Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 13

Chapter 13

“Yeah, she could probably beat the crap out of Dr. King Kong in the brains department!”
Shut up, you! I gotta think. Second day at home and I’m lying in bed, not only relishing the temporary stay of insanity, but ruminating about my dehumanizing experiences with the asshat doctor in the ER. I’m comparing him to the kindly Dr. Verylongname. And Ima thinkin’ . . . I’ll never go to the hospital ever again. Best to die with dignity.
I sit up in bed, feeling rather hung over, notwithstanding the fact my drinking days have long since been over—22 years to be exact. Hadn’t been hard to quit either. I think it was my third keg party that did me in, because I wound up on the floor puking my guts out, while raucously being serenaded. Losing control in this manner scared the crap out of me. 
So I turned to cigarettes, until, after a month or so I couldn’t stand the taste or smell anymore. Several months later, it was on to my next bright move; smoking Mary Effing Jane. That worked out real well . . . until one day, cops came pounding on my brother’s apartment door while we were all engaged in a smoke fest! Instant chaos. My brother and his friends frantically hurried, (well, frantic in the sense they all resembled a herd of elephants stampeding in slow motion), to flush the freshly harvested dime bag down the toilet while I took a bottle of ammonia and spilled it around the front door and other select places.
The ammonia worked exceptionally well. As the cops stood on the threshold questioning me, I could tell their twitchy noses begged for a clothespin. Consequently, we had a cordial, but very short conversation. Something along the lines of, “Ma’am, there’s an escaped convict in the area, and we’d like to know if you’ve seen or heard anything unusual.” They then craned their heads around my stoned body looking for, I suspect now, evidence of criminal activity. Sly dogs them coppers. Fortunately, I can beat their sly and raise it by a cajillion dollars.
“No.” The most powerful word in the English language. Why do people constantly abuse it by adding a bunch of other words—yea verily, entire sentences to it? But I digress. The important thing is that my close brush with the law cured me of smoking pot. Ah well, it hadn’t been working for me anyway. Losing control of one’s faculties is not my idea of fun.
Yet here I am at the age of 40, hanging on to the bedpost, (faculties, what faculties?) crazy as a bedbug hiding in a bottle of bleach. Tentatively, I put my feet to the floor. I begin to rock back and forth again. That’s a bad sign. The panic builds, my heart nearly erupts with agonizing fear, and before I know it, the voices are out en masse and I’m crawling all over the room, unable to stay still for one second. 
I go from moaning to whimpering, “Make it stop, God, please make it stop.” I leave the bedroom and cruise the entire house again. At one point, I’m telling somebody to shut up. Must be my husband. Poor guy’s following me around again. Eventually I collapse from exhaustion on the bedroom floor, and fall right to sleep.
“Well . . . there goes Sleeping Beauty again. Where’s Prince Charming when you really need him?”

