Sunday, October 9, 2016
Hospital Thoughts, Day Four
Aside from the putty and dirty lavender-colored walls in the hospital, I'm intrigued by the hospital gown print. Sophie almost looks like a Modigliani with her narrow face made even sharper by the tightly-wrapped turban. My mind wanders here and there during the interminable hours spent in the hospital. The hours are actually not interminable, though, as much as -- well -- hours. They literally while away. Hospital Time is something that I have struggled to articulate for as long as I've spent time in hospitals, and I want to do some justice to what, exactly, it means. The big round clock with the black numbers, hangs on the wall about four feet from the big black television and about six inches above the dry erase board that Robert the Nurse Assistant (when he introduced himself the first day, I thought he said I'm Robert the Narcissist, so I laughed and asked is it all about you? and he laughed and said that too) scribbles the names of who's attending us. The big black clock shows me every time I look up and glance at it (why? why do I glance at it? what does it matter?) what time it is, and I'm startled each time by how much time has gone by. I don't know how to explain this, really, and you probably won't understand unless you've spent some time in a hospital room. The time doesn't go slowly, really. It's not even boring. It's like being in a hospital makes a mockery of time. I've been here five hours! I'll think when I glance up at the clock, and in what seems like six minutes later, I've been here eight hours! It's really kind of astonishing. I feel the opposite of wired which would ordinarily be calm but it's not that either. Maybe it's a third state of being, a dimension all its own. I'm not complaining, just musing. During these hours not much goes on, which I imagine is something I should be thankful for as any number of things could be absolutely horrific in a hospital. The nurses pop in and out and the nurse's assistant, the one who takes vitals (weird expression, right?) tells me about her doll collection and then shows me a picture of the silicone toddlers that she dresses up and puts in a stroller and takes for a walk. I look up at the clock and notice that six hours have gone by as I spoon a pale macaroni and cheese into Sophie's mouth. I hear through the wall a man's voice saying Bend your knees, that's right, that's good. When I gaze out the large window facing east, I see some snow-capped mountains which I guess is nice, but really it seems like a mirage. The mirage would include the rest of you out there, living your lives, rain and sunshine, snow-capped, hours ticking and most probably defined where ours are blurry, cloud-covered.
When I think of the time, I think of bottle and a tiny ship suspended on a wave that does not move.
This morning while driving to the hospital I thought about meditation and how I am making a sort of meditation from this life. I was telling a friend that I'm not a chanter, but if I could make everything I do a kind of chant it was all I could do. Sort of an undoing. One of the nurses yesterday claimed that there's a meaning for everything, but you know what? I disagree. I don't think meaning is inherent in anything, really, nor is the absence of it. It's funny how we look for meaning and then find it. I think I'm making meaning which doesn't mean I'm in control but rather exercising some kind of sublime creative agency, and Sophie's situation helps to give me license to do so. Does that make sense? Of course I feel despair and depression, too, and that's okay. See how I'm whiling away the hours?
Bless your hearts for reading. Sophie is okay. She'll hopefully go home tomorrow, although we're not quite certain. The two doctors who've been treating her are pretty awesome in that they really include us as partners. Maybe not equal partners since I'm basically calling the shots, but they're smart and humble and one even told me that I was the bravest mother he'd met. I told him that because he's not a pediatric neuro, he probably hasn't met many mothers because the ones I know are so kick-ass brave, it'd take your breath away. They wish they could help us more, and so do I, but I'm struck by what seems to be a real shift in the neurologist/patient relationship. Since I haven't been in the hospital with Sophie for so many years, it's marked, and that's a good thing. I like to think that the work I and many of my peers have done for decades is finally making a difference, that medical students are being educated in empathy and humility. That or they're taking electives in theater and performance.
