Have you ever been awoken up by daylight infiltrating your room like a ninja? Light creeping and spreading slowly over every crack and into every corner? After the light shook me, the strong smell of coffee lingering in the air took me aback. Everyone in the house was still asleep, and for a brief moment in time, my heart missed a beat when the memory of my grandparents making coffee in the morning jolted me awake. Then the realization that they were both dead hit me heavy in the center of my chest knocking me back into my bed. I curled into a fetal position and sank back beneath the covers. I took a deep breath; the coffee smell had dissipated leaving me to believe that the visit from the coffee fairy had been a dream.
I forced myself upright, my feet hit the floor and I slowly walked to the bathroom. As I passed by the mirror I caught a glimpse of my reflection and reality grabbed me up and delivered a big bitch slap. I never was like the other girls or hell, much like anyone else. When they made me, the mold not only broke, but caught on fire and exploded.
I walked into the kitchen and I grabbed my French pressed coffee maker. I just got a French press. Its fancy and supposedly the coffee tastes better than ‘regular old brewed coffee’. The coffee shop will even grind it for you on a “French press setting”. Very fancy. We coffee snobs know about this stuff. Actually, my regular coffee pot broke the other day. The event triggered a massive nervous breakdown that I am ashamed to admit was only consoled by massive quantities of chocolate and a trip to Starbucks. Most days I would just take my coffee in an IV, thank you very much.
I head towards my car and prepare myself for the hour long commute through the fog and swaps. I really would like to get another job. This one sucks the soul out of me on a daily basis. I try to “bloom where I'm planted’ and yet, the soul sucking continues.
I get to work, make another pot of coffee and prepare myself for my daily social networking. My company has a facebook page, but we aren’t supposed to use it. I quickly check my teenage daughter’s page and look at her recent drawings that she posted. One of her friends posted that her latest drawing looks like a penis. So she posted that he looked like a penis. I make a mental note to tell her not to post about penises, call anyone a penis or talk about penises on her facebook page. Ill do this once I get home.
I can't see myself here five years from now. I think Id rather be subjected to a massive zombie infestation and risk what’s left of my caffeine marinated brains being devoured. I take the facebook quiz “what are your odds of surviving a real zombie attack”. I score 00%. My first thought is, what a bunch of crap these facebook quizzes are and how all my years of watching day of the dead, dawn of the dead, yadda yadda would prepare me for moments like this. I then check to see what my daughter scored. Hmmm, 10% survival chance. Well now I'm sure the stupid quiz is rigged. I retake the stupid quiz, change my answers around trying to rig it and hit the submit button. 00% chance. Again. OI Vey. Really? So then I make a hot tempered post about how I hate facebook quizzes and any God faring George Romero fan would score better than 00%. Twice. In a row.
After questioning and complaining about my zombie attack survival skills I go to another site and take another zombie quiz. I get a 90% chance. There. That is better. My ego is soothed and now I can begin to work.
What people don’t realize is, high school antics really never end. People grow up. Get good paying jobs. Become mothers, and the gossip and backstabbing continues in a much more “professional” environment. I sip my coffee. I am on cup 3 now. I break my day up into cups of coffee. By cup 6, after its cold, I usually have about an hour left in the day.
Mr. Feely hands comes in and needs some work done. He is ok. But has major personal space issues. I had taken to locking my door. But the gossip girls kept telling my boss I was leaving early, so I stopped that. Now I keep the door open, and Mr Feely hands comes in and invades my personal space. I make an excuse and get up to go pee. I talk about my husband and our anniversary and to no avail. He still makes bizarre comments about back rubs and clandestine meetings. Guys are so freaking dense sometimes.
Cup 5 and the coffee is now luke warm. It’s a good sign. Ive done all my real work by now and I start looking for other jobs. I take a personality quiz that is supposed to tell you which career suits you best. In one sentence it tells me actress, in another phone sales. Hmmm Phone sex operator is the only career path I see there. I hear it pays well, but I don’t think my husband would go for it. I go to the tarot website, like all good Christians, and do my career numerology. In one sentence it tells me to be a veterinarian, in another its tells me there is a good chance I will be attacked by a large animal. Uhm okay then.
I put in about 30 resumes and check my facebook page. I play a few quick games of bejeweled and score my highest score ever on the dumbest most addicting game in the world. I take a picture of my high score with my phone and send the picture to all my facebook friends, taunting them with my awesomeness.
Finally, the coffee is cold. I pack up my stuff and head home. Dreading the hour commute home. The drive is boring but uneventful.
A typical day. I'm bored and unchallenged at work. I keep hearing I am lucky to have a job in “this bad economy’ and seriously wonder about the mental status of those people tossing the word “luck” around. What is luck anyway? Winning the lottery? That is luck. Or perhaps getting struck by lightening? Well maybe not so much that. I know I read somewhere that you have a better chance of getting struck by lightening than winning the lottery. I believe that. My mind drifts and I wonder how my life would be different if my parents hadn’t screwed me up. I mean, whose parents HAVENT screwed them up in some form or fashion? My parents are good people don’t get me wrong, but eh, they screwed me up.
Of course, I’ll never win any mother of the year awards. I was dubbed by my husband “the giver of too much information”. I love to over explain everything. To micro analyze every thought, word, action down to the minutest detail. Like, for example, when my daughter was 5, she was drinking this juice or something that donated a percentage of sales to benefit people with AIDS. She said “Mommy, what’s AIDS” So I say it’s a disease you get by transmitting bodily fluids with an infected person through sharing needles and unprotected sex. Then she asks “Mommy what’s sex?” So I immediately start babbling the most clinical version of sex, ever told and top it all off with, “and people should always use a condom”. She asked “mommy what’s a condom?” before I caught myself and realized that I am having this conversation with my very smart, but albeit 5 year old child….then I got a bit freaked and started babbling more trying to do damage control, but making things 1000 times worse. Maybe that is why she is calling people penises on her facebook page.
I walk into the house and its quiet. Eerily quiet. Noone one is due home for hours and the air is stale with silence. My steps echo on the tile floor as I lay my stuff down. I smell it again. The coffee. Weirdly enough I feel immediately comforted. I walk slowly towards the kitchen and as I move closer, noises come into existence that weren’t there before. Bustling in the kitchen people chatting and suddenly the coffee smell overtakes me. I peek around the corner and almost pass out when I catch a glimpse of my grandmother at the sink doing dishes. I feel my stomach drop and my heart catches in my throat. Well now that really tops of a super boring day, my dead grandmother standing in my kitchen doing the dishes. Hi honey, she says. I feel light headed, like I am going to pass out. I mean, grandpa always talked about visits from grandma after she died, but I didn’t think he meant anything like this. Hi/ I said. Uhm Grandma aren’t you…? Shhh she said, of course I am, well the bodies gone, but nothing can really destroy the spirit, eh? She laughed. Her laughter filled me with a warmth that I had forgotten I could ever feel. Uhm..well how is grandpa? I asked shaking my head really thinking that I accidentally took too much of my antidepressants or something that day. I was pretty sure I had finally lost it. For good. Hey honey! I heard grandpas voice coming ftom the table. I looked up and there he was. With his coffee. Sitting at the table. In my house. He had died last December and his death really took a toll on me. I always thought death was something you could prepare your self for. I mean grandpa and I joked that after he died he would come visit me, but I never dreamed in a million years that meant anything like this. The dished clanked away. The suds from the water were floating up into the air catching the light as they floated up to the sky then dissipated into nothingness.
Children waitin' for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Have a banana, grandpa said pointing towards the bananas sitting on the counter. Grandpa was always know as the “fruit pusher” when we were kids. Have a banana, have an apple…anything could be cured by fruit and a 3 mile walk. I walked over to the bananas and mindlessly grabbed one and started to peel it, slowly, one strip at a time. As I am sitting here eating a banana with my dead grandparents, I start to seriously question my frame of mine. Grandma grabs a dish towel from the sink and starts to dry her hands on it. Give me a hug, Ive missed you so much. I step towards her with my mouth full of banana and begin to feel like I am floating away. Darkness encompasses me, my vision tunnels into a dark spiral and I slip into an unconscious haze.
I am being shaken awake, my husband yelling at me to wake up. I slowly stir into consciousness and feel a shooting pain in my head. I reach towards my head and feel blood, warm, wet, sticky, running down my forehead. Are you ok? My husband asks. Yes yes I am, I think…waaa? I look closer and the reality that I am bleeding, sinks in fully. I stare blankly at my husband and he hands me a cloth.
I pressed it to my head and looked around. My vision was a bit blurry and as it came into focus I saw the dishtowel that grandma had been using laying on the counter. I shook my head and told myself I had to have been dreaming or better yet, having a psychotic break of some kind. I hear that anything can bring those on these days…excessive boredom, lack of coffee, someone cutting you off in traffic. I took comfort in the fact that I am well medicated, although seeing your dead grandparents talking to you in your kitchen really didn’t give me the warm fuzzies.
My husband says to me, please go to the doctor. Ack, doctor schmocktor I hate the stupid doctor, plus it costs me 250 dollars every time I set foot in an ER, but my husband insists. Since I am feeling woozy, he drives me to the ER. We fumble around the parking lot looking for a space and I am still clutching the bloody rag to my head, I am sure I look dazzling, I know I feel like total crap. We walk into the hospital and the sterile smell of cleaner hits me like a brick wall. I hate that smell. I look around at all the coughing wheezing people and just pray I don’t catch some bizarre disease from their hacking and wheezing. I hate the ER aside from being uber expensive, its so, well germy. I settle into the barf green pleather chair (gee, I wonder why its THAT color) and grab a germ infested magazine from the rack. I flip through the mutilated mag that someone had already gotten to with the scissors, cutting out the coupons or whatever people clip out of magazines these days. I flip through and look at the outdated recipes from two Aprils ago. My husband is snoring loudly next to me, I poke him and he grumbles something about having to get up so early and goes back to sleep. I shake my head and continue to flip through the mag. I glance up, hearing a man clear his throat and he asks if the seat next to me is taken. He looks like he is wearing a hospital gown of sorts and I think oh great he is going to infect me with whatever contagious disease he has. I shake my head no and glance down at the magazine trying to look interesting in a how to make a spring salad, although its winter and I hate cooking. The man settles in next to me. I busy myself trying to avoid staring and the weird man next to me. He says excuse me madam, but could I trouble you a moment? I sigh and kind of roll my eyes at him and finally concede to a conversation. Sure no prob, how can I help you. All the while I was praying that he didn’t need help with his catheter or something equally as gross. Well, he started, clearing his throat. Your grandma said she is sorry she didn’t get a chance to clean up her mess in the kitchen and she…..WHOA I say, excuse me? Wha? Uhm sir, Im sorry but I think you have me mistaken for someone else. My grandparents are all dead. He looks at me with his brown eyes sparkling, I think I see a resemblance to one of my art teachers who originally came from Greece. No, miss, I am sure I have the right person. I just wanted to ask you a few questions. I know you have been really depressed lately and…
Wait sir, who do you think you are anyway, I could feel myself getting really angry with him. Who did he think he was? He looked like a psych ward escapee or a nursing home patient. You don’t know me…I was seething.
He said, well actually I do know you. I have been thinking about you a lot lately and I wanted your opinion on a few things. Like for example, reality…what is that anyway? Is it subjective, objective? A subjective response to an objective reality? Who defines it? Are we really here? Or is it an illusion? The man winks at me. I start to feel dizzy again and my husband nudges me. Hey hon, I think you are bleeding again. I reach up and feel my forehead and sure enough the blood was trickling down my forehead. I pressed my cloth closer to my head and turned back to the old man and there was noone there. I heard the nurse call my name and wave her clipboard at me. I shook my head and got up to follow her. Weird. I tried to brush off the dizzy feeling as I made my way to the little curtained room. The green and orange curtains looked like the 70’s threw up and forgot to clean up its mess. Ew…I took a deep breath full of cleaning solution tainted air and sat down in the little room. The nurse tried to make small talk as she took my blood pressure. I mostly tried to ignore her and concentrate on my head not feeling like it was going to explode. She poked me with a needle mumbling something about standard procedure and then jotted some notes down on her clipboard and left the room.
I sat there staring through the curtains watching sick people and hospital staff shuffle by. I see a man dragging a IV pole behind him and a woman walk by trying to comfort a screaming child who was clutching his arm. It took forever but finally a doctor shows up wearing his arrogance light a brightly colored flag. So Mrs uhm..ha.., (I think, he cant even get my name right, great…this is going to be a long visit) I stare at him for a second and all of a sudden get so overwhelmed. I can still hear the little boy screaming in the room next to me. The air seems more stale the odors seem stronger and infiltrate my senses. I feel sick. My head is pounding, Im dizzy. The doctor stares at me like I am not even there. He glances at his watch and I can tell he is more interested in making his Tee time than if I died right there in front of him. I start to cry. Big hot tears flow freely down my cheeks. I uh, I uh (I gasp for words and cant think, cant focus). The nurse walks in and looks at me with something that resembles pity. The doctor glares at her with disdain. Oh great he sighs. Mrs hoostinneerno… (I feel like I am going to vomit, at least it will match the décor, I think sarcastically). Are you having problems at home? He says with a disapproving stare, I feel like I am a bad little girl getting chastised for spilling something orr hitting my little brother. What? I say incredulously, wondering if this is for real or if there are hidden cameras here or something. Waa? No I fell I think. I am dizzy and I fell. (I am certainly not going to tell him about my dead grandmother washing dishes or my dead grandfather practically forcing me to eat a banana.) No I just …the doctor interrupts my idiotic blathering and looks at me with what I perceive as annoyance. Well, says Doc Arrogance, There are programs for abused women. (ok now I am irritated) ia m NOT abused…then I cry some more. The doc gets up and tells the nurse to write up a script for vicodin. (vicodin? I didn’t realize that is what they are prescribing for “abused” women these days). He dismisses me and the nurse shuffles me towards the exit and shoves a vicodin script into my hands. I glance at the rx and notice that it says in teeny tiny print “if your vision changes in the next 24 hours, be sure to come directly back to the ER”. I shove the rx in my pocket with the full knowledge I wont be filling it. I go through the checkout and pony up my 250 dollars and went to collect my husband from the waiting area.
