Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

Neosurrealism Art: “Mindscape* by George Grie*

                   

“Get out of my mind
Get out of my head . . . ” ~ from “Night Terrors,” by Static-X

This particular post was supposed to go up on Wednesday, October 13, supposed being the operative word. Obviously, that was not possible, so here it is now.

Another Caveat: The events are related below may or may not have happened in the order presented. Author’s short-term memory is fried, so recall is a wee bit hazy.

Neosurrealism Art: "Insomnia or Nocturnal Awakening" by George Grie

Things that go bump in the night . . .

I have promised Corey that I will never again make light of the time I thought Mexicans were living in the walls of our house (Remember? The post op time during which I was having vivid aural and visual hallucinations? If I remember correctly, I smelled things too. I wonder if that’s called smelly hallucinations . . . But I digress.) 

The night after the emergency room visit, which was Saturday, September 25, my mom began to have hallucinations. The EMT’s had given her morphine in the ambulance, and she was given morphine while in the ER. We were sent home with a script for Flexeril (a muscle relaxer) and the mildest dose of Percoset (a pain reliever).

I should probably qualify here: My mother has no tolerance for drugs, unlike me, who, having had chronic conditions most of my life can get a shot of Demerol and Phenergan and go to a restaurant and eat a hot fudge sundae (something that really happened). Such is not the case with mommy dearest.

At first, I thought that she was just discombobulated from the extended ER stay and having her time-table turned upside down. She called me into the bedroom and told me that someone was in the hallway. I told her that no, no one was there, and turned on the light in the hall to show her. When I looked more closely, I saw that her pupils were huge. Mom was high.

A few minutes later, she shouted my name. I ran into the room, only for her to tell me that rats were climbing on the closet door. (Rats: Corey’s least favorite thing in the world; he should have had to deal with this particular hallucination). I turned on the overhead light, and put my hand on the closet door. She screamed. I opened the door and showed her that nothing was there.

Then she told me that the rats had run into the bag that was hanging on the closet knob (a red, shiny gift bag that my mother keeps a whole lot of whatever in). I took the bag and ran out of the room with it. I told her no more rats. She went back to sleep.

About an hour later she declared that someone was breaking into the house. Then she was certain that the cat was on top of her (he was outside). This continued all night.

Okay. So I’m making fun now. Trust me, it was very unfunny as it unfolded.

“I have nightmares about hell, where all I do is add up numbers and try to have conversations with people like you.” ~ Jim Butcher

Neosurrealism Art: "City Ruins" by Natiz Agayev

In the morning, my mother tried to make sense of what had happened. I explained to her that she still had a lot of pain medicine in her system, and told her that hallucinations can happen as a result of certain medications. I told her about my own hallucinations, and that seemed to make her feel better, or at least she pretended that it did.

Sunday night the hallucinations began again. This time, my mother tried to get out of bed to go somewhere, and as a result, she fell again. It was 5 a.m., and there was no way that I could get her back into bed on my own, so I had to call Corey. Between the two of us, we maneuvered my limp, petrified mother back into bed. As we were doing so, she told me that she had heard something snap. I didn’t know if it was part of the hallucination or if something had really happened—as in the snap of a bone breaking.

First thing Monday morning, I called the orthopaedist’s office, spoke to a nurse, and got the first available appointment, which was on Tuesday. The appointment on Tuesday was a fiasco as we were seen by Dr. X, one of the senior partners in the practice, who told my mother (before viewing the ER x-rays) that she needed to be exercising her foot. He was very officious and condescending, which always brings out the worst in me.

When that particular doctor took a look at her x-ray, he came back in and said that he wanted his parter, Dr. Y to get a second opinion on whether or not an operation was needed. I rolled my mother to yet another exam room, where we waited for two hours, only to be told that Dr. Y was running two hours behind and couldn’t possibly see my mother. Could we come back the next day?

Guess what happened then . . . Go on, guess . . .

So I lost it and told the nurse that they obviously did not understand the situation: my mother had fallen again; she was in constant pain and hallucinating. Dr. X increased the level of the Percoset and we set up an appointment for Thursday with Dr. X’s son, a surgeon.

