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.   

“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar” ~ Jim Butcher

“Flight of Swans,” by Frank Weston Benson (1951)

                            

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again . . .” ~ Frank O’Hara

Well, hey. How have you been? Long time no words between us . . . 

"The Reader," Frank Weston Benson (1910)

First, my computer died, an unanticipated immediate death, requiring the ordering of parts and much finger crossing. Said computer is still sitting forlorn in the corner of the bedroom, collecting dust and serving as a clothes stand. Ah, such is life. 

Then I appropriated Corey’s computer, which is no easy feat. Adjusted myself to his scratchy mouse and a different corner of the house, this one an apparent heat sink of a spot as all afternoon heat collects in this corner. Not to mention that his computer’s speakers sound tinny, an observation that made Corey reply haughtily, “Well, we can’t all have Bose speakers.” What? Was it something I said? 

Then, the Internet was shut off, so between the breakage, moving, and lack of payment, my posting has been, shall we say, bereft? 

In such a short space of time, summer is waning right outside my door. Oh, it’s still beastly hot, but leaves are beginning to appear on the surface of the pool. Speaking of which, my forays into the pool this summer have been few, not because I have developed an aversion to floating about on water but because the interminable headaches make it hard to be in the heat and bright sun. Tillie the Black Lab has been sure to jump into the pool as much as possible, and I’m sure that it’s only to make me feel better. 

“She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip, she would fall.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
"Lily Pond," Frank Weston Benson (1923)

As I said in my brief post yesterday, I found my blog’s theme changed when I was finally able to log in. How disconcerting. Apparently, WordPress is updating some themes and deleting others. Mine, which I mistakenly believed was Pressrow, was Cutline, which (as Isaak Mak pointed out—thanks), has been morphed into Coraline. Progress is fine, but change is not always necessarily good. It took me almost two years to switch from the first theme that I had, and now I am breaking in a new theme again. 

Granted for some people this would not present a problem, but I had everything where I wanted it, all of the widgets lined along the right side, a new header photo. Part of the problem, you see, is that I’m still not on my own computer, the repository of my vast folder of images, so I had to search for another image for my header last night. I settled on the one above, but it doesn’t seem quite right. And this blasted typeface seems incredibly big. I wonder if it is or if my eyes are rebelling? 

It seems the family is experiencing its share of computer problems. Brett is supposed to submit a Writing Sample Placement Test to ODU before he can register for his freshman English class. He is most unhappy at this proposition as he believes that having survived several years of IB English should make him qualified to take freshman composition. I agree, but as I explained, everyone has to do it unless they tested out, which he did not. 

To date, he has tried to take this test four times. He has written the essay two times. When he hits submit, the essay disappears, and he is locked out. The last time he wrote the essay I reminded him to copy it and paste it into a blank document so that he wouldn’t have to write it again. Brett, like his mother, becomes stymied by those things he deems unnecessary, this test being one of them. Multiply the process by four, and the result is a very unhappy son. 

Meanwhile, the router, the thingy that connects all of the computers in the house to the Internet and to each other, yep that thingy—continues to go in and out. 

“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn
"Rainy Day," Frank Weston Benson (1906)

 What else is new on the home front? I would love to be able to say that I’ve been commissioned to write a screenplay, that Corey has been given his own boat, that my children are all content, that the dogs do not have fleas . . . I would love to be able to say these things, but we all know that I would be lying. 

I’ve been commissioned to do nothing, so I’m thinking about selling Avon online as a way to make a spare bit of cash. Of course, I have to check with my disability people to see if I’m even allowed to do such a thing. Corey still has no boat to call his own, and he is working tirelessly at his port security job. 

Alexis is frayed and exhausted from trying to take care of Jennifer’s paperwork, and son, and still be a good friend. She seems on the verge of tears most of the time, and her visits are just brief enough to drop off her laundry, which Corey has volunteered to do for her so that she has one less thing to worry about. 

Jennifer is home from the hospital, and now, I suppose, we are all in wait mode. Alexis and Jennifer’s brother Christopher are trying to enroll Reilly in the grade school that is just around the corner from my house, which would allow me to walk over and pick him up from school any time needed, and Lex’s Aunt Ann has volunteered to be on the emergency list for Reilly as well. 

I wish that I could say that the outlook is good, that Jennifer is rallying, and the doctors have predicted good things . . . If wishes were fishes . . . 

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer . . . It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~ Violette Leduc 
"Dog River, Alabama," Frank Weston Benson (1930)

Everything that I have written so far has been much ado about nothing. I realize that. I also realize that I am once again standing too close to a precipice to peer over the side. Too many things are stirring in the cosmos. Too many things are unsettled and being bandied about like a badminton shuttle (I’m certain that’s spelled correctly, but it looks funny). 