The drive home was uneventful and boring. My husband asked me if I had any scripts to fill at the drugstore. I just looked at him and rolled my eyes. I almost considered telling him that I was having conversations with dead people and potentially dead people. We walk into the house and I glance at the left over Halloween candy. Halloween is such a weird holiday. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love it. But we buy all this candy every year and then we take our leftover candy and the candy our kids get and take it in to our coworkers, yet noone wants to eat it, because they all bring in their leftover candy. Such a waste. My mind drifts back to that strange little man in the ER waiting room. What is reality? I don’t know. Being an artist, I have always been a little skewed on that word. Being an artist, I usually make my own reality. But lately, even my skewed and colorful version of reality is being challenged. Do I really believe that I converse with dead people? Do I really think that doc cockys assessment of my marriage (and I mean WTF was that all about anyway??) Some people say that reality is the state of things as they actually exist, but who the heck knows what actually exists? Reality is about private experiences, curiosity, inquiry, and in personal interpretation of events and that “stagnant reality. I don’t know, It makes my head hurt even more to think about it. Why would someone ask me that anyway. I mean it all sucks anyway, whether its my own skewed bastardization of reality, some text book definition or this concrete fixed block of time in front of my face. I grab a piece of the Halloween candy. Chocolate is reality, no? I mean this chocolate, this piece of candy right in front of me is real. I can taste it, hold it, eat it…I can digest it. But what about Love? Is that real? How can you validate a feeling or an emotion? Is it just a biological function? Something left over from that herd instinct? Does it all boil down to self preservation? I reach up and touch my forehead. Its still sore, My head still throbs. What about my grandparents, was that real or am I losing my mind.
“And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dyin'
Are the best I've ever had”
I woke up the next morning, sore and feeling nauseous. My vision was still a little blurry, but I kept brushing it off, sticking my head in the sand, hoping it would just all go away. I called in sick to work, no way I can do that drive today and deal with those mindless zombies today. Plus, the thought of explaining what happened was enough to make me want to crawl back into bed forever and pull the covers over my head and never come out. Ever.
My mind wanders away to last year, this time. Grandpa was dying. He was on oxygen and it really broke my heart to see him like that. He and I talked about his death in a light hearted manor. I would say, Grandpa you better come and visit me, he would say, well after I make a few stops. He would wink at me. I know he wanted to see grandma. She was the true love of his life. Even after she died, he never took his wedding band off. Grandpa was truly an enigma. He was military, (go Navy) and he loved President Bush (which truly made me question his sanity at times). The only reason I can see that he liked Bush, was every year “the white house’ would send him a birthday card that said “Happy Birthday from the White House”. When I would come over to visit, he would wave his birthday card “from the president” proudly in the air like a soldier proudly waving the American flag. Grandpa, I would say, you know those things really aren’t from the actual president. And he would say, no, look, see his picture? His signature is right here! I would just laugh. For as conservative and republican as he was, he also had a bit of “the new agey type” in him, although you would never know it by talking to him. Like once, he told me that his dead brother came to visit him on a cruise ship in his dream. And he frequently told me about visits from grandma where she would “climb into bed with him”…usually at that point I would silently scream TMI! TMI!...but he didn’t mean it dirty or anything. One thing I know for sure, even when you expect death and its knocking on your door waiting to come take your loved one home, you never fully can predetermine the effect it will have on you.
Shortly after Grandpa died, I went into almost a comatose type state. It blew me away. I never thought the finality of this thing called death would hit me hard smack in the middle of my chest and pull me under like a strong current of ocean water. I felt like I was drowning in the silence of emptiness and loss. I had just thought I would brush this off and be like, ok grandpas in a better place now, la di da…but it wasn’t like that at all and the reality of death took me aback. For the next few months I pretty much did nothing except immerse myself in RPG’s. The fantasy became my reality and I distracted myself with role play, a new life, a new adventure. About two months into that, my husband threatened to have me institutionalized if I didn’t snap out of it or go to the doctor. So I went and was prescribed the fix all drug..some random antidepressant with a pretty commercial. The nurse even actually said, oh this works great, it’s the one with the pretty blue butterfly in the commercial. Pretty blue butterflies sounded pretty good at that point so I started taking the pills. Is that reality? Or is that something else? Pills like that alter your thinking, your mind. They make you respond to things differently, make you happy when your not. Make you feel less intensely. Make you numb to whatever reality you are experiencing at this present moment.
I am jolted back into the ‘now’ by a shadow at the corner of my bed. I stare intently into the corner. Nothing I guess. I close my eyes and welcome the darkness that entails. I hear a small noise, like a whispered prayer, like a quiet breeze blowing, yet no windows are open and I feel a tingle run through my entire body. I slowly open my eyes. There, at the foot of my bed is a tall man, a beautiful man. The light attaches to him like its clinging to him for its very existence. It hurts my eyes to look at him directly. He is perfect. He folds his hands and places them on my bed post. He leans down and rests his chin on top of his hands. He has slender long fingers, artists hands. A creators hands. I guess you aren’t here trying to sell me bibles. He gives me a sly smile and the light that surrounds him shrinks back in envy, because his smile alone could light up a small third world with no hope of ever getting electricity. I immediately feel such an immense peace with him. Like I have just come home from a long dusty trip. Like I haven’t felt home, well, ever. He exudes comfort, I resist the urge to crawl up next to him and wrap my body around his. He looks at me directly now with an inquisitive stare. Uhm, I say, who are you?
Who is anyone? He says coyly. We all want to be somebody special..well I am noone special, noone imparticular. For some reason I don’t believe that at all. He looks like God sent him directly from heaven to my bedroom. So, I say, if you wont tell me who you are at least tell me why you are here.
I am here to inspire you. To be your muse, to show you love, to give you laughter.
Uhm are you dead? I said hesitantly….Id been seeing lots of dead people lately, so I though I would just cut to the chase on this one.
The man then let out a hearty deep laugh and that filled me with hope, warm and liquid.
Oh this isn’t good, I thought….
So inspire me…I said or I am going back to bed. I ducted back under the covers and closed my eyes, then barely opened them again, not wanting him to leave my sight, wanting to take him in, every last pigment of his flesh, of his eyes.
He leaned over me an got very close to me and I felt his breath hot on my neck…for a not so dead, not so real guy, he sure was making me feel very very real things at the moment.
Not just yet, he says…not just yet. And he dissipated into the sunlight. Leaving me alone, with my not so pure thoughts. Leaving me a writhing mess.
Well, now ok, dead grandparents one thing, assumed dead greek guy another…
Hot perfect man at the edge of my bed…entirely something different. So he wants to inspire me, good luck with that. You only have about 100 layers of grief angst and numbness to dig through.
Additionally, I briefly consider what my husband would think if I told him there had been a hot perfect man in my bed today. He would probably have me committed. Well at least I would have free cable and possibly a hot meal every night. And who would even care if they were committed if they were visited by people like him.
I force my body out of bed and stumble towards the bathroom. A tingle runs through my hands and arms, and not the good kind of tingle. My hands go numb and I begin to get a little freaked. Well, now this is new. I must be getting old. I shrug it off and head into the bathroom. I pass the mirror on my way there. Who is that girl with the dark eyes and pasty white skin with the dark circles. Who is that girl, anyway. Noone I know. That is for sure.
I continue on my daily routine, very happy to have a day off from the hell that is my work. I decide that today would be a good day just to relax, curl up on the couch and read a good book.
"As for the man who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow lay their hands on him and kill him, they would do so.” Socrates
I grab a book from the shelf and blow the dust off the cover. The dust floats into the air and catches the sunlight as it floats around. When I was a kid, I used to think those dust bits were magical, but you find out as an adult, they are just tiny little dirt pieces. What a disappointment. Its been a while since I had read one of my philosophy books. Considering all the bizarre occurrences lately, I thought this subject matter appropriate, to say the least. I seriously hoped I wasn’t losing my mind. I mean, crazy does tend to run in the family. I think I had a great great grandfather that made some sort of ‘snake oil’ by straining herbs through his underwear. My grandfather always said I reminded him of that particular family member. I wonder if my great great grandfather talked to dead people too? I always wondered if truly crazy, I mean really crazy people (like the straight jacket wearing types) knew when they had crossed the line from normal crazy to beyond crazy. Like the point of no return where your sanity is just a tiny dot on the distant horizon and you know its there but you cant quite make it out anymore. Where is that “point”. I was pretty sure I hadn’t crossed it yet since I was actually thinking about these things. I opened my book and smelled the pages. I love the smell of old books. Like mold and dust and antiquity. There is something special about that smell. I would marry that smell if it were man, I think. I breath deeply and inhale that old book smell and just take it in for a few minutes, I let it resonate within me and I sink into the couch a little deeper. I trace the worn gold letters on the front cover of the book with my finger. They are almost engraved in the cover and the edges of the cover are worn and frayed.
“The complete works of Plato” well nothing like a little light reading in the morning. Ha.
As I start getting into Plato mode, I start to ponder on Plato’s cave and his concept of reality. These thoughts bring to mind the old man in the hospital gown that was chatting me up in the ER waiting room. Is reality one thing or a bunch of things? Plato’s idea married those two concepts. I wonder what Plato’s cave would look like. Some antiquated Matrix-esque type holding tank? A fish bowl with pictures floating around the inside of it. As a matter of fact I think my daughter had a toy like that when she was a baby. It was a globe that projected animal shapes on the wall with colored light. Perhaps that is like Plato’s cave: baby Einstein edition or something or other. I mean babies are little and cant really move around that much, so is that in fact, us forcing an imaginary reality that is very real to them? Are we indeed dulling our children down with false images of colored well light animals dancing on the wall? I shake my head, knowing that I have probably done way more damage to my daughter than any lighted animal globe every could. But is the real lesson for the ‘baby’ that lighted tigers don’t infact, dance playfully around your room, instead, they chase you down and try to make you into a bloody dinner for themselves. Talk about disillusionment. But I guess we do that too, I mean, we adults create this preferred reality where we are told that we should work 10 hours a day, make lots of money, be rich, have 2.5 kids a dog and 2 cats a white picket fence and happiness will ensue. When in reality, our kids turn out to be terrors, the dog bites a neighbor and they sue us, the house payment is late because we live beyond our means, we are tired of the rat race, running in circles with a bunch of pompous corporate zombies, really going nowhere, except in a giant circle. So what is the reality in that? Our friends might look at us and think, wow, so and so has a really nice house and a beautiful family, when in fact we are drowning in our own misery, our wife is ready to leave us, the house is in foreclosure and the dog just peed on your rug. Reality is an illusion at best. Yes I do think Socrates said it best when he said that the men would kill the men that actually showed them “reality” as it is, objectively.
You called? A heavily accented voice said from my right. I look up and there is ER waiting room man sitting next to me in his hospital gown.
Waa? Uhm great, more hallucinations. They even bother me during my philosophical reading time. Nice, next thing you know, they will be getting in the shower with me. (Fingers crossed that it’s the hot man hallucination…evil grin) Sir, I think you are in the wrong place, Maybe he followed me home from the hospital? Maybe he is a pyshcopathic escape from the mental institution. My mind flashed through a dozen or more horror movies I had seen in my lifetime. Luckily, most of the visions contain brain eating zombies, and this guy definitely didn’t look like a zombie.
He looked at me quizzically. Well you are mulling over one of my very favorite subject matters. And yes I did say that, wouldn’t you want to kill the man that showed you his perception of the true nature of reality? If you have only created in your mind, the perfect reality and you are happy there, wouldn’t you want to hard the man that destroyed that?
Our senses do not grasp reality in any way. That is why we should not concern ourselves with the body, because the bodies needs override the souls needs. These two realities are conflicting at best. Our bodies are imperfect, because all of its necessities and desires keep us busy in a thousand ways because of its need for nurture, driven by bestial forces like hunger and sex, where as our souls are perfect. They are the perfect reality because they are not subjected to the trash that the body craves. See?
Uhm, I nod my head and feign acknowledgement. I am still trying to grasp that this guy thinks he is Socrates. A little egotistical, I think. But whatever, maybe he has a knife hidden in his ER gown and he is probably going to kill me anyway. I might as well go with the flow. I study his face. Strong prominent features reminiscent of a Greek statue, deeply worn lines in his face. Kind eyes, soft and brown, filled with promise and they sparkle light there are lights bring shined on him.
Well I don’t think you really understand what I am trying to say, dear. The body is sensory-based which in essence is what causes thing like war, civil discord, and battles. Because mans basic needs drive him to self focus and that causes discord. No reality is possible from sensible objects, and therefore, they cannot be what we seek in our search for truth. Our reality is impeded by them.
Ok so like the reality that I am sitting here with a psychopath is what then? I mean sir, if you are going to murder me, then by all means, do so because its very distracting that a man in a hospital gown is trying to have a philosophical conversation with me. I settle back into the couch, awaiting the plunge of his well hidden knife.
He tilts his head back and bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Tears run down his face. Dear this is no hospital gown, its called a toga. Very fashionable in my time, you know.
Ok now I know this guy is nuts, because I swear I saw the “toga” was split up the back while we were in the ER together. I take a closer look at his :gown”. Well, its not puke green or orange, it was actually a soft white color, like a winter white and it was draped quite nicely over his shoulder. Ok, so he is some weird ex frat boy that grew up and went all psycho from all the hazing…uhm ok.
I raise my eyebrow at him. So you are implying that you are Socrates?
Not implying, dear, I am Socrates. His voice was still tinged with leftover laughter. His eyes were shining brightly full of what I thought was mischief. Yep, definitely an ex frat boy…for sure. Glad he got some more use out of that toga.
So my reality is that I am sitting here talking to a dead greek guy. You are telling me this is real.
