For the record, I only took one...
I haven’t posted anything in forever, and there’s no good reason. I could try to convince myself that I’ve been too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, but doesn’t it just come down to laziness in the end? I was, for many months, all those things, but now I’m those things minus busy. I broke my ankle on June 30th and am still sitting on my couch, in a cast, with chafed armpits from crutching all over the place when I can’t handle myself (and my non-cable tv) anymore.
None of that is the ‘Supposedly Awful Thing I’ll Never Do Again’, though. Just needed to ease myself into the confessional portion of this. Over the last year, my dear Aunt has been dealing with The Cancer, as she has taken to referring it. She doesn’t complain, but she hasn’t had an easy go on any of it; surgery has led to more surgery to correct previous surgeries, and radiation burned her so badly that she had a gaping wound which left an expander in her chest exposed. Her negligent radiation doctor kept telling her to come back every week so he could look at her open wound and continue to do nothing about it. He ultimately told her that he’s never had a patient not heal like her (has he burned people like that before?), so he discontinued her treatments and told her she might want to see a plastic surgeon.
So we went to a plastic surgeon; she started fresh with the amazing team at Memorial Sloan Kettering (which is, unfortunately, not where she had any of her previous treatments). Within 15 minutes of her appointment, they had her scheduled her for surgery to remove the expander and close the gaping wound which, by now, was beginning to have some issues with sanguineous fluid. The night before the surgery, she developed an insanely high fever – I think it was 104 – so we checked her into the hospital early and found out that the wound had developed a Staph infection. Scary stuff.
So because of the infection, she ended up in the hospital for 4 days, and she lives almost two hours away, so the onus fell on me to visit. Memorial Sloan Kettering is an amazing hospital; I say this for many reasons, but I know this mostly because my broken ankle bought me a 4-day vacation in a New York City hospital earlier this summer (see paragraph 1). One of the nice things is about the floor she was on is that they have a lounge with books, magazines, computers, comfy chairs, and a TV, so patients and their families can sit together outside of a hospital room, but with enough distractions so that people can ignore each other in many of the same ways they might at home. More comforting than it sounds.
On the bookshelf, I spied with my little eye a book that I’ve wanted to read ever since I took the most amazing class I’ve ever had the pleasure of randomly selecting to fill a hole in my schedule. The book was David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and the class was Journalism As Literature, taught by the illustrious Harry Bruinius (himself the author of an amazing book, Better For All the World), who introduced me to the tragic genius of DFW through the book’s title piece which was written after his awkward odyssey on a luxury cruise. When visiting people in hospital, be it for treatment of The Cancer or The Shattered Ankle, one will find themselves with some downtime as their loved one intermittently starts snoring mid-conversation. On one such break, I crutched my way over to the lounge and started reading the book. Eventually I got up to check on my aunt, but threw the book in my bag so that my hands would be free to crutch back to the room, but I could continue to read if the patient was still sawing wood. Of course she was awake, of course I forgot I had the book in my bag, so it is now home with me, of course my Aunt was released this morning so I couldn’t put the book back, and I am now, of course, an awful person who has now accidentally stolen (emphasis on the accidentally) from a hospital for people with The Cancer.
I promise I will bring it back when I am off the crutches, and I do think DFW would be forgiving of my trespass. Maybe people in hospital shouldn’t be reading his stuff anyway. Maybe it should be all Chicken Soup for the Soul.