Bobby woke up in a white room, surrounded by clinically white walls and the smell of iodine. The first person he saw had a badge that read John Thompson, RN. Bobby thought it was profoundly disappointing that his nurse was male, and it was just his luck. His right hand hurt, and with a quick glance down his arm, he quickly figured out why. He had an I.V. going.
The nurse opened his mouth to start talking, but BObby couldn’t understand him, not only because BObby was deaf, but because he was also going blind and the nurse was too far away for BObby to read his lips.
BObby shook his head and pointed at his ear.
The nurse pulled a notebook and a pen from his overly large pockets and started writing. When he finished, he turned the pad around and showed it to Bobby.
“What is your name?” it read. The nurse handed over the pen and Bobby took it with his i.v.ed hand.
“Robert Sargent III,” he wrote awkwardly against the slightly mobile pad braced in the nurses hand. He handed the pen back.
“Are you deaf?” the nurse wrote.
Bobby chuckled and would have wrote “duh,” if the nurse hadn’t been so overtly trying to help him. “Yes,” he wrote instead.
“Do you have family you can call to come and help you?” the nurse asked on the pad, then turned the page for a fresh paper.
“No,” Bobby wrote back, and he didn’t bother explaining that his family and he weren’t talking at the moment–at least his sister and he weren’t talking, and that put a wrench in everything else, even talking to his little brothers.
“Do you know where you are?” The nurse asked.
Bobby looked around. He could be in a mental ward, he thought, or in a clinic. He shrugged in lieu of writing an answer.
“You are in Pass Hospital in Banning.”
“Oh,” Bobby mouthed a reply.
“Do you need an interpreter?”
Bobby laughed dryly again. “I can speak fine,” he said, knowing his voice was deep and clear–because everyone had told him that–and that he could be understood quite well. “But if you want me to understand YOU clearly and want to save us all a lot of time and ink, then yeah, an interpreter is a great idea.”
The nurse nodded and took a step toward the door of the cramped white room, but he hesitated, looked down at the notepad and wrote something. He finished and held it back out to Bobby.
“It will probably take a while to get an interpreter here. They will probably have to call Riverside. I get off shift in a bit and I have a friend who knows ASL–his son is deaf. Do you mind if I call him and we both come by to visit you a bit later?”
Bobby read the note and shrugged. “Sure, why not?” He laid back on his crappy pillow, which was better than the rolled up bag he had slept on the night before, even if it wasn’t all that much better. “It’s not like I’m going to have a bunch of other people visiting me…”