What’s your name? Katharine. How old are you? 36. Where are you? Riverside Methodist Hospital. Here’s your Ativan and your Keppra.
“I’ve been talking to Jonathan. Ativan can cause hallucinations. You really need to stop taking it,” said Matt. Jonathan is his older brother, a pediatric neurologist in Canada. He had become Matt’s lifeline over the past two weeks, the same way that Karla had become mine. But I can’t stop taking it. Ativan is my only companion in here. We’re besties.
Ativan can’t be causing the monsters. Ativan keeps the monsters away. Doesn’t it? Wait, what if it doesn’t? What if he’s right?
And that is how I knew something had changed. After the second surgery, I was able to follow his reasoning. I agreed to stop taking the Ativan.
Things were still a little fuzzy. Someone talking to me. Matt? A nurse? “They’re coming to evaluate you for Rehab. You really need to try. You want to get into the program here, if you can. Otherwise, they’ll have to move you somewhere else.”
Somewhere else? Where do they put people that fail the auditions? Some sort of holding tank? Do they send us to an island somewhere? Do they put us in the arena and let the stronger patients hunt us? That’s ok, I’m Martial Arts Mom. I got this. I used to dance in high school, dammit. I can audition.
Two young ladies in purple scrubs were standing in the room with me. “From the Rehab unit,” they explained. They were “PTs,” Physical Therapists. Matt was there, too. They had me squeeze things with my right hand. Then they forcibly pulled my left hand from my chest. I heard one of them say something about “spasticity” as the other one wrote it down. Am I passing? What are they looking for? Should I sing? Is this like American Idol?
“We’re going to have you stand up,” one of them said. Perky, happy, young voices. Ok. No problem, let me just move over . . .oh, holy crap . . .I can’t move. Terror. Am I paralyzed? Why am I just noticing this now? How long have I been like this? Did the tumor do this?
And suddenly I was upright, braced between the girls, hanging limply like a scarecrow cut from his frame. They were chatting with Matt, “she’s doing about 30% of the work,” one of them said. So impossibly young. Are they letting teenagers become therapists now? So impossibly cheery. I don’t think I’ve ever been that cheery. There is NO WAY I’m doing 30% of the work. They are holding me up. I’m failing. This isn’t right. I wasn’t like this before. This isn’t just from lying in a hospital bed for a couple of weeks. They’re definitely sending me to the island. What the hell is wrong with me? I think I want my Ativan back.
And then I was back in the bed. Utterly spent and exhausted. From being held up by two perky teenagers? That doesn’t seem right either. I have three kids I drag all over the city about a hundred times a day. Now being held up like a limp rag wears me out? What on earth happened to me?
The happy girls left. I was falling asleep. Matt said something about going to get my Aunt Loura from the airport and seeing me soon. Later a nurse said something about transferring me to a “stepdown unit,” but I couldn’t listen to her explanation as to what that was. I was so tired. So tired. This can’t be good.