What do you think, dear, do you think it is real?
Well it doesn’t make sense, I said, I was getting frustrated now.
No reality is possible from sensible objects, and therefore, they cannot be what we seek in our search for truth. Our reality is impeded by them, do you see? He said with vigor and excitement.
So, what you are telling me, is because it doesn’t make sense, then its more real? Bah…ok now I know he is a looney toon.
All of your knowledge is contained in your soul. You just have to remember it. He said.
Well then why read? If all knowledge is contained in my soul, then why bother reading? I said maniacally waiving my book in the air.
Ahh,,books, well in my day it was difficult, if not next to impossible to get a copy of a book. They were all scribed then and mistakes were made, no matter how careful the scribe was. (tssk tssk he shakes his head). Additionally, when you are reading a book, you are reading an interpretation by that individual, their version of reality, biased by their own biological impediments. That doesn’t mean that the book is the truth. Or rather its that individuals version of their own flawed reality.
Ph my god you are so confusing…I had been playing with my book and slammed it shut, I closed my eyes, my head was starting to pound. I squinted them shut and massaged my temples…I opened my eyes and started to speak and there was noone there. I sat there with my mouth hanging open for a minute, then I slowly shut it.
Ok dead greek guy, fine. Whatever, just spill your philosophical mumbo jumbo on me and then split, Nice.
I needed a nap after that conversation, so I went to lay down. My head was killing me. My vision was acting up again. Oh great, I thought, not this again. Just then, I remembered that fine print on that crumpled up script in my pocket. “If you have any vision changes, please go back to the ER immediately.” Great. I guess I should go back to the ER, my vision certainly wasn’t getting better. I guess they say that for a reason. Probably to get another 250 dollar copay off some poor unsuspecting soul. Well I guess we really don’t have to eat this month. At least ramen noodles are only 99cents for the big pack. I sigh heavily. The last thing I want to do is drag my ass up and go back to the sickly stinky ER waiting room and spend another 250 dollars. I sit in contemplation of eating the ramen noodles for the next month or potentially losing my vision, and I pick the ramen noodles. I throw on a tee shirt and jeans and grab my purse and head towards the door, dreading the drive to the hospital and the chance to yet again, expose myself to some new and nasty disease. Maybe they will give me a discount since I have been here so often lately? Like a buy on get one free or two for one deal…I shake my head at the absurdity and say a quick prayer to the baby Jesus that socialized health care will soon be a reality, then everyone can get “free” equally crappy care. Because obviously my super expensive health insurance is paying for a quack doctor to tell me im an abused wife and give me narcotics or pseudo narcotics that I am not going to take anyways.
I walk into the ER waiting room and check in at the counter. The nervous girl at the counter tells me to take a seat. I grab yet another ancient shredded potentially germ filled magazine from the rack. I take a seat and flip through it randomly. One of the few intact pictures in the magazine is of a beautifully air brushed model smiling with her perfect white teeth trying to sell me some pills that promise to make me as thin and beautiful, if I just buy those pills. After all, they are only 59.00 and if I call now, I get an extra bottle for free. Luckily, I have seen the flip side of magazine model perfect. One of my graphic design teachers in college used to work for a well renowned fashion magazine. They just don’t air brush these girls, they erase entire body parts, extend arms, erase collar bones, anything perceived as unattractive or distracting is obliterated. How is that for reality, Mr Socrates? Ha.
Well, Socrates clears his throat…
Oh great, my delusions are stalking me now. Lovely. Why does it have to be the annoying Greek guy that keeps blathering on about reality? Why not grandpa or the hot perfect guy? At least he looks like he is supposed to be here with his hospital toga on.
You see, that is a perfect example of what I have been trying to relay to you, dear. When driven by the bodies desires. Your soul, has no interest in partaking in this illusion, because its not real. He stops talking and stares at me in quiet contemplation for a moment. He looks smug.
Well I suppose that makes sense. Then why do we try? I ask…why is human nature such the antithesis of what you are telling me? Why do we continuously search for the truth in places where it is fetid by such mass disillusionment.
Excellent question, dear…we will have to explore that later…he says with his darks eyes burning with intellect…
But? I stutter…
The nurse calls my name with an irritated voice. It echoes through the room intermingled with intermittent hacking and wheezing from the other potential patients. I glance over at the nurse who is now visibly pissed off. I glance over at the empty spot that my Greek stalker was sitting and stare at a blank pleather orange chair.
Oh fine..I get up and start walking towards her, I am here. I say. Follow me, she spurts out, exasperated. At that point, I don’t really care that ms pissy nurse has a stick up her butt or something, I am just praying hard to the baby Jesus that I don’t get the abused wife lecture from Dr Cocky again.
Sigh, I try to mentally prepare myself so I don’t start bawling again as soon as the doctor walks in. I read somewhere that if you build a pretend wall in your mind around yourself, that you wont be so emotional and cry so much. As I sit there staring at the curtain, I imagine building a wall, brick by brick. Laying them out one by one and putting the mortar down with a trowel. I sigh and inhale a lungful of sterile, cleaner tainted air and get the urge to spit out the foul smell. Bleh, Hospitals…
A few long disinfected filled minutes later, Doctor cocky waltzed through the curtain. Oh great, Him. Again. Great. Baby Jesus hates me, this confirms it. First thing he does is glance at his watch and he inhales sharply with an irritated sigh. Great, I think. Here is me, again making him late for his Tee time. I mentally finish up my wall and feel like I am preparing myself for battle. He looks at my chart and yet again mispronounces my name. Why are you back here so soon? He says in a snarky egotistical voice.
Well, the paper you gave me yesterday states clearly that if you vision changes, come back immediately to the ER. I say with a matter of fact tone. Hrmp. There doctor smarty pants, what do you have to say to THAT. HA.
You mean to tell me you DROVE here with VISION problems? He says incredulously. He shakes his head and stares at me like I am the stupidest person in the world to ever escape the trailer park. I feel my brick wall slowly being dismantled.
Well I stutter, they aren’t like making me blind or anything, I am just having black flashing, like lights or something. Occasionally it seems like I am seeing things out of the corner of my eyes. (boy is THAT the understatement of the year). Unfortunately, I feel my voice already start to quiver. Great. Some brick wall. All it takes is one stupid comment from one cocky doctor and I am in tears again? I mean, I know I am a sensitive person. I have been known to break down while watching a hallmark commercial or two…but this is ridiculous. At that point I pretty much am tired and confused and I just want to leave. Doctor cocky spends a few more minutes chastising me, then tells the nurse to write me a script, for you guessed it, Vicadin! Yay, another rx I wont be filling.
My head is killing me at this point and I just want to go home and go to bed. Obviously, I should learn the lesson that unless you have a hatchet sticking out of your head, the ER isn’t the place to go if you are sick.
On the drive home, I ponder actually telling my husband about my visitors. I instantly discount it, because he seriously would consider, if not actually commit me into the mental ward. Well now this is a conundrum, I utter to myself in the car. At least the conversations are interesting and mildly entertaining. Maybe grandma will show up again and I can finally get her chocolate pie recipe out of her. She said she would never tell what was in it and we would have to pry it from her cold dead hands…well, maybe I will get that chance! I giggle to myself and the image of me prying a recipe from my grandmothers dead hands is almost too much to take. So sue me, I have a warped sense of humor. It had been a draining day, I just needed to lay down.
I pull in the driveway and make my way towards the bedroom, dropping pieces of clothing along the way, not really caring that I am leaving the house a mess. I crawl into bed and snuggle into my down comforter. I love my bed, I think it’s the closest recreation of the mothers womb that you can possibly obtain in your lifetime. I close my eyes and just as I am about to go to sleep, I feel a hot breath on my neck and the whisper of lips touching my skin. I keep my eyes shut and hope for a brief moment that my imaginary boyfriend has stopped by for a visit. I open one eye and peek out into the room. There he is, laying next to me quietly running his fingers through my hair, leaning in close to me.
Who are you? I say…Are you an angel? Am I dying…Am I going crazy? What would my husband think.
No, no..he laughs and tilts his head at me as if to gain a different perspective on why he is here.
I hate to admit it, but I am glad he is here. His presence fills me with a comfort that I cant entirely explain. I feel a little guilty, but its not really cheating on your spouse if the person isn’t real, right? I try to talk myself matter of factly and explain to me that I am just a nut job having a hallucination, how I need to ignore it and it would go away, whatever it was. But he wouldn’t be ignored. He ran his long fingers down my arms, so very gently caressing me. He was so beautiful I could hardly stand it. I felt my body respond to his touch and could barely contain myself. Finally I couldn’t stand it. The temptation of knowing what it would be like to feel his lips pressed against mine was too much. I leaned in towards him, trying to steal a kiss, and he looked at me quizzically, almost tauntingly and slowly dissipated in front of me. His scent lingered, it smelled like cinnamon and cloves, very earthy, like warm spice tea.
Tease, I said out loud to the empty space that was previously occupied with perfection…Then I sunk back into my bed and completely crashed into a restless sleep, peppered with dreams of know it all Greek guys and hot imaginary boyfriends that wont take to me and tease me into oblivion.
After a few hours of a restless sleep and one hot dream, I get up slowly, feeling antsy and displaced, scattered,. I feel, not quite right. Like I am a viewer to my own life watching this woman wake up and get herself out of bed. I feel disembodied from my physical self, like I am the dream. Like this new reality is just a glimmer on the water and I cant quite make it out. I rub my arms thinking that maybe my circulation is bad and it feels as though they are someone else’s hands touching me. I don’t feel like myself. I decide that I need something to ground me. I walk over to my sketch book and grab one of the smaller pencils and start to sketch. As I draw for the next few minutes, I start to recognize the subject matter. Its him. I get frustrated, because his face in my mind, isn’t cooperating with my pencil and paper. I tear out the drawing I have been working on and crumple it up and throw it on the floor. I continue in this fashion, drawing and crumpling for the next few hours. I am startled out of my obsessive drawing stink by my husband who had walked in the door, recently, I suppose.
Whatcha doin Honig? (honig means honey in German, after one of our stints to Europe we had been calling each other that as a pet name of sorts).
Hmmm? I glanced up at him and felt very discombobulated when I looked at him. I knew him, I knew who he was, but my mind was still trying to place him into this new reality. This ‘now’ that I was experiencing.
What are you drawing? He asked. He had always been supportive of my art, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with him. Hmmm….He picked up a discarded drawing from the floor and gingerly uncrumpled it. Who is this? He asked….One of your boyfriends? He said teasingly….
Uhm no, I…uh…no, its noone. I sigh exasperated. Its all crap anyways, I say. I take the paper from him and crumple it back up and throw it back on the ground.
He looks around at the myriad of discarded papers and the sheer amount of them on the floor startles him, I think. Uhm honey, they don’t have to be perfect, you know. He says gently.
I know, I sigh. Im done for today anyways. He leans over me and kisses me on top of my head. An overwhelming surge of guilt comes over me. Great, I think. Guilt. I have enough of that left over from when I was Catholic. I shake my head, partially in frustration, partially trying to shake the guilt cobwebs from my ex catechism tendencies away into the deeper recesses of my mind. I really don’t have any reason to feel guilty, though. Yet I still do. Stupid Catholics and their stupid guilt. I look around and assess the collateral damage of my drawing failure. FailureS actually, make that failure, plural. Perhaps I feel if I had a successful drawing that would have almost acted like some bizarre homing beacon and he would come back for another visit. I brush off that thought and try to focus on the living breathing man in front of me.
So what do you want for dinner, I ask him. Oh and by the way, I made another trip to the hospital today. I blurt out. My husband looks at me, perplexed. Is everything ok, he asks, concerned? Yeah yeah, I got another rx for vicadin that I wont fill. I sigh, exasperated. Maybe I will start a collection, they might make a nice multi-media art piece? Hmmm
I contemplate that thought in my mind briefly, and an image of the finished work hanging in a museum somewhere in New York or Paris make me giggle. Or perhaps I should start filling the RX and use the pills themselves to make art. Well, the rate I am going, I could have several nice pieces completed in either case in several weeks. I share with my husband my artistic vision for my prescriptions and he laughs. He has such a warm laugh, genuine and sweet. I love to make him laugh. I look at him with a loving glance and turn around to start making some type of semi nutritious meal of some sort.
Hubby leaves to go play with his computers in his office, leaving me to my warped thoughts of pharmaceutical artwork and imaginary, beautiful men that I cant draw worth a crap. I wonder why this guy is showing up. I mean, im fairly happy in my relationship, so I don’t think its my subconscious mind toying with me, or maybe I am just sexually frustrated. I hear that can drive a person insane.
Ah yes liebling, you might have a spot on thought there. Says a voice, thick with a German accent. Oh great, now the Germans are stalking me. What is this, a time warp back to WWII or something? I mean come on…I look up and see who has decided to infiltrate my reality now. A small man, with sunken cheeks and a well trimmed white beard is standing in the kitchen next to me leaning with his back against the sink, one hand proper onto his hip. He is balding and is smoking what looks like a hand rolled cigar, the smoke wafts up into the air, it is a strong acrid tobacco smell with a hint of brandy and cherries.
Perhaps you could divulge to me about your dreams and we could potentially devise exactly what is zee problem, liebling.
Who are you?
Ah zat isn’t zee question, leibling, zee question is vat are you dreaming about. You see, liebling, zee unconscious mind and zee subconscious mind are interconnected. Your dreams are like a map to view your solutions for your problems. Your inner conflicts are manifested in your dreams. You see? He says and takes another puff of his fancy cigar and proceeds to make smoke rings in my kitchen. They float towards me with precision.
You see, he continues, unabashed by my obvious ignorance to what he is saying; psychological energy is constant hence, emotional changes exist only in displacement.
Crap, psychobabble. Who does this guy think he is, Freud or something?
Vhy yes Leibling, that is exactly who I think I am! Very good for you, child.
You see, your ego is constantly battling outside forces.
Outside forces like, oh imaginary people talking to me? I perk up.