Another day of trying to keep my mother in bed and trying to keep her from hurting herself while trying not to lose what was left of my mind in the process. It was grand.

“With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Neosurrealism Art: "Ice Age Premonition" by George Grie

On Wednesday, we returned to see Dr. X Jr., who turned out to be a very patient, kind doctor who listened to my mother’s long list of complaints. He ordered another x-ray (boy, was that fun), and then he told her that he really didn’t think that she needed an operation, that he wanted her to try a different brace, and he wrote a script for Demerol for the pain.

Don’t worry. I never gave her a Demerol. I had no desire to peel her from the ceiling.

We had an appointment to see Dr. X Jr. the following week to reassess. In the meantime, my mother told anyone who would listen that obviously none of them had ever had a broken bone, that none of them could possibly know what the pain was like because if they did, they would immediately put her in the hospital. I didn’t even try the logical approach of telling her that orthopedic surgeons knew a good deal about broken bones. She wouldn’t have listened anyway.

Luckily, Dr. X Jr.’s nurse was fabulous, and she wrote a script for a wheelchair, bedpan, and shower chair (by the way, only the wheelchair was approved by Medicare). We had borrowed a wheelchair from mom’s neighbor for the initial visits. The nurse wrote down her name and phone number so that I could call her the next day if I had any questions about the new brace.

Wow. Impressive.

By the way, did I mention that my mother wanted me to call an ambulance to take her to the doctor’s appointment? I explained that the ambulance was for emergencies. Her logic was that her pain was an emergency, and no one understood what she was going through, and why were there ambulances if you couldn’t use them . . .

I did try to arrange for private medical transport for the first doctor’s visit but was told that neither Medicare nor my mom’s supplemental insurance would cover the $200 fee. There was a long conversation with the insurance company in which I asked them if they would cover the fee to transport me when I threw my back out trying to get my mother into the car. I hung up.

Back to the story.

“I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun—hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, ‘Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.'” ~ Henry Rollins

Neosurrealism Art: "The Cemetery of Umbrellas" by Stefano Bonazzi

We spent several more nights with imaginary visitorshuman, animal, and something papery and shiny. Things on the ceiling, things on the walls, strangers lurking in the shadows. One night when Corey was using the fax machine, my mom thought that we were moving furniture.

The third doctor’s visit was in the Chesapeake office, which my mother just couldn’t understand (as in “why do we have to go so far away?” Clarification: Chesapeake is about 15 miles away, 15-25 minutes on the interstate, depending on time of day). Another x-ray, and Dr. X Jr. said the magic words to my mother, who by this point was determined to have an operation and go in the hospital. He said, “If it were my mother, I wouldn’t operate. I would let it heal with time.”

He told mom that the time that it would take to heal on its own versus the time to heal after the operation would be about the same, and with the operation, she would have to be on heavy-duty pain killers, which would mean more hallucinations. She was sold.

So here we are, doing the healing at home thing. The hallucinations have stopped because I’m not giving my mother any narcotics, only the muscle relaxer and extra strength Tylenol. She’s still a bit loopy: trying to tell me that she already took a pill that I hadn’t given her, and making declarations such as, “Tomorrow, I’m going to make (insert name) for dinner. We just kind of look at each other and say nothing.

The biggest accomplishment to date was the shower. It was a major operation, requiring advanced scouting and assessment, but we made it through relatively unscathed, with the exception of my clothing, which was as wet as her body.

But the point of this whole post was this: I now have a keen appreciation for exactly what Corey and my family went through when I was having my own hallucinations. It’s funny to me in retrospect because I find it outrageous, but now that I’ve been on the other side, I have made a vow to my long-suffering spouse that I will not longer take for granted what he went through during that week after my back operation.

And there you have it: my pledge in writing, or typing, or whatever.

More later on the ongoing saga. Peace.

Music by Cyann and Ben, “A Moment Nowhere”

*Neosurrealism art: Artistic genre combining elements of fantasy, surrealism, and 3D to form images  of dreams, fantasies, and subconscious mind visions using painting, digital art, and photography.   

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