A child is sure monsters are under her bed. Or in the closet. She’s young, the frights of the adult world are disconcerting. Makes perfect sense, monsters. How many ears they have is up to you. How many tentacles. Green?
To counteract, to serve as amulet may be a cat, a blankie, a fuzzy toy. Something to dispel the spells hiding in her room. God works for some people, a special saint. And you must understand the fear is real. The threat, the entity. Facing these dreads may be part of your childhood.
Will it work when you’re adult?
Grown men parading with tiki-torches through the public night. You’d think they’d see the comedy. But no, they know they are conveying menace, self-consciously mimicking the KKK’s burning crosses, solely to make other peoples fear. They exude buckets of man-smell in the hot night, which emboldens them. Righteous men demanding their rights from their oppressors — women, Jews, blacks, people of all colors not milk white.
How different is the child in Bambi-themed pajamas from these grownups who’ve convinced themselves they are oppressed by women, races, Democrats? The child is still innocent but the grownups know right from wrong, sense from nonsense. These men, the torch lights, the fervor building in their throats. They know but also they do not.
When will fMRIs [functional MRIs for exact neural pathways] show us what this behavior looks like in the brain? The eyes take in one-of-them and there’s a direct (I think) shunt to emotions such as hate. Trained into them because they’re never born this way. It’s a shunt to powerful emotions that you are agreeing to be taken over by.
Think of it as a car-jacking. You look at flowers, chairs, breakfast, you’re you. But when your eyes light on a Someone you have no more control than a schizophrenic hearing voices. You can’t stop the perception being highjacked by hideous emotions that you don’t normally feel. You become horrible.
I’d asked my surgeon whether I should cancel appointments in the two weeks after surgery. He’d ordered an overnight hospital stay. Just wait and see he said. I waited and spent seven nights in a neurosurgery ward. Was I surprised? I was.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my surgeon. But I think he’s in a bubble where his needs (he does craniums at 2 hospitals, he’s busy) mean more than his patients’. I haven’t seen him since going under the anesthesia. Since waking up hallucinating, interacting with my husband as he was standing high on a wall.
The surgeon is a good guy, a funny guy, but he doesn’t get that when you exit brain surgery you have some questions. You’ve got a tube under your skin behind you ear and big bulge on top of your head. Email a question, he’ll answer in a minute, Johnny on the Spot. But face-to-face he doesn’t get the need.
What am I, a carburetor? And this is Jiffy Lube? You’re not done with me yet because I’m human and you’re human and you just opened up my head.
After surgery I hallucinated for three days, curtesy the anesthesia department. This was acceptable to hospital personnel. Hey, I came out of it didn’t I?
Good thing I’m an artist — I thought an earlier patient had left animated artworks in that room to entertain the next patient, me. I knew the regular artworks and sometimes discovered more.
Part of me (an itty bitty but real part) still believes in those artworks. In la-la land. In what I connected with. Like Dorothy and Toto in Oz. They knew the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch. They knew the Ruby Slippers. They didn’t make those up. But no one back in Kansas will buy it. They’re in a place of knowing what other people don’t, real people don’t. Because they can’t, they didn’t go there.
They stayed home.
I knew I was hallucinating because I’d be having a conversation with somebody, turn my head and speak out loud into the room. So I would shift to normal reality because I was supposed to, because I needed to appear that I knew what they knew was going on.At the same time as holding to a scrap of over-there. Which quietly attenuated to a wisp. A snap, then a no way back. Until I slipped into it again like into a dream, but through the la-la liminal door.
I want to understand this.
Because I didn’t know what’s what and I did believe hallucinations to be fact (because life has always been fact) and believed that I’m supposed to be tethered to the bed (tho I’ve never been so tethered in my life) and so believed I’m misbehaving when the nurse says that’s now the -teenth time I’ve set off the alarm. Why didn’t they warn me? I woke up amazed and half-hairdo’d. I knew damn well what surgery I’d had but not that my hallucinations weren’t as real as breakfast on a tray. They blended invisibly with gotcha-locked-in-shackles real life.
[note: later when I have complications the doctor kindly works me in, twice. And takes real time explaining things for me. Exactly what you’d want while in your hospital bed.]
Digital file, much reduced. 112116 03, by Sloan Nota
Oy, an e-missive from the Patient Site of my healthcare conglomerate.414 pages of scientific links related to my condition. Hell, Chiari Malformation? if I have it no one has stopped by to tell me about it. Please do not reply to this message, as it is auto-generated.
My two other choices going forward with hydrocephalus? A medication that too often does no good. Or ‘minor brain surgery’ which implants a shunt that will drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) out from my brain, down a tube to my abdominal cavity (aka belly).
‘Minor brain surgery’ — I’ve heard this from so many voices by now — is my only chance. So let’s look at it. ‘We make s small hole in your cranium.’ The surgeon repeated what I’d read up and down the internet. Small hole.
When I woke up half my head was shaved and a sturdy S curve of stitches had been carved in my scalp. I remarked it looked like a baseball and a surgeon confided they call this the baseball stitch. To think I’m usually reassured by metaphor. Beauty, even recognizability, were of little concern to me. But I was tethered to a hospital bed that would sound an alarm if I tried getting up without assistance. Nurses would come pounding down the hall. Neurosurgery ward, recently fiddled-with craniums. Big falls bad news.
As I will reveal anon, I hallucinated for the first three days.
I learn later that my first stop was a step down unit. After a description I realize it’s where they ease your wacko balloon slowly from the ceiling.
I may have set the alarms off ten times that first night. My bladder had needs. Nurses exasperated. No one had prepped me for this role out of Cuckoo’s Nest.
They draw blood at least once a day. ‘Your sodium is down!’ Sodium pills make you retch? Try them with ice creamOK, try with applesauce. ‘Your magnesium!’ Another pill. ‘Your potassium!’ A fizzy drink.
At no point was I advised they’d checked my adrenaline levels — which would have been pushing off the charts.
After four or five years of a debilitating condition I get a diagnosis of hydrocephalus. My gait increasingly poor, a spate of urinary incontinence, a degradation of mental powers (‘mild dementia’). Four or five years. Years. And now the choices include Do nothing, just keep on slidin’ off the map. HOW DARE YOU OFFER THAT? No one in their right mind would choose that. Increasingly become a burden to those who love me? Of course they’re just testing to see how selfish I am. They can’t be serious.
Of course I’m 70 y.o. and female. They may be serious.