This hallway makes me feel small. The lights buzz and flicker every so often above my head and the constant barrage of footsteps make me uneasy, but I’ve been here before. The beeps and thumps of the machines all around me create a cacophony that heightens my senses instead of dull them -- like the rest of my comrades in this Manhattan emergency room. I haven’t thought about food in hours, an unusual occurrence, like there’s a cloud where my appetite should be. It’s almost 4 a.m. and the rest of the patients waiting for beds in the hospital upstairs are all asleep. Every few minutes a nurse, doctor, EMT, or a mixed group of them whoosh by my bed either going to or coming from another trauma. Most of the time I feel invisible, like faded wallpaper, but then someone hip-checks my bed or kicks my IV pole and they notice me. Every four hours since I arrived with an infected pancreas and turbulent stomach, a nurse comes over to hang another fluid bag and injects me with my dose of morphine. As soon as it reaches my blood stream I feel a jolt -- like hitting the brakes on a roller coaster -- and my entire body feels heavy, as if weighted down by more than a few cc’s of liquid.
I slip in and out of sleep. Anxiety overpowers opiates. Around the shift change at 6 a.m. I watch the nurses stream by me like zombies holding their travel coffee mugs outright, as if one spilled drop is life or death, then they move me out of the bright hallway and into a nook in the corner of the ER with curtained off cubbies for each bed. The new lights on the ceiling that point at my bed are less harsh than the hallway lights and the morphine filter creates welcoming little halos around them. It is here that I succumb to sleep for hours on end. The idea of food hasn’t crossed my mind once today; it’s a coping mechanism. My body knows in order to heal itself, I can’t eat or drink for 48 hours. I don’t even dream about food. My friend sat with me for most of the day but due to my lack of coherent conversation skills, she finally gave up and read aloud to me from her cheesy, romance novel until we could hear that the man and his wife just beyond the curtain at my feet were listening in, displeased. I spend most of Sunday sleeping or using the bathroom as all I am allowed are ice chips and IV fluids.
It’s been over 36 hours since I arrived and it’s now Monday--Labor Day--I had hoped I would be out in search of burnt, barbequed hot dogs with mustard and relish and sloppy, sprinkle-covered ice cream cones today. My three-day-weekend started in a kayak on the Hudson followed by a Lifetime movie and Chinese food and ended on a drug binge, stuck in a bed on wheels, wearing hollowed gowns that thousands have worn, leashed by a tube to a nutrient bag.
I am still in my cubby in the corner of the ER and the sheet of my bed is bunched up near my feet which are swimming in the perpetually scrunched up slipper socks they assign you to wear at all times. My friend is back in the afternoon -- having spent her entire weekend with me, first in the kayak and now here -- sitting next to my mobile cot and breathing in the stale hospital air. The nurses come to tell me they finally found me a bed -- I’ll get to go upstairs to a room shared with only one person, instead of seven. The excitement I feel from this revelation jolts me up in bed even though I have recently had my morphine dose and immediately feel dizzy. Moving upstairs means I will be healed soon which means I am thatmuchcloser to sinking back into my own colored sheets, feather duvet, and mountain of pillows. Most of all, it means I can eat -- will have to eat -- before they can release me. I stay seated for a few minutes, trying to steady myself on my palms and stare at my friend. She has just started telling me a story; something that happened at work, no...someone or something she saw on the subway...wait, maybe it’s about her roommate. I’m not quite sure which, but I’d like to -- sensations flood through my brain as I see my head nodding along to her story. I must be riveted; I seem to be giving the appropriate non-verbal response cues. I stare intently at one sleeve of her green tee shirt and then look to the leather backpack at her feet, hoping to retain any of the information she’s already shared. It feels like forever she’s been talking but my mind is in a state of oven-warmed bliss. Finally, I stop her. “So,” I say, “I’m hearing what you’re saying, I really am...but I haven’t been listening. I’m staring at you, but all I can think about is cinnamon rolls.”
While the following recipe is a placeholder from the blog Jo Cooks, for my photos I took a shortcut and used what I had on hand: Store-bought dough and a powdered sugar glaze.
CINNABON CINNAMON ROLLS
1 (2¼ tsp or ¼ ounce or 7 g) package active dry yeast
1 cup (250 mL) warm milk
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
⅓ cup (75 g) margarine (I used softened butter)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
4 cups (500 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) packed brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) cinnamon
⅓ cup (75 g) margarine, softened
Cream Cheese Icing
6 tbsp (113 g) margarine (I used butter)
1½ cups (187 g) powdered sugar
¼ cup (55 g) cream cheese
½ tsp (3 mL) vanilla
⅛ tsp salt
For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well.
Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated.
Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx ¼ inch thick.
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss vs a knife.
Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly!
While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.
When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.
Prep time does not include time to let the dough rise.
You could prepare this the day before up until step 10. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. The rolls should continue to rise in the fridge but if by morning they have not doubled in size, turn your oven to 200 F degrees until it warms up, then turn it off. Place the pan in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes until the rolls double in size. Then you can bake them as instructed.