**This story has depictions of suicide in it, if that is triggering, please don’t read it**
Today is not a good day. I sometimes have those, but they’re becoming more infrequent as the months pass. Sometimes they’re all I have left to hope for. Then again, hope is for losers, so I just twiddle my thumbs in this hospital bed waiting to croak. I just wish they could turn the sound down on the machines I’m hooked up to. The last thing I need is to be reminded my body wants to keep going.
I shouldn’t think like that though, my mother often worries when she sees me looking off into the distance in deep thought. It’s almost always about how I’ll die. She reminds me that thinking about my end will only make it come faster. At this point, that might not be so bad. I’ve been past the point of living each day to its fullest for the last year.
I’ve been here for three years, battling an illness with no name. All they know is that it’s chronic. My muscles are always sore, whether I move them or not. My hair is falling out, and I can’t gain weight no matter how hard I try. My face is sometimes swollen beyond recognition and goes into fits of pins and needles or numbness. Amid that, there are random aches and pains that make my life miserable.
Since my diagnosis, it’s been a long process for me to accept the fact that this illness has no cure. Now that I have, I spend a lot of time thinking of ways for it to happen. Maybe I’ll have a seizure. Could be that this thing will suddenly crush my lungs or drown me the next time I drink some water. The only thing I’ve never contemplated is ways to do it myself. Nature is way more creative, and I love surprises.
My family has already had someone write up a will, signed the DNR, and paid for my funeral. It’s all just a waiting game from now on.
It’s now that wonderful time of day where the nurse who changes my colostomy bag comes in and tries to make small talk. I can hear her shrill laughter down the hallway approaching and my stomach turns. She speed-walks into the room, bending her arms at the elbows and swaying them as she approaches my bed. She shoots me a toothy smile that wrinkles her eyes and asks me how I’m doing.
“Fine I guess” I reply curtly.
“Well isn’t that great news!” she exclaims. Somehow she seems even more cheerful than normal.
My mother jolts awake at the pitch of the nurse’s voice. Sitting in the recliner to my right, her greying hair and bloodshot eyes make her look like more of a patient than I do.
“Good morning” she mumbles, smoothing out her hair and pulling on her shirt to release three-day-old wrinkles.
“Good Morning, Mrs. Frank, I hope you slept well” the nurse says, smiling face in-tact. “Now, Jenny” the nurse begins, reaching for the bag under my shirt. “I’ve heard some really exciting news buzzing around the hospital lately.”
“You don’t say” I reply, wincing as she removes the giant adhesive bandage from my side.
“Oh yes, it seems there’s a new treatment trial to alleviate some of the symptoms you have. Dr. Geyman says you’re a perfect candidate.”
My mother and I look at each other, her with a giant smile and me with a look of terror. Hearing the words “treatment trial” was basically her bat signal. She started crying and without saying anything, pleaded with me to consider it.
“What does the trial entail?” I asked. I’ve been through chemo and radiation therapy with only minimal results. I wasn’t about to do either of those again.
“It’s a surgery. They place a chip in your brain so it hard-wires it back to the way it was when it was healthy. It helps the rest of your body function properly and gives it time to heal in the process.” She was practically jumping out of her skin.
Granted, this was expected after being in this stupid hospital for so long. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was this chipper because she had money on finding a cure.
“That sounds too good to be true” I mused.
“Well what do you have to lose?” my mother interjected. “You’re so ready to die, what if this seals the deal? It can’t hurt to try, right?”
I knew she was being manipulative, but she had a point. I only slightly nodded and sent the nurse into a frenzy of jumping and clapping, forsaking the task at hand.
“Alright Jenny, I need you to count backwards from 10 for me.” A tall male nurse was hovering over me, my face covered with a mask. They’d shaved my head and prepped me for surgery. The room smelled sterile and metallic. It was the culmination of weeks of testing to make sure I was a good fit for the chip. It really helped that I kept answering every question with “I’m ready to die, so why not.”
The room blurred out and as I reached number 4, my eyes closed on their own, sending me into a deep sleep. The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital bed. About five people were crowded around me. Dr. Geyman, my mom and dad, younger sister, and the chipper nurse. They were all leaning in and staring at me expectantly. I noticed, to the left, a group of people in lab coats, furiously scribbling things down onto clipboards.
