Insomnia in the Hospital (Come on Eileen)

(CC BY-SA 2.0) Faisal Akram

(CC BY-SA 2.0) Faisal Akram

When I was in the hospital a couple of years ago, I had a variety of symptoms from the medications we tried over the course of the week to find a new regimen. Some of the medications they gave me for my anxiety were straight up sedatives which had the wonderful side effect of keeping me up all night, because I napped during the day.

One night, I was playing cards with two girls. One of them had over 200 scars/scabs on her left forearm. She self-harmed on a regular basis. The other girl had fewer scars, but was also there for self-harm/depression. We were all sharing stories and they were talking about their favorite songs, while we played every card game any of us could think of.

Something one of them said sparked a guitar riff in my head. I couldn’t place it, and I couldn’t shake it. So I asked.

“What’s that song that goes ‘Come on…’ you know, with all the crazy instruments and stuff?”

The girls grinned in unison and belted out, “Come one Eileen, oh I swear what he means…” I grinned ruefully at my drug-induced lapse of memory, and was surprised when a lady came out of her room. Then it struck me. Her name was Eileen!

I bowled over laughing, trying to sound sincere when I apologized about a hundred times for waking her up. She took it in good spirits, but said she was tired. We let her go back to bed trying to muffle our laughs, while we got stern looks from the nurses. We apologized to them profusely for the noise.

For the rest of the night, every time someone won a hand they would hum a little “dah-dah-dah-dah” and we’d all smile at our new inside joke. Sometimes, getting the help you need sucks. Other times, it leaves you with fond memories of shared joy and a sense of community.

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