The other day I mentioned to a friend how strange it is that I don’t have much of an appetite lately. Then I managed to make some silly mistake and everyone looked at me funny. I tried to explain, “It’s so weird. My brain is like a computer that has a program constantly running in the background and it makes me feel so stupid. I can’t seem to concentrate on things very well and I keep making very silly mistakes.”
“Uh Logan? That’s stress.”
Oh right, stress! Derek and I went to Boston two weekends ago to visit friends. We also went to the Crate & Barrel on Boylston Street to see our friend Jen and to buy some mini pie dishes, because reasons. Now, I worked at that store for many years, and while the product has changed, and where it all lives in the store has changed, the actual structure of the store has not. However, when I went to use the bathroom on the 2nd floor, a room I visited frequently during my tenure there, I managed to open the emergency exit instead of the bathroom door, setting off the alarm. I stared at the door for a while as it screamed at me. I really didn’t think I was the cause. How could I be? I went up to one of the managers, a woman I used to work with years ago, and said, “It’s so weird! I don’t know why I just did that!” It was such a stupid mistake and really, I’m not stupid. But I am distracted, constantly. Which in the grand scheme of things, is probably ok. I think if I was fully focused on what Derek and I are going through and are about to go through I would probably shut down.
The human body handles stress in a variety of ways, and I always thought I held my stress in my shoulders and sometimes in my stomach. But this time around, I don’t feel it in either of those places, really. I feel it in other ways: crazy, profanity filled road rage when someone fails to use a turn signal; hair trigger when it comes to crying or laughing hysterically, sometimes at the same time; no desire to eat; strong desire to sleep as long as possible. In general, it seems my brain is actually trying to protect me. Maybe I keep saying and doing stupid stuff so I’ll just focus on those blips instead of the matter at hand.
Here’s another example: when we went to the emergency room in October I was utterly oblivious to the fact that my husband was in an incredibly precarious and dicey situation. After a few tests and some probative questions, the nurse practitioner in the ER told us that Derek would need an upper endoscopy. I said that maybe it would be better to have his regular GI doctor do that. She replied that Dr. Bueno (yes, yes, his name is Dr. Bueno) didn’t have privileges at CMC so Derek would have to go to St. Joseph’s hospital in Nashua. Here’s what I then proceeded to say: “Oh. Ok. So we go home now and then get up in the morning and drive to St. Joe’s?” I have no idea how she kept a straight face when I said that.
Her response was: “Well…no. We would transfer your husband via ambulance, right now, and we typically don’t transfer patients down there, they get transferred up here.” Ah. I see. But I didn’t. And when they told us that he was being admitted to the ICU, I thought, well, that’s weird. Maybe they’re being extra cautious, or maybe they don’t have any other beds available. Then when he was transferred to a regular bed and the next morning they said he needed to be there for at least 2 more days, I was gobsmacked. Well, to be fair, we both were. We were absolutely clueless. Both of our brains were protecting us from the overwhelming onslaught of emotions that we feel, pretty much all the time now: constant vigilance.
I worry sometimes that I am becoming desensitized to crisis. That my senses are getting numb because of the constant rattling of worried thoughts in my head. This is not something I want to be good at; I don’t want to be the master of this particular domain. And yet I persist, as I must, feeling the constant pangs of stress but also reveling in the simple joys of our life. Reminded, as always, that life is just so weird.