During a recent couple of days of life on the planet, I encountered something that changed my thinking; an encounter with rest. I’m a man who has spent very little time in the hospital. The first time was when I was born, and I remember very little about it.
Since then there have been three hospital incidents: an eighth-grade surgery on a toe; a false alarm for a heart attack, 2000; and then this week’s incident, a lower right abdomen surgery. This was a “routine surgery”, one that would happen in about an hour, with another hour in “post-op”, followed by my departure for home – – – to the Other Side of the Trees. The surgery was a success, with no hiccups / complications. In the post-op stage of the game, however, I was not getting enough oxygen. The moment I drifted off into a bit of sleep, the alarm in the machine (attached to a little white sensor clipped to my finger) sounded off, indicating I was not getting enough oxygen. For the next four hours, a nurse monitored the percentage of oxygen I was inhaling. Every three minutes, the nurse’s kind but concerned, voice startled me out of sleep: “Breathe, T, breathe. You have to breathe.” I breathed the best I could for a couple of minutes, drifted off. and startled again out of my sleep, being told to breathe. This went on for about four hours. When I entered a sleep mode, even to a shallow degree, it showed that I was hardly breathing at all. The medical staff then came to a conclusion that I would stay overnight at their non-resort hospital. Then came the”blur” …
of being rolled on a gurney to a room somewhere in the hospital maze, mysteriously moved from gurney to bed, and connected to this machine and that machine. There were some gadgets, like the one that makes the bed go upwards, and downwards, a TV remote (which I never turned on until four in the morning because I could not sleep), a pad with a series of buttons including a call to the nurses’ club (I rarely used). What I have walked away with, from this experience, is that even in those small stretches of pain (because I couldn’t reach the nurse to bring me the periodic PRN med for the post-surgery pain), there was a continual enigma of rest.
Enigma of Rest
Confined to a bed, fairly far from home; no chores to resolve, no kids to track with, no logistical / problem-solving discussions with my wife. There were no visitors other than quick appearances from nurses and care attendants (one visitor came a couple of hours prior to discharge) Boredom darted in and out. But a stronger flow of peace … a most different peace … resonated in the room, in my heart and soul. Anxiety showed up once or twice, quickly faded, unexplainably. This encounter of rest was an excellent example of ambivalence: (my paraphrased definition) the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions / thoughts at the same time. I experienced disruption because of my limited movement and control; I experienced rest, placed in a situation where I drifted in and out of sleep, and accomplished virtually nothing. Actual rest can happen, even when it is not pleasant. And to think that the catalyst for all this was my lack of breathing. Do I get so busy, in life, that I forget to breathe?