Today is my day in the hospital. That sounds so dramatic.
Every month I’m here in this sweet little rural hospital – kind people and a world-class view. But it’s still a hospital with all the smells and sounds, being stuck indoors, the loss of autonomy, and all coupled with a slight tinge of fear.
I’m a trained chaplain and I have some questions for me:
Chap: This morning, did the fear start before, during, or after your ride into the hospital?
Me: Part of it started long ago, but it really built up on the ride in.
Chap: Going back – hours, days, months, and years – when did you first feel this way?
Me: In Rhode Island, I think. I’m about six or seven, we are on the way to the hospital. My parents are scared and anxiously whispering in the front seat. I have a high temp and am in and out of hallucinations. Then I’m in the hospital with the noise and smells and nobody telling me anything. It was terrible with no anchors to ease or life.
Chap: And how is that similar/ different from today?
Me: The sounds are the same, but less sharp. The smells are similar, but less acrid. There is the same sense of being stuck somewhere I don’t want to be. And there are the same fears – fear of dying, fear of not knowing what might happen next, and the fear that this is the end.
Chap: What is the difference between the fear of dying and the fear of this being the end?
Me: The fear of dying is about the process being tough. The sounds of alarms going off, people in panic but mechanically holding it together. The bodily abuse as they try to hold my body to life. The fear that this is the end is about all the tasks I have yet to do ( more books, more seminars, more loving, more helping). So many things incomplete.
Chap: Which feels larger or more significant?
Me: The fear of dying feels more like a little kid thing, for me. Whereas the fear of leaving so many important things incomplete is with me quite often, especially when I’m in the hospital.
I’ve been working on moving some big things to a state of temporary stability, but my health keeps getting in the way. Frequently my frustration is way bigger than my fear. The two mix together into an anxiety about bringing things into semi-stability, and a fury at the disease for causing so many obstructions. This anxi-fury becomes especially acute when laying here in the hospital.
Every hour I lay here feels like a wasted hour. I’m here because it is necessary for my body and will aid me in the future. In a way, this down-time aids me to understand the anxi-fury and how it moves me, sometimes, in a not-so-good direction.
For example, rather than my taking this day as a healing day with meditation, prayers, and rest, I’ve pushed myself to write a blog and think deeply. These are good things, but today is supposed to be a healing day: a day for helping my body to a quieter and healthier state.
Living with the anxi-fury and healing my body is a difficult and dynamic balancing act.