Last round, three weeks ago, a good friend brought over to the hospital a reasonably new game called “Cards Against Humanity, A party game for horrible people.” It’s basically a really rude version of Apples to Apples, and if you have any kind of a mean streak in you that of course you hide in mostly polite company, it’s one of the most hilarious games that you’ll ever play.
So five or six of us were playing this game around a table in my hospital room around 7:30pm, all of us suffering from stomach cramps from laughing so hard, when a nurse who I’ve never seen before walks into my room (this is quite an accomplishment, frankly, considering that I’ve been on this floor of this hospital almost half of the last three months).
“I’m really sorry, but could you keep it down in here? Some of the other patients are complaining.”
(Switch on polite side of personality.) “Oh my goodness of course, I’m so sorry.”
She leaves, and we all make a valiant effort to quiet down a bit. But, half an hour later…
“I’m sorry to bother you again, but you’re still being really loud.”
“We’re really sorry, but have you ever played this game before? It’s just really really funny.”
“OK, but please try.”
An hour later…
“You know, there are some really sick people in this hospital, and you’re keeping them awake.”
Everyone in the room turns to me, with looks varying from: “are you fucking kidding me?” to “did she really say that?”
Before any of us, including me because I was so flabbergasted at the nurse’s comment, had a chance to say anything, she’d stormed out of my room.
By 9:45, a maintenance man had showed up to fix a problem with my door that was apparently not allowing it to close completely.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that particular moment in the last few weeks, and I’ve decided that even though it’s important to be polite, there are simply moments when it’s better to just let the other side of my personality out. I’ve actually spent a good portion of the last ten years learning to temper my cynicism, calm my sarcasm, and think a little more carefully before I jump to conclusions and/or down someone’s throat. As a result, my skin looks better, I look younger, but I sometimes miss highly appropriate opportunities to, um, stomp on someone. If I had the opportunity to replicate that moment, this is what I would say:
“Hi, I’m Lydia. I’m sorry, and a little confused, that we haven’t yet met, because I’ve spent an absurd amount of time on the floor of this hospital since July 1 because I have non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I’d like to remind you of two things: one, quiet hours don’t start until 11pm, so we aren’t actually breaking any rules; and two, I’m one of the patients on this floor who is incredibly sick, considering I could dead in six months if this treatment doesn’t work. So please go amp up the morphine on your overly dramatic gynecological post-op patient and don’t let the door hit you on the way out of my room.”
And, partially because of Cards Against Humanity, next time I will. Thank you, gods of hilarity, for reminding me of the importance of standing up for myself.