Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Is Your Life...

It was a night unlike no other and, very fortunately, largely forgotten by me. Well, not quite. I recall all too many details from that evening—of both things that were and things that weren’t. But happily, the sheer terror of that night in question has been wholly transformed into a comical, albeit dramatic, reminiscence of a certain life adventure of mine.

As far as putting things in my mouth and swallowing, or inhaling things through my nose with the objective of flying to the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter, I’ve pretty much been a good boy all these many years. I can honestly say that I never desired to trip on a hallucinogen to conjure up Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, or even Yogi Berra for that matter. Popping a pill in the hopes of being embraced by light has never been on my agenda, either. After all, encouraging one’s brain to boldly go where no neurotransmitter has gone before is just as likely to erect a prophet fellow whose name begins with “M,” and a corresponding hallucinatory fatwa, which would be awfully scary.

This is a roundabout segue way into my hallucinatory story. It occurred in a hospital milieu a little over four years ago. Apparently, some thing or things within the medley of meds I was prescribed while vegetating in intensive care caused me to both see and hear things that didn’t actually exist—not a good thing—and, worse still, believe the doctors and nurses on duty wanted to cast me asunder in my hospital bed. My drug-challenged brain was further convinced that an all-encompassing conspiracy was afoot to drive me completely mad. You're nobody until you believe somebody's out to get you.

When my sorry excuse for a leg—thanks to a gnarled mass of tissue and massive blood loss—was undressed and then redressed on this fateful night, I watched a doctor employing a couple of slices of pizza in lieu of bandages to cover the gruesome thing. Pizza had recently been delivered to somebody on the premises. I saw that as well. And the vitals monitor—or whatever it was called— hovering above me no longer recorded blood pressure and heart rate, but instead a This Is Your Life…Nick Nigro facts and information crawl. Boy, were these hospital folks going through a lot of trouble to punish me for my earthly sins. Oh, yes, and they had definitely turned the heat up in my little corner of the world—it had to be at least 120 degrees. Also, I absolutely knew that if I pushed a button to give me pain medicine, which I desperately needed and was told to use, the medications would kill my pain all right.and me right along with it.

Could my eyes have been deceiving me all along, and my brain taken a bizarre and Byzantine detour into the shadowy Land of Paranoia? Well, to make a very long story short, the next morning when I received family visitations, I informed my father that they had to get me out of the hospital and toot sweet, because my life was in imminent danger courtesy of a malevolent staff out to do me bodily harm. Now, this little exchange really shook the old man up, and not because he sensed murder in the sterile ether. He was in pretty bad health at the time, and hardly needed to see his son so physically wracked, but this out-of-the-head addendum was more than he could bear.

It was my mother who eventually clued me in that I was, in fact, hallucinating, and that not a single one of these ghastly things happened, or were happening, to me. I was literally seeing ominous handwriting on the wall and on the ceiling, too. However, once I received this most welcome reality check, the extreme fear and runaway paranoia, which totally gripped me, evaporated.

I was my old rational self again, yet nonetheless still seeing things that weren’t there, and occasionally hearing them as well. Despite the nasty medications playing dirty tricks on my brain, I could at least now separate the real from the unreal. And, trust me, the real was bad enough at the time and the worst was yet to come. Finally, as a footnote here, I apologized to an always patient and compassionate male nurse for accusing him of plotting my demise. He said, “No problem…it happens all the time in this place.” 

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