I’ve been debating about writing this topic for a few days now, but I guess enough time has finally passed that it’s possible to at least try to deal with it.
I’m in the hospital today. It’s my fifth day, and the doctors still can’t make a decision on when I might get out. My life kind of hangs on the balance of some numbers on a blood test that gets drawn three times a day, and while it appears to be getting better, it’s not “out of the woods” yet, so no one will even conjecture at the possibilities of me ever leaving this place.
Some explanation is probably necessary. I am a diabetic. I have been one most of my adult life. Normally, I’ve maintained it by diet, exercise, a combination of pills and sacrifices to the Goddess Shania Twain. Over the years, my diet has wavered (not always for the best), exercising became easy to chalk up to “probably tomorrow…” and then “probably next week….”, although The Shania has never had a lack of constant attention and appropriate worship.
One of the drugs introduced into my regiment for dealing with this condition turned out to be a lot more toxic to me than it should have been (or so their theory is…can’t really nail the specialists down on what happened, or is happening, but that’s kind of the premise of the voices that are coming down from their mountain), and it managed to inflame my pancreas and turn off my kidney (or something like that). My first realization of something being wrong was waking up in the middle of the night and finding myself completely disoriented in my own room, unable to figure out how to get into the kitchen (where instinctively I realized I needed something to eat). For two hours, I was stuck in my bedroom because I could neither stand up and would come crashing down very fast every time I tried, nor could I turn the door handle of my bedroom door because in my state it was completely beyond me. After two hours, and breaking down my closet door by accident, thinking it was my bedroom door, I managed to open the door and then spent another fifteen minutes trying to crawl across the floor of my living room to my kitchen. Then I found myself completely unable to open the refrigerator (you know those super-security refrigerators that consist of a door that requires you to just tug on it softly to open it? Yeah, one of those). After awhile, I was able to grab a car of apple juice by flinging my hands at it and throwing it to the ground. Then I drank it down in little guilty sips. 15 minutes later, I started to return to normal again.
Apparently, that kind of alerted the medical community that Duane needed some assistance, and here I am at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
One thing I was always adamant about was that if I ever reached a point where I was forced to have to start taking insulin (instead of pills), most people who know me should expect to read of my untimely demise not soon after. I’ve watched too many people get devastated by this disease, and I always swore that I wouldn’t go down that road. Strange. Now, I’m on it. But that’s a subject for later, obviously.
The thing that’s kind of bugging me right now is this medical establishment behavior of always expecting the patient is going to just buy into the ethical commication “care” response system because they live in it every day. Let me give you an example. One thing I abhor more than anything is pricking my fingers with these little needle devices to check blood sugar. It doesn’t hurt that much. It’s not even that messy. But it’s MY FINGERS. I’m a writer who HATES to do anything to my fingers in this way, and even as I write this blog right now, I am reminded with each and every letter I type that something other than my creative thinking is driving my thought process right now. And it continues to hurt a long time. My whole right hand right now has been pricked so many freaking times that I lost count several days ago. By the time I finish this post, someone will come in demanding that either they prick me, or I do the “brave” thing and prick myself.
Which is the other side of that issue that I wanted to discuss (by the way, someone just came in to prick my finger and has now moved on his way). The main nurse who has been working with me since I’ve been here has adopted a communication schema that has been driving me nuts. For those wondering what I’m talking about, a communication schema is a shortcut set of comments and statements that someone uses to deal with specific situations because a previous encounter using those same schema resulted in positive results. Think of it as a lion hunter who continues to run away from the lion until he picks up a chair and waves it at the lion, causing the lion to back off. Suddenly, he has a tool he can use to make sure that the lion doesn’t eat him. Okay, stupid example, but you probably get the idea.
This nurse, in order to get me to want to prick my fingers, keeps using the same schema of “It’s a horrible disease. It doesn’t care who you are. It’s unfeeling.” And if that doesn’t work, he ramps it up to: “If not treated, you’ll end up having to come back here under the following circumstances: (fill in gruesome details).”
The problem with schema is that it has to pertain to the individual who it is being used on. If I was some young kid who thought that I could just continue living my life in a wild fashion, and I just wasn’t thinking about the ramifications of such things, his schema works really well. It would make me think. However, that’s not me. Consider what I said earlier. I said that if I ever ended up in this situation, there’s a pretty good chance I’d not be alive much longer. This means that I’m not thinking Bad Outcome From Disease vs. Not Doing Anything but my mathematics of a cost benefit analysis wavers the premise of Not Being Alive vs. Having to Deal With all the Shit. In that context, a reconstituted schema that pertains to the wrong emotions is probably not the one to be focused upon.
I understand the need to preach caring about certain things to people, but you have to at least appeal to the same contextual algorithms that drive each individual’s needs.
The truly sad thing is: I’ve been stuck in the hospital for about five days so I’ve been unable to do anything I enjoy doing. Hopefully, this will end soon and we can see where things go from here.