Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Going under

I was under a brief anesthesia this morning to undergo an upper endoscopy (sure enough, I have esophagitis and really should be taking those PPI medicines I love to hate; and, yes, I will start taking them again).

When I came up out of it, I was crying about losing Dad. The nurse explained that going under brings out whatever emotions are there and they rise to the surface. I think it was therapeutic to have free -- unrestrained -- access to that part of me that is grieving and allow it to express itself. It's hard to do that in the midst of ordinary life.

I had a sad dream last night that also came to mind when I woke up from the anesthesia. We had another funeral for Mom. She was in some kind of public accident that attracted a lot of attention, so there were all these people wandering around and at her funeral, which made it harder. Almost like we had to have the funeral for them, because it was expected. I was trying to get a glimpse of her in the casket, from a distance -- it had been so long since I'd seen her. Later, she was on display wearing a wedding gown and lying, as if unconscious, arms splayed, upon some propped-up, satin-covered area near the altar. This was sort of a symbolic representation of Mom, fuzzy on the details except for what she was wearing. She was much younger, pretty, I guess she would have looked more like me and my sister than her older self.

Chris Parma escorted me in and was talking with me, and had his arm around me, and at some point it dawned on me how odd it was that I wasn't sitting with Dwaine. So we went together over to Dwaine, and he and Chris started chatting and laughing, making small talk, and I was wondering how they could do that in the middle of a funeral! (How do people keep on living normal lives even in the midst of all this grief and loss?)

I went into the audience, where my sister was sitting, wearing some orange-ish dredlocks and a hippie-ish outfit. (I didn't see my kids or her husband in this dream.) We embraced, crying together, and she was still sick, because this had just happened, and she is right now recovering from the flu! When I touched her, she was hot with fever. Yet she had to fly down, just 7 weeks or so after Dad had died, to do it all over again for this funeral. I felt so bad for her.

Certainly, Dad's death has brought up everything from the time of Mom's passing away in 1999. It's fresh again, as well. Like we are saying goodbye to both parents at once. That is what grief does. It's timeless.

My spiritual guide says that our grief accumulates if it hasn't been expressed well, and gets worse or more difficult to cope with if it hasn't been handled from past losses. However, I feel like I was so much better prepared for Dad's death, in a spiritual sense, than for Mom's. With Dad, I saw it coming long ago. I guess that is the gift that a chronic illness brings, is a little bit of perspective on mortality. You can never really be prepared for the death of a loved one, but you can see the signs when they have been so sick and you can start to take it into your reality, a little bit, that they won't be around forever.

For me, Mom's passing was so terrible. It rocked my world for about a year, and I think I suffered PTSD because of seeing her dying in an awful way in the ICU. But all that trouble and pain made it so much more bearable, the second time. I could almost see this as a natural process, this human lifecycle, though it is really hard to bring that kind of awareness to the deathbed. Just as Dad, Cynthia, and I were there when Mom passed, even more of us were there for Dad's passing -- Cynthia and I, both our husbands, and Han, Dad's wife. Even the pastor from their Chinese Methodist Church came in, just after the nurse had removed the ventilator, at a crucial moment to pray with us all. I received that as a great blessing in a time of crisis.

My husband just came in and told me that I shouldn't be blogging the same day I was under anesthesia! Beforehand, the nurses and anesthesiologist and I were joking about where the cutoff lies for acceptable and unacceptable activities. No driving or operating heavy machinery -- one nurse interjected that she always tells patients, no horseback or motorcycle riding, either! I asked if I could go work out afterwards (in jest, believe me), and one nurse said it would be OK, whereupon the other nurse started arguing -- why wouldn't working out be just as hazardous as the banned activities? Just to be safe, I went home and took a long nap, instead.

Obviously, no legal decisions right after anesthesia ("don't sign any paperwork") and according to my husband, no ranting and raving on my blog! Oh, well. It's better than the patient who ordered vast quantities of Chinese food to be delivered to his house, when left alone by his unsuspecting wife! Or the nurse who told me he was doing some online transactions while on some "good" meds, and you know the screen where it says, only hit this button once to complete the transaction? Well, it really means that! He had so many duplicate charges that he had to cancel later. So, we're good here. Signing off as just a little loopy today --

1 comment:

  1. Julie, I love seeing you on your blog again.

    This is beautiful - so true... "That is what grief does. It's timeless."

    And I LOVE the idea of me with orange dreadlocks... if only I were that brave.

    Love you, sis.


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