MED SURGERY / OBS

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In the ER lobby.  Stooped over, two people ahead of me at the metal detector. It’s like the airport.

“Are you a visitor?” the elderly African-American lady in a blue smock asks.

“No. Patient,” I say.

At the reception desk. “My chest hurts. I can’t breathe.” I start to cry.

“What’s your name, honey?”

After I tell her, she reads out my social and date of birth.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. You don’t know what’s going on. Of course you’re afraid.”

“Yes,” I say. “Please help me.”

In Triage. My blood pressure is 190/__. The usual questions.

“Do you have a history of high blood pressure? Heart disease?”

“No.”

I am glad to be here. They will take care of me. That’s what I always wished for when I was anorexic. That I would get sick enough that I would be hospitalized and someone would finally take care of me.

An EKG, blood draw, an IV port, a plastic wristband.

“Are you admitting me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” says the beautiful blond nurse.

“Okay.”

“We’re giving you a magnesium drip. Your magnesium is low.”

“Okay.” It burns.

I am wheeled into a large room called “MED SURGERY/OBS.” It’s a barracks-like ward with two rows of beds, each with its own personal sky blue curtain.

I am safe.

They will take care of me.

Maybe I need surgery and I will die on the table. Then I will be with Lorin. Maybe that is what is meant to be. I am calm and unafraid.

They will take care of me.

It is loud and bright in MED SURGERY/OBS.

I have the bed nearest the bathroom. Lucky me.

Each bed has a number dangling above it. I am Number 8.

Every two hours: blood taken, blood pressure, temperature. I am grateful for their diligence. The nurses, doctors and aides are kind, respectful.

They will take care of me.

11 o’clock. The night nurse says, “I’m going to give you something to prevent blood clots. It’s subcutaneous, goes in the belly. It’s gonna burn.”

“Okay.”

The magnesium burns too. I am a sicko on fire, in a ward of sickos.

It’s impossible to sleep. I read a kindle book on my iPhone.

Snoring, bright lights, cell phones going off, the bathroom being cleaned, floors mopped at midnight. At 3:08, two new patients are rolled in. Questions, lights, odors, fear. I hear  ambulance sirens, reminds me of the car accident, the day I lost everything.

A sound like a 747 going off every 45 minutes. Is it the air vent or my ancient hospital bed? I don’t know. My neck hurts but I don’t want to ask for anything else. I try to sleep.

10:30 a.m.

No food for me. I am classified “NBM” or “nothing by mouth.”

In the morning they send me for a stress test. Dye in the IV, wait 30 minutes, images of my heart. The machine comes so close to my chest I feel it will crush me. Waiting. Power walking on the treadmill. Waiting. Another heart image. Waiting for someone to transport me back to the ward.

I’m back in Bed Number 8 at 1:30 p.m.

I am hungry. No food since lunch Tuesday. I do not complain. The nurse gives me ice chips.

5:00 p.m.

“Your cardiac enzymes are negative. Your heart looks good,” Dr. C says. “Have you ever had anxiety attacks?”

“Yes,” I say. “But nothing like yesterday.

“I want you to start on some anti-anxiety medication.”

And so it goes. I am grateful for the diagnosis. I stopped taking anxiety meds a long time ago.

I felt somewhat ashamed that I asked my boyfriend G (yes, the widow has a boyfriend—you might judge me. Widows are not supposed to seek love after death, some believe.) to bring me to the ER, that I was not dying. I start to worry about how high my hospital bill will be. I realize how mental disorders/illness are a cause of shame for so many of us, how we feel we have to explain to people why we are sick, why we have panic attacks or why we are depressed. Do cancer patients get judged this way? Perhaps growing up with a mentally ill mother has made me even more ashamed and susceptible to shame. I remember how many times I brought her to the ER and had her admitted into the psych ward. Shame, shame. I never thought I could get this way.

