Sunday, March 18, 2012

When the Rose Bends, Part Two

By Dr. Mel Waldman

What is happening? I asked myself. My wife’s small, claustrophobic hospital room, filled with one bed for her and one chair for me, had become our cage.

Trapped inside this tomblike room, I feared there was no exit. Michelle was weak, disoriented, confused, delirious at times, and often overwhelmed with pain. She had entered a separate reality, more frightening than Carlos Castaneda’s dreamlike worlds.

I sat and watched her. Sometimes I kissed her forehead or held her head in my arms. She mumbled. I listened and struggled to understand all her words. When I missed a word or phrase, I still felt some of her pain and despair. Perhaps, we can never fully understand someone else’s pain or suffering. But through love and empathy, I believe, we transcend our boundaries and experience a sacred intimacy and union. In times of joy, the experience is beautiful. But with suffering and life-threatening illnesses, we join our loved one in pain.

My wife seemed lost in a private universe, floating across a dark dreamscape. What is happening to Michelle and to us? I asked myself. We were one, I thought. But we were also separate and unbearably separated at that moment. And then I fell into an abyss. Deep in the bowels of my psyche, I descended into my Hell.

I watched myself cross the river Acheron. Charon, an antediluvian boatman, took me on his boat to the other side. I entered the first circle of Dante’s Inferno-Limbo. Ensconced in darkness, my only sin was my inability to experience hope and see the celestial vision of Michelle’s healing and renewed health.

Each day, I watched my wife’s life force dwindle, her will to live slowly vanish. The perception that she might die shattered my spirit. I needed a miracle. We needed to obliterate the virulent illness that had gripped my wife.

I prayed. I meditated. And I empowered myself by asking the doctors and the rest of the medical team many questions over a period of 10 nights and 11 days.

The mystery of the blood loss was never fully solved. The physician’s assistant (P.A.) told me the blood thinner Michelle had been taking was discontinued. Perhaps, she had been on the blood thinner too long.

The results of the endoscopy showed that my wife has gastritis and a hernia. She also had a mild case of colitis. The gastroenterologist postponed the original colonoscopy. A few days later, the surgeon performed the colonoscopy. The results were normal.

Unfortunately, I learned that Michelle’s admitting diagnosis was 038.9, Septicemia NOS. Septicemia is a life-threatening illness.
Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, shaking chills, sweating, very high fever, weakness, exhaustion, drop in blood pressure, and elevated heart rate. It is also known as blood poisoning and can lead to failure of vital organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain.

The P.A. denied that my wife had septicemia and insisted she had sepsis upon discharge. She also stated that my wife’s condition was stable. Sepsis is an infection in the bloodstream and is also a life-threatening illness. Sometimes septicemia and sepsis are used interchangeably.

Symptoms for sepsis are similar to the symptoms of septicemia and include shaking, chills, fever, weakness, diarrhea, confusion, and disorientation. Sepsis may lead to a septic inflammatory state known as Septicemia. Both conditions are treated with massive doses of antibiotics.

Thus, I asseverated that I did not believe my wife was ready for discharge. I was overruled.

However, the night before my wife’s discharge, she confessed: “I didn’t think I was going to make it. I thought I was finished.
But I feel stronger now. In the last two days, I experienced a miraculous change.”

“That’s wonderful, Michelle. You see, I thought you were dying.”

“Yes, that’s what I thought too.”

We held hands and I stayed late that night. And I prayed her progress and healing would continue in the nursing home. In the days and weeks to come, I knew we would face her obstacles together.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It binds us in the most spiritual and liberating ways. When I left Michelle, I felt soothed by our oneness and the flow of love between us. I visualized her healing. I didn’t feel alone on this special night of revelations.

Writer Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, writer, and artist. His stories have appeared in dozens of magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, and AUDIENCE. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. He is the author of 11 books. Part One of "When the Rose Bends" ran in MyStory on February 28th.

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