(NOTE: if you are easily disturbed by reality, you might want to skip this one.
This was written while I was recovering from open-heart surgery and stuck for a week in a private rehab facility in the early Summer of 2014.
No rainbows and bunny farts this time..and it is likely to stretch your literary muscles a bit.)
As I was growing up, I was shielded from suffering. The very old or sick people in my family would just disappear one day amid hushed conversations by my parents and grandparents. I play acted the suffering of monstrous characters from the movies, like Wolf Man, The Mummy, and of course…Frankenstein. My mother revealed just before she walked on from this life, that she was reading the classic tale of Frankenstein’s monster while she was waiting for me to arrive in this world.
Explains a lot.
I mentioned that being in the rehab facility sometimes reminded me of what it might be like to be stuck in the nightmare-like mindscape of a surrealist film. Salvador Dali made films and they sometimes reflected the bad dreams he experienced, as well as the realities experienced growing up in an extremely violent Europe a hundred years ago. Most folks, when I mention his name, have no idea who he is, but that’s ok, as with most artistic masters, he will be rediscovered generations from now and people will wonder at his paintings, his sculptures and his films. They might even write songs about him, he was that cool.
Frankenstein seems to be recycled every decade or so, his untenable suffering reintroduced again and again.
Well, being in a rehab facility at times feels like being stuck in a nightmare, or at least being sucked into a Dali film with no way to escape suffering that calls out from darkened rooms down seemingly endless hallways.
My roomie Carl has been suffering since I joined him last Wednesday, a little less this evening than at first, dealing with a broken hip that, while he was laying in the hospital post-op, brought on a touch of pneumonia. Without sharing too many details, there has been a reasonable amount of moaning, coughing and calling out for pain medication in the middle of the night. This is layered under the tough experiences of the seventy-five other residents, some adept at laying on their ‘call buttons’ ..causing beeping noises from all directions while nurses and aids scramble to do what they can to provide relief.
Carl is not prone to hysterics or drama; he grew up in an orphanage and was essentially forced to join the military immediately after finishing high school, serving in the South Pacific during the period that included the Korean police action of the early 1950s. A manly man, farmer, mechanic and product of growing up during the great depression of the 1930s, which was a lot worse than what we have experienced over the last six years.
Not a whiner.
He is getting better, but indirectly experiencing his pain and humility has been unavoidable since there are just a few feet and a thin curtain that separate his world from mine. We have both apologized at least once for disturbing the other’s sleep, but for the most part, we act like men and just don’t talk about it.
Janet Watkins brought me a stack of magazines two nights ago and an unbelievable modern gothic treatment of the classic tale of Frankenstein.
It’s a pop-up book!
Unbelievable art and engineering went into this, and it is a more accurate adaptation of Mary Shelley’s book, which is widely regarded as the world’s first science fiction story. Like the legendary monster, the story will endure for centuries, a cautionary tale recounting the suffering of a creature who seemingly cannot die, thus is forced to endure his suffering without relief for all time.
My brain is obviously working overtime due to significantly increased blood flow, and although my body has a long road to 100% recovery, I will get there.
Technology and pharmacology will help me along, and the stitches that hold the grafted vessels to my heart will remind me of the stitches I always associated with the creature that was pieced together on an imaginary operating table almost two hundred years ago.
Rockbridge Rehab Facility
From a FB post