What? My husband yells from the back room. Did you say something, Honig?
No dear, just having a conversation with Freud at the moment I mutter under my breath sarcastically.
What did you say? Hubby yells…
Oh nevermind…just talking to myself, I yell back.
Freud is looking at me intently, like he is sizing me up or trying to determine if I need to be. I begin to ponder is my current lack of ability to distinguish between what is real and what is unreal, perhaps its a sign of my impending madness?
Or maybe I just have some unique abilities that have just spontaneously manifested? I heard my great great aunt was a psychic, she was into the writing thing, oh what is that called….its this thing where you contact the “dead people” and they talk to you or something and you hold a pencil and they make it write what ever they want to say. I wonder what my great great aunt would say about THIS!
Perhaps it is a sign of your impending madess says the greek voice..Socrates had decided to join the party.
Freud glances at Socrates and gives him a once over and decides he isn’t really worthy of his attentions at the moment. He turns back to me and says “Are your distinctions of 'real' and 'unreal' appropriate, or is reality simply a spectrum of subjective apprehensions, so that in the end we are all sane, or all relatively mad?”
Oh now that was so helpful I say sarcastically. So I am sane or mad. Six of one half a dozen of another.
Socrates raises his eyebrow at Freud and shakes his head in disdain. Apparently he isn’t thrilled with Freud’s psycho babble either. The room has now become infiltrated with thick cigar smoke and its making it hard for me to breathe. What was earlier a pleasant hint of cherries and brandy is now hanging thick in the back of my throat and is making me gag about every 3rd breath or so.
Is all about the forms you know, states Socrates poignantly.
Forms like the human body? Freud asks…Ya I know a thing two about those…he chuckles to himself obviously thinking himself quite the comedian. I think, dude, don’t quit your day job. Then I think, well technically, that is his day job..as my head fills with the nonsense of this entire situation I shake my head and cough a smoke filled cherry brandy flavored cough.
Well, what DO YOU think forms are? Socrates asks….oh great, the Socratic method in action. Nice…My visions seemed to be enjoying their pompous word off. Each one seemed to have his own arrogance wrapped tightly around him like a well sewn cloak.
Maybe these delusions are just a materialization of my wishful thinking. I immediately discount that idea, because it they were really driven by my desires, I would have mystery man come visit me in my bedroom more often and say screw you to Freud and his stinky cigars and Socrates and his philosophical babbling. Nope, I must be insane, I decide with smug satisfaction. Yep, I probably should just pack my bag for the mental ward and be done with it. I wheeze and cough uncontrollably for a few minutes…
My husband walks quickly into the kitchen, towards me, eyes heavy with concern. You sure your okay? Do you need a glass of water. I nod yes in the middle of the coughing fit and notice that my visitors disappeared. How rude. I thought. My husband grabs a glass from the cabinet and pours me a glass of water.
You okay now? Hubby says still looking at me like I might pass out right in front of him at any given moment.
Im fine, just all that cigar smoke was getting to me. Hubby looks at me with his eyebrow raised, uhm, what are you talking about? I don’t smell anything. I stare at him dubiously for a few minutes and carefully choose my next words. Ooh did I say cigar smoke…oh never mind…I turn around and try to concentrate on finishing my dinner. All the while, seriously questioning my if my sanity was indeed intact.
The next morning, I called in sick again. I knew my boss wouldn’t care, since I never called in sick. My vision hadn’t improved in the last day or so, and it was starting to get to a point where I couldn’t keep ignoring the symptoms any longer. I knew I couldn’t afford nor did I have any real desire to subject myself to the horrors of the ER again. Plus if I see Dr Cocky again, I would probably beat him in the face with his precious golf club.
I turn on my computer and wait for it to boot up. It seems like it takes forever. Finally I see the familiar google homepage. Today they have big birds feet worked into their logo. Nice. First I google local doctors. A giant list populates the screen. I scroll down through several pages and recognize one of the names on page three. Ah, well he is a chiropractor, but what the heck. I hear they can solve all sorts of problems with your body by just adjusting your neck or popping your back into places. Some people think they are quacks. Maybe that was an omen that big birds feet were on google’s homepage? I briefly consider that possibility and the laugh to myself when I realize that my messages seem to have been visiting in “real people’ format lately. Plus big bird doesn’t quack. What is he anyway? A duck? Or what? A giant canary? I google “what is big bird” The wiki says that big bird is probably a giant canary, however, in an episode of Sesame Street Big Bird was asked if he was related to the cassowary, he replied. "I'm more of a condor”….Ok well, so much for solving that mystery. I pick up the phone and dial the chiros number. By some miracle they can squeeze me in at around 200pm this afternoon. I inquire with the receptionist regarding how much the first visit it going to cost me. She says 250 dollars. Great. I briefly wonder if they are in cahoots with the ER. 500 and two trips to the ER has gotten me two unfilled rx’s and an unhealthy obsession with wanting to bash a doctor in the face. I lay down for a while, killing time until my appointment is close. My husband comes home from work early to drive me to the chiro. I certainly don’t want another lecture on driving with deteriorating vision. Plus my vision really does seem a lot worse today. I keep getting what I call “white outs” and I keep thinking I am seeing black cats running out of the corner of my eyes. I giggle to myself, well actually I think I am seeing dead people talk to me….screw the cats, right? Well not literally…eww
We pull up in the parking lot and I notice that my vision is definitely betraying me. I am seeing double now and have some weird tunneling thing going on. My neck hurts, my head feels like someone is driving a screwdriver into the back of it. I feel off balance. I feel like I am floating around outside my body, a voyeur in my own life. Hubby helps me into the office. I sign in and grab a seat. I look around and sigh, well at least this feels more homey than the ER. The chiro office has some type of zen rock water fountain flowing. The office smells like someone has been burning some type of lavender candle. It feels very relaxing, for a dr office. I don’t even bother grabbing a magazine, since my vision is acting so screwy at the moment. I don’t end up waiting very long, the chiro comes to the doorway and calls me into the back, himself. We walk back to the exam room and he asks me a few questions about my health history. Its pretty unremarkable, Ive been pretty darn healthy up until now. When we get to the “mental health” questions, I briefly note that not once do they ask you about any hallucinations that you might be having. Well that’s good. I guess.
The doc asks me some questions about my recent symptoms and I relay to him, everything but the visitations that I have been getting. He examines me closely and pulls out some weird metal thing that he rubs up my arms. It feels cold and weird. Apparently, he didn’t get the response he was looking for, because he shakes his head and repeats the process, running the cold metal rod up my arms. He tests my balance and something he called proprioception…and tsks at me and shakes his head. He says, you are having major neurological problems, I cant actually do any manipulations on you at this point. Also, I need to send you to the ER so they can rule out meningitis, since you are having neck stiffness and cant move your head.
Meningitis?? What? Isn’t that where your spine forms on the outside of your body? Oh no wait that is some other weird medical problem, spina bifida, that’s it…Meningitis, I try to search the file system in my brain for any point of reference. A disease transmitted by mosquitoes comes into mind, but really I have no idea what that is and the thing concerning me most at this point anyways is yet another trip to the ER. I groan with utter angst at the thought of stepping one foot back into that ER.
So what do they do for meningitis in the ER? I ask dr chiro, only listening to half of what he is saying to me. Yadda yadda. They will get you right in…yadda yadda…no waiting….yadda yadda….spinal tap…
Whoa, excuse, me, spinal tap? Isnt that a band or something? They arent actually going to try to stick a needle in my SPINE, are they? Uhm no way jose…not me. With my luck I will get dr cocky trying to stick me right before a golf game and he will get anxious about missing his tee time and paralyze me. No way, no how. (I shake my head NO swinging it back and forth with all the exaggeration I can muster)
He looks at me like I just grew another head. Well, Meningitis can kill you, so the alternative is much worse than the actual spinal tap itself. He sniffs at me, a bit condescendingly, or at least that is how I perceived it. I sit there stewing a bit in my own anger and wonder if this guy has ever had a needle shoved into HIS spine before.
I sigh in resignation and walk out to the waiting room to tell my husband the oh so joyous news that we get to go BACK to the er and spend another 250 dollars, but this time I get to have a needle shoved into my spine! I can hardly contain my excitement.
Luckily, the chiro comped our visit since he didn’t really touch me, so that was 250 less that I spent on medical visits today. I try to begin to mentally prepare myself for the ER visit and find that I am shaky and sweating. My anxiety level is shooting through the roof. I am having a hard time catching my breath and this time I cant blame it on imaginary cigar smoke.
I felt fear overwhelm me and start to clamp its slimy hands around my throat, making it even harder to breathe. We pull into the ER waiting room again and I do a quick scan of the ER for Dr Cocky. I swear to the little baby jesus, that man, will not be poking a needle into MY spine. I would rather die a slow painful death from spinal bifida menengitis-whatever disgusting disease that life throws my way. Hrpmph. I cross my arms with fetid satisfaction and sat down yet again, feeling like I was going to pass out at any given minute.
I knew my husband wouldn’t go back into the room with me. His unnatural fear of hospitals was going to make me a spinal tap widow. I was going to have to go this one alone for sure. They call my name quickly and a nice looking nurse lady ushers me back to what looks like a “real” hospital room. I see a cold steele table and lots of sterile looking accoutrements lying about. Cotton balls, swabs of all sizes and things I didn’t recognize dotted the counters. A really young doctor came into the room. He was a really little man. He reminded me of that kid neil whats his face that played on some tv show when I was a kid about a kid being a doctor. Anyway, his apparent lack of age was distracting to say the least.
Im here to do your spinal tap. He says anxiously, like a mouse that was just busted for grabbing some cheese off a trap. I wondered what straw he drew to end up with this task. But I supposed in an ER there were way worse things you could do than oh, potentially paralyze someone. Just the thought of that, made me start sweating like a pig and shaking like crazy. I got that ever so pleasant disembodied feeling sweep over me again. Good, maybe I will pass out and not remember anything.
Hey doc, any chance you could give me some really good drugs for this? I say, half joking, half serious. Actually, I am100% serious. I start to fantasize about the drugs the dentist gives you when he pulls out your wisdom teeth. Yes I think those are the drugs I would like. After all, I’ve more than paid for them with all my 250 dollar copays lately.
He stares at me blankly for a minute, I can only assume he is thinking I am some maniac druggie at this point, then he turns his back to me to go get the nurse. It bothers me that he doesn’t look all that concerned about potentially paralyzing me.
I am laying there on the cold steel and it is freaking freezing in here. The hospital gown that they gave me provides me little comfort or coverage. Its not like I am expecting to be the epitome of fashion here, but geez, man, can't they at least line these robes or something? Im shaking violently and I am not sure at this point if it is from the cold or the fear that is consuming me. I hate feeling this exposed. I hate putting my health in the hands of someone, whose competence I know nothing about. I have never been too impressed that someone carries the word ‘doctor’ as a title. Maybe I should be. But doctors are humans; they make mistakes just like everyone. They have hopes, fears and dreams just like all humans do, except doctors get cocky and are card carrying members to the God Complex Club. They think because they went to school and make six figures that they don’t need to pay attention, to be courteous, to connect. Perhaps I am being too judgmental; I know that not every doctor is like that. I certainly hope that doogie howser isn’t like that, since he will soon be jabbing me with sharp objects. I guess I can also be thankful that Dr Cocky got a day off. I try to breathe deeply to calm myself, but now I just want to throw up. I close my eyes and a bead of cold sweat escapes the refuge of my forehead. I tell myself, that this too shall pass, but I am not so sure that it will pass quickly enough for my satisfaction.
Doogie walks back in the room. He is carrying a package with what looks like an extra large needle in it, in his hand. He asks me to lie on my right side in a fetal potion. The nurse places her hand on my leg, she has a calming energy about her, a kind aura that gives me some comfort. Doogie pulls out the needle, I hear him tear open the wrapper, I peek over my shoulder to try to steal a glance. As soon as I see it, I realize it was a big mistake. I start to hyperventilate when I see the massive needle in his hand. Nurse utters something in a soothing voice, I am not quite sure what she is saying and at this point I don’t really care. I try really hard to resist the urge to get up and run out of the room. Doogie is feeling my back. I hear him saying something to himself and he is pushing my spine around with his fingers. I try really hard to contain my anxiety and fear. I feel sick. Doogies hands stay in one spot for a moment, pushing my spine inwards. His hands are soft. I wonder how old he really is. I feel the needle stick me. Damn, he says, frustrated. Sometimes it takes several tries to get it into the proper spot.
Several times? I feel the earth turning black with just that one poke. I don’t think I can handle several times. I feel half lucid. I feel clammy with fear and I am shaking violently. He pokes me again and misses. Damn he says again. Can you turn a little to the left, like lean in…there that’s it.
I feel like I am going to vomit. I don’t think I can handle anymore. He sticks me again, this time I feel a massive pressure dominate my spine. I feel my world darken even more. I think I'm passing out. Maybe that is a good thing.
Damn the dr says..
Oh no, not again..I think to myself….
Your spinal fluid just shot across the room. You should probably lie there for a bit after we are done. You must have been having some serious pressure problems.
My spinal fluid shot across the room? Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound right, even to me.
I start to get a massive headache. This one is different that the ones I have been having.
Doogie removes the needle from my back and I feel myself start to heave. Uh oh I think.
I throw up all over the nurse and immediately feel guilty. I start to cry. I am overwhelmed, in pain and my spinal fluid is shooting places where it shouldn’t. I feel drained. Shhh she says, its okay, you aren’t the first person today, even, to do that. She has really kind eyes. Why can't she be the doctor? I think she would make a good one.
I feel light headed and my vision is tunneling even more. Just before I pass out, I catch one final glimpse of the nurse, before the darkness consumes me.
