Sunday, September 23, 2018

Who Cares?

I had no idea what would come of me posting a meme on Facebook but it let loose a torrent of comment. I don’t post memes. I sent it to an online friend going through tough times at home. It generated no response.  I thought about it for a day and that flat affect pushed my mind into asking myself what does this really mean? 

I’ve heard it said that people will tell you who they are if you listen.  They sure manage to muddle me up.  I have terrible judgment where my feelings are concerned. So I started to ask myself, laying here in bed, what is friendship? Friendship is how they treat me?  That’s a new one.  Which may give you an idea how naive I am. 

My scooter wreck brought me close to the face of God.  It also brought me face to face with who I am and who I want to be.  Flat affect isn’t who I want to be. I know I want joy.  The bugger is I don’t know how to find it or share it.  To be joyful alone is absurd, the stuff lunatic asylums are filled with all the time. I feel joy at being alive and I now look and see who feels joy with me. If my presence even across the ether doesn’t make you smile then I’m doing something wrong.  I don’t want to run you the wrong way or be an annoying permanent smile on your horizon - the smile of insincerity. I want you to show me your joy. And your sadness and your fear. 

The only television hero I had failed at it. Anthony Bourdain turned his life around saw my world through his eyes and tripped. I can’t afford to trip on my journey out of rehab. Help me step out of my shell. Help me trust my instincts as you do the same.  We can only have a small part of each other but that part should be first rate.  I hope this page will continue to be the best I can do and it does something good for you.  It’s all I can offer.  It has to be enough.  If you know me you know I struggle daily with doing my best and I often fail. It’s all in the struggle and like rehab I can’t do it alone. Whether it’s worth the effort I can only say it is for me. 

Thanks for reading. 
Michael Beattie
AKA Conchscooter 

The Great Thirst

I was living through what was for me, the hardest time in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.  I called it The Great Thirst. Webb Chiles the sailing adventurer I am proud to call my friend says his worst fear is thirst after he shipwrecked once without water. It is an ever present memory for him as my lesser thirst is the worst memory of all the operations and tubes and injections and bedridden daily repetition of my current situation flat on my back. 

So it happened I was lying on my back in ICU one Sunday morning with intravenous tubes in my arm supplying me food and water and a nasal gastric tube stuck up my nose down my throat into my stomach to prevent my digestive system going wrong even though I was restricted to a diet of ice chips.  The tube is as intrusive as it sounds and all the other stuff hanging off me was so much less than that ducking garden hose giving me a sore throat impeding speech and tasting like sour food and rubber. It was an ever present horror.  I do not exaggerate. Getting it down my nostril I gagged and vomited twice -as you do I’m told- and I faced its removal by it being pulled out like a snake charmer surprising an audience.  What a prospect...

I couldn’t breathe well enough without oxygen. I woke up in the night struggling with replays of the accident. I felt suffocated by the tubes. My lips were parched. Oh yes they were parched. I dreamed of glasses of lemonade. Of cold water. Of orange juice. Nothing alcoholic interested me and carbonation made me vomit.  I already knew that.  All I got were ice chips. Rationed pieces of ice to moisten my lips. I begged I pleaded I moaned I swore I bargained I was the worst patient in the world.  The doctor looked down at me sadly and reassured me one glass of water would do nothing for my thirst as though that would reassure me enough to forget my desire. 

Then Sunday morning came round. And with it a visit from the Catholic chaplain who stopped by. I had, on admission papers confessed to membership in the Holy Roman  Universal  Church and was thus eligible for confession and last rites which these days is called anointing with oil or something rather less apocalyptic than Last. Rites. To be applied before you are expected to pop off.  I dredged up what sins I could recall for the Irish priest all soft pink folds of skin white wavy hair and a reserved manner of the type that tells you humanity disgusts him. I certainly seemed to. It was depressing as he anointed me with oil and told me to straighten up my life. There was no brilliant moment of enlightenment or hope or love. 

My confession was heard, my orifices anointed to prevent the ingress of evil, I was as shriven as I could be. Pure as the driven snow.  So immediately I set  about screwing the pooch.  “Father “ I said. “Could you kindly push that bottle of water a little closer. My wife accidentally left it out of reach.”  Poor man he stood no chance. He helped a fellow albeit fallen Christian to a jug of water -melted cursed ice chips actually- in the name of charity and then hustled off closing the door behind him at my urging. I sucked down the precious fluid my mouth agape like I was receiving an offering. The doctor was right; it did nothing to slake my thirst. But it tasted so good. 

Being human you will no doubt judge me and judge me badly but I ask one thing of you.  Go without drinking anything for twenty four hours and then tell me you don’t feel like an addict, a dope fiend, craving fluid like a rat dying of poison seeks water. Well meaning friends warn me against the addictive properties of Percocet. They know nothing of me if they think I am an addict of pills.  Food? Yes! Water? Abso-bloody- lutely. I was reading a book about the opioid epidemic called “Dopesick” a brilliant read which I have been afraid to touch since the scooter wreck. Perhaps I can plunge back in now. Now I can eat and drink and behave like the nice middle clas boy I am.  I looked behind the curtain of addiction and I did not like what I saw.  I have no doubt neither did you.