Thursday, March 31, 2005

Girl, Interrupted

The last thing I remember was lying on the bathroom floor, my stomach feeling satisfyingly empty. The taste of bile in my mouth felt familiar, comforting, even as it burned my throat. My therapist had said the bile could damage my vocal cords.

Then as the light blue tile, the chipped white ceramic bathtub, the floral shower curtain all blurred together, rushing into the void, the darkness descending upon my eyes, a stray thought floated into my ebbing consciousness: I wondered if Harvey Fierstein was bulimic too. I didn’t want my voice to sound like him.

Then blackness, darker than the stroke of midnight, Pluto or a David Lynch movie.

When I woke up, I found myself lying in a dark hospital room. My mouth felt arid and scratchy. The light from doorway caught on the tube that was attached to my throat.

My throat! There’s a tube in my throat!

I panicked. I couldn’t move. My limbs were heavy, prickly, as if they fell asleep for a hundred years or from taking an extra long crap. Am I paralyzed? I didn’t know. What happened to me? Just as I thought my heart was going to burst from my chest, my mother, my father and Mike rushed into the room.

I didn’t recognize them at first. They looked older, their faces lined with worry, their bodies fleshy and full. They scared me.

Mike’s face was flushed, as if he had been in a heated argument. I know that look of my husband. It’s the same look he had the last time I suggested we go Cosmic Bowling. And he’s keeping something from me, something important, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Over the next few days, my parents told me what happened. I had been in a coma for fifteen years. My mom filled me in on all the events that happened while I was asleep. I tried to listen, but all I could think about was whether or not stirrup pants were still in fashion. I had just bought a very sassy pair a week ago.

No, that was before. This time shift is very strange and confusing. Time has passed and I was left behind. Now I know what Rip Van Winkle must’ve felt like. Or Ed McMahon.

As the story unfolded, I became distressed at who--no--what I had become, a poster girl for the Right, the Left, and everyone in between. This is not what I wanted. I just wanted to look at the mirror without despairing. I just wished that people would leave me alone. I just wished they picked a better picture than the one that showed at the evening news. God, it makes me look like such a mouth-breather.

And fat.

They say that all this commotion, this ruckus, was for me. I don’t believe that. I don’t know these people outside the hospital lawn, with their signs and singing, their politics. Who are they? No, it was all them. All for them.

If this was for me, they would have thought about how I would feel waking up like this. If it was for me, they wouldn’t parade me on TV. If it was for me, they would have chosen the low-calorie option for my feeding tube.

I feel violated. There’s a hole in my throat. I feel like such a porpoise. I am dying for a Diet Coke, but I am afraid it would dribble out.

My life was hell. My life is hell.

I feel so humiliated, I could just die.

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