Fair warning: this is likely to become a sloppily sappy, touchy-feely post. I’m just getting back onto my antidepressants after being taken completely off while I was in the hospital and I had been on those suckers for 10+ years straight and, basically, all my filters are operating pretty damn low, so strap in and brace yourselves.
What a month May was. Let’s do a quick summary:
- My mom was admitted to the hospital twice in as many weeks out of an abundance of caution.
- I turned 34.
- My mom turned 74.
- I went to the ER after noticing I had been bitten by something on my ankle, which was swollen and becoming harder to walk on. Apparently it was also my turn to have some health issues. The doctors realized I had an infection, treated it with fluids, and my kidneys went batshit crazy and I ended up being in the hospital for nine days.
- I ended up having to miss Closing Day for YLE in person and I’m still really salty about that.
I’m tired just reading over that, but I have a few observations from my time in the hospital that I’d like to share.
- Anyone who works in healthcare, doctors, nurses, patient care assistants, admins, housekeeping and maintenance, those in the kitchens, etc, are fucking heroes. Everyone involved in my care was kind and cared about every person they came into contact with. Before the doctors figured out that my kidneys were failing and fluids were surrounding my lungs, thus making it hard to breathe, I thought I was having a panic attack and kept bursting into tears. No less than three nurses/patient care assistants sat down with me and asked me what was going on, it was okay to be scared, was I worried about someone at home, did I need them to call someone, what could they do to help me? I remember telling them about my mom and how I had been helping her after her tramautic brain injury and how badly I wanted to go home to help her, even though she was doing fine and I knew I needed to take care of myself. No one judged me, they just asked what they could do to help. Their response and reassurances was all I needed at that time, plus, y’know, the ability to breathe normally but that came too, just later.
- I have a morbid sense of humor and it’s a godsend sometimes. Before I left for the emergency room, I joked to my mom that if my foot/leg had to be amputated, at least we could do physical therapy together and I’d have something handy at all times to kick people with. She didn’t appreciate the joke, but it gave me a good laugh, as well as my friends and senior rabbi.
- As I mentioned, the doctors ended up taking me off all the anti-depressants I was on, which included some I had been on for over a decade. Let me tell you, the immediate aftermath of that was messy as hell but it made me appreciate the progress I’ve made in those years a lot more.
The last couple of things I want to put out into the universe are a little intense, but for whatever reason, I feel very strongly that I need to share them, mostly for my own soul.
- I went into the ER on Friday, May 21st. I took myself to the ER, telling my mom that I’d likely be back late and I’d call her. Yeah, I ended up being placed into observation and since I wasn’t officially admitted into the hospital until Monday afternoon, the first time I saw my mom was Tuesday, May 25th, which was also the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. You may have noticed that I use a lot of my writing to work through difficult subjects and memories and before I got sick, I had planned on writing about an event that happened the same day George Floyd was murdered. Obviously, I didn’t get to write about that and, in retrospect, this wasn’t the right time for me do that in a public setting, but I thought about him a lot that Sunday and Monday, when the worst of the breathing problems happened. I distinctly remember that at some point, between wheezing and coughing, I started mumbling the names of loved ones and pets who have passed, along with random bits of the Mourners Kaddish and other Jewish prayers, and crying for my mom. I remember thinking how the pain I felt at that point was nothing in comparison to what he must have felt, which made me cry harder. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always cry for the person(s) who make you feel the safest.
- During my hospital stay, I was in frequent contact with my friends and Temple clergy. I’m really grateful for this community. They asked me if they could do anything for me or my mom, who is stubborn and did not want (but did appreciate the offers of) help. I want to especially thank Rabbi Stern and Rabbi Ross.
- During my first call with Rabbi Stern, towards the end, I started crying and asking if he thought God was punishing me. From my perspective, it sure seemed that way; the last six months have been the hardest for my mom and me and then to be sidelined in the hospital for a serious health concern just really made me wonder. His answer was an immediate no, followed by why he thought that and it gave me a lot of comfort.
- Rabbi Ross came to visit and recited Mi Shebeirach with me. When I started crying afterwards, she asked if she could hold my hand and I nodded. It may seem weird that she asked the question, but she’s known me a long time and her asking that brought a tiny bit of much-needed normacly.
- One last thing: Temple held its first in-person Shabbat service last Friday and I was absolutely distraught that I couldn’t be there too. I watched the first few minutes on Facebook Live before having to log off because I was crying too much. Those that know me well know that I’m not a particularly fervent service-goer, so my reaction surprised me a lot.
So, there you have it. May came roaring in and roaring out, but I’m here, I’m tired, and I’m ready to take on June.