covered in paint there and was wondering if I could get a clean gown so I could shower and change?”. Sophie stumbled over the words a little, but the woman, whose name tag read “HCA Beth” raised her arm and unrolled her finger to point just behind Sophie, who turned to follow the indication to one of the many cupboards on the hallway walls. She thanked Beth, who had already gone back to typing away on her laptop, and opened the doors to the storage unit. Each shelf was labeled, “towels”, “bed sheets”, “pillows”, “pads”, “safety locks”, “pillow cases”, “jackets”, “anti slip socks”, and finally “gowns”. Sophie didn’t take to long to look through, just grabbing the first one: each was labeled “one size fits all”.

As she closed the door to the storage shelves, she heard something behind her.
She turned. Beth had disappeared, and Linda was standing a few steps down the hallway, flanked by two others, name tagged as “Joanne”, and “Kate”.

Sophie smiled and waved her empty hand, then pointed to the gown, “just wanted to get one that didn’t have paint on it before I showered”.
“Follow me”, Linda commanded as Joanne and Kate glided from flanking Linda to behind Sophie. The warmth was gone from Linda’s voice. She took a few steps forward and heard Kate open the storage cupboard as felt Joanne place one hand on her shoulder and the other the small of her back.
“Hurry up”.

Linda led them back to the room where the art therapy had taken place, around to the table Sophie had sat at.
She had a feeling she knew where this was going.
“Sophie, is this in any way acceptable?”
Sophie tried to open her mouth to respond, but Linda wasn’t waiting for a response.
“You’re far from the only girl here who needs to wear protection, but you are the only one who is this disrespectful. The proper procedure if you leak is to inform a member of staff. Piss puddles are a hygiene issue, and a safely issue, in hospitals, what do you have to say for yourself?”
Sophie began to defend herself, but the words leaving her mouth were stumbling over each other.
“I didn’t leak, - I’m not, I don’t need to, I didn’t”.
“Follow Kate”, and with that, Linda disappeared, followed by Joanne.
“This way”, came a voice from behind her, and Sophie turned to see Kate, with her arms full of miscellany, and a large diaper, pulled open by gravity, in her left hand.


great story with a familiar setting but a totally new, exciting and great plot

4 ~~~

Kate lead Sophie back to the ward-dorm, and Sophie rationalized this a little but - she had been headed back there anyway, but underneath her conscious efforts she knew something was off. For some reason she wasn’t able to place exactly what was wrong though.

Sophie dragged behind most of the way there, her thighs beginning to chafe as they slid past each other - the damp down bunching together between her legs as the towel -which was definitely no longer dry- squeezed around her waist.

Sophie began to zone out during the walk, locking her eyes on the diaper which was dangling from Kate’s hand, the top half having unfolded and drifting and bopping hypnotically, like a flag in unruly wind, with each step its carrier took down the hallway.

“Okay, into the bathroom and strip down”. Sophie was shocked by the aburptness of the charge from her escort, and shocked at how slowly, and quickly, they’d arrived.
Kate was standing a few steps ahead, facing the half-point between Sophie and the bathroom to her side. Their collective journey felt like it had both just begun, and like it had forced Sophie to waddle for a far longer and more humiliating time than anyone deserved.

These feelings, she kept to herself, merely meekly nodding and disappearing backwards into the door to the bathroom. Her backside pressed into the door, which pushed the door open and pressed her damp gown against her skin, rereminding her of her accident, and as she took another few steps back, Sophie slowly reached for and accepted the pile from Kate’s hands, still locking eyes with her, the door detached, no longer forced open by her obstacle of a body, and the gravity assisted mechanism slowly closed it.

As soon as Kate was no longer in view, Sophie sighed involuntarily, took a step forward, locked the door, took a step to the side, dumped the Kate-given contents of her hands onto the sink-side shelf, and took a step back to collapse onto the shower chair, which was for some reason now against the wall opposite the shower.

She signed, shuddering as she squelched even as she sat down. In a theoretically dry towel, that was a rude reminder.

