Happy Meal


If you got suckered in by Ronald and this is your first time here, you might want to scroll down to the beginning and start there. The first entry is May 1st. Or just jump on in here.

What’s your name? Katharine. How old are you? 36. Where are you? Riverside Methodist Hospital. Here’s your Ativan. I’ll hold your straw.

I have to get out of here. The nurses hate me. Carmel’s going to be back soon to report me to the Authorities. Better get the kids, too. I know! We’ll go back to Toronto. Traffic on the DVP doesn’t seem too bad today.

I’m so glad they have these travel plazas. I’m surprised we didn’t have more trouble crossing the border. Seems like we made excellent time. Kids are probably hungry. This one has a McDonald’s. We’d better stop.

I’ve never seen a McDonald’s with couches before. Just as well. I need to lie down. Where did the kids go? Where’s Matt? He must be getting the Happy Meals. Wait, here’s one. I’ll just go ahead and open it. Chicken nuggets. French fries. Oh, here’s the toy . . . wait, what the hell is this? It’s a needle of some sort. It looks like an IV needle. McDonald’s is giving out do-it-yourself IV kits? Isn’t that kind of dangerous? Aren’t these supposed to be for kids? What if their parent wasn’t sitting right here? Look, mine is pink. I like pink. Not enough pink in my world with three boys. Where are my boys anyway? So, am I supposed to put this IV in my arm? Oh, look at that, it looks like I already have one. . .

Voices filtering through the haze . . .”could be six months or longer . . .”

My mom’s shocked reply “Six months? She could be like this for six months?”

A rhythmic swish, swish, swish. Something feels good. What is that?

I open my eyes, come back to the hospital room that I never left. There is something attached to my legs, like inflatable bags, massaging me. “What are those for?” I ask.

“To keep the circulation going in your legs, so you don’t get a blood clot,” answered someone. Nurse? Tech?

“What about when I need to use the bathroom?”

You have a catheter, remember?” No. I don’t.

My mom is adjusting my pillow. My head must be about to fall off again. “I just worry about her neck,” she mutters. My stepdad works his way around IVs and drain tubes to rub my neck and shoulder. “Where’s Matt?” I ask.

“He’s getting the boys from school.” So we’re not in Canada then, are we? Just as well, those IV toys seemed dangerous.

Slowly, I began to realize that a lot of what I was seeing wasn’t right. Wasn’t real. I knew I was hallucinating. I told Matt as much and he agreed (shocker). Acknowledging that I WAS hallucinating didn’t stop me FROM hallucinating, mind you, but I did begin to realize that at least half (and maybe more) of what I was seeing and hearing wasn’t really there. Trapped between dream and reality, I did what any scholar with a PhD would do, I began mentally listing and categorizing my hallucinations. I had what I would later call “an elaborate ranking system.”

None of it was written down, of course, because I was incapable of writing at the time, but I kept track of the lists in my head. I began to rank everyone and I came into contact with according to the degree to which I thought they were real: definitely real, most likely real, most likely unreal, definitely unreal. I also ranked them according to threat level: benign, neutral, malevolent and shades in between. I know that doesn’t make sense. I know it seems paradoxical that I could, on the one hand, completely recognize and rank the hallucinations as I was looking at them and yet be unable to snap out of it and stop them. Of course, I’ve never done LSD, maybe this makes total sense to people who have had hallucinations before.

Weeks later, I confessed all of this to the Rehab psychiatrist. She took my “elaborate ranking system” as a positive sign that there was still part of me grounded in reality. Funny thing, though, I clearly remember telling her that I was sure I was having all of these hallucinations before I entered the hospital. I remember being genuinely surprised when she told me it had likely all occurred while in the ICU. At the time, around June 1st, I remember thinking but that was just a few days ago. Surely, I wasn’t that lost, that out of it only a few days ago. But I had been. I don’t call it Missing Month of May for nothing.


2 thoughts on “Happy Meal

  1. Pingback: Parades and Picnics | The Missing Month of May

  2. Pingback: Woo Hoo? | The Missing Month of May

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