My dreams of late have been filled with babies and confrontation, heated arguments with people in charge, those unknown faces of people who hold power over me. I wake up frantic and in pain after averting physical fights. Last night there was a knife, a group of teenagers who were shooting automatic weapons on a side street in Downtown Norfolk, and a long walk down an alley. I don’t need psychoanalysis to tell me what that means. 

The end of summer used to have a curious coda to it: When I was teaching at ODU, August became a month of frenzied activity, getting ready for school, buying new clothes for everyone, trying to fit in as many activities as possible. Now, it is merely muggy and long. A part of me even misses the chaos of buying school supplies for Eamonn and Brett, the lists, the rush from store to store to find three-prong folders with pockets because all of the stores only have the ones with pockets. Buying a certain kind of pen for Brett, and another for Eamonn. 

Corey, the boys, and I would try to fit in a trip to Busch Gardens, and maybe a trip to the Outer Banks. Those were heady summer days. It all seems to very far away. 

“When you start to live outside of yourself, it all seems dangerous.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
"Red and Gold," Frank Weston Benson (1915)

Now, here with two-thirds of the year gone, I think back to the plans I made at the beginning of the new year, my resolution to myself that this would be the year that I finally did something, that I would make the telephone calls, that I would release the flow of words that are dammed within. 

I have done nothing. I have moved through eight months without gaining any forward motion. If I were to disappear tomorrow, there would be nothing to show the world that I was here except as a mother, as someone’s spouse. My sense of self, though, that would disappear in an instant with me. 

All of the worlds within my mind, all of the stories left untold, all of the lines left unwritten—they would cease to exist, and the fault would be mine alone, a result of my continual, ongoing paralysis of spirit. 

Self-pity is heinous on a bright August afternoon. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Powderfinger, “Nobody Sees”

“Sameron adion aso” (I shall sing a sweeter song tomorrow) ~ Theocritus

“The Empire of Lights,” by René Magritte (1954, oil on canvas)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston S. Churchill 

"The Scream," by Edvard Munch (1893, oil, tempera, pastel on cardboard)

This is the fifth morning in a row in which I have woken up in screaming pain, I mean literally screaming. I am going through a migraine bout the likes of which I haven’t seen in several years. Who knows why, certainly not I.

I just wanted to post a quick update since I haven’t been on in several days. Corey had his interview, and it went very well. The three people who spoke with him were very impressed with his background and training. That’s the good news. The downside is that the position does not come with any benefits, and is not guaranteed for 40 hours a week. Nevertheless, Corey is very excited about it as he would be able to make many contacts if he gets the position.

It was just wonderful to see him so happy, and having a good interview really went a long way in making him feel better about himself. Even though the position itself isn’t ideal, we both think that it would be great for him to take it if offered. The people who interviewed him even said that if something more in his field came along, he shouldn’t feel bad about taking it. So who knows.

I’m just happy that it went well and that there is a good possibility that Corey will be working again. I know from experience that having a job in which he is interacting with other people will be great for his state of mind, and also, it always seems easier to find another job if you are already working.

“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family. ” ~ Jim Butcher

"The Large Family," by René Magritte (1963, oil on canvas)

On the down side, we had quite a family scare yesterday: Alexis had a seizure at work and was taken by ambulance to a local emergency room. They ran a series of tests on her, and fortunately, there does not appear to be any physical reason why she would have a seizure. The doctor thinks that one of the medicines that she is on may have caused the seizure: Wellbutrin has a 4 in 1,000 rate of seizures in patients who have been prescribed the medication. I was completely unaware of this side effect.

Alexis is supposed to have a follow-up with a neurologist just to make sure. She spent today at home in bed sleeping. Everyone was at the ER last night, and I have to admit that the first thing that popped into my head was brain tumor. I’m sorry, but that’s where my mind goes. Fortunately, the CT scan showed no blockages or masses anywhere in her brain.

I won’t even get into the stupidity that was the presence of my ex at the ER and what an ass he made of himself. What is important is that my baby girl seems to be fine, none the worse for wear, and apparently just experienced a medication side effect.

It’s funny, but Corey and I always seem to comment on those pharmaceutical commercials that promote new medicines for new ailments as seeming miracle drugs, but at the end of the commercials there is always this list of horrible side effects: heart attack, stroke, death.  The cure seems to be as bad as what it purports to fix.

Anyway, Alexis walked out of the ER with an appetite, and she and Mike stopped at a McDonald’s drive-through on the way home, so I’m thinking that’s a good sign.

That’s about all for now. My head is beginning to throb again from the screen. Time for another ice pack.

More later. Peace.

(Had Magritte on my mind, which led to Munch. Hence, the images)

“Breathe In Breathe Out,” by Matt Kearney