I open my eyes. I don’t see anything. Its dark. I am disoriented and shaky, and worse yet, alone. I hear noises, crying, rustling papers, moaning. I smell disinfectant. Someone was kind enough to put a warm blanket on me. I am brimming with confusion. I can't think, my brain feels like its full of marshmallow fluff, sticky, gooey, clogging every thought with sugary goop. I have a headache and my back aches with a dull reminder of the needle that recently became acquainted with me in an intimate, painful fashion. I struggle to sit up. I hear a voice…. No no not just yet, you have another 30 minutes left, lay back down. I feel hands adjust the pillow under my head. I recognize that voice, its hubby.
Hmm, I wonder how bad it actually was for him to brave the back rooms of the ER for me. Whats up with my vision? I ask him. He says he doesn’t know and shrugs in a helpless way. At this point I'm not too worried. Not yet. Dr Doogie comes into the room, just a few minutes later. He tells me I need to see an Ophthalmologist, a neurologist and another “gist” I don’t even know what that one does. They want me to go as soon as possible to the optho. The minutes tick by slowly. They finally release me and my hubby helps me out to the car.
I call the Optho on my cell after deciding to pony up for the 1.50 for the 411 call. I'm still disoriented and can't see worth a crap. I seem to be able to make out some shapes, here in the daylight, but over all..nadda. I wonder if Dr Doogie hit a nerve or something when he was poking around in my spine. The optho can fit me in this afternoon, but I am not really feeling up to it. I am feeling, weak and shaky, drained to say the least. I concede to see him first thing in the morning. For now I just need to go home and sleep, perhaps, dream of something better than spinal taps and ER’s.
The next morning, I have a killer headache. Overall, I feel better I suppose, but my vision is still hosed up. My balance is off. My arms are numb again and my back hurts where they poked me. Im laying in bed wishing that someone would meander in and chop my head off or something equally as final. I close my eyes and wish I could even muster the strength or desire to pray, but I just want to die. I lay back into the bed and try to relax..and then I smell it…that strange male scent of cloves and cinnamon wafts into my personal space and envelopes me like a cloak. I look up and he is there.
Why are you here? Why are you showing up lately? Why? I need to know…is it to purely torture me? I feel the air grow thick with electricity. Maybe he is a hallucination, maybe he is real, does it really matter when he can infiltrate all my senses all at once? I feel much apathy regarding this situation. Apathy and tingling. Is that even possible.
He just grins and his gaze goes right through me like a hot knife into butter. Apparently, he doesn’t feel the need to justify his presence, because he sits there cross legged on my bed smiling. He tosses his head to the side and casts a sideways glance at me. He reaches out and grabs my arm and flips it over and looks as if he is trying to decide which vein to stick a needle into. He takes his finger and slowly traces an imaginary line from the inside of my elbow to my wrist. He leans over and presses his lips to the inside of my wrist. His lips are warm and when they make contact with my skin, it makes me feel alive and makes me want to melt into him and forget the world.
I let out a huge sigh. Its mixed with exasperation, relief, anguish and frustration like someone took all my emotions, ripped them out of me and threw them in a blender and hit puree.
I don’t even know who he is, or what he is, but I want him. And stranger yet, I want him to want me. I cant tell if I want him because he seems to be some sort of angelic security blanket or if he just sets me on fire just by looking at me. I hadn’t been looked at that way in a while, at least, not by my husband. Just thinking of my husband right now makes me wince with guilt.
Ack! Just tell me your name, for God’s sake. You do have a name, don’t you?
He looks at me inquisitively and shakes his head, which looks like something between a yes and a no, like he is playing with me for his sheer amusement.
Uhm, ok then, no name. Fine. Be that way.
I know my limitations here, I cant take much more of this. He is driving me insane slowly, minute by minute, with every encounter. Or perhaps that is my problem. I am going insane. That has to be it.
I still don’t know where that line is, between sanity and insanity. I mean the other day for example I am watching the news and there, right there on the TV is a man who just shot up a bunch of people. I mean that guy was a little kid once, playing in the sand with his tonka toys. He was or is someone’s son or husband. Where is that line between sanity and insanity and how do you know if you have crossed it? Im sure that baddie didn’t just want to kill’m’all from the time he was a kid? What happened?
What about me? The only person I want to kill is myself at this point, and only because of the pain. I love life. I love a pain free life I can barely remember. What is that anyway. What does that feel like. Its such a distant memory I cant even comprehend the idea of it.
I look over at him and his presence fills my view. Still here, huh…I think maybe he has a message for me. So uh, I ask, are you a messenger? I think maybe he has some profound words for me like Socrates or Freud…or maybe he is my link to my most primal self. The ID as Freud would say. Maybe he is my grounding to reality. Something I can feel. Or maybe he is a cool salve for this pain Im in. Emotional pain, physical pain. I know CS Lewis said that grief is like fear. I cant tell where one ends and the other begins.
But he makes it go away or at least temporarily go into a eternal holding pattern.
I just want to kiss him again. I feel if I can kiss him, I can possess him and if I posses him, he will make it all go away. I cant believe I am in this much pain and thinking like this. Its contradictory and I feel like I am in some grand mirage in my own bedroom. But his touch is real. So real it scares me. The way he looks at me, makes me feel things I had forgotten I could feel, in spite of the pain….
I hear a knock at my door…are you ready yet?
Its hubby. I look back and he is gone. The fantasy. Poof. Gone. I wonder where he goes when he isn’t here and if he thinks about me. I wonder why he comes in the first place.
I try to gain what little composure I have left and mumble something about needing to find my shoes. I get up and feel like I am prying every molecule off the comfort of the bed and forcing them at gunpoint to go into the world. I stumble over my shoes. I am still not used to my vision being so screwy.
We make our way to the nuero-opthomologist. His office is plain but clean. There is only one other lady in the waiting room and she has big black patches over both eyes. Im pretty sure she isn’t a vision from the beyond. Visions don’t wear patches over their eyes. At least I don’t think they do. The neuro-optho calls me back. I tell him about my recent forays with the ER and the Chiro. He seems concerned. He looks in my eyes with this big machine that looks like a futuristic microscope and tells me to read some letters. Then he puts some weird drops in my eyes that sting a little. He looks in my eyes and takes some pictures of my optic nerves or something. He disappears for a while to examine my images. I look around for a magazine and all I see is AARP and Golf Daily. Bleh…Boring. I glance around and barely make out what I think are legos on the floor and quickly contemplate playing with them for a while, when the doc comes back in.
He comes in and sits on the spinny stool beside me. He clears his throat and says. I am not trying to alarm you but I think you might possibly be exhibiting signs of MS or a brain tumor. Oh no, that doesn’t alarm me at all (sarcasm here). What? MS? Is that the telethon guy with the kids, like Jerry’s kids or something? No I don’t think that’s it…But Now that I contemplate it, isn’t everyone with MS in a wheelchair? And a brain tumor? What? I mean, don’t get me started on that! A freaking brain tumor???? I saw a show once with a girl that had a brain tumor. She was 16 and she had to shave her head to get them to take it out. She had surgery right before prom and all her friends shaved their heads. Afterwards there was a picture of her with a big pink prom dress, wearing a corsage in the hospital room. With her shaved head and a massive scar and staples and stitches poking out of the incision. The idea of two trains of thought so utterly different and pink dresses and black stitches made me shake my head with the absurdity of it. Plus, I didn’t think any of my friends would shave their heads for me. I doubted anyone really liked me enough to say goodbye to their locks. But who knows? I wonder if I would shave my head for anyone. How shallow am I, anyways. I mean, its just hair right? It grows back. An image of another grandparent comes into my mind. He had cancer and had to have chemo and lost his hair. The chemo and radiation destroyed him. It melted his body. It made him a doll, like the kind that you make out of dried fruit with raisin eyes and puckery dried apple skin. I didn’t even recognize him after all the treatments. Would I take chemo and radiation if I had a brain tumor? Are they all cancerous? Amazing how a person can have so many thoughts in what seems like an eternity and yet, only a few minutes had passed. I feel like I aged ten years sitting there in that chair. I feel all my thoughts run towards each other at lightening speed. I feel like my head is going to explode.
The doc says, depending on what we are dealing with, don’t be surprised if you lose your vision completely and permanently. I don’t mean to scare you, but it’s a possibility. I suck in my breathe. Im an artist, I cant lose my vision. It’s the very lifeline of my reality. I think I would rather lose and arm. My vision? I need that to see my daughter grow up and watch her dance at her wedding. My vision? I need that like I need air. Like I need to fill my lungs with this retched oxygen to survive. I cant lose my vision. I read too. Are we talking Braille and blind schools. A memory of the episode of Little House on the Prairie quickly flashes through my mind. It’s the one where Mary looses her sight completely. She freaks out and then sits in a chair feeling sorry for herself for most of the next episode. It almost makes me laugh for some warped reason, but I don’t. the laughter reaches my throat and gets caught there. I want to vomit.
I remember a time when I was a lot younger. I was traveling in the South of France. I had been hitchhiking and we had stopped at “the popes castle” Its where the pope hid out during the war. Not sure which one, probably world war II. There were such beautiful gardens there. And something about the way the sun envelops everything with such a soft gentle light makes everything seem ethereal. The air smells like sunflowers and lavender. There are beautiful vineyards skirting the country side. I am quite sure heaven will be a lot like the south of france. In the area surrounding the popes castle, there was a statue covered in pigeons. Lots of them with of course, copious amounts of pigeon poop all over it. But there were also street artists hanging out doing their art. One guy was working in chalk. He was drawing the most beautiful rendition of the virgin mary and her child. It looked to me like it was made from stained glass. But one artist stood out even more than the other. He was a little dirtier and a little more unkept that the others. He was working in small scale oils. He was blind and had no hands. At first I thought there was no way he could have created those pictures. But he actually started painting right there. He used his mouth. Persistence is an interesting commodity.
I suppose I should just accept this possibility and “put on my big girl panties” so to speak. Some people have no patience for people who handle things like this, badly. I should be strong and optimistic. But I don’t feel strong and I don’t feel optimistic. I feel worn and overwhelmed and scared. I feel hopeless and tired at the mere thought of attempting to deal with the unknown. I feel scared. I feel fear echoing to the core of my soul. I try to talk to myself and tell myself things like “there are people that get worse news than this” or “there are people dealing with horrific things like genocide or losing a child” none of which I have experienced or have any reference point in my life to that. But What I am feeling is still real. Its still a tangible pain to hear news like this.
So what is the next step. I ask the doctor after inhaling what feels like a most tortured last breath. He says I need an MRI and medication and a CT Scan and some other scarily acronymed medical tests, in order to confirm, exclude and examine all possibilities. Meanwhile, he is going to put me on meds that may hopefully help my vision regain, some or all. Maybe. That word elicits a wave of hope, like a fresh breeze on the most hot and humid day of the year. It washes over me and I feel a tiny spark inside my chest. Not much, but I cling to it like a frightened child to its mother seeking comfort in a most primordial way.
The optho pulls his pen from behind his ear and starts to make notes on his papers. He scribbles out a few scripts. Most of them have lots of unfamiliar acronyms on them. He tell me his secretary will take my copy at the window (another 40$ yay!) and she will schedule the MRI at the hospital for me.
My husband doesn’t really say anything on the drive home. He isn’t the most verbal person in the world. Sometimes I feel if I had a pet rock with google eyes on it, I would get more empathy. Sometimes, I feel like talking to him about anything important is like talking to a piece of very unresponsive dry wall. I am sitting there in the front seat of the car. My knees are pulled up to my chest and Im sitting in a slanted awkward fashion for a ride in the car. I just feel like if I can get my body small enough to disappear I wont have to deal with this. If I can just leach some comfort from my own flesh, I can possibly breathe.
I feel that overwhelming sadness creep into the dark recesses of my soul. That darkness and depression. I tell myself I have to snap out of it. I don’t even know what I am dealing with at this point. I wish at this point I could assume the life of someone else. Someone who lives in ignorant bliss, someone who’s heart has a white picket fence gently built in the meadows around it. I feel like I am slipping away from myself. I have had the disconnected feeling for a while now. Im numb and not sure if its from MS, a brain tumor or just not being in touch with me or what.
I saw a show about a girl who cuts herself once. As in, cuts herself with razor blades, t or the edge of a safety pin or anything sharp she can find sometimes. Her arms were covered with scars, horrible white, jagged scars. Some deep and bright. Some faded and barely there. She said she felt numb and needed to cut her self to feel SOMETHING. To remind herself that she was alive she needed to see blood. To feel the pain. It released anxiety. Im sure it released some endorphins or something too. I totally get that. Im not cutting myself up or anything. I mean, I am sure with all these tests they are giving me, I will have copious amounts of pain my future. But I get it. I get that need to connect to something that makes you feel real.
We get home. I feel like a matrushka doll, one of those Russian dolls you know, where you see one big one and open it up and you keep opening them until you have about 10. Then, when you think its impossible there will be more, you find that last one. The teeny tiny one whose details you can barely see. Each doll disconnected from the next. Each one barely aware of the others existence, yet, there she is, Right inside her.
My husband leaves to get grab us a late lunch. I feel very alone once he is gone. The silence is devastating. I make myself a cup of my French press coffee and decide that I don’t want it, after I go to the trouble to make an entire pot. I feel almost unworthy to drink this pretentious coffee. I mean, something has to be wrong with me. Like I must have done something in a previous life to deserve this. At that point, I shake my head like I am trying to permanently get these thoughts out of my skin. I need some peace inside my head. I need, God I don’t know what I need. Faith perhaps? Positive thinking classes? Who knows?
I barely catch the blob that looks like an orange cat out of the corner of my eye. Stupid eyesight failing me. A orange blurr whizzes by, there it goes again. This time I turn my head in time to see what I can make out as a black cat sitting there licking its paw. It looks up at me slowly and stops in mid lick. He looks as surprised to see me as I am him. He walks over to me and purrs and rubs his body against my leg. Ok…I like cats and all but where the heck did this one come from? An escapee from the local pound? I know my husband had nothing to do with it. He is allergic to them, and oh yes, exudes and utter hatred for them.
