I was going to write a piece I could be proud of this week. Something perhaps with a twinge of the intellectual child hiding out in my supremely poetic(transliteration: sappy)soul… I was going to write something that intersected with the reality found in thinking, rational minds, something that touched on the points of the incredible writers and theorists we’ve read this week. But then something happened to me… and I am as lost to that world as an autumn leaf, separated from its tree. I wasn’t intending to cough up another lung this week (After all, how many more do I have to give?). It looks as though life has conspired against me yet again, however, because all that will come out of me right now is what keeps running through my head like a Stock ticker, driving me mad with Shame and Anger and Frustration — what is wrong with me? — what is wrong with me? — what is wrong with me? — what is wrong with me? — what is wrong with me? — what is wrong with me? —
Tonight I went to the emergency room. I spent all afternoon and evening trying to contact my doctors and my parents — actually all week trying to contact my doctors, who are on vacation ’til Monday, I just found out. Finally I got through to my mother and she got through to one of my doctors who wanted me to go get some tests run immediately and…
Let me begin at the beginning.
Among other health concerns, which I have been dealing with all my life and am quite used to, I came to the O.E. with a new one this semester. I have a hole in my heart, and my doctors are concerned that blood clots could be travelling through my bloodstream, from one side of my heart, through the hole, into the other, and out into my major organs. IF a clot enters my brain in this way I could have a stroke. If any number of other organs or muscles are blocked or affected by a clot somehow then other kinds of damage could occur — perhaps permanent damage. To avoid clotting, they put me on blood thinners before I came to school this semester. I’ve been bruising myself pretty badly since I got here though, and it’s really pretty humiliating. I’ve bruised my hands by putting them in my pockets. On top of all my other problems, it felt like adding insult to injury. But then when I mentioned it to my family they were worried that there might be internal bleeding going on as well as the obviously visible hematomas. I went through a lot of drama trying to reach doctors and getting more and more tired and frustrated. _____ took me to Ashland tonight, and my visit in the emergency room went splendidly by all accounts one could call rational. But I am not rational. I look real good on paper; they found no evidence of internal bleeding and have told me to stop taking one of the blood thinners but stay on the other one. But I want something to be wrong; I want something I can put my finger on, for once. I’m tired of being so sick and having people tell me I’m blowing things out of proportion. So tired I could scream, but there’s not much use in that.
The other news I got tonight was not so happy. In fact, it made me raving mad and miserable, about ready to throw things or punch things, even though my hands would have been black for weeks as a result. I am supposed to go home. My doctor wants me to come home and get worked on at Stanford Medical Center for a while, about ten days of testing and examination.
Examination. What an ugly word. Especially after reading Foucault. After all the examinations I’ve been through and all the categories I’ve been placed into and all the names and titles I’ve refused to bear, wishing to remain who I know myself to be deep inside my soul, why is it that I am so thoroughly, intractably, despairingly needful of a Name for my Faithless Body? Why must I dehumanize my body simply because it almost never works to my advantage? Why do I find myself, on nights like tonight, ready to strangle the slender thread of Hope that has borne me through more of hell and high water than I will ever know how to describe?Why must I bear such frightening red-eyed anger for this body in my heart of hearts because it won’t allow me to live like anyone else I’ve ever known?
This clumsy, weighty, pain-stricken body is ugly to me on nights like these, freighted with an illness I don’t understand and will probably never overcome. Would a Name truly comfort me? OR would it be only an excuse to sigh and look back on my many years of struggle with a knowing shake of the head? An excuse. To look back and say, “What a waste.”
How does one escape the emotions of toil and anger and frustration, when any expression of it seems to make it worse? I need to stop focusing on myself for now. I’ll close here.
c. Mary Kathryn Gough, Fall 2005