Sunday, February 21, 2010
Death and The Living
We don't think much about death until it affects us directly. When a family member is struck down or cursed with an incurable illness or disease closely affected friends or family begin to live in a netherworld of twisted emotions, ugly foreboding and potential collapse. Revelations of all sorts become a daily rejoinder, memories, predictions, questions and realizations rushing in. My mother-in-law has been cursed with the Big C, The Cancer, Renal cancer metastasized to lymph nodes, cancer in her chest cavity, her body a morass of uncontrollable invaders. "Why her?" queries segue into prayers to keep her comfortable in these, her last days. Prayers to lessen her suffering by distributing it among her faithful followers, we, her family, are shouted to the Universal Gods. The knowledge that a life of sacrifice and oceans of time toiling for others, both family and friends, has come to this, a solitary bed, equipped to manage the failing systems and the drugs and fluids transported by tubes, each painfully and mercilessly inserted, injected, affixed. Tubes are hanging from an ingenious metal framework like extra appendages, tubes wrapped around and protruding from pumps, clicking, whirring, buzzing pumps. Have you been there? A place that is best quickly forgotten, a place of last resort, The Hospital is nevertheless the lifesaving ring we seek when struck by a health crisis. Grateful in the knowledge that The Hospital is there when we fall, it quickly becomes a nightmare to run from, to escape from, to recover from. Having worked in one or two,I have always seen the more human side of The Hospital, employers, friends, acquaintances, fellow sufferers of the Harbinger of Death, a hospital stay.