I was taken to the hospital on Wed (2/23) morning and do not recall anything from that day. I know that I was hooked up to a respirator and a bunch of other machines. When I first woke up I thought that I was dead and I had gone to hell. Seriously. I didn’t have much energy but with the little bit I did have I sat up in bed and ripped off IV tubes, wires, and anything attached to me. Then I looked at my nurse and said, “I’m dead.” She told me that I wasn’t dead. I collapsed back to the bed and don’t remember anything again for a few hours.
The next time I woke up I was in restraints which I was not happy about. Apparently, I also tried to punch a nurse. I couldn’t move and every hour a nurse came by to poke me with a needle – and there was nothing I could do about it. Sartre once said that hell was “other people” – I now know that hell is a personal creation all our own.
My own personal hell consisted in this scenario with the further terrifying realization that this would never end – it would continue on eternally. I had read up on eternity and understood, even when I woke up, that ‘eternity’ is not even a measure of time – it’s beyond time. An infinite number of universes could come and go and still be within the realm of eternity. It was truly horrifying.
I was finally conscious enough to recognize Chris standing by my bed (and who also called 911). It was only then that I realized that the doctors and nurses were not trying to hurt me; they were trying to help me. Like Bergson said, “The eyes can see only what the mind can comprehend.” Once I realized that I wasn’t dead, I began seeing friends and family in the room. They must have been there all along to help me. I was holding on and something in me didn’t want to die. Like Jacob’s doctor says in Jacob’s Ladder, “If you’re holding on and afraid of dying, you’ll see demons tearing your life apart. If you’ve made your peace, then the demons are really angels freeing you from the world.”
Even now, after only one week out of the hospital the inertia of life moves on. Those around me, full of the best of intentions, are locking the overhead bar into place and strapping me in. I can feel myself sliding back in my seat and I hear the familiar ‘click, click, click’ under my feet as the roller coaster begins its assent. I think I’ve been here before.