The Epileptic Monitoring Unit
And every single fight’s alright/with my brain I just want to feel everything
– Fiona Apple
The 6am car rides. The piercing, promise of the clear blue sky and another day wasted. The GWB. The 12 dollar toll. The 25 dollar parking lot. Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, O, Castle of Miserable, of clinical depression, my twenties and staggering convulsions of darkness. 8th floor, Neurology, The Epileptic Monitoring Unit, with its polished hardwood hallway floors that no patient could appreciate, tethered to the wall by a tangle of electronics, sanctioned to the bed by guard rail for safety, emergency cords and alarms. Home of the wires, the glue, the air guns, the always acetone smell. The crying children, the pulled hair, their haggard mothers praying over their sleeping bodies. The hall always whispering with 24 hour cameras, transfers, the whirring and clicking of the CT scans, the burn of nuclear medicine. The acronyms: PET scans, SPECTS scans, WADA test, VNS implant. No privacy, a tendency to seize in the bathroom, Sorry, we’re short staffed, we have to help who we can get to first. View of the Hudson; same room twice irony, summers smell like stale air conditioning and hospital cleaner, all the meals boiled and never quite reaching my mouth. IV in my left arm. Can’t write. Bruises, nausea, withdrawal, the pounds lost, shaved head, the steel spike migraines. Readmissions. The first DNR. Always Fox News. Vonnegut dies. 15 doctors a day and always alone. My mother asleep in a chair, no spare pillows making do for 19 days and always alone. Keeping myself up flipping through the same 13 channels at 2 AM, watching American Gladiators reruns, laughing at what we thought was strong because sleep deprivation, alone. Fifth medication failure asking God why and getting no response, alone. Recurring nightmares surgical steel shining and MRI backlit, alone. My now husband there every day, holding my hand every time I go into the dark, every time I lose consciousness. Still there are no words for lungs that clench closed, a throat that fills with concrete, the words I love you frozen in a mind that only hears ringing, sees colors as my brain give into the misfiring electrical current running it rampant. I go into every seizure always. Alone.