Not long after he
left, a new nurse came into my room and stood over my bed. "Time for
lunch," she said, sounding almost as cheerful as the guy in the green coat
with the screwdriver. That was the best news I'd heard since I woke up. All I
wanted was a solid piece of bread. Just one piece. "I've got your lunch
right here," the nurse said, showing me a small plastic bag filled with
what looked like dirty water. Ughhh, I thought. She took the bag and connected
it to something alongside my bed, and this pale yellowish stuff came down a
tube, twisted and turned and then disappeared into my nose.
And I always used
to bitch about the lousy food at the training table when I was in school at
I dozed off right
after my eight-course feast, and when I woke up there was a hulking figure
staring down at me. His eyes were red and there were tears running down his
cheeks. His hair was disheveled, the way it always was. I couldn't tell if his
shirt was hanging out, the way it always was. He held my hand and touched my
face, the way a father would.
"Darryl...Darryl...Darryl..., it'll be all right," John Madden said to
me, his voice so soft, so tender.
Raiders' coach, kept shaking his head slowly from one side to the other. He was
talking, too, but I wasn't listening very well. Then suddenly he let go of my
hand and started waving his arms wildly, as he always did on the sidelines.
Nurse! Nurse!" he yelled.
Madden was mad
about something, but he also looked very worried. A nurse came running into my
room, and Madden pointed to one of the machines alongside my bed.
stopped," he practically screamed at the nurse. "It was working when I
came in here to see Darryl, but then it stopped. Just a minute ago. Fix the
Sure enough, a
plug had come loose on the machine that was hooked up to the tubes in my mouth,
and, although I didn't know it, those tubes weren't suctioning the phlegm from
my mouth the way they were supposed to. The nurse fixed the machinery and then
took this long suction tube, stuck it down my throat and drew all the phlegm
that had collected. It hurt like crazy and I started to cry.
tried to comfort me, but he, too, was in tears. Thank God for the coach. If he
hadn't been there, and hadn't noticed that the suction tubes weren't working, I
might have choked to death. Or at least that's what the nurse told me after
Madden left to return to the Raiders' training camp, which was more than an
hour's drive away in Santa Rosa.