We were watching West Wing last night. Watching it again because I need a reminder that government doesn’t have to be as horrible as it currently is. I am pretending that the show — West Wing — is the real presidency and everything else is fake. I can’t do it all the time. Sometimes, news bursts into my bubble and I try to deal with it, but since I am at a total loss as to what is going on in my “real” world, I don’t get very far. Last night’s episode was the one in which the President and Josh get shot by one of our many crazy people with guns. Josh is much more seriously injured than the president and spends many hours in surgery.
After which, he spends many more hours unconscious.
Anyone who has been seriously ill following surgery and was unconscious for a long time — medically induced or otherwise — knows what I mean when I talk about waking up. There comes that point when they decide you’ve slept long enough and it’s time for you to awaken. If you don’t know, it isn’t like you don’t hurt while you are unconscious. You hurt plenty, but it beats out how you are going to feel when you are actually awake and so-to-speak conscious. You lie there and you can hear the nurse or doctor … or your family and friends … asking, begging, pleading with you to wake up. I remember clearly saying “NO!” and drifting away. I’ve been sick enough for long enough to know — they are lying to me.
“It’s okay to wake up. We’ve don’t the surgery and you’re better.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire. You’ve done the surgery and when I wake up, it’s going to be pure, unmitigated hell. If I hurt now, in my semi or unconscious state, just think how terrible I will feel when I open my eyes and am forced to think.
“NO!” I said again, more forcefully this time. I knew I was not going to feel better awake. Absolutely no way was that going to be an improvement to the several days I’d passed in a stupor.
“Don’t you want to talk to your husband?”
“How about your friend.”
“Well, you don’t have a choice. It’s time to wake up.”
The expression “just bury me now” springs to mind. You know with 100% certainty that nothing they do will keep you from feeling the level of terrible you are going to feel. In fact, as they keep digging you out of your unconsciousness, you really feel how bad every piece of your body feels. It’s ugly.
I finally opened one eye. Then the other. “Where,” I asked, “Are my glasses?” Because I couldn’t see anything except a white blurriness. If I was going to be mortally ill, I wanted edges on my reality. I don’t know why, frankly. The edges didn’t make anything better. It turns out they woke me up shortly after surgery and I tried to throttle the nurse, so they put me back under for a couple of days. Apparently, I was seriously pissed off.
They didn’t bury me. I was awake again. And, ironically, it was the last sleep I was going to get in that hospital because from the first minute your eyes are open, they wake you up every 45 minutes for a pill, a shot, a blood draw, the change of transfusion bag. To add something painful to the stuff that already hurts, or jiggle the hurting stuff around so that everything feels worse.
Oh bury me now. Please.
They were explaining that they had to do one more surgery because my heart was refusing to beat. “Don’t worry Mrs. Armstrong. It’s a minor procedure.” Relative to what?
“Really? then let’s not do it.”
“We have to. Your heart won’t beat on its own and you can’t walk around …”
Walk around? I’m going to walk around?
“With a wired pacemaker on your chest.”
Why not? Is someone going to take my picture? Am I going to be the cover girl on “Repaired Hearts Monthly”?
But I woke up and they didn’t bury me. And remarkably, after a year or two, I started feeling better. But if you are in that bed and you are unconscious … and they are telling you the worst is over and it’s time to wake up? Don’t believe them. It’s a bald-faced lie.