I am really perplexed by the appearance of the cat. He is purring loudly like he has a motor inserted under his skin. He looks like Morris from those old kitty chow commercials, or was it Purina? He looks a bit ragged like he has been around the feline block a time or two. He jumps up on the counter and resumes licking his fur. I wonder if he is real or imaginary. I poke him with my forefinger to test his solidity. Hey! He says… Ok now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have lost my mind. Now why would you do a terribly rude thing like POKE me? He asks incredulously? Oh yep, Im mad. I say.
Yes yes, we are all mad here. He smirks and I raise my eyebrow at him. So what, So I “borrowed” that phrase from the Cheshire cat. Lovely fellow really. Not all there, most of the time though. (he giggles, which comes out like a bizarre noise like a cross between a purr and a giggle, which, I think, would that make it a purggle?)
Sorry for poking you, but how else will I know if your real or not? I say
How do you know if you are real or not, he says countering my question with a question. He suspiciously seems to be “borrowing” the Socratic method from our well loved and ever irritating dead Greek guy. I know I am real because I breathe. I guess. Saying it outloud yet not really buying it myself.
I had a friend once that used to argue that I couldn’t prove Australia was real because I had never been there. That all the images of the Outback I had seen of TV could have very possibly been contrived, made up, faked. How can you prove something exists that you cant touch or see or feel. I think reality extends beyond the senses. Its stretches into faith, and skews itself with our won personal filters that we all wear like armor over our bodies.
The cat looks at me leans down to lick his paw and says, you know, you really should get over yourself.
That comments takes me aback and I shake my head, not understanding what he means by that comment.
He says, I mean, YOU human, should get over yourself. There are other people that suffer every second of every day because of someone else’s actions. There are people who cant even perform a daily task like making coffee. People that have never seen their children, or cant have children. You don’t even have a firm diagnosis and already your world is crumbling around you.
And what, pray tell, does a CAT know about human suffering. I am beginning to slowly understand why my husband hates cats. They are cocky pretentious judgmental snobs.
And anyway, I know all that. There are some people winning the lottery right now too and this orange irritant isn’t mentioning them. There are some people that are living in houses with proverbial white picket fences and people that live charmed lives. There are people that aren’t losing their vision and being poked with needles in their backs.
I am a bit irritated with the entire conversation. I wonder why Alice gets the fun loving, albeit mad Cheshire cat and I get this raggedy orange bossy feline. Im still tired, mentally and physically from the entire situation. I don’t even have enough brain function to form coherent words to even match his verbal banter.
Don’t you have better things to do? I ask, I know I sound put off. Probably because I am put off. He is just sitting there licking himself. All I am saying, he purrs, in between licks, is that you need to keep things in perspective. Now is not the time to loose your head. He purr-giggles. Yes yes, I know, quoting the Cheshire cat again. Oh you are so funny.
And with that I look at him and his head slowly vanishes in front of me, about 3 seconds before the rest of him disappears.
I call my boss and tell her I need to file for short term disability. I know my doctor will sign the papers and quite frankly, I need to figure out what is going on with me and why my vision is slowly slipping away. I feel so ancy like even if I just knew what was going on with me that would be half the battle. Like that would be something, at least I would know what I was up against. Even if its horrible, it is better than the unknown. This not knowing is slowly driving me insane.
I pick up the phone again and call the hospital to make an appt for my MRI. I ask them if I need a sedative and they say, not unless you are claustrophobic. I have no idea if I am claustrophobic or not. I can remember when I was five I was playing hide and seek with my sister. I ran down the cement stairs we had at my childhood home and saw there was an old fridge there. I climbed in it and shut the door. Back in those days, when you shut a fridge door, you couldn’t open it from the inside and if you tried to yell, no one could hear you because they were also sound proof. I was there for a few minutes, not realizing that I was in a very dangerous situation. I tried the handle and remember the panic set in almost immediately when it wouldn’t open. My mother came down and got me out. I don’t know why. I asked her about that years later and she said her instincts kicked in and she couldn’t find me. Which is weird. But I don’t think I have any distressing childhood trauma left from that situation. Maybe I should take the sedative just in case I react badly. The receptionist tells me to bring my ipod with me so I can listen to music if I want to. So far its not sounding that bad. Ipod, sedatives, hmmmm. I can do this. The MRI will be of my head but maybe it wont be that bad. She says she can work me in tomorrow. So I fumble for a pen from the cup on the counter and try to jot down the appt time, I hope that my crappy writing will suffice enough for my hubby to read it. I cant really make it out. But it felt right when I wrote it down.
I think at this point I need a nap. All the stress and guilt trips from said orange cats made me really tired. At what point do I mention to my husband that I seem to be hallucinating? At what point to I want to go live in the nut house, I ask myself. Well Its probably better just to keep quite. But I question my ability to keep my mouth shut.
When he comes home later that evening, post nap, I had started dinner the best I could. I think about telling him again. I mean maybe something is really wrong with me? I don’t know. I still feel sane. Whatever that means. I take a breath and say, you know honey, I have this friend who is seeing weird things. What kind of things, he asks half listening to me as he plays his newest app download from the online app store. I hope that was free I think as I watch him ignore me in leui of killing the baddies or whatever he is doing. Are you listening to me? I ask, irritated. Yeah yeah a friend, seeing things, what things he asks again. Oh like dead people talking to her and stuff. I say. I mean do you believe in that stuff? I ask point blank. Eh he says I don’t know. I mean, I watch that one guy John whats his face and see how he talks about peoples relatives telling them they love them and all that stuff, but it all seems kind of contrived. That pet psychic lady is much more entertaining. But who really cares if your poodle doesn’t like her food and likes it when you call her schnookems… he laughs heartily for a second and then goes back to his game on his phone. I hear a noise come from it that sounds like his character died or something. Something equivocal to the noise pac man makes when one of the ghosts gets him. Bloop bloop bloop blooooooooooooooop. Hmmm. He grumbles and looks irritated, then starts a new game.
I start to feel a bit irritated at being ignored, so I say, well what if I told you I saw my dead grandparents in this kitchen the other day? Hmmm? I ask…then I sit back smugly and wait for him to jump up and say WHAT???? Then hurriedly whisk me off to the looney bin.
But in reality, he just shrugs and half laughs, all the while not even looking up and attempting eye contact with me. Yes I say, undeterred and irritated even more now. I hate feeling ignored. Yes my dead grandmother was doing my dishes and my dead grandfather was sitting right where you are and offered me a banana, practically forced me to eat one.
There. I thought. Hrmph. My husband glances at me briefly and raises and eyebrow at me. Yeah right, he says. I would ask you what crack have you been smoking today, “if” you told me that, that is. He stops talking for a second and looks at me, like it’s the first itme he has seen my face since he has been home. He must have seen something in it that cued him in on the fact that I was serious. Because his entire demeanor changes. He cocks his head at me and bites his lip in contemplation. Well, you have been stressed out lately with all this medical stuff that you have been going through.
Yeah no shit, I think sarcastically to myself. I am still annoyed at him for ignoring me.
Just shake my head in exasperation and yell over my shoulder about the MRI appt tomorrow. I ask if he can take me and he says ok but this is the last day he can take off to run me around for my appts.
Run me around!! For my appts! I think incredulously. I mean really? If I could drive myself I would. But I can barely freaking see. So…oh my god, really??? I turn around and head for the bedroom, giving the door a good slam for emphasis and I sit down in a huff on the bed. See if I finish cooking YOU dinner, I think to myself. Ugh men sometimes can be so freaking insensitive. I take a deep breath and let out a huge sigh. Ugh…The thought at never being able to drive again makes my feel claustrophobic. I let out a laugh thinking it odd that the MRI doesn’t scare me but the thought of being trapped in the house, completely at the whim of others scares the holy hell out of me. I am already so bored and frustrated. I lay back and try to relax. Apparently I am more exhausted than I thought because I fall asleep almost instantly. My dreams are filled with angst. I dream that I am in India for some reality show. I meet and Indian guy, and older man that wears a nice well fitted suit. Everywhere around us is in shambles, the truest picture of the slums of India. But this man has a nice house and a big family. His mother wears a brightly colored sari and has a large gap in between her front teeth. There is talk of shopping and spending and yet all around us is poverty and hunger. Its shocking how much detail my mind is creating. I have never been to India and from what I see here, with all the hunger and poverty, I don’t think I want to go. The man turns to me and says, see? You think you have it bad, do you see that mother washing her clothes in that river over there? She has already lost one of her children to dysentery. Her other children are starving. Her husband is dead. She spends her days barely surviving, working longs days cleaning out the public toilets with her bare hands and a make sift broom and yet, she is still happy. I look at the woman, she is smiling. I am sorry, I don’t buy it. She cant be happy. She has to be utterly miserable. Or maybe she is happy because she doesn’t know any better. Maybe she is just glad that she isn’t dead. Or maybe she wishes she was.
I turn to the man and say, you are one to talk standing there in your fancy suit, your mother nicely dressed, why don’t you do something for that woman? You are here. I am not. Because we all have places in this world, roles to fill, things to do…we have to accept our place with grace and dignity no matter what happens to us, or where we find ourselves. I am put off by this man, I just want to wake up. This is depressing me even more. Why am I being tortured by these stupid quasi philosophers, and dead people and felines.
I wake up to a gently knock on the bedroom door. Its my husband. He cracks open the door, and says that he didn’t mean to upset me. He was just a little shocked when I told him I was seeing my dead grandparents. Ha, you are shocked, I thought to him. So, I say, what do we do about this. Well, he says first things first, you have to get your physical stuff taken care of. I mean we need to deal with what is in front of us at the moment.
Fine I say, I wont bring it up anymore. I still am feeling irritated from my dream and make a mental note that I really never want to go to India for any reason. I hope my MRI goes well. I remember an episode of House I saw once that showed a guy getting an MRI and he had a metal implant in his leg that the doctor overlooked. It started pulling it out through the guys skin. I briefly wonder if the MRI will try to pull my IUD out through my uterus. I shudder at that horrid thought. Well, it is made out of metal. I guess its only large quantities or something. I will be sure to notify them of my IUD.
The next morning I make my way with my hubby to the hospital. I have my ipod fully loaded with soothing songs. Im still wondering if my IUD will be ripped through my uterus…I shudder. It really is a grotesque thought. We pull up into the driveway of the hospital. They should keep a room here just for me since I come here so often. I am scared and not really looking forward to this. There are a million other places I would rather be. I walk into the xray dept and hand the receptionist my script. She reminds me of the receptionist in the movie Beetle juice. The one that slit her wrists and ended up doing public service in the purgatory waiting room for eternity. The thought of that alone makes me revoke the idea of suicide indefinitely. They call me back and I am asked to strip down to a gown. I ask the lady about my IUD and she looks at me in a weird way. I say, well I think it is metal, right? All the while that image of the House episode is fresh in my mind. She says no I don’t have to worry about that. So there will be no ripping utereus today for me. Yay. I think sarcastically. I get naked and put my gown on. The thought of all the gross sick people that have worn this before me goes through my mind and I briefly consider asking what their decontamination process is in the laundry dept. but I figured she would send me straight to the phych ward and with my recent history I decide to suck it up and keep my mouth shut. I hate being such a germophobe. I know I passed that trait down to my daughter. I remember when she turned one years old. I bought her a tiny cake just for her to dive into. I wanted that typical picture of the kid with all the cake all over them grinning with brightly colored icing covering their face and hands. She takes one look at it and sticks her first finger into it ever so gently and then offers her icing covered finger to me for a taste. I walked over and got a glob of icing on my finger and put in on her nose. She looked at me like I just smacked her. That started the biggest temper tantrum meltdown that I had ever experienced. You could just tell the kid didn’t like being dirty.
The nurse comes back in the room and asks me to lie on the table. I lay down on the table and take a deep breath. I put my earphones on and she explains to me that it will be about hour and a half or so. She explains that the machine is really loud and occasionally she will be talking to me through a microphone to check on me or give me directions.
The machine starts to slide me into the tube and I close my eyes and press play on my ipod. Enya starts to sing the song “Exile” and I feel instantly relaxed. That is one of those songs that really strikes me deep in my soul and I feel and immediate calming sensation. My eyes are still closed. This isn’t so bad I think to myself. Then I decide to take a peek. I crack one eye open and the wall of the tube is about an inch from my face. I start to immediately panic. My breathing is getting raspy and heavy and fast. I feel trapped and like I am being buried alive. The sensation is overwhelming. I close my eyes tightly and try to imagine that I am someplace else. I scan the recesses of my brain to try to think of the most relaxing wonderful place I have ever been. I still hear Enya’s soothing magical voice in my earphones. My first date with my husband comes to mind. We went to the Dali museum in St Pete. That is one of my most favorite places on earth. It is magical and quiet and dark. The master paintings loom over you and make you feel like you have stepped into another world. It smells good in there. Like a library and a church. Like old books and faint incense. In my minds eye I see Dali with his handlebar mustache and think about him driving around in a limousine full of cauliflower, and wearing a deep sea diving suit to give his lectures in. Then I think of his love for Gala. She seems like she is his anchor to reality. His tangible safe house. You can feel the love that he has for her echo in his paintings of her. Oh to be loved like Gala is loved. You wonder what she thought being married to such an eccentric soul like Dali. I remember at the museum they told us that Gala picked out that spot for the museum. She picked it because it was so much like Dali’s childhood home in Cadaques Spain. The water and the boats and the bluest sky you have ever seen on a good day. The water is beautiful and the wind is sweet. I wish I was there now. I hear the MRI start making a different loud noise now. I wonder why it is so noisy? I can barely hear my music now anyway over the series of loud thumps. I cant wait until this is over. The lady’s voice comes on over the speaker and asks me if I am ok. I say not really but do I have a choice? She asks me what is the matter and I say nothing, I just wish I would have gotten the sedative. My eyes are still tightly shut. I have no desire to feel like I am trapped in a coffin again, and just the thought of opening my eyes, brings a fresh surge of panic. I mentally try to refocus myself again. I ask the lady how much longer I have and she says about 45 minutes. Give or take. I don’t know if I have it in me to make it that much longer or not. I am breathing shallow still and I can vaguely hear one of my favorite Dead Can Dance songs ever so slightly in the background. I try to focus on that but now the MRI is making a whole slew of different loud obnoxious noises. I cant believe that they actually make people do this. I think our government could probably use this to torture people to get them to divulge secrets, because I think it might compare to Chinese water torture on some level. The lady comes on the intercom again and asks me to hold my head really still and I have about 10 minutes left. Good, ten minutes, anyone can get through ten minutes of anything, right? I mean ten minutes is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I hear the percussion of the Dead can dance song in between crazy noises that sound like a semi repeatedly running over a herd of cows. Finally I am finished. I make a mental note to never get another MRI unless I am dying, sedated or both. I ask the nurse on my way out when I would get my results and she said my doctor will contact me. Ok thank you nursie for that ambiguous answer.