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 12

Chapter 12 

I’m not home ten minutes before the switch goes off! I transform into a raving lunatic. For two hours I babble nonsensically and crawl all over the house. My husband tries to get me to take the valium. “No, no, no, no. Me’cine bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad.” I repeat this over and over again in a child’s voice. I honestly do try to say yes, but I can’t speak the words as I know them. Finally, after another hour of insanity, I collapse in the kitchen and fall asleep.
When I open my eyes ten minutes later, the switch is back on. I nearly sob in relief when I recognize the kitchen floor. The ugliest kitchen floor known to mankind. Speckled linoleum, the color of vomit. I’d always hated it, but now I’m willing to wrap my body in it and proudly display it outside. As I stand up, my husband and children hover over me. Oh no. The children! My heart drops further than the deepest fathoms of an ocean. I’ve ruined them for life! What to do now? Run and hide? . . . No, not just yet. First, I will garble false reassurance to the little darlings, then fly up the stairs and crawl into bed, throwing the sheets over my head and hope I disappear forever. Or die. Don’t care which. Don't wanna live like this. My thoughts begin to gyro out of control as I go through the motions of talking to the kids, and then leave the room. Got to slow my thoughts down! But I can’t. I begin to rock. I tell myself it’s going to be ok. Psycho Voice begs to differ.
“Nope, never gonna be ok again. You are one sick little potato, Lizzie. Hmm . . . that reminds me . . . One potato, two potato, three potato four . . . five potato, six potato, seven potato more. Icha bacha, soda cracker, Icha bacha boo, Icha bacha, soda cracker out goes Y-O-U.”
Panic hits and I’m off the bed crawling and wailing again. Another hour goes by. My husband tries to get me to take the medicine. But I shake my head, no, no, no, no. Even though, I want to nod, yes, yes, yes, yes. Anything for relief. My husband asks me if I want to go back to the hospital. I try to answer, but Psycho Voice erupts from within my mind, “HELL NO, SHE WON’T GO!”
Somebody, knock me out for good! Fear mushrooms into nausea. I crawl into the bathroom and puke up my soul. As I flush the essence of me down the toilet, the switch goes back on. Staring into the toilet bowl, I contemplate my future as a human lightbulb. From where I’m kneeling, it don’t look so great. What happens when that sucker goes out for good?
Oh dear. Dr. King Kong is very wrong wrong. I have so many bats in my belfry, it would take a large cathedral to hold them all in! . . . Ok. Time to call in the cavalry. 
“Or . . . N-O-T.” 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 11

Chapter 11 

“Mrs. ET? Do you remember me? I am Dr. Kang, the hospital psychiatrist.”
Oh great. Dr. King Kong’s back. But I’m polite. “Yes, I remember you, Dr. Kong. You told me the hallucinations I'm having are caused by the illness. Well, I’m not so sure about that anymore. I talked it over with Dr. Verylongname, and she thinks there’s more to it than that. Especially when she found out I tried to jump out of the car on my way back to the hospital.”
“Mrs. ET," he begins with a frown. "I will take the time to explain to you what is happening. Then I will send a prescription home with you for an anti-anxiety drug which will help you recover nicely.”
For the next five minutes, he expounds on his theory of why I’m as mentally healthy as Mr. and Ms. Normal Person living down Ordinary Lane. As he talks, I’m easily convinced that shigellosis is one helluva mean sombitch monster, and I’m lucky to be alive with any brain function at all. By the time Dr. King Kong’s soliloquy for the ages finally reaches its conclusion, I'm loving his theory. The man does have a way with words. He smiles and admonishes me to call an ambulance if I ever get that sick again. He pats my arm and bids me farewell, immensely satisfied I’m hanging on to his every word. Which I am.
As I watch him pirouette out the door on the tippytoes of his massive ego, (a one thousand dollar bill from the hospital for ten minutes of work is quite convincing), it's a relief to know I'm as sane as he is, even though I fully realize I haven’t been exactly forthright about my very brief psychiatric history as maybe I should’ve been. But then again, it's likely Dr. King Kong would’ve ignored it in favor of his own diagnosis.
At any rate, the rest of the hospital stay goes very well. I don’t switch off, I don’t see Dr. King Kong, and the shigellosis has verily been defeated. I’m discharged the next day. Now I can resume my very ordinary, and very normal life. And I’ll never ever complain about being bored again, I swear to God.
“And she lived happily ever after. The end!”

