The Hospital

by Harry T. Roman


"Mr. Roman…..are you feeling better?"

"Yes I am, thanks."

"Just hold still while I pack your right nostril so the wound can start healing. You know, your blood work just came back from the lab. Your red blood cell count is great, but you have a very high white count. You have a nasty infection in your sinus. I am going to admit you here at Columbus Hospital. We'll notify your family doctor immediately. In the meantime, I am putting you on antibiotics and a saline solution to stabilize you and to start killing that infection."

I knew I had that infection and was already addressing it via my family doctor when the nosebleeds took center stage. It sure does make you gun-shy about snuffling your nose!

"OK Mr. Roman, your ride upstairs is here. Nurse, take him to Room 428A and get him comfortable. Good luck!"


"Mr. Roman…..good morning! How are you today? I have a few more routine questions…..blah, blah, blah…"

"Were you ever admitted to Columbus Hospital before?"

"Sort of."

"Excuse me?"

"I was born here in 1949. Not this building of course, but the original old brick one."

"So you know the Newark area quite well then!"

"Only lived about 8 blocks away from this bed, and now, still only live about 3 miles away."

"Blah, blah, blah……"


Your mind plays tricks on you something crazy when you watch hospital ward activity all day long with an IV stuck in your arm.

Looking down on the streets below I remember the names of kids I knew from this area. The times my Dad and I fixed some TV sets in the neighborhood.

I remember walking up and down Bloomfield Avenue to local stores, delighting in those ethnic Italian smells that characterized every nook and cranny of my boyhood. Each food store had its own special aroma. Butcher shops with sawdust on the floor. Delivery boys on bicycles constantly making their rounds. Huge fresh cheeses hanging in store windows. Tom's Pork Store on 6th Street and Bloomfield Avenue…..I feel better now just thinking of it and the incredible smells that lingered there.

All of this mixing with the remembered smells of bakeries, pizza parlors, the ever- present comfortable aroma of a small family-owned neighborhood Italian restaurant…..and me stuck with this hospital food. It's good food actually, but I'd kill for a plate of Mom's meatballs. I am so grateful she taught my wife how to make my favorite dishes.


"Mr. Roman……it's OK to walk the floors a little bit to get some exercise. Hold onto the handrail and take it slow for a while."

"Since when do I need a handrail?" I think to myself; but my wobbly legs and unsteady gait betrays my now faded youthful bounce-back from illness. I listen to the nurse.

Pausing at a window down the hallway, I see St. Francis church looming, like it always has. Was baptized there, going through the sacraments too. Lots of memories of choir, catechism, and things liturgical in that lovely edifice. Remember talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis on the steps one late overcast afternoon…what was it…..1961?. Folks were scared it might be that dreaded nuclear war. That's what it was, I had just come out of confession. Where did that memory come from?

A Dugan's cupcake! That is what I could go for, with a big glass of ice-cold milk. Ohhh, maybe a sub sandwich…….meatballs with melted cheese! Man, am I hungry. Could pick at a few pastries too, with some black coffee……quick someone run out to Calandra's, Katherine's, Ferrara's or Di Paola's? I got this mighty urge to eat something really scrumptious. Call down to Barney's pizzeria and have them send one up with onions and pepperoni!

All these memories fade as my nurse greets me…….

"Mr. Roman, Dr. Frankenstein is here to take care of that nose problem. He'll unpack your right nostril and cauterize it. I have the wheelchair waiting at your room. When you get back from your walk we'll go downstairs."

There it is, my last ride. I can almost smell the procedure as my legs get noticeably weaker still. Cauterize! Back in my old neighborhood, I knew kids that had their noses' cauterized. They screamed for years afterwards, and whenever the moon got full, they barked and scratched their necks with their legs. I want my Mommy!


"All done Mr. Roman. Take it easy for awhile."

"But what if it bleeds again Doc?"

"It could, but this one looks pretty good. Just pinch off your nostrils for 10 minutes by the clock and that should stop it. It might need to be cauterized again. It's one of those things. Come and see me any time you think you are having a problem."

Right then and there I decide not to breath for a while. Don't want no monster nosebleed again. Hey, that cauterization wasn't so bad. I guess all that alcohol smelly stuff numbs it.

"Doc, what about that CAT scan you took of my head? Everything OK?"

"Certainly. Don't worry about it. You are fine. Just a very nasty sinus infection is what you had. Get some of that nice saltwater spray for your nose and maybe a humidifier for your bedroom at night. These nosebleeds are more common than you might think."


As my caring wife loads me into the car after being released, I shudder a bit in the cool, rainy air. Where did the time go? Those old Newark memories seem like yesterday.

I can almost feel myself being swirled into that great medical vortex of middle age-tests, more tests, high blood sugar count, watch your cholesterol, blood pressure checks….on and on it will probably go.

Glad I never smoked, nor drank much. It does pay off in the later years.

"Hon……..take Bloomfield Avenue home. I want to see the Christmas lights."

I feel a page turning in my life.


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