Ever feel like this?
It’s October 8, 2013, my dad’s birthday. I am lying next to my mom while buying him a gift online as my mother moans in agonizing pain. She is bedridden; a beautiful 59-year-old woman in less than four years is bedridden. What caused this particular eruption into horrific sounds of shrieking and agonies that don’t even sound human? She tried to roll over on her side and reach for her iPad, a mere three feet away, arm’s length from the bed. She ended up on the floor in a humiliating position that she could not untangle on her own.
We are supposed to be participating in a documentary about the horrors of mesh, and I have this camera I haven’t learned to use yet. I run to the other side of the bed, pick her up from the floor, through the guttural cries and deafening screams in my ear, trying to minimize her pain as I clumsily lift and roll her back into bed. I stomp out of the room to find that damn camera that I don’t even know how to work. I am cussing and frantic as I think about the people that did this to her. I am angry and helpless and shaking, and I can’t even work this stupid piece of machinery to show them what they have done to her! Why won’t the camera work? These painful bouts of crying happen several times a day, and I know exactly what to do. I quickly take action, the familiar routine is now muscle memory.
After I do that, there’s nothing. . . . simply nothing that will help.
Brooklyn, my oversized rescue-Yorkie, with the gimpy ear instinctively goes toward the sound of the whimpering, and as she breaches the foot of the bed, her big brown eyes are starting at me with questions and confusion and fear. I stare back at her with no answers. She ultimately sheepishly crawls under my arms and into my lap and stares at my mother before they both fall somewhat asleep. I actually have the thought now, “They wouldn’t do this to a dog. They would not put this horrible polypropylene mesh monster into my discarded, dumped-on-the-side-of-the-highway dog.” Who or what is this adversary we’re dealing with? It feels otherworldly. I cannot take it in all at once; it’s too painful. I plug the camera in, and finally something that looks like a record button appears, and I start filming.
I have given her a Valium. It is the only thing that seems to calm her down when her pain escalates so quickly to an intolerable level with no warning. It’s been exactly 21 minutes and 23 seconds of writhing and shrieking and mumbling things like, “No, no, no, no, no, no,” as if she’s speaking to a well-known school bully, here to taunt and terrify again. She is sleeping and snoring now, her headphones on and the wince of pain on her face is a code orange now, down from red. I’m conditioned to know that this is her peaceful sleep. She’s actually fully asleep- no pain, I hope. I pray.
I sit and stare at the room for a long time, motionless. I’m in my own bedroom, but it’s become a hospital room- a makeshift rolling bedside table we’ve fashioned out of an old podium we have, another bedside table with a giant bottle of water, an old, cold cup of coffee, chapstick, nasal spray, a bag of pills, suitcases with clothes strewn about in every direction. I am so, so sad. I stare at the physical manifestation of the mess my family has become inside and out, and I start to remember that it wasn’t always this way. In fact, it was never this way before the mesh. Mesh has been a part of our lives for one thousand three hundred and seventy six days. We have exactly 22 days before our surgical consult with Dr. Raz at UCLA. My mother is 22nd on the waiting list. We are going to California two weeks early, praying for a cancellation. I don’t know how we’re going to make it. It’s getting a little too real around here. I write and then I go outside to water my beautiful new fall plants, a small respite, a little distraction to remind me that not everything everywhere is all bad all the time.
Please share with me, with all of us following the Blog:
What kinds of hobbies, little beacons of hope or simple joys do you rely on during the bad days?