Discipline (or compulsion) leads me to apologize for being tardy with this post. When I say I do a "daily creative dump," by god, I mean it, and I expect that every day, no matter what I come up with something to hand you, whether it is weird, dumb, funny, serious, dull, or YouTubes of screaming goats. Actually, if I had a different screaming goat to post every day, that would please me very much. But yesterday, the day took a different turn, as Mr 11 and I headed off to the little medical clinic to get checked out for some annoying rashes. As we returned with assorted lotions and medications, we found out that another family member had just been seriously injured. The injury required surgery, which was done today. It is a life-changing event, with some difficult recovery ahead.

So that is where I was the past 24 hours -- the hospital, 2000 miles away from my home.

Anyone who has done the wait knows -- time becomes meaningless in the confines of the beige-walled long corridors of the hospital. Endless streams of nurses come in and out, one shift flowing into another, checking blood pressure and temperature and oxygen levels and pain medications. Their faces differ but their voices are all sort of the same: that long Wisconsin accent, softened and further drawn out by their words of concern. The gurneys clatter along, voices chatter, machines beep and pulse and heave and blink, good numbers, bad numbers, good numbers again. Tests are ordered, blood and urine and CAT scans and ultrasounds, more people coming in asking questions, some business-like, some friendly and joking.

The hospital room chair folds out and a nurse brings me a pillow and a blanket to try to grab some sleep. Dozing was the best I could do. I look up to the TV, and Sonia Sotomayor has on blue. When I look up again, she is wearing red. A day has passed. I hear they had some loonies yelling during the hearings. USA.

More waiting for the surgery to finish. I was not worried, or perhaps would not allow it. My job was to be calm and strong and positive. There will be time to process my feelings later. A young woman is also in the waiting room, her husband in surgery for a back injury that cost him his job. She rambled on about her life, nervous and tired, glad to have someone to listen and to keep her awake. I am barely awake myself, but I listen to her tale of kids from this marriage and that and how good food is so expensive and she gives the fruits and veggies to the kids first and how she hopes her husband isn't one of the 20% with a poor back surgery outcome.

We head up back to the regular room and wait some more. A Diet Pepsi and a scone and a banana are consumed. "Cash Cab" is on the TV; everyone is winning.

Surgery is done and went well. I take off for a bit to come back to the house, grab a shower and a hot meal, and write this. It is time to go back, for a few hours or maybe another day, depending.

Lives started, lives ended, things tested, things fixed. I return to the vortex of the hospital, shifts coming in, shifts going out, all of them the same, so many people living out the same detours -- shifts -- to their stories, huddling in antiseptic-smelling rooms.