Of course, when you’re pregnant, you never think of any day to come when your child may die and you certainly never envisage yourself nursing your child to death in a state that combines such deep pain it almost goes into reverse or becomes a kind of terrible numbness or lack of ability to engage with the dreadful truth of it all, so you go through the motions and help as much as you can, never forgetting for a minute – although you allow yourself to “forget” daily, really, but the truth bubbles and lurks, black and poisonous as Antony’s vomited bile, beneath your very humanness, like a coiled and deadly asp.
I think that was a somewhat convoluted sentence but what I was trying to say was: you feel and you don’t feel. You’re in pain and you’re in control. You wish people would ask you every day how Antony is and if anyone does, you get irritated, cos what kinda question is that for fuck sakes?! How is ANTONY? HOW is Antony? How IS Antony? What the FUCK?!
How do you answer such a question in any event? Can hardly say, ‘fine thanks. Much better. Getting stronger. Should be back on his feet shortly.’
So if anyone does ask I bury my immediate, in general, FUCK YOU response because most people ask cos they are nosy, very very few because they actually give a fuck, and then I answer something that sounds so odd because it’s couched in somewhat encouraging or reassuring terms (as if I somehow have to reassure the asker) such as: “Declining steadily, thanks for asking”. Which leaves the questioner dumbstruck.
Especially annoying are those who are “praying for a miracle” daily; a miracle that’ll never come, cos it’s just not medically possible for FUCK’S sakes, and why would a God who “GAVE” Antony the tumour (going along with the popular God as chessmaster theory) suddenly bloody take it away FFS!! HELLLOOOOO!!!
Richard said (we were talking about all the things that cross your mind when you’re sitting looking after someone who is dying) “Ya, I thought and think about many things I never thought I’d be thinking.” I think that pretty much sums it up, really.
Nursing to life. I thought nursing was a process whereby you assist a person – the patient – to get better. It’s only now I am beginning to understand that nursing is really a process of alleviation of suffering, so whether you’re nursing someone “to life” or nursing someone “to death” the process is the same. You alleviate suffering. As best you can.
Oh well my mother insisted I should be a nurse, when I was leaving school and I threw over the traces by falling pregnant with Ant, and so avoided being drafted into the nursing sisterhood at Jhb General in 1985 and at that time I had a deep dread of nursing, of death, of pain, pus, vomit, excrement, people screaming violently and dying in paroxysms of agony as many films had brainwashed me to expect.
(Writing was interrupted by Antony having a series of small seizures while Lauren was in the shower and I was on my own. Very scary. Had to tell myself to be calm cos you wonder again: IS THIS IT? Is this the moment he’s going to die? I don’t know why I should be so afraid of seizures, after all, they won’t distress him but we humans (or maybe just me) are so cowardly we like to think we can handle anything until it up and smacks us in the face then we (I) wanna run away screaming like a girl. Be brave, Colleen. This situation calls for more courage than you have ever needed.)