Posted by Elizabeth at 2:19 PM
Labels: hospital, meditation, musings, seizures, Sophie
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Hospitals always feel like spaceships to me. I'm thinking of you and Sophie in there. Is there a koi pond? A labyrinth? If so, I hope you can take a little "moon walk" before you follow your tether back to Sophie's side.ReplyDelete
This is a quiet, hopeful post. I have spent a lot of time sitting beside hospital beds in the past few Tera's and so I know exactly what you mean by hospital time. It's a kind of suspension. The world outside seems as distant as those snow capped mountains. And feelings too are somehow suspended, muted, only occasionally breaking through. I'm glad Sophie's ok and that the field of neuro is getting kinder. LoveloveloveReplyDelete
I felt happy reading that you notice a change for better int he patient/neuro relationship. I felt happy reading that Sophie will probably be OK, although I wish that qualifier wasn't there for you.ReplyDelete
I understand. All of it. Happy to hear you may go home tomorrow. Happier still that the neuros recognize how truly awesome you are. You have made a difference and they are learning even more from you as you while away the hours.ReplyDelete
She takes her dolls for walks?ReplyDelete
Birdie's comment made me laugh.ReplyDelete
This may be one of the most beautiful posts you've ever written. Perhaps hospitals make time and space for thoughts which you have captured most eloquently. It's a glide through a day, a time, a life, a space.
Thank you for taking us there.
I am so glad about the doctors. That must make everything at least more bearable. I hope all goes well tonight and that your Sophie can go home tomorrow.
You and Sophie are much on my mind in a strangely rhythmic form like a tabla in a raga, only there's more anxiety than that simile suggests. But I hope it travels as pure and mutable energy to where you are, to use as you need.ReplyDelete
Last year I spent quite a bit of time in the hospital. A short time of that as a patient and a much longer time when my husband was ill. I did find time to pass strangely in the hospital, to me more slowly than seemed possible. The other thing I found was bone chilling temperatures. Almost the whole time, both times, I was so cold that even my face, head and neck were cold. As a patient I wrapped my entire self in the blanket, I thought that it was just because I was sick. When my husband was in there, I was freezing once again. Ice bags were on him in an attempt to bring/keep his fever down. I think I was sympathizing with him. The rest of the days he was in, I took a heavy shawl to wrap myself in. I think it must be a mental reaction that I have to hospitals. Time warping and freezing.ReplyDelete
Yes, I can relate to the time thing in hospitals; having spent days, weeks & months there with my son in years now long past. When I was there, it seems that the outer world hardly existed, except like one watches things on TV; it is happening, but it doesn't really touch your life at the time. When I left, the air outside always felt fresh & I would breathe deeply to clear my lungs and my head. I would go home, to prepare for the next day there. I had to be there, but really, it is the pits.ReplyDelete
Yes. To your incredibly apt capture of "hospital time." To Sophie as a Modigliani (I was looking through an art book yesterday and came across a full page photo of Whistler's The White Girl, and thought of Sophie, as well.) Sending love.ReplyDelete
I think that as humans we do strive to find meaning in things, to help us make sense the things that happen to us.ReplyDelete
As for hospital time, I find it the opposite, it is endless. Neither Katie nor I are patient. I have to tell her over and over and over again that we have to wait. One time I pointed out that all the people in the waiting room, about fifty of us, were waiting to see the doctor. She laughed at me, ruefully I thought. Even she gets it.
I am sitting here and just holding my head in my hands (obviously not now!) and saying f u c k! how does she do it?!ReplyDelete
Your musing on the hours spent in a hospital is amazing, and that is such an insubstantial word.
Thank god for the good doctors, it's about time some of them showed up. I'm so glad, because you were really due a shot of that. I hope Sophie is getting close to going home because I don't see how she can stand that hospital gown, gawd. I will be putting my head under the covers tonight and trying not to see dolls...
Hope you rest well tonight.
I love you more with each post i read.ReplyDelete
I'm glad this hospital experience seems to indicate there's been some progress in the doctor-patient relationship! I hope Sophie gets to go home tomorrow.ReplyDelete
Wish you well. So well. Wishing her well also.ReplyDelete