Oh hi. Today I feel pent up and miserable and I’m angry at people for no good reason and I feel like I’m having a tiny temper tantrum in my head which is fine except I’m too old for temper tantrums and it’s a fairly unpleasant feeling. I took a shower earlier hoping to wash it away but I was mad at the way the water came out of the shower head. Now I’m writing about it here hoping to put some of it somewhere instead of all of it everywhere. I think the most unsettling part is that my emotions are so disconnected from my thoughts right now. Except for the asshole of a shower head, none of the targets of my cranky anger are deserving, at least not for any reason I know. I think I’m just mad. At everything. And at nothing. But more at everything.
And perhaps it’s hormonal because I think I’m pre-menstrual. And that makes me mad because of all the complications to my cycle from endometriosis which is a whole big thing which is out of my control and which involves other people telling me I HAVE to do this (have surgery) or HAVE to do that (take hormones) and I HATE anyone telling me I HAVE to do anything.
But I don’t really even think it’s that. I don’t know WHAT it is.
And I spent time yesterday trying to list in my head all the things I’m grateful for. And there’s a lot. But I’m also in a whiny irritable shitty mood and I’d rather focus on the pile of bullshit sitting on my ottoman that I’ve been thinking I need to go through and clean up (in fact I wrote it down on my to do list) instead of the good things. But I don’t want to actually go through it. I just want to hate it.
And I’m thirsty and there is a drink sitting two feet away from me but I don’t want to drink it, I just want to feel sorry for myself that I’m thirsty and angry that I’m feeling this way.
Okay, the actual thirst just overtook the metaphorical thirst.
I spent last Saturday at the hospital with my parents because my dad was experiencing atrial fibrillation which is where your heart starts beating erratically. It’s not life-threatening, but it’s something that needs to be treated with either a big jolt of electricity or drugs. In some cases the heart will correct itself. The emergency room opted for the electricity which involved sedating my dad until he was asleep and then giving him a jolt that would cause the heart to contract and then begin beating normally. Like restarting a computer.
I’m not someone who likes to see people altered–I don’t enjoy seeing them drunk or on drugs or basically suffering anything that changes the person’s fundamental boundaries/awareness and so I probably should have left the room as they were sedating my dad because–and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this–people become chatty and uncensored as the layers of higher brain function are peeled back, ultimately revealing the person’s undefended core. I should say that my dad didn’t say anything nuts or weird–it wasn’t like that. Instead he talked, with increased slurring and enthusiasm, about where he was born, about the food in Brooklyn, about an anaesthesiologist he thought was fantastic because he “didn’t pay attention to the rules.” The doctors and nurses in the room were only half-listening, murmuring an occasional “uh-huh,” just waiting for the drugs to take effect enough to go through with the procedure. I was nervously hanging on every word though, wondering where it was going to go, preemptively embarrassed and uneasy.
I felt sorry for my dad and sad that he’d been chemically reduced to a state where no one was listening, where he was an old man rambling about the past, mentioning names of people he loved and telling stories about what they were going through, names which held meaning for him and for my mom and me but may as well have been imaginary friends to the doctors and nurses. “He keeps talking about someone named Shelly,” you could imagine them thinking.
Though I’m growing to accept the increasing frailties that come with age, I’m still not ready to see a parent half naked on a gurney with big adhesive paddles stuck to both sides of the chest, tubes everywhere, pawing at the seemingly uncomfortable blood pressure cuff (the result was about 7 people quickly admonishing him as you would a wandering drunk you ordered to stay in a chair), disconnected from reality enough that instead of addressing the actual situation (the closest he got was at one point announcing, “I forgot I was in the hospital. I had a dream I was fishing!”) he was instead taking disinterested listeners on a trip down memory lane. In the same way that a scrapbook holds significance for the person who keeps it and their loved ones but likely leaves strangers cold, in the same way it’s ultimately just a collection of ticket stubs and pressed flowers and yellowed newspaper clippings which, divorced of their context, are just so much paper– just so much energy–so too are the memories kicked up by a brain that’s under duress. And though you see countless YouTube videos documenting people coming in and out of anesthesia, for some reason, to me, it’s just unbearably sad. People, in their most vulnerable state, clinging to their collections of prize memories, associations and names, to me are just unbearably sad.
Perhaps most shocking was that after they’d administered the final dose of anesthetic, when the slurring was most intense, when he’d already announced “it’s working” and let his head fall back for a few beats, his jaw rhythmically opening and shutting in his closed mouth as if he was dreaming he was eating a hamburger, he popped back up to talk some more and said two perfectly formed sentences about his love and concern for his family. Beyond the chatter about where he interned as a young doctor, the food in Brooklyn, the hospital where he was born, beyond all of that, at his most naked and reduced, was this very real and raw statement about what’s weighing on him and what matters to him.
And even though there’s nothing tragic on the face of it, it’s actually kind of sweet, every time I think about it I end up crying.