So, I almost died.
In a book I’ve read more than once, there is the line, “The forest eats itself and lives forever.” I always remembered it because I applied it to anything that seemed self-sustaining and limitless. Mostly life itself, as we are immeasurable on the Other Side, I believe, we come into this world to grow, literally expand our bodies into something ever bigger and bigger, and then shrink and curl up in old age, before we become so small that we escape with one last breath. The soul, uneaten, liberates itself and lives on.
There are a lot of moments and lines, mainly from movies and TV, that I have stored in my brain and think of often, applying them to how I feel and what I want or expect. One big one is from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, once and forever my favorite show, when a young alien prepared to be a ruler of her people straightens her back regally, says, “I am ready now,” ready to leave the first boy I had a crush on, and steps out the door into her destiny. I think it when I am ready to die. This time, I was not ready, and I feel a tiny bit of gratitude, and a crushing sense of being so close to freedom, and missing it.
I was having a fight with my mom a few weeks ago, about what I hardly remember, and decided the only way I would sleep was if I took an extra few muscle relaxers. I then forgot I took them, and took more – ten or so altogether. I didn’t think it would have any result but sleep, and boy, was I wrong. I was in the dining room on my computer, and my family in the adjoining living room saw me incredibly drowsy and started questioning me, I thought, very harshly about what I took. Then it’s fuzzy, and the paramedics were there…fuzzy again, being in an ambulance…and then I was in the hospital for two weeks.
The first week is strange to remember, since I was hallucinating and actually thought my youngest sister was using an app to give me the answers to the questions the nurses asked me – who is the president, what date is it, et cetera – because she showed me some pics of my nephews on her phone, and the answers I required next were there. I don’t know now how this was so, except that I’ve been precognitive before, so…*shrug*. I was then convinced that the app controlled everything, the TV, who was allowed to visit me, what the nurses did next. I begged my mother to make her uninstall the app, I (falsely, I’m sure) remember going through exhausting physical routines to “beat” the app when I thought it was the only way to see my visitors. I feel terrible now, my sister must have been so scared.
Youngest Sis (MV Sis, I call her, Militant Vegan) can be very harsh with people, and I’m incredibly touched by the amount of love and gentleness she showed me in the hospital and ever since. She was by my side with my parents, informing the nurses on my general nature, reassuring me, staying up days straight to make sure I had water when I wanted it, getting the nurse when she was needed. Mostly, I think MV Sis is why I stayed. Part of me echoed the alien, “I am ready,” and part of me really wanted to let go. But I couldn’t, not when I heard MV Sis’s voice. It anchored me, yelled to me, “You can’t leave her. Maybe everyone else, maybe, not her.” So I lived, and wrote MV Sis a note thanking her and promising her it would never happen again. I deserved yelling from her, even hatred, but MV Sis, the harshest person I know at times, hugged me and told me she loved me. And as it is with me, those are not cheap words from her.
I’ve mentioned I am autistic, hinted or more that I don’t deal well with people, so being in a hospital full of strangers, my family members were with me for long stretches, but quite a bit of that time was interacting with nurses and what I called my “minders,” people who were assigned to watch me at every moment because I was classified a suicide attempt. Funny, my actual suicide attempts all resulted in shorter hospital stays, but there was a long wait for an MRI I didn’t need, and then for a bed to open up in the more relaxed psych unit. Anyway, the nurses were very kind, and I think even more so now that I remember how nuts I was, how I had to be physically restrained at times.
Despite my anxiety, when with strangers I go into what some friends of mine used to call “hostess mode,” a leftover ability from before, where I chat and am an interested and sympathetic listener, where I give sincere-sounding compliments, and I’ve been told that I am actually charming. In my lucid moments, I listened to a minder good-naturedly complain about how expensive her oldest daughter is, praised an immigrant from Colombia for raising her kids bilingual, heard stories of struggle from a nurse who was so open with me that I was touched.
There were the nighttime minders (I didn’t sleep much) who actually slept through their shifts, even through the alarms on their phones that I heard and they didn’t, but there was also the African-American guy (he had long, gorgeous braids I wish I had complimented him on) who spoke to me kindly, constantly offered help (the bed was hell to get off and on), and laughed with me while we watched Finding Dory. I don’t know if hospital staff is allowed to accept such things from former patients, but this Christmas I plan to deliver to them homemade cookies as a thank-you. I know they were just doing their jobs, but they didn’t have to be as nice as they were, as revealing, as patient.
I’ve been home a few weeks now, and honestly, not much has changed. Since it wasn’t a suicide attempt, honestly, I at first felt angry that I had been “punished” for a simple dosage mistake, and maybe general idiocy from someone who does have an albeit-extremely minor degree in the medical sciences. But I heard eventually from my mom about how my heart rate was going crazy during the time I don’t remember, that I kept yanking my IV out, that I had to be held down by five people at a time. I feel terrible about what I put my family through.
But as I said, I haven’t changed much in my thinking. I continue to bruise easily, though that apparently might be due to anemia, and I’m still hoping for cancer, for something that will end this life but leave me a little time to be alive and dying.
I’ve been working on this post for over a week now, thinking of how exactly to say how I feel, a mixture of breathing life in as something almost new, being almost grateful, and depressed that I was a hair’s breath away from who I really am, and fell back into my body, defeated. Maybe that’s how I feel. A little hopeful, ultimately defeated. My depression eats itself, and lives forever.