I know that it’s OK that I’m angry right now. I know that I deserve to be angry, that I deserve to have so much anger that I can taste it at the back of my throat and hear it throughout the day. I know it’s allowed for me to feel completely resentful and rageful. I know I’ve earned every bit of irateness and hostility I feel, whether I want to feel it or not.
The thing is, I don’t want to feel these things. I don’t like feeling so completely full of such negativity. It seems such a waste of energy and time, and I would rather find some positive direction to channel this all.
And just as soon as I figure out how to do so, I’ll be all over that.
In the meantime I am stuck squarely in the “Anger” stage of Kübler-Ross’ model of grief. Knowing I have suffered a tremendous loss, in fact many of them in many different directions, and that the grief I am experiencing for each of those is righteous and well-earned… doesn’t help in the tiniest bit. The denial phase, which I skittered through while still in Mass General Hospital and which largely consisted of me really having absolutely no idea how dangerous my illness was, how profound and permanent some of my physical changes are… that phase was far too short. I would like, very much, to go back to as high a level of cluelessness as possible, for as long as possible.
I don’t want to go all the way back to the coma, because that has resulted in a tenuous hold on some of my very favorite toes (those would be the ones attached to my body) and a nasty case of thrush. And I don’t want to be in those first, earliest days of semi-consciousness, because I am not a girl who does well with sedation or restraint. Really, the ICU days were such a combination of physical discomfort and complete mental indignity (not at all on the part of the staff; they were wonderful. It was me who struggled against things like bedpans and whole-body lift mechanisms to get me out of bed) that I don’t want to go back there for any reason.
But the following week, I was still in MGH but on the surgical-gynecological floor. I spent a fair amount of time alone, in the hospital bed, but I had lots of visitors and the staff continued to be wonderful. And people were happy to tiptoe around what had brought me there, and they allowed visits by all three kids. That was all good with me.
Now I’m in a rehab facility. They mean well here, I’m certain. But I have become, in the eyes of many of the staff, a lump in the bed that creates output or absorbs input. How many pills has the lump taken today? How many grams of protein has it ingested?
And they’re blunt, all of the staff. Just how sick I was, just how close to death. Just how nasty all of the germs and bacteria many of the patients here have had. Why it is there are no babies allowed on this floor, at all, ever… and I’m not even on the really sick floor with the the really complicated cases.
I get all that. I do. And I appreciate even why it is they need to reduce me to a lump in a bed instead of a person; I happen to be 32 with – maybe, possibly, rumor has it – a lot of life left ahead of me. I’m by far the youngest puppy here, and they have to hold onto their habit of not getting attached, or work would become one long series of personal losses.
And I’m grateful to have my own room, and I’m holding on for the day I can go home, because maybe then – just maybe – I will start to develop some vague, faint memory of myself and what it feels like to be me. Right now, I have no idea. I just know that I have more anger than I know how to process – freeform, amorphous anger, directed at no one and everyone. And I have Why Me, in even larger quantities, because I lived, until a month ago, in a world where medicine and illness and health made some sense. You didn’t wash your hands, you picked up a germ, you got sick. I don’t live in that Middle Ages mindset whereby random evil spirits choose a random unsuspecting person and visited random wrath upon them; people get very sick for a reason, usually because they are already open to infection and then along comes that opportunistic infection, they get sick, and then they either get better or they don’t.
None of that quite feels like it holds for me, and so I’ve been sinking farther and farther into the why-me hole. Bathing in anger. Crying because if I don’t I might just burst. And I want to give up, somehow. I want to stop feeling like this; I want to feel better, and if I can’t feel better than I want to stop feeling altogether. But I can’t figure out how to give up (and before your alarms start screaming, I can promise with full faith and certainty that I would never, ever hurt or kill myself; there are too many reasons why not to list them, but they’re there and they’re firm and I’m physically out of the woods in that way, too, not just in terms of not needing antibiotics anymore). I just can’t figure out how to lay this load down and walk away from it; the anger and the self-righteousness and the why-me and the no-fair just keeps getting heavier and heavier and I can’t set it down for a while.