We pull up in the driveway of our house after the short drive home from the hospital. As we pull into the driveway, I see a limo parked in front of our house. That’s odd I think to myself. We don’t know anyone who has a limo. I wonder if the neighbors are dealing drugs or something. Its white and shiny and has black windows. My husband walks inside and doesn’t even glance at it. Hey honey I say, where do you think that limo came from? He looks at me with a strange look and says what are you talking about? Oh please, I say, stop joking with me, that white limo parked RIGHT in front of our house! Its right there! He looks at me again and shrugs as if to suggest he has no idea what I am talking about. I point defiantly over to the limo. He shrugs again. Sorry honig, I don’t know what you are talking about. Now I know I have been hallucinating a bit lately but this looks SO freaking real. I walk over to it and touch it. I feel my hand meet the cool hard fiberglass surface of the limo. Solid. I say…see? Its real. I try to peek in through the windows and its black. I cant see a thing. I get really brave for a second and I pu my hands up and cup them and try to see again. Nadda. I cant see a thing. I look around and see if anyone is watching me. Noone seems to be out this morning. All my neighbors are probably at work anyways. My hubby has gone inside. I take another look around and make sure noone sees me. The coast is clear. I juggle the passenger door and it opens. Out tumble about 100 heads of fresh white cauliflower. I back up and utter a random obscenity. Uh oh. I peek inside while leaning over to pick up a head of cauliflower. Yep feels real to me. It exudes that distinct cauliflower odor. So I can touch it and smell it and feel it and hold it. It has to be real. I don’t see anyone in the limo. Suddenly out pops a head from the pile of cauliflowers. I recognize that face. Its Dali. I know it. Now I know for sure I have lost my mind. The most eccentric crazy person of all time is showing up at my house in a limo full of cauliflower. Hello there miss. He says, his voice thick with his Spanish accent. He looks smug and his eyes look wild. His signature mustache overpowers his face. I figure at this point I will just go with the flow, Hey Dali, whats up, how is Gala doing? I ask politely. Oh my sweet Gala, his face softens at the mention og her name. She is doing splendid. She is currently in Spain helping prepare to make my next movie. She needs to get a giant egg, several buckets of blood and some other misc props. This will be a masterpiece. He sighs and I can see him looking off into space envisioning this film. So Dali, what brings you here. I ask. You invited me! He screams. He looks around the limo wildly, fingering a head of cauliflower. I did? I say…perplxed. Yes yes, you did you did, now where were we. I know my deep sea diving suit is here somewhere…Oh!! Dali shrieks like a little girl. An ant! He shrieks. Kill it! Kill it! It’s a sign of the fall of humanity. Its an evil sign of the social decay of our society! I hate them. Vile vile creatures. They serve on purpose on this god forsaken earth.
Um ok. I reach into the limo and squish the ant with my finger. Dali has started to perspire and is dripping sweat into his pile of cauliflowers. All I can think of is the quote where he says “the only difference between me and a mad man is that i'm not mad.” I look at him with a perplexed look, trying to figure out if I think this man is indeed man. And yes I say that so far, he is.. He sees me examining him and says, I am not strange, I am just not normal. He shrugs. Yeah yeah I know. I feel that way every day. So Dali, I have a question for you, do you take drugs? He looks at me with his eyes gleaming with madness and says I do not take drugs, I am drugs. Yes I say, I have to agree with that statement. Any other paintings planned in your future? He starts ranting about painting bulls and cauliflower and Gala all together in one painting. He is ranting about politics and cauliflower and is starting to sweat again. Weird. He looks like he is having an attack of somekind, which is really ironic because in all the press interviews I had seen of him, he always seemed to exude calmness and, yes craziness, but in a calm way. I think about the first dali movie I saw. Its was called “Un chien andalou”. Very bizarre. I much preferred his and Buneuls movie “Âge d'or” which really was “the dream of a madman”. I think about the scene in that movie where the images of a skeletal clergy are resting on the shores of Catalonia. A very blatant criticism of religion. Then again, that isn’t even the weirdest part of the movie the most bizarre imagery I think was the cow laying on a bed or how about the woman having a bowel movement or the man with a boulder on his head or the festering wound on a man's eye. Its all very strange and weird.
I look at Dali, he is now struggling to get himself out from under the pile of cauliflower and make his way out of the limo. After a few minutes of wriggling and struggling, out steps Dali. He is a sight. He is dressed in a beautiful and ornate oriental style outfit. It shimmers with bright colors and the golden thread glistens in the sun. he pushes back his hair. It looks greasy and wild. He is a pretty commanding guy. His presence is electric. He looks around at his feet, which are surrounded by the pile of white stinky cauliflower. I know my deep sea diving suit is here somewhere, He says with his thick accent making it hard to understand him. I just watch him perplexed. Its almost like seeing a person the is so outrageous that the only way to describe them is that they are like a cartoon character. Yes that’s it and at any minute a large anvil will fall on his head or a crazy grey cat will try to attack him with a hammer. After everything I have seen lately nothing would surprise me at this point. Ah ha! He says emphatically with great joy. I found it! He is digging in the trunk of the limo and he pulls out a large deep sea diving suit. The kind that has a large bulbous head on it. Its copper and old and rusty and looks really heavy. He takes the helmet and places it on his head. The hose is still partially wrapped around it and worms its way into the trunk. It looks really hot and uncomfortable. Dali does a little skip jump that almost looks like a Arabic dance of some kind. “Mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble” dali mumbles through the heavy metal helmet. I cant understand a word he is saying. He leans over and picks up a cauliflower head and throws it at me. Ouch I say. Kind of taken aback. . “Mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble” he says again, waggling his fingers at me like he is trying to cast a spell on me or put some ancient voo doo curse on me or something. He raises his hands above his head in exasperation or at least, what appears to be exasperation. I just stand there trying to comprehend the fact that one of the greatest artists of all time is standing in my front yard. I don’t care what he is wearing, that fact alone is pretty impressive. Weird but impressive. All of a sudden I have a sharp pain go through my head like someone is stabbing me with a red hot poker in my eye. Its sharp and hurts like hell. I almost pass out from the pain. It makes me wobbly and reach out to try to gain my balance. Dali looks at me and shrugs. He is walking around dragging the hose from the helmet behind him and what appears to be several cauliflowers that have caught themselves up in the hose. Dali walks to the front of the limo and gets in the drivers seat. He waves at me and shuts the door. The limo starts up and slowly drives away, weaving back and forth on the street. That was weird. I think to myself. I look around at the discarded pile of veggies on the ground. I am sure that will smell like a sewer once the sun hits it. I stare at them and can see that their leaves are already starting to wilt. I turn around to walk back towards the house. When I get inside my husband jokingly asks me why I was standing in the front yard staring at nothing. I glare at him and say never mind and tell him I am tired and I am going to lay down. I am so tired lately. I just feel like someone has zapped the energy out of me. I feel drained mentally and physically. I sink into my bed. I smell it again the cloves and cinnamon smell. Uh oh, I don’t think I have the facilities to deal with this right now.. and with that random thought the scent fades. That is weird. I wonder if its me controlling my environment by my thoughts or my environment controlling me, planting these thoughts, smells, people, in my head. I fall into a dreamless deep sleep. I wake up in the morning with my alarm and fight the desire to just stay in bed and sleep all day. I look at the red luminescent numbers flashing on the clock. Apparently I slept for 10 hours. 10 hours and I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks or months or years. I’m tired. Bone tired. I always wondered where that phrase came from. Bone tired. Hmm I make a mental note to wiki that later today. I struggle to get my body upright and just as my feet hit the floor, I hear the phone ring. I glance at the caller ID, its my doctors office. I answer the phone. Hello? They ask me if I am so and so the patient. I say yes. The voice on the other end of the phone coughs. Uhm we have some results for you from an MRI you took yesterday. When can you come in to discuss this, its urgent. Well, I cant drive there because I cant see very well and my husband is at work. Oh the voice says. Well unfortunately I cant give you the results over the phone. Cant you make an exception for me since I cant freakin see to drive there? I say, getting pissy with the lady probably wont help I think but don’t tell me something is urgent then not freaking tell me. I hate surprises. I always have. I was the type of kid that would sneak downstairs before Christmas, whenever the presents were there and unwrap my presents and rewrap them perfectly so my parents never knew that I would do that. It took great skill, slicing the tape with an exacto knife and ever so gently peeling it back, being careful not to rip the paper. If I couldn’t get to the presents I would chase my little sister around and sit on her and torture her until she would tell me what my parents got me. I just cant stand surprises. I detest them. Good ones, bad ones, it doesn’t matter. Please! I beg the lady on the other end of the phone, have some compassion. I am sorry, she states, its our standard policy. The MMA states that under no circumstances will we give out information on the phone. But, I stutter, I feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I need to know! I start to cry. I am not a pretty crier. I huff and sputter and usually snot is involved at some point during my cry fests. But *huff* I *huff* need *huff* to *huff huff* get my results. The lady sighs. Ok, I can give you a little heads up, but you still have to come in and see the doctor. O *huff* k *sniff* *sniff* I cry to her. I sound like a three year old that just got finished having the most epic temper tantrum in the history of temper tantrums. Im not proud, I will cry if I have to. She sighs again and lowers her voice to a whisper. It looks like they found something on your MRI films. She pauses, Im not sure if it was for dramatic affect or if someone walked by her. So you need to come in right away she huffs. Can you come in this afternoon? I suppose I will try to find someone to take me or I guess I could call a cab if I *had* too. I only have two life experiences with taking a cab ride. Once, I was drunk and thank the baby jesus I was, because it was probably something out of a horror film. The other I was really little and our car had broken down. I was with my grandparents. The cab smelled like cigarettes and dirty feet. Disgusting. I hang up the phone and take a minute to collect my thoughts. So they found something. Well that doesn’t really surprise me after all that could be happening to me. I decide to call a cab and risk my life with a potential serial killer with a day job. The cab driver shows up about half an hour later. He is a short man. He appears to be Italian. He looks like he could also be a mafia drug lord or the owner of a strip club. He is wearing a v neck button up shirt and his chest hair is puffing out of the top of it. He has enough gold chains on to provide food for a third world country for 20 years. He is balding and yet has grown what remaining hair he has out to past his shoulders. His left ear sports a gold hoop earring and he looks like he is wearing a Rolex. Drug lord, I think to myself, nice. He eyes me up and down, which totally creeps me out. Maybe I wont have to wait for whatever is on my MRI results to kill me, I think I might be this guys next victim. Bleh. I climb into the cab. Where too sweetcakes? He says his voice heavy with a thick new jersey accent. Ugh I hate when skanky men call me pet names. I give him the name of the hospital. I look around me at the red velvet cake colored interior. There are several rips in the pleather and some stains on it that I do not want to know the source of. Gross. I think to myself. I wish this was like that show Cash cab where they drive you around and give you money for answering trivia questions. But I think the only question this guys is going to ask me if for my phone number. My vision is fuzzy, but I can still make out his eyes that are reflected in the rear view mirror. He is so skeezy. I can totally tell he is trying to see down my shirt by the angel of the mirror. He starts to cough and hack. Smokers cough. I think to myself. He hocks up a giant piece of phlegm and rolls the window down and spits it out into the traffic. I almost hurl. Disgusting. I adjust my shirt a little so the guy cant see anything that he shouldn’t see. He snorts disgruntled and rolls his eyes. I glare at him and wish upon him the pain of 10000 burning suns leeching into his flesh. I have more important things to worry about. Why couldn’t I hitch a ride with Dali, anyways? The ride seems to take forever. I am so anxious to just get out of this cab. 45 dollars toots, he says in the most condescending way imaginable. I thrust a wad of cash at him and mumble about it being so expensive. He grabs my cash and stuffs it in his pants pockets and says something to the effect I should be thankful to ride with such a stud as him in such a fine vehicle. Blah blah blah blah. I just shake my head in amazement that people like this actually exist in real life. I go into the docs office and it doesn’t take long before I am in the waiting room in the back. I am sitting alone going over and over in my head what it could be that they found. Cancer, brain tumor, what is it I wonder to myself out loud. The doc comes in and looks anxious. He is clutching my MRI films like they might grow legs and run out the front door. He says hello and immediately gets down to business. He pulls out my films and says, we found something suspicious on your MRI films. I think to myself no duh that is why I am here, so tell me already what is it? He says we don’t know exactly. He holds one of the films up to the lighted screen in the back and it lights up the film exponentially. There in my brain is a really white disk shaped, uhm object I guess. Its very strange looking. A tumor? I ask him blatantly. We don’t think so he says. The shape is too perfect too oval. If it is a tumor it is the most unusual one I have ever seen. You don’t think it is cancer do you? No he says. All your blood tests are normal. Just your vision and spinal fluid increase seems to be your only symptoms. Well I say kind of nonchalantly, I have been having some other issues. Like what he asks and grabs his pen like he is armed and ready to write down anything that might help solve this mystery. I have been seeing things. Things he says looking down at the chart scribbling something or other in there. Yes I say like people, like dead people, cats, limos, assorted veggies, mostly cauliflower. All of it not real. He stops mid sentence and looks up and stares at me blankly. Well I don’t think I am crazy. I say a bit exasperated. I think maybe this thing, whatever it is might be causing it. Yes he says slowly. That is a great possibility without a doubt. He reaches up and scratches his beard in contemplation. He looks Irish or something. Reddish hair and a reddish white beard. So what is the next step doc .I ask anxiously. Well, we are going to need to do a biopsy on your brain. He says seriously. We have to get a sample of this to try to figure out what it is. A biopsy? I say incredulously> As in shave my head and cut into my brain?? No way. I say defiantly. Uh huh I shake my head. Now now he says, don’t discount it yet. We must find out what we are dealing with. Fine I say and roll my eyes in defeat. When where and how much hair to I have to shave off. I am weird about my hair. When I was younger, I took some birth control shot that made a lot of it fall out for a period of time. Every since then I have been a bit anal retentive about the way it looks. I know, shallow, right? But its me. He says I want to get you in right away. Possibly as early as tomorrow morning if the surgeon can work you into his schedule. They will only shave a small portion of your head this time. But I have to warn you. You might have bigger things to worry about than a shaved head, like being dead, if we don’t act soon and quickly. He looks at me with an intent gaze. He has a pleasant vibe to him. I don’t know much about him other than I know he was in the war or a war. I think Vietnam. I had heard through the grapevine that he was a prisoner of war and he was forced to live in a shack for several years before he was rescued. I cant imagine that. I think that would be the biggest fear to be kept prisoner somewhere strange, where you don’t speak the language, don’t know anyone, everyone around you hates you and thinks you are the enemy. It must have been really hard for him. He is still gazing at me, but he isn’t really here with me mentally at this moment. He appears to be running scenarios in his head. And based off the looks on his face, none of them will be easy or good. Ok I say. How soon can you let me know then? I guess hubby might have to take more work off to help me, especially if they are going to stick a needle in my brain. Bleh. I wonder what it is in there? The shape did look strange I agree with the doc. It looks like a disk or a, oh what is that birth control method. The one that Elaine from Seinfeld goes and buys all of them up when they are going to discontinue them. Oh yes a sponge…like the weird sponges that are smooth and have the divet in the middle. I love that episode. Its funny. However its not so funny to have one in my head, or whatever is shaped like a sponge in my head. I text hubby on my cell phone and tell him about the potential surgery. He texts me back to call him immediately. I call him while I am sitting, waiting for the doc to come back in and tell me if I will have the surgery tomorrow. Hubby sighs and says he is going to get fired if he keeps taking off work. I am exasperated. I ask him what he wants me to do about it. Its not like I am going to the spa or on vacation. They are going to stick a needle into my freaking brain for Gods sake. The doc comes back in the room and I tell hubby I will call him back. Okay you are all set for tomorrow. No food or drink past midnight and no meds starting now. 7am at the hospital. You will probably have to stay in there at least two days, I don’t think it will be any longer. While they are in there they are going to take some more pressure readings to see the effects of whatever that thing is in your head. I ask him what his best guess is, he says he has no idea. All his profession training tells him the only option is a tumor, but it doesn’t look like any tumor he has ever seen. I sigh and call hubby back and tell him the news.
