Sunday, January 09, 2011

plan b

it's hard enough to link together loosely-related elements and make them into a story when my mind is clear and tell it to you, and harder still when the elements overlap or are interwoven through time or across seemingly unrelated concepts or draw together otherwise unrelated people or events or rely on weird little networks of coincidences but for the most part the story falls in some sort of orderly fashion and if you were able to keep track of it, you might be able to diagram it with some success.

unfortunately, during the Indeterminate Time, while things happened that were certainly real, the portions of my brain that processed them are unable to recall them in precise sequence any better than you are able to nail jello to a wall. and even coming out of the Indeterminate Time where my notes may be good (and i took PAGES of notes) it will just make more sense for me to tell the stories in bits and pieces and let you try to pull together the organized narrative if you need to, ok?

intermittently i will also be telling you the other stuff that's on the regular program around here because let's face it, i did not start this blog to be a solid wall of psychiatric story, but rather a catch-all of what's-on-my-mind and while i wish to tell you the story, i also wish to tell you for instance that it's snowing and that tomorrow the skiing will be nice. and that there's soup to be made and toys to try out. and that i still have pictures to clock and video to process. and i still have stuff to tell you about my virginia roadtrip, and the rest of my october roadtrip, and that i think i'm still behind in telling you all the stuff from my MAY road trip, so even though i've been writing regularly, i have serious backlog.

and sooner or later i'm going to get around to writing about some blogs i like.

if i have time.

anyway, during the Indeterminate Time i'm up there and i am powerful homesick and besides that i am howlingly sad for just being sad but i'm trying to get it under control or at least just get my appearance of it under control and not cry and scream so loud because it's really close quarters and that's really uncomfortable for other people to be around, and i really don't want to get my privileges yanked so even though i'm feeling very unstable, and like i want to run around in circles screaming very loudly or like i might spend another three days crying or worse, laugh until i fall to the floor and not be able to stop, i'm trying really, really hard to just walk around with no affect at all rather than let it get out of control and it doesn't leak out much unless someone on staff comes to talk with me about how i feel, which is when it leaks, which i find out later when i go look it up that this kind of plays against me in the sneak diagnosis department.

and when i tell them i am lonely and homesick for my people, whom i miss, and who are special to me, they tell me i can socialize with the other patients, but when i tell the that the other patients are not the same as my friends and my family and my church family and that it's JUST NOT THE SAME, this also works toward the sneak diagnosis.

jiminy. i have learned so much.


during this time i am also creeping toward my birthday. for a lot of reasons i often feel ambivalent about my birthday, but one thing about which i am not ambivalent is that the only thing that sucks more about spending your birthday or any other holiday on a pysch ward is the lame observance of your birthday in which people try to make you feel better or bring some festivity to it and i know not everybody agrees with me on this, but one thing i know is that of those of us who have had birthdays while on psych units, we are none of us lukewarm about it: we either welcome the small kindhearted attempts to make it better, or it is hellish for us.

i know where i stand.

and you do, too.

and you should know that my mom loves me and wants to come visit me for my birthday. in principle i don't have an objection to that. my mom can visit without making a federal case out of it being my birthday. but this unit is weird: it doesn't really have any sitting space where you can really be with your visitors. every other unit i've been on has had some sort of sitting area where i've felt comfortable receiving visitors, but not this one. and i can't imagine visiting with my mom out so much mixed in with this present cast of characters. and i still think i might be going home soon, so i tell her not to come.

but my mom is kind of headstrong. and i'm surprised SHE hasn't gotten a sneak secondary diagnosis, now that i think of it, but they're not paid to diagnose her. she manages to arrange a "meeting" with the social worker. so she comes down to visit.

now, the night before i have given express directions to staff to put it in my chart: there is to be no mention that it is my birthday, and even so, one or two of them still think they ought to say something about it, but i manage to head it off. it is my forty sixth birthday, and in the morning one of the patients, not knowing that it is my birthday, and not knowing what kind of books i like to read, and not knowing a lot of things about me, hands me a book and says she thinks maybe i should read this.

it is plan b: further thoughts on faith, by anne lamott, and it begins with the words "On my forty-ninth birthday, I decided that all of life was hopeless", which evaporated my bad mood pretty quickly by the sheer freakishness of it.

anne lamott is a favorite of my pastor at home, and while i had never before read anything by her, i had heard her quoted from the pulpit, although i had to be a little bit into the book before i realized it.

so my mom arrives to visit and the social worker gets us set up for our "meeting" and she would be welcome to stay (i am only meeting her for the first time) but she has actual work do do and excuses herself. my mom has brought laundry detergent that doesn't make me itch, and some clean clothes, some snacks i can share, and a really beautiful not-marked-for-birthday flourless chocolate cake that later on i will have the nurses cut up so i can share it with the other patients.

i don't need to tell them what the occasion is, but a cake like that is a thing of beauty and graciousness and no matter how good or kind or well-trained or professional the staff is or how well-appointed the hospital is, it is still a bleak place and it is an awesome thing to offer each person a little slice of something that came from a very nice bakery just that morning.

little blessings.

1 comment:

RW said...

What a beautiful opening line (that book). And little blessings end up being all that's worth it.


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