Four Days on the New Meds

I feel like a person. I do not wake up with a sense of terror or dread. My chest does not hurt. I do not have shortness of breath. A bit of dizziness from time to time, but I can deal with it. I feel in charge, alive and hopeful. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I am grateful I have health insurance. I am still working on not being ashamed.

Hollow Brain


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I get a hollow brain sensation

when I’m overwhelmed

Like my brain is porous

and anything can fly in or out

It’s an unsettling feeling, to be sure

Feeling unmoored

unglued

Something About Nothing

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I haven’t posted in almost three months because I feel I have nothing to say. Well, at least nothing I think people want to hear. Maybe it’s the result of living in a social media-based world, wanting to be more positive and feeling that writing about unsettling or unpleasing topics and feelings is ever so uncool.

In that vein, I thought I’d go ahead and post Something About Nothing. Like Seinfeld, the self-described TV show “about nothing.” But there is always something to be found in nothing. A silver lining to every dark cloud.

Sometimes I long to feel nothing, and sometimes my prayers are answered. My old friend Anhedonia creeps in, putting my feelings on ice, wrapping me up in a delicious blanket of numbness and don’t-give-a-damn. Merriam Webster defines anhedonia as “a psychological condition characterized by inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts.” This condition also makes you impervious to emotional pain, at least that’s how it works for me.

Nothing. The absence of something. The absence of stuff, baggage, fears, sadness, happiness, inhibitions, guilt. I’m riffing here.

On another note, grief is settling into my bones, becoming more a part of who I am,
not a negative, fearful thing. Merely a thing that exists, like the scar on my palm after I cut it on a cat food can. I’m a slow healer, so it will always be there.

I am making plans for this year, not resolutions, but plans. Resolutions is too strident a word for me.

Nothing is part of my plan. To let nothing stand in my way. To let nothing tear me apart. To let nothing and no one tell me who I am or what I can and cannot do. To enjoy the entirety of life and accept the love I receive without question, without trying to control it or judge it. To embrace life in all its nothingness and something-ness. To take NOTHING for granted.

Nothing can be a good thing.

 

 

Serenity (of The Smug)


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Serenity of The Smug

the breezy manner

that accompanies

Good Fortune

The knowing smile,

shared,

that says, “We have it all.”

(and you don’t.)

Untouchable

No surprises

Dark deeds

easily erased

Oh, it’s good to be us.

Such security

of the mind

Protection

of the body

Absence

of heart

We don’t abide

The have-nots

It’s their fault, anyway.

They didn’t work hard

enough

They are lazy

They don’t come from

good stock

We deserve everything

we have

God has smiled upon us

We are blessed

And you are f**ked

 

Shadow Self


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It’s all the bright I cannot see

when it’s right in front of me

Shadow Self

Bursts of light make it through

in spite of themselves

like a fragile shoot birthing through

the crack of a New York City sidewalk

The will to live

Remains

only altered, and strange

beautiful in a different way

Shadow Self

The Leftovers


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Running does not help

They will still be gone

We will still remain

the lost

as much as they

My hope is that

they watch over us,

guide and protect us

let us know, gently

when we are

going further astray

Keep us from hurting

ourselves more

And rather, feel

their love

every day

September

So this widow thing has not been easy. The almost two year mark is fast approaching: September 29, 2016. Permanently etched in my heart, mind, body and soul. Sometimes I feel insane, like I might break into a primal scream at my workplace, but I try my best to keep the rage and insanity at bay.

August 30th is our wedding anniversary. I try not to think about it, but I do. It would have been ten years.

September 26th is my birthday, which feels like a permanent wash. I do not know if I will ever enjoy having a birthday again. Lorin said he wanted to celebrate my birthday after we arrived in Savannah, September 29, 2016. The new chapter of our lives that never was.

He told me he had purchased special jewelry for the occasion. It was never found at the scene of the car accident.

Not that it meant much at the time. More salt in the already-tired wounds.

