At 7:25 A.M., I awoke to this jarring dream:

It is early morning. I’m barefoot and wear a hospital gown on an indigent women’s 12-bed ward. A radio plays. Other patients receive help with their daily care. On my way to the bathroom, I feel wetness between my legs. I’m hemorrhaging; pools of blood splatter the floor. Too weak to clean it up or ask for help, I continue to the bathroom. Later, I notice someone had mopped up the blood. Hemorrhaging occurs later in the day, but I vaguely remember it. That evening, the head nurse restores my ring of belonging, but instead of it being round, she presents me with a square one.

I still shudder with the implications of this dream. I’m alone, impoverished, in dire straights in the hands of my caregivers. Excessive hemorrhaging has enervated me and seems to be an ongoing problem. No longer can I tend to most of my needs.I see no way out of this morass. Nor does death seem imminent—just worsening of my symptoms.

The number twelve as in 12-bed ward suggests a fullness, a complementarity that corresponds to twelve months of the year, to the twelve apostles, and to the twelve Knights of the Round Table, and other groupings of twelve. In the dream 12 indigent women, I among them, occupy the ward: their circumstances could not be more wretched.

To keep her charges compliant within the rules and regulations, the head nurse, the sole authority on the ward, uses cheap trinkets—No matter that I preferred the round ring that I’d been given, when admitted to the ward, to the ill-fitting square one I placed on my finger.

As Monster Passivity licks its jowls and tears into what remains of my afflicted body, I cry out for help. It will come.