or Body Parts
A nurse named Jim was in charge of the Recovery Waiting Room at NYU Langone
Orthopedic Hospital, on 17th Street and 2nd Avenue, where all patients were
attending to specific body parts: hips, knees, and shoulders taking precedence but
there were some pelvic breaks, some few femur issues.
Jim is getting his PhD in psychiatry and he explained to all of us waiting that he
learned how important community is at times like these. So we’ll make one he said.
We’ll begin by introducing ourselves to one another. Let’s start with the nun on my
left he said.
Six of us were in the room called Recovery. It was a small windowless hospital room
with a standard motel painting of a boat that seemed more appropriate for a cheap
hotel than NYU’s illustrious Langone Orthopedic Hospital. The six of us were me (
waiting for Peter’s new hip), a Russian woman from Brighton beach (also waiting for
her husband’s hip), a nun (hip too), a thin fit man (his wife had pelvic fracture, a
Bengali engineer (her Rugby playing husband tore his knee) and a
youngishman (girlfriend’s knee).
The nun was an older woman, even older than the rest of us, dressed in a timeless
white habit. I’m Sister Ana from Convent of the Miserable she actually said.
It’s on West 20th Street. I was born in Chile and I am here because Sister Mary took a
big fall. She’s having her hip fixed by Dr. Madrid she said. We all smiled at her. We
were in this together. AA, NA, Body Parts.
Arthur was next. He looked familiar, the way so many people do these days, though
he was a maybe a little more fit than the world I inhabit. He had no belly.
He was 70ish, wearing a too bright yellow T- shirt, something he might wear to golf.
Sometimes I wish I knew people who golfed, but I don’t. Arthur had a deep Brooklyn
voice, loud and pleasing. Like a family member.
My wife tripped over my foot he said, and looked embarrassed. We were going to our
first Broadway show since the pandemic – Girl from North Country. We’re both big
Dylan fans. I don’t know exactly how she did it but she fell right down. We decided
we’d see the show anyway and we did. Everything was OK until after. It hurt when
she stood. She called her doctor and he said it was probably nothing so she waited a
week. The pelvic pain got worse so she had an MRI. She’s getting pelvic pins today
I’m not sure why, but I asked him how they met.
Funny story he replied.. Fifty two years ago, my best friend’s father was at Montefiore
Hospital. I called the hospital and asked client services how Morty was doing. The
woman said Morty was sufficient. I told her that was an insufficient answer and we
began a real conversation.
I liked her right away and asked if she was interested in going out with my friend.
The one whose father was Morty. He’d be visiting the hospital in a day or two and
could look her up.
What’s wrong with you she asked. How much time do you have was my answer.
A week later we went out to dinner and talked all night.
And that was that said Arthur. We’ve been married 51 years.
We all asked Arthur a series of questions: what had their life been like together.
Better than he expected.
Did they have children. Two – both married. Still in Brooklyn.
Did he have any regrets? Oddly enough the nun asked this question.
Yes said Arthur. He wished he’d flown a plane, but that was all.
We spent about an hour talking to Arthur, who was a natural fielding
questions. What did he do for a living, for example. He sold office furniture – it had
been his uncle’s business. All questions deserved lengthy explanations.
We were glad, all of us, not to be thinking about the body parts of people we loved,
glad to be together.
You see said Jim the nurse. Talking to strangers always works.
I don’t know said the Russian woman from Brighton Beach. No one mentioned
And we won’t Jim replied.
Sister Ana and Ayisha in the Recovery Room