Every day, things change. Yesterday morning Mom and I were crying on the phone together with my discouragement. Then by evening I was sitting at my desk, messing around on my computer like before, like the medical ordeal didn’t happen.
That felt weird, because the whole thing was so informative and amazing, mostly bad but a little good. I don’t want to make like it didn’t happen–I want to carry my lessons and be who I am now.
I used to say, “I quit smoking–I can do anything,” but now I feel like spending five days in a hospital, getting blood transfusions, seeing God in drug visions, feeling support from all sides, seeing how deep I could love myself and be there for me and trust myself, doing things I never thought I could do? I understand a lot now that I had no clue about before.
Also I see who loves me. Today a new friend came over to clean my kitchen and bathroom and hang a new curtain. I told her no and she insisted. Mom visited from California to sit by my side for days, and her sister and brother-in-law drove her all the way here. Countless prayers, visit gifts, patience. Ming’s endlessness. So many good nurses who held my life in their hands and who I will never see again or properly thank. I don’t even know their names.
Mostly I learned about pain, that there are all kinds of it. Terror-pain, growth-pain like trying to do the difficult hurting thing so you can get strong again, torture-pain so repetitive and stupid, like when they could no longer find a vein so poked a finger and milked my blood into a test tube–not again. Not that it hurt that bad but the medivalness. The pain of empathy when your roommate is at a 9 begging for pain meds or losing her mind and asking for haldol. Boredom-pain when they park you in the loneliness bay and ignore you shamelessly for an hour as you await a procedure, alone with your fear. Pain of fighting for your life in a drug jungle, pain of struggling for consciousness, pain of the wrong voices. Injustice-pain when the roommate is still covered in vomit.
I also learned how “it’s temporary” can help with most of it and other sweet self-talk so that what happens is welcomed, met plainly rather than constantly struggled against and judged in a way that turns everything into twice the work.
I learned how hospital is like school where the whole thing exists to help students learn and improve, but in reality it’s the students who are abused and at the very bottom, fighting for their lives as well-paid administrators strut the halls and rule. All the money.
I learned about seeming vs actuality, the results of certain performances. How everyone is playing a role and things are so defined and rigid.
I learned that it’s just as dystopian and creepy as I imagined.
I learned to write histrionic blogposts in the middle of the night to comfort myself.
I learned they would give me sedatives rather than solve a problem.
I already knew but re-learned how a doctor sees you through the lens of his specialty, and if you say something about seeing weird visuals to a GI doc, he will just think you’re crazy, or it’s irrelevant that you may be having this not-understood experience, even though it might kill you. They desperately need to see you through the lens of their specialty rather than see you as a whole person made of connected systems that work all together. He will get frantic to pretend just that certain part of you can be treated in isolation and that’ll work! Ha!
I learned they will release you totally unprepared, the instructions he promised are not in the discharge packet, and the one prescription that was supposed to be printed isn’t in there.
I learned that sharing a bathroom with someone who’s in ICU for a bacterial infection is chilling, how dirty the baseboards could be, blue mop just swirling the germs in a circle.
I learned to wait for the fatness jab, that the conversation would be going well, and then he’d have to insert that insult that this is all my fault.
I learned things about gender and ethnicity that are hard to explain.
I learned how problems make problems.
They’ll give you wipies in ICU but not on the fourth floor.
I already knew but repeatedly experienced how a lot of medicine is hurting someone in the short term in hopes of helping them in the long term.