A Remarkably American Moment That I Would Like to Remark On
Last week, when my grandmother lost sight in her left eye overnight and began to complain of headaches, my mother had the foresight to immediately call her up to our home in New York City to visit the proper doctors. Indeed, when things go medically haywire, it appears that it is in this city where many find their second opinion. She arrived not a moment to soon. Her headaches had become almost unbearable and her blood pressure was rising. We went to Lenox Hill Hospital and there discovered that she had suffered three strokes. One doctor said it was simply a miracle that she was not physically impaired beyond the eye trauma.
As I visited her in the hospital over the weekend, I saw that many people had duties for providing care. One person was specific for the blood taking, one for the IV changing, one for the blood pressure monitoring, one for the food delivery, etc. In the early evening, the nurse would come by to put drops in my grandmother’s eyes. She was a petite Asian woman, but she was not afraid of my grandma’s heavy resistance to nearly every effort of aid. A couple times a day, an Indian medical student would also come by to take my grandma’s blood, followed by Emilio, the cool and calm Italian neurologist with the smoking hot genius looks. In and out, Nancy, the black floor manager, would appear bringing and clearing the food for my grandmother and another patient, who also shared the room and was always laughing on the telephone and getting on my grandmother’s endless “last” nerves.
'œNow let me hewp you put the drops.'
'œNo! I don’t want it! I put’n myself.'
'œOk, yooo dooo it ten! I wait pho you! Ten blood pesshur'
'œHallo maam, I am Amit, I will be taking yourrr blood. Now, you djust keep doing what your arr doing, and I will be doing my djob.'
'œNow granma, we must to taken yo blood pesshur. Dat okay wich you?'
'œNo, no, Nancy, do not takk’n my apples. Deez iz for my granddaughters, you see, I have’n my granddaughters here.'
'œHello, I am Emilio, how are you feeeeeling? I have your charts thata I woulda like to go over ina few moments.'
'œNANCY, YOU FORGOT MY JUICE!'
'œONE SECOND, I am cleaning up ova here, I will be RIGHT there! I only got three arms, ladies.'
'œYou would never ever hear that in a Soviet hospital, only in America do the patient’s yell for juice!'
The last bit was my dad, and I started to laugh at what I was seeing and hearing. Granted, this is some typical shit, for New York especially. But its just that the concentration of it in that tiny room, in that moment, with me as a quite observer so close to it all, made for like a special prism affect on my view. All of a sudden, I saw there was an Asian, an Indian, a couple of African Americans, an Italian, all of them surrounding my almost impossibly Russian Grandma while my family, part American born, part Russian born, were sitting close by. I was soaked in a midst of a sea of cultures. A cozy, warm mass originating in my chest spread throughout. I looked over at my mom and said, 'œWow, only in America would we all be I one room.' She said to me, 'œOut there, they try to make it seem like we are all against each other, but in here you see its really not so, people are really just trying to do their jobs and help one another out.'
Who am I to comment, really? I haven’t fought in war, never participated in the immigrant struggle. I was born here, and my family made me middle class. But we all sense that there is a fragile tension that underlies our oh so connected lives in this country. In that hospital, which my grandmother was released from a couple of days later, I just felt a lot of pride to be a part of it. America is the cool crowd, you know?