Friday, June 29, 2007

Seven Days and Counting...

It's strange that we mark things by year. I mean, I understand the whole 365 days (give or take) based on the earth orbiting the sun, etc, but when we say "Wow, I can't believe a year has passed" what do we mean? Can you feel 365 days? How do we know how long a year should feel like? Are we shocked that the earth has travelled around the sun since the last time it was June 28? Why don't we seem to notice the passage of time when it's been four and a half months or two and a quarter years since one's wedding or move to Nebraska? Yes, we may take note, but we don't have that calender reminder that says "Take note: a year has passed and you should take stock of your life since then" etc.

I bring this up, because I've definatley been thinking a lot since June 22, about what was going on this time last year. (Quick catch up for any newcomers: I was living in New York, had been accepted to Mars Hill Graduate School for the fall and was going to move to Seattle at the end of August, but instead, I was hospitalized for ten days for severe pneumonia and had to live with my parents in Arizona for two months while I recovered-learned to breathe and walk again- before moving up to Seattle at the original time planned). There was so much that happened during my hospitalization, so much time I was alone, seven days in the ICU with no TV, nothing on the walls and no way to fall asleep at night amidst endless rounds of blood tests and X-rays that never abated till morning, so many thoughts and experiences that I didn't talk about when people would show up to be with me the next morning, mostly because the last thing I wanted to talk about in the morning was the night before which had been spent solely counting the hours until Kim would walk through the door and bring familiar faces and voices to visit me. Well, in all that time of locking away memories, I just assumed that once I got to Arizona and had some time to process, or certainly once I got to Mars Hill and had to start walking through the story of my life and being counselled, etc, that I would re-examine, explore, give voice to and grieve over everything that experience was. Then "suddenly", I find that a year has passed, and I've barely shared any of that experience with anyone, much less looked at it myself.

Well, I'm not going to write out all the hours of the night that I stored up for those ten days of being in the hospital and realizing that, without any warning, I would never be returning to my work, my life in New York, or staying more than one last night in my apartment or neighborhood with my loved ones, but now, as each day ticks down to July 2, when I was released from the hospital, only to fly to Arizona the next morning, I've been trying to let my mind go back to some of those places. I want to put a few down, in hopes that I'll be able to face more of it on my own and not let another year pass without pausing to really look at what I came through/was brought through/survived. So here's a little bit.

1) Niegel came the first or second day that I was in the ICU, and I think he noticed that there was nothing on the walls in front of my bed except an empty bulletin board, so, on the back of what I later discovered to be a discarded title page of a script he was working on, he wrote "Kj is a Ray of Sunshine" and drew a little sun/cloud doodle and stuck it on the bulletin board. The wierd part is that all that night, (at this point I was being given sleeping pills at night, but having my sleep interrupted more than once an hour for blood tests and things, so I was really, really delirious and exhausted) I stared at that note which I could hardly see being that it was night and I wasn't wearing my glasses, and I stared at it to the point that it actually started to look like a full-color Italian oil painting that had a window sill looking out over a seascape with sailboats heading out to the sunset. The next morning, I looked at the simple pencil note and wondered what the heck they had put me on.

2) After seven days in the Intensive Care Unit, 36 hours of which I had been being promised to be moved out, they finally secured a bed for me out of the ICU. (Albeit, the only space left in the whole hopsital was in a 3 person room in the Geriatric Ward: yes, I was in the Geriatric ward with roommates Rose and Mary). So they brought a wheelchair, and I got into it and they moved me into the hall, but we stopped right in front of the door for a moment for someone to get something, and at that moment, I burst into tears, realziing that I hadn't been out of that room in a whole week. It felt so strange. frightening and relieveing to move past that doorway- to leave that room behind. Then, being rolled in the wheelchair, being overcome by the sensation of more movement than I'd experienced in seven days, seeing people and doorways and windows, I just couldn't believe how isolated I had been. That was a crazy, crazy feeling.

3) A good-ish memory: By my second morning being out of the ICU and being in the normal (though geriatric) portion of the hospital, I'd been given permission and encouragement to try taking brief walks down the hallway, which of course involved rolling an IV pole along wherever I went. Well, since they still kept me up all night with tests and IV changes, I found myself wide awake at about five in the morning when the sun was coming up, and decided to go for my first walk. Woodhull Hospital had been originally designed to be a prison (no pun intended), so it had these endless, like serioulsy quarter-of-a-mile long hallways, with windows looking out over Brooklyn. So I unplugged my little leg-circulation things that looked like moonboots for galactic Tokyo cheerleaders, and wheeled my IV pole around the bed and headed out the door of my room and went around to the endless hallway which was completley quiet and empty except for all the new morning sunlight, and I walked slower than any Grandma has ever walked, step by step down the hallway, going as far as I could until my breathing got laboured and it seemed like a good turnback point. It was the first time that being alone there felt peaceful, and felt like a choice.

So that's a few places I've found myself going in my head. Don't know if I'll put more on here, but until July 2, I'll still be trying to navigate this strange passage of ten days that happened 365 or so days ago.


Jen HW said...

Kj, this is so odd--I woke up this morning from a dream that you were seriously ill and in the hospital and I was worried about you. When I went to my computer to start work this morning I realized I was still feeling worried about you even though I knew it was only a dream, so I decided to read your blog. (You know, because that's the logical thing to do if you're worried about someone. :-)) And then I read this entry and remembered coming to visit you in the hospital this time last year. I was so unbelievably happy to see you and I remember walking up that hallway with you. Take good care of yourself. Love you. XOXO, Jen

Kj said...

Thanks Jen. that's awesome. Come live in Seattle soon, okay?

Anonymous said...

KJ- i have lots of time holding my newborn, so I thought i would read your blogs. I wrote you an email that gmail rejected back to me. would love to show you baby micah and just visit with you. so many thoughts.

erin maurer (on hiding from mars hill) (actually really miss it)

Niegel said...

Even in your sleep you are fantastically creative!

Anonymous said...

KJ- its erin Maurer from school. Hey, email me, I cant email you because it wont work. Lets get together. Do you still do trivia night?