I get up early the next morning and brush my teeth, careful not to swallow any toothpaste or water. I am already dying of thirst but I know I cant drink anything. I get dressed in some comfy clothes and pack a pair of my most comfortable, yet hideously ugly, Hello Kitty pajamas into my overnight bag. My family went through this phase where they thought I loved Hello Kitty because someone some random Christmas gave me a Hello Kitty purse. Everyone saw it and decided from then on, they would give me Hello Kitty items for every major holiday. So I ended up with these fine looking pajamas. I have to say, they are horrible and ugly and the glitter has pretty much all rubbed off of Hello Kitties face, but they are the most comfortable things ever. I mean I could live in these things. I pack my toothbrush and a hair brush and some deodorant. I guess I wont need much for a two day stay. I finish packing up and now I am just waiting for my husband. We leave shortly and I am really anxious on the way there. I don’t really know what to expect and my imagination keeps taking over and not in a good way. We arrive at the hospital and I sit with a nurse almost immediately. She explains that we will only have to shave a small portion of my hair. They will be using a very small drill and drilling a small hole just big enough to let the biopsy needle through my skull. It all sounds so very overwhelming. I feel the fear come over me and just want to run out of there screaming. All I can think of are all the horrible scary movie images I have seen in my lifetime of peoples heads being drilled into. Its not pretty. I cant shake those images out of my head and I am sweating profusely. I feel dizzy like I am going to pass out at any given moment and I am seeing white fuzzy lights in my vision. I feel nauseas too.I comfort myself a little knowing that if I do throw up, I don’t have anything in me to throw up. The nurse gets the hair clippers and brings them over. She parts my hair in the back and shaves off about a two inch area. I guess its not that bad. I reach back to feel it. It feels weird. I don’t like it much. She finishes removing the rest of the hair with a razor and puts what I think looks and smells like iodine on the area. I heard that iodine comes from shell fish. I wonder how the first person to invent that figured out that you could use it as an antiseptic? Weird. The doctor comes in. I haven’t met this one before. He looks like he is in his early 40s and he carries himself well. He quietly goes over the procedure with me and marks my scalp with a sharpie marker. He seems very soft spoken. I don’t sense that he is cocky and he is talking to me in an even tone. Maybe this is a good one. I hope so. He asks if I have any questions. I don’t have any questions that he can answer right now this second before going into surgery. He has said it would taka approximately 2 hours for him to do the surgery provided all goes well. If all goes well. Hmmm. That isn’t very comforting. What about if it all doesn’t go well? I start to get a bit panicked and just then the anesthesiologist walks in and asks me my weight. Oh and I thought I was going to be tortured enough having my head drilled into,. Now I Have to give strangers my weight. I remember my grandpa telling me that a man should never ask a lady her weight. He said the entire time he was married to grandma, he never asked her what her weight was. And that is one of the reasons that grandpa was one of the smartest men I knew. The anesthesiologist pokes me with a needle. He says, you will feel a burning sensation. Oh my God, he isn’t kidding, my arm feels like its on FIRE. I can feel where the medication is coursing in my veins. It hurts like hell. I don’t think I can take much more of this.
I feel myself what appears to be floating on the ceiling. I can look down and see the doctors working on me. This is weird I thought. I feel like I am in the upper corner of the room staring down at everything. I wonder if I am dead, but I see them working on me and the machines at the side seem to indicate that I am alive still. At least for the moment. I feel light and airy. I feel unburdened from my flesh. I feel free. I am not in pain at all at the moment. Its nice. I look down and see the doctors scrambling around me. The machines seem to be making funny noises and the one that monitors my heart rate seems to have flat lined. So I am dead? I think to myself? I seem to receive the news with ambivalence. Suddenly I feel like I am sucked into a giant vacuum. I feel like I am whizzing through a dark tunnel at a million miles an hour. But there is no wind and no type of g force gravitational pull. Even though it seems I am whizzing through space. I feel like I am standing completely still. On the walls of the tunnels are pictures of people that I know. Pictures of my family, of my friends. I can see each one looks backlit like they are on display at some famous art gallery. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Its warm and bright and feels like love in light form. As I iget closer I start to see what looks like forms of people, like shadows against the light. As I get closer, I begin to make out their faces. I see my grandparents standing there waiting for me. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and they would come to pick me up after school. I was always so happy to see them. I got the same feelings now, it felt like they were coming to drive me home.
Suddenly I come to a complete stop. I hear my husband call my name. That moment in time stands completely still. I hear a voice. Its gentle and kind. It tells me I have a choice to make. I can keep going on or I can return. I was actually being given a choice of whether I wanted to live or die. I have to be honest, at this particular moment in time, I feel like death is looking pretty darn good. I hear my husband call my name again. I then think of him and my daughter. The sudden urge that I have a lot of unfinished business there are earth overwhelms. Okay I guess I will go back, I said out loud to the mystery voice. I can only assume it was God. I felt a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to meet him and Jesus and see my grandparents. Then the brightest flash exploded in front of me. The surgeon was shining the brightest light ever in my eyes and I was choking and coughing trying to get my breathe. I was gasping for air and looked around. There was my husband holding my hand. The doctors were reacting with joyous emotion that they had indeed saved me. Honestly, I felt a little disappointed. I felt like I had been run over by a semi truck. Beaten within an inch of my life. There wasn’t one single part of my body that didn’t ache with burning pain. Yeah the light that I just passed up is looking pretty good at this point. I feel disoriented, like my body doesn’t feel right to me. It feels, heavy and cumbersome. It feels wrong. I still cant catch my breath. I feel like I am choking and suffocating on the oxygen around me. The air burns my lungs as it enters my body. I begin to question my choice. Maybe I should have stayed. The thought depresses me. They take me to a room and unfortunately there is already someone in there. I glance over at the lady. She is old and has wispy white hair and looks frail. Like a skeleton with the skin stretched over her tight like a piece of rubber. She is moaning and moaning and moaning like she is dying. Hey maybe she is dying. She looks like death incarnate. I almost feel like telling her its going to be okay and what’s on the other side isn’t that bad at all, and its this life that bites. But I don’t. I lay there in silence listening to the old woman moan. Her daughter or at least I think its her daughter comes and I sits next to her. She is talking in a soft voice. Its calming and soothing. Her calming voice actually soothes me too as a byproduct of her consoling her mother. The nurse came in and I overheard them whispering. The old lady had fallen at the nursing home and broker her hip. Ironic that is how my grandmother died. She tripped over a parking lot spot and broke her hip. That was the beginning of the end. Six months later she was dead. Seems like once you break a hip it’s the first sign of your own impending doom. I feel like my head is going to explode. It’s the first time that my head actually started to hurt. The rest of me feels like crap, but now my head is catching up to the rest of my body. I push the call button and wait for a minute. A nurse comes in, she looks so much like my mother. I know its not my mother, but the resemblance in uncanny. My mother is a nurse too. I remember when I was little and my mother would come home from work wearing her little nurse uniform, complete with little cap. I look this lady over and she is wearing an oversized scrub top with pictures of cats on it. How times have changed. This lady doesn’t even have a hat on. She has her long black hair wrapped in a bun and pinned on her head. I tell her I am in a lot of pain. She takes my chart and looks it over. She gives me a shot of something in my IV that makes me feel loopy and tired. I guess I fall asleep because when I wake up again my husband is there snoring in the chair. My roommate is snoring in her bed and she has a rerun of Jeopardy playing on her TV, loudly. For as much as you pay for a hospital stay, they should give you a private room. I am in a lot of pain still. This really sucks. I wonder what happened, what they found, how come noone has come in to talk to me yet? I poke my husband with my foot and he grumbles in the chair, then he wakes up and looks at me sleepily. Hey there sweetheart. He says gently. How are you feeling? Like crap on a stick I say. Whats going on? What did they find? Whoa whoa he laughs. You need to wait for the doctor. They haven’t told me much. I do know we almost lost you though. He choked back those words and looks upset. He looks like he is trying not to cry. Oh boy, I think, I cant deal with this right now. I just want to know what is going on with me. When is the doctor coming? Hubby glances down at his watch and says, well he is coming in about 10 minutes. I lean back and let out a big sigh. The minutes tick slowly by. It feels like an eternity but the doctor finally comes in to see me. How are you feeling? He asks. He is bugging me a little because he isn’t making eye contact with me. Well not do bad considering I died yesterday . I let out a half hearted laugh. Yeah it really isn’t that funny. In the room hangs an awkward silence. Yes says the doctor you were very lucky. We think that the fluid retention from your tumor put extra pressure on your heart to work properly. You had a heart attack and coded on us. Did you get the sample? I asked anxiously. Yes it is at the lab right now. There was an issue with that as well. When we went to do the biopsy we encountered something we have never seen before. Your tumor appears to be made of metal. We biopsied and hit something hard. We had to get the number 4.002 needle out and try to sample with that. When that didn’t work we got the laser needle out and took a slice of it that way. When we pulled it out we were surprised to see it looks like titanium or something. The lab should have the results back really soon. We have expedited them. We are anxious to examine the results as we have never seen anything like this. So what you are telling me is, after all this, this, trauma to my body, the fact that I actually coded on the operating table, after all this, you still don’t know what is going on with me. I feel a surge of emotion that feels like a hybrid between anger and sadness. I start to cry. Large hot tears roll down my cheeks. I am just so tired. Bone tired. I feel lost and frustrated. Confused and exasperated. The doctor looks at me with a weird expression. Don’t worry. The labs will be back soon. I expect them in a few hours. Fine I say. I glance at my husband and he is nodding at every word the doctor says like a bobble head doll. This is ridiculous. Really. The doctors pager goes off and he picks it up and glances at the number. The doctor turns to leave in a hurry. Well I guess we are done. My roommate wakes up and starts moaning again. I wonder briefly if I did indeed die and this is hell. I call for the nurse again and try to adjust my hospital bed to a more comfortable position. The nurse gives me another shot of whatever that stuff is. I don’t know, but I really like it! It knocks me out and I get brief relief from the pain. I wake up a few hours later and the doctor is back in my room, with him is another man wearing a lab coat. Well we cannot identify the material in your head. There is no comparison on the MHR scale of metals. The only thing we can compare it to is a sample of ore from a meteor that we got back in 1992. Ok I stare at him blankly. So you are saying that I have not only foreign material in my head, but alien material. Every old black and white sci fi movie that I have ever seen flashes through my head. The words “anal probe” skitter through my mind and I shudder and quickly dismiss the thought. Eww. This foreign material, the lab coat man says, is putting pressure on some vital parts of your brain. We would like to remove it. Of course that requires intensive surgery. We are not sure at this point if your heart can take it. It was severely damaged during the operation. So what are my options? I ask with a big sigh. Well the doc says, we would like to wait for a few weeks and then run some tests on your heart to see if you can make the surgery. We have to get that thing out of you sooner rather than later. We want to run some more tests on the sample to confirm the results we received.