That curious inner reorientation in light of medical, well, medical stuff

I suppose one of the good parts of having been around the block a few times is that when that woozy personal stress disorientation hits, I recognize it as an old friend, a visitor who arrives in hard times, and eventually departs again for a good long while. An emotional Halley’s Comet that comes into close orbit every so often.

Oh, it’s you again. Yeah I recognized you by this feeling of off-balance. Of being inattentive and I couldn’t care less. Of being on sensory overload. Of being on a completely different planet than the people around me. Yep. We’re talking past each other. Do I have it in me to even talk about that? Um, no. This is the way of things. Just settle in. It’s going to be this way for a while.

Yesterday it began while I was driving. It wasn’t wholly unexpected; I’ve been on the receiving end of medical progress reports for a good day before the 5 pm driving event.

The phone does its beep-beep-beep of incoming text message. I’m driving, so I won’t check. But I know what it’s about. Phone rings. I pick up. “Hi, I’m now driving illegally now that I’m talking to you. Can I call you back in 10?” Yeah sure, but the procedure went well. “Cool. Good. Talk to you soon.”

Drive drive drive. Arrive. Stop. Read the message, there at the curb. The news is mixed. Procedure good. But surgery soon.


On a patient who’s not strong, who’s got more bad heart valves than good. Surgery.

Okay, well, we’re all going somewhere, so I get out of the car, go inside, and blurt out the news. “____ is going to have surgery in a few days.”

The drive to our destination is weird. I usually am the navigator. The one with the GPS in her brain. We’ve a friend in the back seat. The conversation begins to have that we’re in two different worlds feeling. I watch myself react to a question that normally would be a perfectly good, “Blah blah blah in my experience… do you find that to be so, too?” kinda question. But in this moment, it’s a bizarre question. I watch as the question soars from the back seat and lands up front. Thud. “Um. Yeah.” I say.

I feel so spaced out.

Then I pick up my cel phone and call back the person from earlier. We get into news, plans. Details. Questions. But in the meantime, we in the car are headed somewhere. And I know how to get there. But I’m spaced out.

Back Seat Friend takes over as navigator. “No, you turn left here. Stay in that lane.”

Me: “He what? What did the doctor say?” I try to point which way to go.

Fone: “The doc said that after a day—” Back Seat Friend: “No, Left! Left! Turn!” Driver: “What? Where?”

Me: “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

I guess it’s like one of those “it’s never a good time for bad news” times. These things always arrive right when you’re in the midst of several things at once. Never when you’re rested and receptive and preparing yourself for some kind of onslaught.

Driving around L.A. when you gotta be someplace at a certain time…. well, that was my never a good time.

It’s like shuffling through a deck of cards and saying, Keep, discard, discard, keep, oh crap– what about that one?, discard, keep, keep.

You order dinner for me, I can’t focus on reading a menu and making choices. (discard) That thing I was going to do on Saturday? Gonna bail on that. (discard) I’ve got a significant commitment next week, and I’ve got to do it (keep OMG keep!), and toss out the other stuff so I can still do that. Plus deal with this medical situation and everything that goes with it (keep). And part of the time tonight, I am just physically here in your presence. But I’m not here, mentally (discard).

That emotional stress Halley’s Comet is swinging in close to my Sun. It’s been here before. I recognize the symptoms. I’m woozy and blurry, and disoriented and re-orienting all at the same time.

5 responses to “That curious inner reorientation in light of medical, well, medical stuff”

  1. monica kitchens

    Hi Susan… thinking of you.

  2. Susan A. Kitchens

    Thanks, Monica!! (All this may get me logging into Facebook again (been away for a while) to give a cousinly shout out)

  3. monica kitchens

    Glad you did… will read the blog…
    keep us informed…

    We are with you… and thinking of him. a lot.
    love you all.

  4. Mary Lu

    Hey Susan, I see we are visiting the same planet. My cards go 1. spouse 2. Narc’s missing at employment…. report to boss, and 3 get terminated. Total time at new job 7 weeks. Can I just throw the entire deck of cards into the fireplace and start over?

  5. Hal Rager

    Thinking of you. This seems to be going around. I wish you all the very best of outcomes.

    If you’ve not been on Facebook for a bit you have missed the few reports of my own familial drama. My Mother is in the hospital in Fort Worth with a recurrence of her lung cancer from 4 years ago that led to a lobectomy. Except that she didn’t tell anyone 10 months ago she was having symptoms again. And stopped going to the doctor. Extrapolate and include a phone call from a social worker telling me she was in the ER.

    She is doing radiation and chemo now. /sigh

    Sending you both good thoughts…