September 5, 2011
Saint Joseph’s Hospital
Tonight, I write from room 733 at the hospital after getting admitted for pretty much cautionary reasons. You may have the short version. It keeps getting sparer, due to my rewrites. My prose is so light that it flies off the page whenever I pause for a nurse visit to my room.
I was advised to check in to the hospital for scans to address my unsteady walk that began three days ago. Being a holiday time, I was already off-therapy one day. Staying here overnight for an MRI scan in the morning, to be followed by my regular Radiation Therapy next door at the ROC in the afternoon, just made sense to us all.
As Mary and I walked through Saint Joseph’s Hospital this afternoon, I was struck by the quiet, unhurried atmosphere of the place. I thought that there might be crowds and noise on a holiday. Labor Day must not be one of those trigger times where illness, accidents, or mayhem overrun medical institutions. The lack of noise and crowds was remarkable, even so. I heard a patient on the seventh floor, some unknown distance from my room.
I settled into the room after having had a CT scan and meeting with the excellent PA from my neurosurgeons. Game plan for Tuesday settled, my dinner awaited. After scraping the plate with my usual gusto, Mary and I said our goodbyes and she headed home.
Doctors tell us that pain management is critical in treating illnesses. Having made no study of this management, I know that I am learning as I go. I had mentioned the seventh floor patient. I listened as the patient expressed his pain. I prayed the person peace.
Years ago, I found joy in reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson. An enigma to this day, she expressed elemental truths in her poetry. The pain she addresses transcends the physical.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes —
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round —
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone —
This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —
September 5, 2011