She decided to take some liberties with her instructions and after stripping, hopped into the shower. She wanted one much more than she wanted to take one as a sign of her independence, so it wasn’t much of a decision point. Leaning on some furniture, she stifled a few tears. The emotions of the day began to unravel into her: she shouldn’t have said anything to have gotten stuck here, and she certainly at her age should have realized she had needed to leave the art class to pee. As her face reddened, she dried off, wiping here skin with the mostly dry towel, only further irritating the red damp skin which needed to be cleaned before this vigorous scrubbing, she realized the mild pain she was causing herself a few moments later when she blinked back into full consciousness with one leg on the floor and one resting against the dry shower-chair, still against the wall, the towel wrapped like a band saw: bunched up in one hand, pulling up from under her thigh and then continuing on back up to her other hand.

A voice, Kate’s voice, from outside intruded into the bathroom as Sophie realized that she hadnt been able to hear anything the entire time she had been in the room.

“This is the third time I’m asking, if I don’t hear something back I’m calling security”

Sophie complied with what she assumed the command was, and the water was not mercifully warm.

After no longer than thirty seconds under said water, which was slightly below adequate in both temperature and pressure, she stepped out from under the noodle and began to towel off.

As soon as, Kate knocked.
“Are you decent?”
Sophie began to answer as Kate opened the door that Sophie had sworn she had locked.
“Grab the gown now, you can collect the rest of your stuff later”, and then left, practically dragging Sophie back to her bed.

As Sophie arrived shortly bring her, Kate closed the curtains around them.
“Would you like to pad yourself up, or do you need help?”
Sophie paused, not wanting to argue with someone, given how she had gotten into this mess. She said she was okay to do it herself, and with that, Kate handed the diaper to her and turned and faced away.
Sophie had a bit of trouble with it, and standing naked only protected from the world by a curtain wall and a towel tucked between your waist and elbow is not a position conducive to learning the correct changing procedure. She took some micro steps back until she was sitting and then leaning and then lying on her bed. She didn’t even notice that it was now dry and clean. Fortunately the tapes seemed to be designed to come off and go back on again, so she was able to make incremental adjustments as she lay back, until she felt like it wouldn’t fall off, or look too bulky.

Kate seemed to know exactly when Sophie was finished by the presumed sudden lack of crinkling and the sigh of relief from her charge.
“Stand up so, and put these on”
Kate reached behind herself, still facing away, and Sophie jumped to accept the piece. They were a set of light blue canvas shorts, and as she noticed that the inside was a rubbery plastic. They barely slid over her, or the, diaper, and as soon as she got them over her hips she let out a breath of relief.
With that, Kate turned around to face her.
“Looking good, spin round?”
Sophie complied, and Kate continued,
“Hand out in front?”
Sophie again complied, and put her hands out, and Kate slip the gown on over them, walking around to Sophie’s back, to tie the gown on.

“Now, if you need to go to the bathroom or to change, just ask a member of staff for a new pad”, Kate began.

“Now, this probably isn’t fully appropriate to do in your position, but I can’t know if you’re just sick and had a legitimate accident, or if you’re a severely impaired person who is trying to get a ride out of staff, so if you’re good for the rest of the day, I’ll someone will use their good judgement and update your status”.

Kate’s speech didn’t make much sense to Sophie, until she saw the staff member unfolding a sheet of paper and taking two steps, to the head of the bed and to the pin board.
Sophie watched as the authority figure pinned this new sheet of laminated paper to the pin board above her bed, light blue again, with the words “non compliant”, and moments later another piece of paper:

Kate grabbed Sophie’s wrist, still stretched out in front of her, and pressed something onto it: a laminated paper/plastic hybrid bracelet, around which was several barcodes and some indecipherable code or letters and numbers.
Sophie tried to unstick herself, the situation had surprised her so much that she couldn’t move.
Kate kept talking, letting her know the rules that Sophie would be following, but Sophie couldn’t hear her again.

Sophie eventually tuned back in to Kate’s words, as the nurse asked her “open wide” as she handed her a cup with some tablets. Sophie’s mouth drifted open as she tried to formulate a response to the events unfolding before her, but some automation had taken her over, a she reached for, took, and threw back into her mouth, the drugs she’d been handed.