Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where the Crying Things Are

I left the hospital a little after noon on Friday. I had been there every day since the previous Friday and had nothing left to give. I met with Dad and the cancer social worker in the morning. I thought we would resolve something; that she would present real world options about hospice care and nursing home care and make it abundantly clear that dad could not go home. I don't yet know where he thinks he is going when he leaves the hospital, but its not home. He needs 24 hour care. He can't shift himself in the bed without assistance. They are moving him on the bed crane for ease (he only weighs 150 pounds). He's barely eating. Home is not an option.

The options are nursing care, or in-patient hospice. Hospice, for those of you who are blessed to have never needed their services, is an organization that provides end of life care. They specialize in pain management, making patients comfortable and helping families deal with the emotional baggage of a death in the family. Most importantly, Medicare pays for hospice services 100%, including in-patient hospice. But you have to be really dying to get to the in-patient facility. If dad doesn't qualify for the in-patient hospice, I'm going to have to get him into a nursing home. And pay for it. There's not a lot of cash for nursing care, and his house couldn't be sold in time to help pay. Lots of decisions rest on where he can go when (if) he leaves the hospital, and I am a person that needs to plan. I like to know weeks in advance what I'm going to do, and what needs to be done. My meeting with the social worker made it abundantly clear that we aren't going to know what dad qualifies for until hours before he gets discharged from the hospital. Planning for his discharge isn't going to happen. I have to be flexible and ready for anything.

I'm not flexible, and I hate uncertainty. Particularly in this case. Not knowing is fucking with my life, and I'm focusing on it all the time.

So, I took the afternoon off and headed to Prof's house. I caught up on some work; it felt so good to talk to the office and respond to emails. I watched some of the DVRed National Parks PBS special on his big high def tv. I just laid on the couch and tried to block out everything else.

We went out for a nice dinner, then got tickets for Where the Wild Things Are. I knew that the ratings were mixed. The Village Voice said it was like a group therapy session. Other reputable reviewers said that the group dysfunction and inane monster dialogue made it almost unwatchable. But we went anyway.

Largely, I was bored. The monsters were reminded me of dysfunctional Jews from a Woody Allen movie. Seriously. Each personified an undesirable character trait; pessimism, depression, anger, overly anxious to please, cannibalism... Carol the Monster's anger made me uncomfortable; JW's condescension annoyed me. I was glad when Max finally got in his boat and sailed away.

Except that I was bawling.

Max said his goodbyes to all the monsters, except Carol who was too busy in an angry rage to be there. He finally shows up and just watches Max leave. I'm sure everyone in the theater applied that scene to their own families, and their own situation. For me, it hit too close to home. Saying goodbye? Expressing regret? End of a journey? It sucker punched me.

I had to sit there until everyone in the theater had left. Then I got up, trying to hide my face from the Prof, and about ran into the bathroom to try to compose myself. I had been crying for maybe 5 minutes, but my face was red and puffy and my eyes were squinty. I looked a mess. And felt ridiculous. Angry, dysfunctional monsters made me cry; not the news that my dad had cancer.

Its the first time that I've lost my shit all week. The first time I've cried. The first time I've let my feelings anywhere near the surface. It felt awful. Holding it in is much easier.


Janet said...

Ugh, I'm so sorry. I'm sure your feelings are quite normal though. Sometimes you're so busy getting through something, you don't have the time or energy to grieve. Then a monster movies sets it all loose. Sending you good thoughts.

Ms Behaviour said...

Hmmm, I'm thinking you need some quiet time with a ridiculously sappy movie and a large box of Kleenex so you can start to work some of this crappiness out of your system. Although, crying gives me a massive headache so maybe not. Large vat of chocolate fondue instead? I'm glad you got some you time, even if it involved work.

erin said...

Ugh, our healthcare system is ridiculous. My fingers and toes are crossed that you get the best, least stressful solution. Not that each option doesn't come with it's own particular stresses.

Anyway, I agree with Ms Behaviour... I totally understand that sometimes it's better to keep it together to get through something, but don't forget to give yourself time to process your feelings - even if you wait until after everything is said and done. Holding all that crap inside is never good for anyone. If it feels that awful coming out, then it's better out than in, I say. Because once it's out? It's gone.

Sending more hugs your way.