[Just arriving? Check out the beginning of this series here and here.]
Okay, so we've established that I've been going through a rough time. But while I did experience a brief period where all the good moments were completely gone, they came back. As I keep telling people, the recovery is a process, so it's not like it's all sunshine and roses here. But I have moments where I can laugh. Especially when I do something stupid. And I laugh at myself.
At dinner one evening, a couple of the patients were discussing their problems, and one of them made a joke about what she was going through. I don't even remember the joke now, but I do remember that as she laughed about it, she apologized to anyone she might have offended. "Sorry," she said. "I have a warped sense of humor." I said, "You haven't seen 'warped sense of humor' until you've lived with my family through a crisis." It's one of the ways we deal. So I offer you some warped moments of humor from a very humorless week.
Until recently, I had never cut myself so deeply that it actually hurt to move my arms. Like, typing hurt, brushing my hair hurt, accidentally moving them wrong while I was sleeping hurt. In the hospital, it got so bad that I had to get them wrapped up because my sleeves were constantly irritating the cuts. After the first couple days, when I was always either cold (from keeping my sleeves shorter) or in pain (from having long sleeves rubbing my arms), I finally went to the nurse's station to ask for some help.
Me: Could you wrap these, please? They're really uncomfortable.
Nurse: [looking at me with an odd expression] Um, sure. Hang on.
Yes, Nurse Care-a-Lot, I do acknowledge the irony of my coming to you for help soothing self-induced injuries. But I just didn't realize how much it was going to hurt. I mean, it really hurt! After they were wrapped up, I was able to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of that encounter.
Then there was the night J. came to visit and brought hardware for me to give myself a pedicure. They stopped him at the desk and told him he could give me the nail polish, but not the nail polish remover. Then the one nurse turned to the other and said,
N1: What about the nail clippers? She can have the nail clippers, right?
N2: Yeah, of course. Unless she's a cutter. [to J.] She's not a cutter, is she?
N2: Yeah, she can't have the clippers.
The especially amusing part, though, was when he came to tell me about the confiscation of goods. He seemed to understand and have no trouble with their taking the clippers, but the polish remover confounded him. "Do they think you're going to drink it?" he said. "You're not stupid!" After a moment of awkward silence, I pointed out that if they had to rightfully keep nail clippers away from me to prevent me from harming myself, I was probably not currently a shining example of intelligence.
Of course, they seemed to have funny ideas about what I should or should not have access to, given my cutting tendencies. While I could not have my nail clippers, I was still given a knife at every meal, even though no one watched me eat, and I could easily have stolen the knife and brought it into my room. Sure, it was just a butter knife - not like a steak knife or a carving knife or anything - but still, it's more than nail clippers. J. pointed out, too, that they gave me plenty of papers with staples in them, which is also a hazard. But most remarkable of all is that I had a board on which to hang cards or signs or whatever I wanted. And with what could I hang these things? Pushpins. This may not seem so remarkable to you, but you have to understand that in the years since I first started cutting, my instrument of choice has more often been a pushpin than anything else. So having pushpins in my room at all times was a major hazard.
However, I had signed a piece of paper when I came in that said I would tell someone immediately if I had any desire to harm myself (or others, but that's really not my style - I don't hate anyone as much as I hate myself), so maybe they thought that would keep me honest: Well, I really want to cut myself, but I *did* sign that paper saying I wouldn't, so maybe... It wouldn't have stopped me, really, but what would (and did) was that I was honestly trying to get better, and it was mostly working. So cutting wasn't high on my list of priorities. But still - no nail clippers, no polish remover, yet plenty of pushpins. And they think *I'm* the crazy one...
In the next post: Acknowledgment of the people I encountered along my journey.