Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Truth in illness

Ok here goes. I languished for four days at Kaiser Hospital with a debilitating disease called Gastroenteritis. I just got out today. In that time, absolutely no one came to see me and a couple of people called and left a message. This is not new. I have been taking ill on a fairly regular basis for the last couple of years now. But don't get me wrong folks. This is not an idictiment of those self-serving narcissists with too much to do but an observation of fair treatment for all. In the four days I was there, I had a new suitemate each day. Only one of them had any visitors at all. When I took a short walk down the hall, I also noticed empty rooms with an occasional "spouse" thrown in for seasoning. As I sit here at home today I need to write this because I am FASCINATED by this observation. Simply FASCINATED. I have a great many theories about this but the ones that jump out at me right away are made very keenly perceptable by the comments we hear from other people when they discuss with us our plight. For some reason, it seems to be the dubious luxury of our friends and colleagues in the world to COMMENT on our illness. Not to diagnose or discuss the illness but, yes, to COMMENT on it (read: to make a judgement/to render a bias or opinion of the friends habits/choices etc). Of course this is at the core of Susan Sontag's legendary work "Illness as Metaphor". It is much easier to hold the sick individual accountable for their lot than to actually exist in a present state of dis-ease with our own mortality and impending destruction, whenever that will be. This is too disconcerting to offer simple emotional comfort and support because it makes obliteration true. So we flee. We call it not knowing the person was sick, which technically may be true, but isn't disassociation from our loved ones on a daily basis the same negligence? Isn't focus on their poor and immature life habits our own form of shadenfreude? A brief, but rather satisfying knowing that we are not the ones hooked up to those IV's, whose brains may be frying, whose internal organs are bleeding, perhaps unstoppably. It is our one shot at immortality. To have real empathy and BE THERE is a far too ringing admission of our inevitability and relinguishment of all that we hold, to the last shred of recorded ego!
Maybe, if you're lucky, a young immigrant nurse from Ghana will wrap a shawl around your neck to keep you warm as she wheels you down to the curb where you get picked up, she pushing aside rude onlookers, heartless of the sick, because there is God somewhere in this mucked up human ignorance. Forgive them lord for they know all too well to look the other way.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael Pascoe said...

I did not know you where sick. (Of course, how could I?) Many people I know are sick. I don’t know what is going on. Is it our poor diets? Is it our life style catching up to us? Or is it something else. Ah, those conspiracy theories. Just before I clicked on your blog this morning, a workmate of mine was coughing so bad, it sound as if she had a family of the mucus guy on the Mucinex commercial. She ended up going to the doctor.

Also, I have been sick now and then. I have never been sick on a regular basis in my entire life. Now, I join the many allergy suffers. (Sounds like a commercial. That’s because it is.) We are told here in Vegas that because of the many new plants introduced into our ecosystem, allergies are on the rise. Then how do explain the millions that suffer? Man and plant life has coexist for over five thousand years (or if you are a evolution person, millions of years.) Then how come we are developing an allergic reaction to them? Ah… another conspiracy.

Hope you are feeling better. Is it serious? Let me know. I can’t write to your email because it rejects me. Keep a stiff upper lip. Life will only get worse. As Ricky Martin would say, Living the Crazy Life… Or was is it Vita Loca? I don’t remember.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

2 Chronicles 21:18-19: And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases.

And here's Job's buddies' take on this topic: "It's something you did, dude; you have brought on that IV, and all them fuckin' boils to boot." And just when you might despair, you discover that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Except when God plays favorites... So maybe Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite are right after all. And what goes around comes around. Or is it the other way around?

As with all things that happen to us, personal responsibility, rum luck and the invisible powers and principalities are in play. I can only control one of those, and not very well.

Here's to your speedy recovery, Tony.

2:32 PM  

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