Sunday, October 12, 2014

CUCKOO'S NEST -- WEEK 2







the curtains do not look like sheets after all; they look like curtains always look in hospital rooms or emergency rooms. brown/gold trim with holes like shower curtains, then white. i have plenty of time to observe as i wait on the table for 1/2 an hour or more.  it makes me nervous.  i'm feeling better in general, but neither the tiredness nor the fear have lessened, only the deep dark hole is gone, or masquerading somewhere. my blood pressure and my breathing, dr. andy tells me, are both bad: i
should try to get my pc doc  to change or add meds. i write her; we'll see. the thing is, which i don't say to him, is i don't care about my blood pressure, as i hope that within a few years it will lead to a heart attack and kill me. something will kill me sooner or later,, and looking at my parents' deaths--my mother from a particularly virulent form of Parkinson's playafully dubbed 'parkinson's plus,' my father from dementia caused by small strokes and, eventually, one large stroke that killed him. i wouldn't mind the one large stroke; it's a lesser stroke, or dementia itself, that scare me.  woody allen once said ' i'm not afraid of dying; i just dont want to be there when it happens.' that's my goal now. well that rules out suicide, so the doc's needn't worry on that score.

what i dislike most about the treatment is coming out of anaesthesia.  theres no pain to deal with, as there is no cutting into the body, but the feeling of coming out, my mind ahead of my body, so i know what i want to say but it emerges stuttering and incomprehensible; i know what i want to do, but only small parts of me will move at a time and i'm very dizzy. it doesnt last long, but it's grim while it does.

on Wednesday, we meet cheryl in the waiting room. on first glance, she seems quite ordinary. you expect her to be reading romance novels. well, maybe she does and if so, god bless her. she is waiting for her husband to be done with his treatments.we begin awkward conversation: it really is chilly today, but tomorrow is supposed to be more seasonal.  what do you do? what does your husband do? are mark and i married?[embarrassed laughter: mark and i are old friends; known each other 50 years; were college sweethearts but when that ended grew into the friendship we have now.)  bit by bit the conversation becomes more real. cheryl tells us she is schizophrenic and depressive, but both are being treated successfully with medication. John, less lucky,  is deeply depressive but nothing has helped till now. the first effort at basic ect didnt help much so he has continued into more intense forms of ect, which i didn't even know existed.i am releived to know they do, for john's sake and my own. i had thought this was my last chance; now it seems there's further to go if i need to.

cheryl wants to know about my teaching. when i tell her i teach about women in media and now about other aspects of gender in media, particularly gay and transgender isssues, she is thrilled.  people need to understand about these kinds of people and their lives, she says enthusiastically.  'that's the only way the bigotry will stop.'  she has begun to design what she calls her 'caring creations'--handmade cards for all occassions ...designed for those brave souls battling cancer and mental illness.'

when they call me  in for my treatment, mark and cheryl continue to talk. mark is bowled over by her; she doesnt fit any of our categories of deep-thinking people. when i come out, i am sad to see that john has finished his treatment and they've gone. i look forward to running into them again. cheryl's goal is to give people hope. she has certainly done that for me.

1 comment:

Tom Schott said...

Karen, I'm so sorry to hear that you are ill. My heart goes out to you. I only occasionally check in with my regulars these days. I gave up blogging earlier this year as I could not sustain the pace. Perhaps I should do it less frequently like you do. Anyway, this is an older post, so I hope you're doing much better since it first went up.

Warmly, Tom