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A memoir, Entry 10

Chapter 10 

     “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” I chant repeatedly, my body shaking like a clown in an ant suit in an effort to stay awake. Grotesquely charred demons, with bloody red spiked-tooth smiles, hug the ceiling in vast numbers as I’m wheeled down the corridor toward a private room. I must be dying. Again. Hell is yawning and I’m a carnival magnet! It’s a war between my spirit and the hounds of hell! I try to call for help. But I can’t form words or even sounds now. Tis’ alone I am to fight these demons every half hour on the hour. Wake, shake and bake. At some point during the horrific night, I think, this is your last chance, God. You keep pulling this stuff on me, I’m going to surprise you and croak.
     Morning finally breaks. The sounds of nurses buzzing about as they change shifts, waking everybody up in the process, tells me I survived the night. And there’s more. The brand new day births good news! I can think again. I can actually talk to my nurse rationally. Well . . . until I remember my macabre tango with madness in the ER. Anxiety hits and the switch goes off momentarily. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU I shout at Ms. White Shoes. The nurse panics, and runs out to prepare another shot for sedation. By the time she returns, the switch is back on. “What’s that?” I ask suspiciously as Nurse Hatchet strides toward the bed, her face full of naked, evil purpose.
     She spouts patented false reassurance to stupid, crazy woman. “Don’t worry, Mrs. ET. You’re a little anxious. This will take the edge off.”
     “Uh, no thanks. If that’s what you gave me last night, I almost died!”
     “Are you allergic to Haldol, Mrs. ET?” She checks chart. “We didn’t know that.”
     Of course you didn’t, I think crabbily. Nobody asked me. So, you deserve the gross lie I’m about to tell. “Yes, I’m very allergic. Look, valium works better. At least it did when I was in here the other day.”
     She leaves and comes back with one little round pill. Ten minutes later I’m peacefully asleep. Which lasts until I’m awakened for breakfast a couple of hours later. Surprisingly, I’m starved and wolf it down. My husband arrives with a doctor at his side. A pretty woman with a dot in the middle of her forehead. She introduces herself, and speaks with an elegant, slightly accented voice. “Hello, Mrs. ET. I am Dr. Verylongname. How are you feeling today?”
     “Like a banana flattened by Big Foot. So, what’s with the cop outside my door, Doc?”
     She smiles warmly. “Mrs. ET, please do not worry. The policeman is merely guarding another patient.” 
     “Oh.” Not to worry? With my luck, I’m next door to a murderer.
     “But,” she continues mournfully, “I am afraid that you are under quarantine. You have shigellosis, which is highly infectious and contagious. It is an intestinal bug which can make you very, very sick in a short period of time.”
     “Can it make you nuts?”
     “You can get sick enough to hallucinate and have delusions, yes.”
     “Oh, that’s a relief. I’ll be myself again soon. Is that what you’re saying?” 
     Dr. Verylongname hesitates. So not good. I switch off immediately and become a child again. I get to my knees on the bed and begin to crawl in circles chanting, “No, no, no, no. I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.”
     The nice lady doctor replies gently, “Yes, you will be fine, Mrs. ET. In fact, you will be able to go home tomorrow.”
     “No, no, no, no. Don’ wanna. Don’ don’don’.” I begin to rock back and forth.
     She reaches out and rubs my back in a circular motion. “Ok. Only when you are ready will you go home.
     The switch goes on, and I abruptly settle into a lotus-style sitting position. “That’s great, Doc. But do you really think the mental problems I’ve been having are just a side effect of this illness? Because it seems to me, a few screws in the ol’ noggin have bit the rust.”
     “Duh. No shit, Sherlock.”

Saturday, January 05, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 9

Chapter 9

Emergency Room, St. Agnes Hospital
Voice number one: Ok, les' watch the movie, V2! 
V2:  What’s it called?
V1:  Don’ knowed. "Flyin' Cuckoos." Sump'in like 'at.
V2:  Oh. Sounds stupid.
V1:  Jim'ny Crick't! Look'it alla'em white coats over 'at poor lady.
V2:  Takes that many to hold a person down?
V1:  Guess'in so. Hope she don’ lose her breaf . . . Uh oh. Think she superman ag'in. Look at'er fly! . . . Uh oh, she felled to the floor, V2!
V2:  Kind of rough on her, aren’t they? . . . Oh my goodness, are those leather straps?
V1:  Shhh, tryin' to hear was' they sayin' . . . Ha, ha, think she drunken.
V2:  Oh, I can’t watch this.
V1:  I’ll tell you was' happenin' then. She back on'a bed an' they stickin'a needle in her butt an' they tryin' to put straps on'er.  Husband won’ let’em, tho. 
V2:  Ouch! I hate straps and needles.
V1:  Ok, them white coats's leavin' the room. You kin open you eyes now, V2. This gonna git good.
V2:  Boy, she's making some noise there . . . Why is she crawling around like that?
V1:  'Cos she wearin' goofy rags, dopey . . . Uh oh. Here come them white coats ag'in . . . Jumpin' Jehos'phat! 'nother shot in'er butt. 
V2:  Gee. I kind of feel sorry for her. Still crawling around too. I don't think those shots are working.
V1:  Nope, they sure ain't. An' don' it seem like it been'a long time she be 'at way, V2? Poor lady . . . Look at'er go! . . . Uh oh. Nurse come in. Carryin' 'nother needle!
V2:  Hells bells, that’s three shots, V1! They’re going to kill her. You watch.
V1:  Uh oh, Mister Doctor really mad now. Takin'er blood an' tellin'er to shuddup.
V2:  What's her husband saying?
V1:  Don’ knowed . . . but he fer sure ain't lookin' happy 'bout alla 'is.
V2:  Hey, I’m getting sleepy and this movie’s stressing me out.
V1:  Yep. I feel real tir'—way'da min't! Ther' she go. Splat! On'er bu—zzzzzzzzzzz!
V2: Zzzzzzzzzzzz!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 8

