Something finally clicked for me: I don’t trust the healthcare system, especially not hospitals. I don’t. They do horrible things. They take babies away from new mothers. They might cut you without your permission. They don’t give you the information you need. They poke and prod you. They make you sit around naked for hours not knowing why you’re waiting. They don’t let you eat or drink after midnight. IVs – enough said. They might send you home while you still need help. They might prescribe you something that gives you hallucinations and delusions and keeps you from eating, and talk your caregiver into giving it to you against her best instincts.
Worst of all, they keep taking people away from me! They took my grandfather when I was only 4. They took my dad. They took my grandmother, and my great-aunt who was like a grandmother to me. Most recently, they took my uncle. The logical part of me knows these loved ones were in the hospital because they were sick, and died because the medical interventions available weren’t enough to keep them alive. But the irrational part of me sees my loved ones walking into hospitals and coming out of them in coffins.
And now my mother is in the hospital. Her double knee replacement surgery went well. She’s recovering just fine. I even got to talk to her; she was groggy but using complete sentences and already able to move her legs a little bit. But they made her wait 3 extra hours before doing the surgery and they’re not feeding her or even letting her drink water. And they poked her with lots of painful needles.
Grr!!! I’m feeling very protective of her, very angry. I don’t like that she’s over there and I’m over here and even if I were there I’d be powerless to protect or help her. I can smuggle in clothes and food she likes and other things she deems necessary. I can keep her company. But I can’t do anything about her condition and I can’t prevent them from causing her more discomfort. I have to be caregiver but I don’t know how to give care.
And I’m afraid that the same thing will happen to her that happened with Dad. The last time I saw him, I was overwhelmed by my own painful emotions. I had trouble getting past all the stuff he was hooked up to, the appearance of his failing health, and interacting with him. I was horrified and very, very sad. It put a wall between us. He didn’t want me to see him like that; he didn’t want to see me like that. I feel guilty – in his hour of greatest need I betrayed him. I feel angry – in my hour of greatest need, I was betrayed. Whether by him or by the system that didn’t provide us the support we needed to come together as a family, to interact with love instead of fear and death … that moment remains seared in my memory and on my heart, a painful scar that can never be healed.
Tomorrow I have to visit my mother in the hospital. She’ll probably be bedridden, both her knees still bandaged. Possibly still groggy, with tubes coming out of her. A dreaded IV. *shudders* The hospital look. Smell. Sounds. All of which I’ve grown to hate and fear. If I could I would puff myself up to 10 times my size, put out my claws, bare my teeth, and give everyone death glares. I would growl so loudly the earth would tremble. YOU WILL NOT HURT MY MOTHER!!! YOU WILL NOT TAKE HER FROM ME!!! SHE IS MINE!!!
But I can’t really do anything. This was her choice. It’s something she needed. It’s done. She needs to be in their care, and I need her to be there too because I wouldn’t know the first thing to do for her and frankly I couldn’t deal with it. But I’m worried about her and I’m worried because I haven’t been able to work on the paper due Thursday. Somehow I doubt I’ll be able to do much on it tomorrow, either. The biggest distraction: everyone is turning to me to find out how she’s doing. I can’t handle all the phone calls.
At least they’re concerned about me, too. It helps to know that people care. I just wish my aunt hadn’t told me to “enjoy tonight, because tomorrow all hell breaks loose.”
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