By: Jake Dierksheide
CHARLESTON, SC – Christopher Horn, a 28-year-old financial analyst, has spent the past 18 minutes watching a pea-sized bubble in his antibiotic drip slowly make its way down the 10 feet of plastic tubing toward his left wrist, unsure whether the idea that air in the bloodstream will cause an immediate heart attack is fact or fiction. He first had hoped someone would come in making the normal rounds and notice the bubble before he would have to bring it up. However, as the pocket of air grows closer to his body, it has become increasingly clear that the only way to know for sure would be to push the on-call button and have a potentially uncomfortable interaction with the hospital staff..
“If they were checking in anyway it would be one thing, but I’d hate to make someone walk all the way down to my room if it’s nothing. Plus, I’ve managed to build pretty good reputation around here.” said Chris, gesturing toward the 2 now-empty cups of applesauce near the edge of his bedside table “Nurse Erica got me a second applesauce after I didn’t like the miso they were serving. I would hate to throw that all away by asking a dumb question.”
At a few instances since first noticing what could very well be the cause of his untimely death, Chris has picked up the hospital bed’s built-in remote and allowed his finger to graze the ‘Call’ button. Each time, however, the simple thought of the look of disappointment on the nurse’s face when they found out he’d wasted their time has been too much to bear and he gently sets it back in its holster. “I mean they would have to stop whatever they’re doing come aaaall the way down the hall to the other end of the floor. And like what if I’m wrong and they come in all quick like it’s an emergency or something! All for nothing!”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” said Chris, detailing how all the staff was very competent, all the while glancing nervously between the slowly moving bubble and the door to his room, “if it were really a problem they would double check every line before leaving the room, right?”
After weighing in scenarios on both sides of the debate another horrifying thought crosses Chris’ mind: “Oh God or what if they come in and it is fatal and they ask me why I didn’t tell them about this sooner?!” he exclaimed. “Oh they might be mad at me for not speaking up and then I’ll feel like a total idiot. I can try to lie and say I just noticed, but I’m just so bad under pressure and if they catch me that’ll just make this all worse.”
At this point he considers it to be pretty much a 50-50 shot as to whether this is a real medical concern or complete bullshit. In light of the circumstances, however, Chris has decided that if it comes down to it he would rather just play it safe and accept the heart attack. “Look: this may be it, but at least if I die I won’t have looked like a fool in front of a total stranger!”