Humbled and Humiliated
The morning of my exhilarating dream the chest tubes had been removed that day, after 8 days, I was out of ICU. Naively, I thought, I am well into healing as I have experienced such blessing in my dream vision.
Then slowly it dawned on me my ‘re incarnation’ is to ‘begin from the beginning’ and my task is to start from basics not skipping any stages. Lets start with the digestion!
I have been supplementing my hospital diet with wonderful live food from Pati Callan.
She brought me yogurt, healing soups and farm fresh eggs. To our great surprise the hospital not only allowed food from home, but we could keep it in the fridge at the nurses station! We did so and I was known as “the lady from the ranch in Placerville who has to have organic food!” We didn’t realize all had to be carefully dated and one day, the nutritionist inspector threw it all out. Cecilie a long time housekeeper there, and other staff felt so badly, she went back and rescued all the containers washed them and even bought some new ones! How thoughtful was that! Then a blue eyed young angel named Danielle from the kitchen came for a visit and asked how they could support me and even offered to buy some organic food, which they did, raspberries and oatmeal! I was amazed at such supportive outreach for patients and hope others will be so supported!
But on this Saturday as I took my valued yogurt, our ranch pears, and liver tea, I realized not even that was working. I wasn’t keep down anything as we worked to find a balance with nauseating pain meds that I couldn’t really tolerate. It only got worse the next day. By Monday I was down to tea and oatmeal. Digestion not working, then on top of that the breathing became much more labored. Okay, I thought, now we go to the middle sphere, lungs and heart.
It was determined to be the large soft ball size clot of blood left from all my internal bleeding was pushing on the lungs. They had tried to remove it with a painful draining but only got a quarter of it, as they showed me the ruby substance swirling in the beaker they were able to obtain. It had coagulated to the point it would require surgical removal.
As the digestive issues had preceded all the heart issues and were now critical, I asked for a consult with an Intestinal doctor in hopes we could get information about this condition perhaps by combining lung ex rays with an upper GI. The doctor following my case was a little annoyed as he wanted to focus on the blood clot. He later said his main business was infections and life and death stuff. While I felt my request a reasonable one, over a day or two he made it clear he only called in such colleagues in an emergency, and I could deal with it when I got out. I think he then called for re enforcements from the floor doctor and he came for a visit. A large East Indian man, he had a high forehead, eyes with piercing intelligence and a small sardonic twist to his mouth. He tried to placate me about any concerns with digestion and asked if I had a GI doctor. I gave him the name and he called him. That doctor reported that I had had an exam in 1909, four years ago, and there was not evidence of any problems. Armed with that knowledge, the floor doctor reported back to me the next day. Looking at me with authoritative demeanor, he told me there is not evidence of any issues and followed it with the statement,
“perhaps you will find this is just in your imagination”
He went on for a few sentences in that vein. I started out the window in disgust. Here we go. The old lady is a nut case, obviously not able to know about her own body. I was lying there in is a fair amount of misery and now the ultimate dismissal of me as a human being. How such judgments add to the struggle to survive at the physical level and now the attack on the soul and spirit.
This too, I thought, I must go through this too. Okay, I am here for the whole modern medical experience. Did I think I could skip this part? The part about being dismissed as an addled, slightly stupid human being. What I thought was a reasonable request would not even be considered.
Anyone is over late fifties or sixty will begin to experience ‘the attitude’. The dismissive gesture, the overlooking at meetings, the clerks,genuinely helpful or condescending, the gaze looking ‘past’ you that you really have nothing relevant to say, the assumption you are not longer capable of your work or a useful contribution to a situation. And assumption we will look on as life goes on in the social scheme of things.
Actually we are all guilty of it occasionally when we see someone fragile in body and can follow the assumption they are also fragile in mind. The Attitude goes, Old people are slightly stupid. Not that there are not many who do have major cognitive issues...but not all for sure. And those that do are still aware, very aware, whether they are being treated as human beings. It is a sad way to judge and be judged. Blessed are cultures where elders are still venerated!
When I first came home, I found a very well developed “Attitude” in the Physical Therapist who came to visit me. He let me know he had thirty years experience in the field and after some proficient strength tests he was ready to go. He did not want me to know what my oxygen count was, so I asked. (With the ‘Attitude’ one can surmise,old people are not capable of handling such information well) I started to offer some of the issues I felt I was dealing with and he immediately cut me off with words to the effect, “I am the authority and I will tell you what you need and what you can do.”
I clamped my mouth closed in disgust, Oh brother, this dude is an ‘attitude’ archetype!
His prize judgement was reported back to me from the fabulous Physical Therapist, Lucy, who would, thank God, be the one to work with me. Her knowledge and skill has been amazing. But in his report to her he described me as “unable to make sound decisions” . He made this assessment because I had chosen to live in an isolated place in the hills far from medical facilities!! (Implied: We should all live in fear and close to where medical authorities can make judgments about our welfare.) Well, you can be sure I could go on about that!
Any way here I was, in medical need, now humiliated and attacked at the integrity of the soul and spirit. It was demoralizing, draining away energy and hope. As would happen just at these bleak lonely moments of despair, Sarah, the wonder chaplain would come by and she did I shed a few tears in telling of this latest degradation. She was so there for me. “Well, I am being asked to experience it all, so I’ll just have to deal with it.” I told her. “You can say that,” she replied, “but I can carry on knowing that we do NOT treat our elders right and things need to change!”
When Dr. Nicki made her daily call, she was furious when I told her. “ There is SO much that needs to change in the way we truly meet people and see through to support them in the right way! “ You can know where ever Dr Nicki works things will be different! And that will be the medicine of the future.
I came to call that week, my week like the temptation of St. Anthony in the desert, from the painting of artist Grunevald’s showing him at the mercy of the seven deadly sins tormenting him in every way. I suffered stabbing pain, terrible nightmares, despair, humiliation and submission. I resolved, “Don’t talk about any issue but the coming surgery and we will one day get out of here. I bowed, read that ‘bowed’ as in submission, or ‘bowed’ with determination to pull the plow and get through it.