Chapter 8

Home, Sweet Home, Catonsville, MD
The day after that abominable hospital stay, I’m perusing the movie channels. Already getting bored with being in this bed stuff.  Let’s see. TV time. What to watch? How about “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down a Mountain.” Stars Hugh Grant. Sarcastic fella. Be hard to live with. Sounds like a good flick, though. As the movie unfolds, I drink loads of water and even try a little soup. Feeling not too shabby now. A couple more days of siesta, and I’ll be ready to fly the bed coup and return to normal land. Nurse Huffy was oh so wrong. Until . . . as the Englishman was coming down the mountain, my nose begins to bleed. 
And it doesn’t stop. A thin ribbon of scarlet flows over the top of my upper lip as if my nose has morphed into a fountain of pearly red water. I'm horrified! I've never had a bloody nose in all my born days. I swipe at the gore with a velvety soft kleenex hoping the bleed will end soon. It doesn’t. The more I swipe, the more it flows! Then . . . without warning, the ‘switch’ I’d tried so hard to find in the back of my head goes OFF. This time, it stays off. The voices of insanity—voices I thought only existed in cartoons, like the ones I watched as a child—spew out of my mouth like lava from a majorly pissed-off volcano! Whole sentences are reduced to garbled words of nonsense. Wails worse than a banshee issue forth when the voices become fatigued and take a break. 
So, the me I know real well, that my family and friends know real well . . . kaput! It's like I've been shunted aside by some internal fiend, and all I can do now is watch helplessly as it takes over and directs the next act, leaving my husband to pick up the pieces. But the poor man has no idea what's happened to his wife, or where the hell she's gone. That's because you really need a rational adult voice to make that understanding thing work for people. And even though I'm screaming the words HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME in my head, they aren't making their way through the traditional channels of verbal communication. 
      As the terrible reality sets in that there is this inexorable disconnect between what I'm thinking and what I'm actually saying, my thought process undergoes an abrupt switch; I'd quite like to fall into a coma now. Or die. Death is infinitely preferable to losing one's mind. Isn't it? Fortunately, my husband comes to his senses and has other ideas. It's back to the hospital I go. Quickly, he helps me out to the car. Voices are coming out of me like Robin Williams on speed dial. And I can't stop them! Oh dear Lord, I can't stop them!
It gets worse. As we travel the Baltimore beltway, I've taken to rocking back and forth, alternately jabbering and wailing like a hyena attacking a herd of squealing pigs. My fingers, hands and arms have taken on a life of their own: fingers flapping, hands punching the air, arms twisting like pretzels. I need more room. I need air. I need to leave the car. I try the door handle. No go. I pound, pound, pound on that door trying to get it open. No go. Must be stuck. I begin to chant, open, open, open. No go. I kick the door with my feet, still chanting open, open, open. Frantic, my husband yells, stop it, Liz! I begin to chant, stop, stop, stop . . . I stop. 
      At the hospital, I stagger out of the car and into the ER as if I’m drunk or on drugs. The voices continue to poor out of my mouth. I swing from childish to demanding to profane. I know this, I hear this, I watch from afar. And . . . I can do nothing.