I tried to speak, but as I opened my mouth, Dr. Geyman reached towards me and motioned for me to stop. His voice was muffled. I must have looked confused, because he smiled and patted my shoulder.
I couldn’t feel the top of my head and the wires I had attached to me made moving very difficult. I’d even tried to reach for a glass of water at one point and nearly pulled out one of three IV’s. As the day progressed, my hearing got better, but it was still strange to see lips moving with no sound.
I also noticed that as the day went on, the consistent pain I felt in my lower back and aches in my muscles were gone. This made me nervous. I didn’t think this was going to work. Hell, I didn’t think I would wake up at all.
A whiteboard and marker appeared to my left in the hands of the male nurse from before. On it was written how do you feel? in black marker. I wrote Fine, can’t really hear. Muscles aren’t sore.
When my mother read it, she burst into tears and clutched onto my father for dear life. I guess that was a good thing. Uh-oh.
Dr. Geyman wrote something down for a while and handed it back to me. It said hearing loss is normal and should be temporary. The fact that your muscles aren’t sore is a great thing. It means the chip is working.
I wanted to cry. Not because I was happy, but because I didn’t want the chip to be working. I didn’t want this stupid surgery in the first place. I thought brain surgery would kill me. How badass would it be to be a corpse with a hole in my head and brains spilling out of it?
Without my say-so a tear slipped down my cheek. The fact that I could feel it without pins and needles was only more upsetting. My parent’s both reached for my hand when they saw me crying and squeezed it tightly. I’d never seen them so relieved.
It’s been three weeks and already I feel like my old self. I can walk without pain and my face isn’t swollen and painful. I’ve gained 10 pounds, and have a thin layer of fuzz on my head.
I hate it.
I’m trying my best to stay positive for my parents and the doctors that are so invested in my progress, but apparently the chip isn’t strong enough to change my thought patterns. I’m still ready to die and don’t have the hope I did before that this will all soon be over.
If anything, it’s making me more depressed than I was that I might survive this. I might be the girl they name this disease after, I might be the sole survivor of this chip thing. It’s almost too much pressure. I might look happy and feel better, but I’m falling apart at the seams.
Right now I’m lying in my hospital bed, a zombie, staring out of the window. I’m alone, save the beeping of that damn monitor. The dark thoughts start creeping in yet again, but I hang on. They’re the only thing left that feels like me.
You know, they’ve already paid for your funeral, you’re ready to be gone. Why not take care of it now? The doctors got what they wanted, they know the chip works, let them try it on someone else once you’re gone.
It’s like a subtle whisper through my mind, wrapping me in warmth and comfort. I consider it for the first time; ending it myself.
This illness won’t take you now. You’ll have to do it on your own.
A nurse entering the room with a tray of food breaks my train of thought, but before the voice disappears, I’ve already made up my mind.
I’m alone yet again, my mother at work and the nurses on their lunch break. It’s been a few days since I’ve made up my mind and I know how I’m going to do it. It’ll be quick and painless, or so I hope. I saw this on a TV show once and it didn’t look too bad.
I grabbed an empty syringe from a nurse cart when I went for my walk earlier today. It was now clutched in my clammy, yet steady hand. I took some deep breaths. I’m not going to lie, I was scared, but more anxious to get it over with than anything else.
The syringe was thick, with an end that screwed onto an IV port. I pulled the plunger all the way back and screwed the top to the piss yellow IV port in my left forearm. I took one last deep breath and quickly pushed air into the IV tube. I watched it go through the tube and into my arm. Almost immediately, I seized and felt like my lungs had exploded. My body was jerking around and the monitors were going nuts.
A frantic new intern ran into my room and screamed before she smacked the code blue button above my bed.
The lights faded as I was surrounded by people, just standing there. The nurse didn’t know I was DNR but hit the button anyway.
As the seizure calmed down, I took my last gasping breath and serenely closed my eyes for the last time, a smile parting my thin lips for the first time in three years.
Last Week’s Story: The Guardian
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