Sunday, July 08, 2007

Even Greek tragedies reach catharsis

Life has been so overwhelmed with awfulness lately that mere one-sentence summaries quickly unfold like a Greek tragedy. It's gotten to the point where there's nothing to do but accept the absurdity of it all.

My brother nearly died after complications before a hernia surgery.
He has been in the ICU for a month and a half.
He was in a coma for several weeks.
Dialysis is no longer necessary, but he remains on a ventilator with a medium to high fever.
He still has a hole in his belly because his innards have been too swollen to close it up. Every few days, they take him into surgery to clean out the wound. One time when I had to give the consent for the procedure, I also approved the doctors' plan to put in a piece of cadaver skin so they'll eventually have something to graft his own skin onto. The doctor explaining it to me must have repeated the phrase "cadaver skin" about 25 times.
We also discovered that my brother had not been handling my dad's finances as, shall we say, prudently as he should have.

My dad has been in the hospital three times in the last month.
The first time, he was able to get to the phone himself and call 911. His blood sugar was dangerously low.
The second time, he woke with a weird sensation in his chest. It was an atrial fibrilation. Not as bad as it could've been (I guess the ventricles cause more serious issues), but not great for someone who had a heart attack six months ago.
The third time, my partner and I were there to call 911. Luckily, she happened to be awake at 3:30am and heard him. Again, low blood sugar. The sounds coming out of him were inhuman and terrifying.
Shortly before my brother's hospitalization, my dad lost his job just for being old ("you've done an outstanding it's time to let you enjoy the golden years of your retirement"). He also lost the apartment that came with the job and had to move.

There are additional subplots -- our trying to close on a new house, another wreck of a house, nasty neighbors, pets in multiple municipal districts, my biggest work project of the year, other people's middle-school-worthy antics, and traumatic encounters that literally left me shaking and keening -- but more details would just be overkill.

They say the universe never gives you more than you can handle. Clearly, the universe thinks I'm a rock star. With each new thing, I could tell I was getting the opportunity to heal something from my past (whether I wanted to or not). The universe was throwing down the gauntlet, challenging me to trust my ability to face it all. "I know you can do this. Now I'm going to add another thing, because I know you can handle that, too. See? You're doing great. Here's some more."

Thankfully, the air is finally beginning to clear. My dad's health has stabilized significantly, and we've taken steps to start cleaning up the financial situation. My brother continues to make incremental but steady progress. We move into our new house tomorrow. The traumas didn't remain under my skin where they could do serious damage.

Throughout the whole process, I've kept coming back to the things I'm grateful for in my life.
My amazing sweetie.
Our new house.
The friends who have totally come through for us, often at the last minute.
My understanding colleagues.
My own health.
My ability to find the humor and absurdity within an overwhelming situation.
And the knowledge that the universe thinks I'm a rock star.


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