Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Monday, December 20, 2004

"Hospital is such a dirty word."

"Hospital is such a dirty word.", wrote Magna, a splendid red-head (and splendid person), when inquiring after my brother's hospitalization for kidney failure. I couldn't agree with her more.

I dread entering hospitals or visiting someone in the hospital, more than seeing the dentist. Which is, if you think about it, like a minuscule office-sized hospital, with its medicinal smells and attendant pain, but lacking the spectral stench of death that permeates all the hospitals I've had the fortune to enter.

The sense of smell leads to strong emotive reactions. Some believe that feeling of deja vu is triggered by oralfactoral stimuli. Certain smells make me think about the mortality of love ones and, maybe, my own. Like a morbid perfume, the scent of linoleum, dis-infectents, sterile laundry, and the whiff of bodily fluids makes me squirm. When combined with the faint sounds of heart monitors, mystery whirring noises, and the buzz of the ballasts in the fluoresce light fixtures, my imagination goes in to overdrive.

That's the downside of cultivating empathy in one's life. Not only can I imagine what it must feel like to be held hostage to illness, but, even, to know how the illness and surroundings affect others when they visit - grateful, but, also apologetic for all the fuss...

I tried to divine whence this revulsion, this fear, came from? I recall at the tender age of seven that I was in for a hernia operation. The night before surgery I tried all the windows on my floor to escape home but they were locked. I recall after my mother's radation treatments she was in a nursery home for recovery but visiting that place was worse than visiting the dog pound. We got Mom home quick.

Deep down inside me, where the person I want to be and the person I am becoming sit down and broker a deal, call it the ethical self, the honest self , the not-examined-enough self, it's the place where one asks one's self, "How much love do I really have?" Choices.

It reminds me of that part of the gospels, which I like to think of as one the questions on the final exam "I was sick and did you visit??" (Which subsequently makes me think a lot of people who think they're gonna' get raptured are never gonna' pass the final exam...)

True, unselfish love can deal with all the ickyness and smells that life produces. From farts under the covers to putrification of failing flesh. At least that's what I tell myself.

I never liked airing dirty laundry or bleating about my personal misfortunes in public - it seemed unseemly. I promise to spare you that, mostly.

Strangely, I never thought I'd have this kind of dialogue on my blog. I wanted to keep it more about ideas and less about personality. You know, debate the the sin not the sinner.

Yet, a couple of sorely-missed friends of mine, a young couple living in Luxembourg, suggested that I include more personal details here on the site. I suspect that is their way of keeping tabs on me (plus a way to cut down on the long distance charges).

Therefore I'm thinking of sprinkling more personal factoids throughout my posts.