Observations, Tidbits and Theories

I’m doing great, off the O2, feeling like my old self emotionally and mentally, just without the energy to do my old routine. I still have an annoying cough and still hoarse from the respirator, but both are improving. One day at a time and all that.

While in the hospital, I did quite a bit of hallucinating, especially in the induced coma. No wonder those drugs are illegal. I also had plenty of time to ponder, observe and theorize, as follows:

• Here’s the secret to weight loss: don’t eat so much. Duh. I was hoping meditation or visualization or 20 minutes of walking three days a week would make me bikini-ready. Alas, there’s only one thing that will take off the pounds and that’s doing the opposite of what put ‘em on. Sigh. Exercise helps, but I know plenty of fat people who work out a lot. That’s why I stopped working out so much: I didn’t lose weight. I looked better and felt better, but I really just wanted to lose weight.

I lost 12 pounds in the hospital. I’m probably the only person in the world that can go on a liquid diet for three weeks and only lose 12 pounds. (Not that I’m complaining. I’ve given up complaining.) Fortunately, I lost six more after I got home. Seems my stomach shrank big-time, so now I eat often and just a little bit. I used to eat like I got a tip on a famine every meal, so this is a big change.

The only other time I’ve lost an appreciable amount of weight was with Weight Watchers. That’s really all about not eating so much, too, but with plenty of distraction so you maybe won’t notice you are starving all the time. But, hey, 18 pounds gone and I didn’t even notice. That’s a silver lining, right?

Ticos have at least 150% unquestioning faith in La Madre. The upside is that you don’t worry a lot. The downside is that it doesn’t really matter what you do, moral or immoral, because you will be forgiven. That’s a given. Comforting, but no real incentive to “be good.” Whatever that means.

Ticos also have at least 100% unquestioning faith that their government and its health care system will take care of them from cradle to grave. Soon the U.S. will be like this. Won’t that be nice? (This is not a political jab. I’ve given up politics, too.)

• Three weeks Spanish immersion definitely improved my language skills. When my family came to visit me in the hospital, I was writing (before I could speak), then talking in Spanish. As Hal likes to quip, “You gave me my first order in Spanish.” Ha ha. When I came home, I was formulating all my sentences into Spanish before
speaking them aloud. Then I’d remember everyone speaks English. I was pretty confused for awhile.

• Here’s my Nurse Theory: nurses are either kind or cruel. No matter what else they are or aren’t – intuitive, well-trained, competent – a nurse is kind or cruel at the core. I had a few nurses who were flat out mean. Like, one woman, while I still had the respirator, was giving me water. All I wanted was water, I was thirsty all the time. She went through an elaborate measuring procedure, let a few drops run into my mouth, then took the rest away and poured it down the sink! Nice, huh?

Sadly, I had too many episodes like this. I’m trying to forget them, because most of my nurses were excellent and kind, and took very good care of me. Nurses see everything, know everything. More than once, nurses took charge of my care and I believe I got better faster as a result. In Costa Rica, doctors know this and aren’t intimidated by it. There’s a switch.

My friend Betty teaches English as a second language. She got a list from her school on “The differences between ticos and norteamericanos.” Apparently, ticos see doctors as people, where North Americans see doctors as gods. Hmmm.

• When you have a catheter, everyone gets to look at your hoo-hoo. Just to make sure everything is as it should be. I saw more action from more different people in those three weeks than during my college days. Plus, I got a bath in bed everyday by all manner of persons: men, women, gay, straight. A little tip on getting bathed: the only person you (women) want bathing you, especially down there, is a straight man. Just take my word for it. The last three days in lockup, er, the hospital, I was mobile enough to take a shower all by myself: heaven!!!

• My How-Did-I-Get-Strep-Pneumonia Theory: My doctor told me that most people carry the strep bacteria in their bodies. It’s an opportunistic bacteria, looking for a weak spot. I believe my weak spot developed because of my emotional state. I was physically healthy, albeit tired, just too much on my plate. But, mainly, I had allowed myself to be in a near-constant state of anger and fear because of my obsession with U.S. politics. When I was conscious enough to think, this was a clear epiphany: a body can’t live consumed with anger and fear. Better I eat McDonald’s everyday and think happy thoughts!

Sam brought in a book on chakras one night (she’d read me to sleep.) The lungs are in the heart chakra, the center for balance and harmony. I had had neither for quite some time and that took its toll. The next day, I opened my hands, closed my eyes and willed the anger to leave my body. I swear it was like a river flowing out of my palms, as real as this keyboard feels now under my fingertips.

At the moment, I have no real interest in getting all hopped up over politics. I just don’t see the point in trading my emotional health for… what? Maybe once I’ve learned the art of balance, I can dive in again. Balance. That’s a lovely word; I’d like some.

Those are my hospital musings. One day soon, I’ll tell you about my as-real-as-this-keyboard hallucination during my coma. It wasn’t until the third week in the hospital that I finally realized none of it happened. It was that intense and real. Till then, I’m on the balance and harmony path. Om.

P.S. I fixed #10 on the Hey Lady post. It now reads: “Some people will do anything for attention.” I hate it when I forget my punchline. I didn’t think of this myself. Only about 1,000 people have said it to me. Right out loud, too.

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