Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Palliative care

My wife, upon reading my blog post on Monday, made the observation that it was very much a straightforward recounting of events rather than my own personal reactions to or analysis of those events or any of the other variations on thoughtfulness I generally strive to bring to bear. And, you know, fair enough. Partly that’s because the whole Saga of the Kidney Stones was a long and convoluted sequence of events which I felt were interestingly noteworthy in and of themselves, like our own little version of an episode of House or something. And partly it was because interpretation seemed a little hard to come by under the circumstances.

It definitely was not a day for subtle shadings on the emotional palette. It started out with very broad panic – about making arrangements for the little guy and getting to the hospital with the clock ticking, about the relative health of a baby born too early, about enduring a difficult labor – which was steadily replaced by a very broad relief as one by one those concerns proved either handleable or non-applicable. And somewhere in the middle was one of the most acute feelings of despair I’ve had in a long time, and the reason I didn’t weave that into my initial retelling was because it’s not terribly pleasant nor is it terribly illuminating. It just sucks. “It” in this case refers to the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know that someone you love is suffering and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Being told that my wife was not in fact in early labor but rather was experiencing the pain associated with kidney stones basically had the effect of banishing a whole cloud of disparate anxieties and replacing them with a single overriding concern, which was to get my wife some relief. But it was out of my hands. Nothing I could say or do would interrupt the anguish that was literally contorting her face and then her entire body. I knew that it was very temporary at worst, but that didn’t make the moment-to-moment of watching her in pain any easier. Like I keep saying, though, I don’t think I went through anything unique or have any special insight as a result. It happened, and it was terrible (for me heart-wise and much moreso for my wife pure physical are-you-kidding-me agony-wise) and then the painkillers were administered and the worst was over. But even now I’m well aware there are far, far worse things that can befall a person. I won’t tempt fate by naming them, but I’m grateful that I was in a position where there was nothing I could do but there was plenty modern medicine could and ultimately did do, once someone with access to the drug cabinet realized that possibly screwing up later tests was a risk worth taking to ameliorate the situation. If I had been in a position where there was nothing I could do and nothing anybody else in the world could do either … yeah, probably best not to think about that. Look, Muppets!

Oh Rowlf you'll always be my favorite.
What else did we learn from our most recent trip through the halls of the healing sciences? That it always seems like doctors have someplace else they think they need to be whenever they manage to spend five minutes at your bedside many hours after you show up looking for medical attention? That nurses are overworked and underpaid and do all the important stuff and don’t get enough credit for it? That hospital food is crappy? What is this, a blog or a tepid stand-up routine from the late 80’s? (And as it happens, in the case of the specific hospital we were in, only the first two statements are true. My wife couldn’t say enough good things about the food she ate – which was made to order! – during her stay.)

So yeah, there was plenty of overfeeling during the entire escapade, but all of that boils down to stuff that’s simultaneously so universal it doesn’t need explanation and so me-specific that it doesn’t merit much attention. The usual overthinking was simply not in evidence, again because either things were moving so fast there simply wasn’t time or because during the slower moments it seemed like everything around us was extremely well-covered territory.

Which is not to say I didn’t learn anything at all from the whole ordeal, but I reckon I will save that for tomorrow. Yes, this is proving to be a monumentally uneventful week, such that I can fix my posting gaze firmly upon last Wednesday and Thursday and know that I am not missing catching any of you up on anything more recent. I’m sure we’ll get back to the typical as-it-happens perspective at some point, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment