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from the emergency room :: a stream of consciousness

a hospital is a portal to a zillion different dimentions. it is a place where humanity and biology both interlace and bisect one another in a delicate yet compelling dance. so many lives are simultaneously unfolding under this one vast roof, each one burning hot and true at the center of its own little universe of wild drama or daily routine. hundreds of stories are being told at any given moment, parallel threads creating a complex and almost invisible web of life and death and every moment in between.

as i lay on the ultrasound table, i became acutely aware of this tiny, infinate microcausm. this woman sitting beside me, the technition with her pastel colored scrubs, her soft smile and disarming bedside manner, was another lifeline to another story as intricate and multi faceted as my own. i wondered about her, about the banalities of her life similar to mine like what she ate for lunch and if she was thinking about her kid's homework as we were sat together quietly under the hum of the machinery and the flourescent lights.

as suddenly as we were thrusted together, in my mind i saw our paths seperate again. i thought about her work and about all the soft bellies she had rubbed with her magic sound wand and wondered what she had seen. i watched her expression carefully as she worked on me, trying to see any glimmmer of recognition or hint of displeasure in her eyes. she would be great at playing poker, not letting on to her opponants what secrets she held in her hands. was she often the bearer of good news or did she carry her findings inside of her like a heavy load? did she go home feeling like she had helped save lives or did she think of how destructive the initial shock of bad news might be on her unsuspecting patients?

i remembered then being on a similar table in my own doctor's office on a warm july day. my husband was beside me holding my hand, waiting for news too dreadful to speak or even think about. the silence was stabbing and we both were cold from fear. then the feelings of that experience came back to me in a rush of heat and breathlessness. the doctor solomn and sad, telling us that there was no heartbeat. such a strange and cruel thing to comprehend when you are an expectant mother with her joyful husband there to see the little life you created and are so ready to bring into the world...back in the present, i lay on my side breathing the exaggerated breaths in and out as directed, and a tear slid from the corner of my eye. concerned it was my physical pain the tech kindly asked if i could go on. i did go on, i remember.

and then i was plummetting into the next moment like a freefall in a dream. what if there was something bad growing inside of me? what if on that screen hidden in the strange pixelated language was another fate i was not expecting to hear? for an instant i felt bad for her, for having to be the first to know and needing to tell the doctor the gravity of the results. and then immediately i was afraid. really afraid.

luckily in the 24 hours i spent in the hospital, my fears were put to rest. i am haunted though by the intersection of all those lives, like my soul was steeped in it all. bits and pieces float in my mind...the young paramedic flirting with the cute blond nurse...the nurses ongoing talk about he-said and she-said and bad hospital policy...my cardiac nurse who had bought uggs for her three daughters but was worried she won't get them in time for christmas...the drug addict screaming for detox...the old woman behind the curtain next to me with her diabetes and cellulitus and broken thumb...the respectful and quiet smile of the young man sweeping the hallway where i lay...the stale smell of hospital food...the fear in the eyes of my husband and son...the crying of a young girl in the waiting area...

it is hard to explain. i feel a part of something vast and intangible from that experience. maybe it is just my own trauma trying to find a place for its new existance in my story. maybe it was being touched by all the other stories unfurled and open around me like laundry hanging on a line. maybe it is just seeing life so raw and up close and simply being a part of it in my own small way.

edited to add: thank you all for your emails...i am truly touched by all of your care and concern. i am doing fine, resting at home.

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