Author: Beaton, Jeffrey J
Date published: December 1, 2012
Let me begin by explaining my absence from the Fall issue. Fd like to tell you I spent the last four months wandering in the woods of British Columbia looking to drop a twelve-point buck at a salt lick. Fd like to tell you that, but that's not what happened.
What happened was I got on fihe Healthcare carousel and couldn't get off. I developed a decubitus on my butt cheek and I continued to ride it far too long and far too hard.
Like some of you, I acted as my own physician and attempted to heal it myself. I'm thirty-five years post-injury. My experience is that Fm better able to diagnose and treat my illnesses than a physician. In this instance., I was wrong. So, I was off to the hospital for a stitch in time... and in my iscnium.
At this point, my life went from !bad to incredibly bad. I developed a blood-borne bacteria which baffled the docs to distraction. A pneumonia drowned my lungs in enough fluid to fill a couple of quart mason jars. Some sort of bug took up residence in my GI tract reducing my appetite to nausea at the thought of food. The details are unclear. For some period of time I was ventilator-dependant, nourishment was NG tube-delivered, and I am now the proud caretaker of a colostomy. Thanks to fcntanyl, morphine and other pharmaccuticals, I allowed much to be done to my body which I might otherwise have argued against.
In keeping with the phraseology of the season, my mind, "it went awassailing." My thoughts wandered from hallucination to hallucination. You might be thinking, "What an audacious act for a mass of slimy grey matter. The brain couldn't support it's own weight without the structure of the cranium." The mind, however, is a free agent.
My brain remained ever faith fui, but my mind slipped my body's physical predicament and went off on it's own merry way. Six times ten to the fifteenth power of spongy little neurons marching off with no regard for Newtonian barriers. In other words, I was out of my flippin'mind. Thank goodness for small favors.
But Fm back.,, back lacking vengeance. My body betrayed me. Prior to my self-imposed incarceration in the healthcare system, my self image was of an attractive guy who was selfassured but approachable. Now, a look in the mirror negates my self-assurance, highlights my gray, and invites a body image which fights the psychological step from depression to acceptance.
Take th e co lo stomy. . .plea s e . It inconveniently burps and farts with no regard for company - not sexy. I can cover the gray hair, but who notices hair once they see the wheelchair?
Since my release from the hospital, my brand spanking new, firm, and perky butt cheeks have yet to make their social debut. My butt is a pri soner of my current self image and therein lies the problem. A person develops body image through interaction with other people. By hiding away, I simply delay the development of my new sense of self.
With the season and new year I resolve to expose my new self to other people. The spiked eggnog will help to put them in a spirit of acceptance. My self image will be enhanced. I will, again, deny disability and its many deprecating consequences. And with the new year, I will enj oy a better self image.
by Jeffrey J. Beatón, JD