What About Bob

May 24, 2006 at 3:19 pm

I’ll bet that at least a couple of you encountered a less than
perfect roommate during your hospitalization(s). I called mine
the roommate from hell. When I was stricken with Guillain-Barre
Syndrome, the hospital’s neurological floor was full of patients so
they temporarily placed me in a cardiac room. I was paralyzed from
the neck down and definitely not feeling my best so I was happy to
see that I had the two-bed room to myself. Unfortunately that soon
changed when they wheeled in the “roommate from hell.”

The 40’ish male was morbidly obese and suffering from his untreated
hypertension and diabetes. When he was settled in, I managed to turn
my face toward him and introduce myself. He didn’t look at me but
managed to scowl and grunt his name, “Bob.” I give everyone the benefit
of the doubt and surmised that Bob was having a very bad day and that
I’d let him socialize if and when he was ready. Well, Bob’s ill
temper progressed from bad to worse. When he wasn’t blasting the
volume on his TV, he was cussing and yelling at friends and family on
his phone, threatening to leave the hospital because the doctors and
nurses were putting him through all of this “bullshit.”

I’m 6′ 4,” 220 lbs. and I’ve always enjoyed the luxury of having a
great deal of physical and mental strength. Under normal
circumstances, I would have firmly but politely told Bob that if he
didn’t cease and desist from his childish, rude and thoughtless
behavior, I was going to throw his 300 lb. a** out of our fourth
floor window and claim that he was suicidal and had jumped. But here
I was, paralized and stuck with an angry, cursing and clearly
unstable gorilla of a roommate and so I decided to grin and bear his

That night, I was exhausted from a full day in the ER and the affects
of the GBS but still found it difficult to sleep. Bob, bless his
heart, wasn’t helping at all. Every time I began to feel relaxed and
hopeful that sleep would follow, Bob would wake up having to go to
the bathroom and would proceed to throw a loud temper tantrum due to
the inconvenience caused by his IV pole and all his monitor
connections. He would curse loudly while slamming his IV pole into
anything that hindered his trip to the toilet. Every time he returned
to bed, he turned the TV back on high volume until he fell asleep
without turning the TV off. This went on all night long.

First thing the next morning, I asked to speak to the head
administrative nurse, Connie. I calmly told Connie all that had
transpired and that I could not spend another night in the same room
with Bob. She said she would see what she could do and left. Well,
Connie was a real sweetheart. She returned in a couple of hours with
two orderlies and said, “Let’s go, I got you a room on the
neurological floor.”

My new room was also a double but, thankfully, I was the only patient
in the room. My condition hadn’t improved any but without Bob, I felt
better anyway. I also had better luck getting some rest my second
night in the hospital. The next day, I thought I heard a familiar
bellow followed by a string of cuss words coming from somewhere just
down the hall from my new room. No way, I thought, it couldn’t be
Bob! But it was Bob and the irony of Bob following me caused me to
lie there chuckling like a character in a bad horror movie just
before he starts slicing and dicing.

I listened to Bob’s constant whining and verbal abuse of his visitors
and the hospital staff for the rest of that day. Thankfully, I asked
that my room’s door be closed that night so that I didn’t have to
endure more of Bob’s atrocious behavior.

The next morning, “Saint” Connie came to my room and announced
that, “due to my special needs,” she was moving me to a private room.
If I wasn’t paralyzed, I would have jumped up and kissed her. The
private room was a large, corner room with two big windows, one of
which offered a view of a peacefully green atrium and the other of
the famous Woodward Avenue where I was able to see all of the classic
cars and customized hot rods cruising by during the annual Woodward
Dream Cruise week. It made me feel lucky despite having the
misfortune to be one of the one or two people in 100,000 to be
stricken with GBS.

I spent the next three weeks in my “penthouse room.” I got my five
days of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) there and began my fairly
rapid recovery. I even passed Bob in the halls a couple of times on
my way to PT. I couldn’t be angry at him, I just felt sorry for
someone who’s life had to be so miserable for him to treat others the
way that he did. If I ever get to that point, I think I’d like for
someone to just shoot me, please!


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