I am full of rage at the injustice of Lorin’s death. He was not ill; he is not “in a better place.” I am a lapsed Catholic. I was a very pious child—wanted to be a nun for all of third grade. I believed in a “better place.” But I don’t believe in heaven anymore, so there’s that.

There is no way to “spin” the rage or the sadness when it comes. I don’t make apologies for it.

I am ordering some Jahrzeit candles from amazon to mark the second anniversary of Lorin’s death. They don’t sell them at Kroger or Publix. In New York City, they are easy to find.

From Wikapedia: A yahrzeit candle, also spelled yahrtzeit candle or called a memorial candle, (Hebrew: ‫נר נשמה‎, ner neshama,[1][2] meaning “soul candle”; Yiddish: ‫יאָרצײַט ליכט‎ yortsayt likht, meaning “anniversary candle”) is a type of candle that is lit in memory of the dead in Judaism.[3] A yahrzeit candle, also spelled yahrtzeit candle or called a memorial candle, (Hebrew: ‫נר נשמה‎, ner neshama,[1][2] meaning “soul candle”; Yiddish: ‫יאָרצײַט ליכט‎ yortsayt likht, meaning “anniversary candle”) is a type of candle that is lit in memory of the dead in Judaism.[3]

I am terrified. I don’t know if I can make it through these next seven weeks, without . . . but I will try.

 

Inglorious Rage


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Nobody likes an angry woman

she’s unbecoming in the worst way

a primal scream can’t cure

an uncontrollable rage

it frightens me

how deep it is

rooted in me

like an ancient tree

I want it to go away

but somehow, I don’t

It lets me know I am still

alive

and that you matter so much,

and that you will never go away

20 Months

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Today is the 20-month anniversary of Lorin’s death. I think about him every day, and light a candle for him every night. The passage of time has not altered my love for him or the depth of my sadness, and anger, that he has left this earth.

Lorin and I loved our many road trips together. He used to say he was “Driving Miss Sweetie” — Miss Sweetie being me.

We planned our music, audio books, snacks and drinks ahead of time. It was always an adventure.

On the drive home from Orlando after a long weekend, there was a delay on I-4 East due to a car accident. A fatal car accident.

In the past, I might have been annoyed at such a delay, but yesterday I felt differently.

I imagined how annoyed motorists must have been after our car accident on September 29, 2016. How they might have been complaining how they would be late for work or to  take their kids to school that morning. I used to be one of those people.

Yesterday I felt profound sadness.  Tears welled in my eyes as I thought of the life or lives that were lost on I-4. As we passed the mangled red SUV, I said a brief prayer for the deceased and his / her family.

Another lost soul on the American highway.

Another family, grief-stricken and traumatized.

I will never forget the beautiful person I lost on September 29, 2016. I am forever altered and still struggle to understand why only my cat Samson and I survived.

Perhaps someday it will all come clear. Until that day, I will do the best I can to make sense of it all and live another day.

April Showers

It’s April.

Time of spring, Easter, resurrection, rejoicing or . . . not.

I’m not finding it very cheery thus far.
Perhaps it’s due to the gloomy weather we’ve been having in the low country.

At the risk of waxing too melancholy, I will invoke the spirit of writers past who conveyed it in ways quite sublime, albeit tragic/sad.

A Well-Worn Story (Dorothy Parker)

In April, in April,
My one love came along,
And I ran the slope of my high hill
To follow a thread of song.

His eyes were hard as porphyry
With looking on cruel lands;
His voice went slipping over me
Like terrible silver hands.

Together we trod the secret lane
And walked the muttering town.
I wore my heart like a wet, red stain
On the breast of a velvet gown.

In April, in April,
My love went whistling by,
And I stumbled here to my high hill
Along the way of a lie.

Now what should I do in this place
But sit and count the chimes,
And splash cold water on my face
And spoil a page with rhymes? 

The Waste Land  (T.S. Eliot) (an excerpt)

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.