There Is More Than One Way to De-Fur a Feline
The trauma center of this hospital is, as I have said, extraordinary, and it has a justifiable reputation as the place to go if disaster strikes. But due to budget cuts and the general economic uncertainty that affects both the nation and the state of California, the hospital also serves a far larger area and a far greater population than it should have to or was ever intended to, with the very predictable result that there are too many patients and too few doctors and too few nurses, and everyone there is constantly running as hard as they can just to stay in place, rather like the Red Queen. A natural corollary of this was that when I needed something and pressed the button that called for a nurse—not to be confused with the button that raised or lowered or tilted the bed, or the button that filled me with morphine, or the button that turned on the television, or the button that allowed me to use the telephone—frequently there was no response. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; they were and are and always will be overwhelmed. But I noticed that the various monitors I was attached to all had alarms to alert the nurses in the event of a malfunction: if an IV bag ran dry, or a tube became kinked, or a monitor couldn’t get a signal. And the main monitor, the Big Kahuna of them all, the monitor that displayed and constantly recorded pulse, blood pressure, oxygen intake, and whatever else, had been set to go off if my pulse dropped below forty-five beats a minute.
Perhaps through an accident of birth, or perhaps as a consequence of being abnormally active ever since I first started crawling, or perhaps as a consequence of being a competitive athlete in one sport or another for much of my life, I have an extremely low resting heart rate. I’ve also done some yoga and some meditation, and I found now that if I meditated and concentrated on doing slow, deep breathing (well, as deep as I could without causing pain, which would naturally increase my pulse rate) I could set the monitor off at will and a nurse would come trotting in. So I had no trouble getting whatever I needed whenever I wanted it.