The Hospital

It is possible that you have never truly known love (or maybe helplessness) until you have returned from consoling your mother in the hospital parking lot to see your fiancée and your sister holding your father’s ankles and soothing him while nurses shove a tube up his nose, down his throat, and into his small intestine.

We all fear that the current nurse (let’s call her — I don’t know — Dumpster Brain) is incompetent. She didn’t thoroughly crush up Dad’s medication, which meant his feeding tube got clogged, which meant they had to take it out and insert another one. None of us wanted to be around for this barbaric (and necessary — it’s all barbaric and necessary) procedure, so I accompanied Mom out to the parking lot to send her off on a break. We discussed our distrust of the current nurse and also the worthlessness of that distrust. You don’t get to just request a change.

It’s hard to tell at any given time whether we are in a “two steps forward, one step back”, “two steps forward, three steps back”, or “two steps forward, two steps back” sort of situation. The doctor is hopeful – at times almost nonchalant (oh, how I’m jealous of that motherfucker’s nonchalance, give me a goddamn stein full of it.). It’s hard for us to tell because we see Dad nearly all day every day and all we can think is, “he still doesn’t really know where he is, he still tries to leave, he still tries to pull his tubes out, why isn’t his brain getting better?” If I were to live tweet the situation, I would just send out the tweet “Everything is terrible” every five minutes.

On Saturday, I thought, ” This is hell.” Then I thought, “You’ve been here two days, don’t be such a drama queen. He is alive. He is not in pain. He is not, currently, dying.” We are, all of us, dying. We are, all of us, alive. Drama queen.


4 thoughts on “The Hospital

  1. So sorry. Truly. Harvey was in the NICU for ten days after he was born and it was exactly like that. He was accidentally infected (by some nurse/doctor carrying enterococcus) then he was accidentally paralyzed (from the elbows down) by a botched spinal tap, then he was accidentally over medicated. Eventually we all escaped with our lives, sort of. Hospitals are a unique sort of place to bargain with the fates. They’re high on sacrifice and blood and all the old magic but they rub a lot of science funk on everything so it’s uniquely cruel because it’s devoid of otherworldly power. Just, “you know, we’re going to cut your arm off, then you’ll live, science says so, don’t be such a whiner”. Strange times we live in indeed. I really am so sorry.


    1. Thanks, Mara. Each individual caregiver is, for the most part, absolutely fantastic. But there seems to be a lack of communication (and an incredibly high rate of turnover) that is frustrating. But Dad’s case is really frustrating on its own anyway.


  2. My dad was in the hospital almost exactly two years ago for brain surgery. As brain surgeries go, his was fairly minor (ha!) – the removal of a subdural hematoma (yup, those aren’t just found on Grey’s Anatomy). For all the life-saving that happens there (my dad’s life included), hospitals are terrible places… Beyond the ups and downs of an individual’s recovery, the loss of speech, the regaining of speech, the loss of all appetite, the regaining of all appetite, etc, there’s the dehumanizing aspect. The door opening and closing at all hours. The pricks and pokes at two-hour intervals for one slate of tests, four-hour intervals for another, and heaven forbid those cycles match up… The stream of personal visitors, some of whom had a comforting presence and were more than welcome…some of whom required entertaining. It’s exhausting. I never thought I’d cry when somebody asked me for a fruit salad, but hey, it was real words asking for real food and I hadn’t really slept, well, screw the sleep, I’m tearing up just thinking back on it.

    My situation was mercifully short…in and out in a week, and we dodged the feeding tube. I feel for you, and I wish there was something I could do beyond sharing words of support here (if there is anything you need in/from/around the NYC, lemme know!). One of my uncles or aunts or one of the doctors or nurses (or maybe just somebody in the cafeteria…like I was paying attention…) told me to remember that old Chinese proverb, “This too shall pass.” It is small consolation, but hopefully it helps.


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