Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dreams of Brazil

It was one of the few times I was actually asleep in the hospital, pain-killer induced to be sure. I awoke to the dancing of a flashlight beam bouncing randomly around the walls of the room; it was around 4:00 AM. Suddenly a hooded head peered from behind one of the divider curtains, a pair of thick glasses with little lights mounted on either sided.

“Are you Robert” the voice asked. Upon affirmation, the black jump suited character flung back the curtain and stepped close to me. The pain meds occasionally had me on the verge of hallucinating; what immediately came to mind was that I was being visited by Harry Tuttle, rogue heating engineer, a character from the Terry Gilliam movie, Brazil.

In actuality he was the nighttime lab tech who had come to collect some blood samples from me. Yet for a few minutes there I felt like I was living out an odd parallel with the scene in the film.

The following day, while doing my mandatory exercise walk in the hallway, dragging my IV stanchion along with me, I happened to notice the list of departments and their corresponding floors listed on the plaque next to the elevators. Sure enough, there it was: “Central Services”.

Here's the actual scene:


26 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Sounds ghastly like a nightmare. Good thing you can remember it well enough to blog about it and fill the rest of us with the horrors.

Infidel753 said...

Interesting observation. Your brain being awakened, but still not fully conscious and alert due to the pain-killers, interpreted strange and unexpected sensory input in terms of a familiar story.

Similar phenomena might account for why "near-death experiences" sometimes subjectively seem to resemble details from whatever religious mythology the person experiencing them believes in.

DJan said...

It sure is nice to have you show up regularly in my Reader, Robert. And as expected, your hospital stories are quite unusual. I am glad it was you experiencing these things and not me! :-)

adrielleroyale said...

LOL What a trip!!

Paul said...

Robert I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie with Jean Harlow and I woke up and it was Wallace Beery ! LOL

Robert the Skeptic said...

Elizabeth "Brazil" is one of my favorite films. The experience was one of the few light-hearted I had during my hospital incarceration.

Infidel Indeed the depth of my illness coupled with some of the meds I got (like morphine) did require me to occasionally sort out what was real and what was not. I was also curious if I would experience any NDE-like events during my actual surgery - but they knocked me cold out and the next instant I was struggling in ICU. Memories of THAT I would like to lose!!

Robert the Skeptic said...

DJan The hospital stories will probably end here, the whole experience was quite emotionally traumatic for me. When I think back on some of the incidents in the hospital I get anxious and tear up. I need to put this behind me.

adrielle Clearly very odd experiences; but then I was pumped full of bacteria, antibiotics, pain killers and what all.

Paul You realize you are dating yourself, don't you! :)

Nance said...

I have heard from doctors that it is perfectly normal--even to be expected--that symptoms typically attributed to anxiety and depression temporarily accompany heart procedures. If so, then this uncomfortable emotionality should pass.

It's all strange and unsettling for you, but you've made it entertaining and educational for us.

The Mother said...

Fun times, them drugs.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Nance I do wax and wane between periods of sheer joy and anxiety and depression. I do my own "cognitive therapy" and remind myself that I am past the worst and that things should be expected to get better over time. That said, I think I am through blogging about my ordeal for a while.

Dr. Mom One of my visitors asked me what the morphine was like (I think he was fishing to determine if I got "high" somehow). My response was that it made the pain lessen - period. I didn't hesitate to request it for that purpose when needed.

Antares Cryptos said...

Brazil, one of my fave movies too. Should re-watch it.

I'm sure it was not amusing at the time, but humor is a good coping mechanism. Robert, this was a frightening and stressful experience, go easy on yourself. There are numerous studies out that writing about traumatic experiences (not necessarily in public) helps to desensitize.

It amazes me how the brain fills in the blanks of incomprehension, especially when not fully conscious.

billy pilgrim said...

did you ever think you were in an x-files episode?

Robert the Skeptic said...

Cryptos I swing between almost euphoria and "damn, did this really happen to me"?! But the mind seems to have a way of forgetting "pain", which is more than fine with me. Yes, some of my hallucinations were intermixed with reality, it was an odd experience.

Billy You know, I was never an X-Files fan so I can't say. The closest thing my experience could be compared to, with all those days in the hospital, was the movie "Groundhog Day".

John Myste said...

I have had two surgeries and pain medication and the whole bit and I never had the emotion swings I was supposed to have and no hallucinations and nothing remarkable or fun.

My surgeries sucked!

Robert the Skeptic said...

John All surgeries suck; the sobering truth, though, is where we would be without them.

Paul said...

Well Robert, Turner Classic Movies made me do it... I am a film aficionado . LOL

Robert the Skeptic said...

Paul I've been using Netflix to re-watch films I saw 30 or 40 years ago. Some of them stand the test of time, others not so much.

Paul said...

I like the Oldies Robert. Call it nostalgia , but I like them. :-)

Orhan Kahn said...

I've never been to hospital so I can't even begin to understand, HOWEVER everytime I walk through a ward I get a very eerie feeling. I like hospitals, don't know why. And I wanted to be a doctor, lol. Funny how things work out like that.

melissashook said...

wonderful...
those hospital night curiosities..
thank you

Infidel753 said...

Even just medications by themselves can have frighteningly powerful mood-altering effects -- and those effects can persist longer than you expect, even when you're no longer taking them. Even now, if you start having feelings (or a lack of them) that seem unusual, you probably shouldn't trust them.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Orhan You are fortunate, I now feel apprehensive when in a hospital setting.

Melissa Now if I can just keep from visiting those curiosities.

Infidel I try to be judicious about taking my pain meds, they do fog my consciousness and alter my behavior.

secret agent woman said...

Odd things do happen at night in hospitals and the surreal layer of narcotics doesn't help!

Vagabonde said...

I think these technicians should be careful – they could scare you badly and hurt your recovery. After a while (a long while) you may laugh at some of those incidents.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Hospitals, especially at night, can be eerie, at the very least. While my son was a patient, we heard, very clearly and many times, calls over the P.A. system for people needed in the pod basement. It was probably an acronym for something legit, but all we could think of was Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Robert the Skeptic said...

SecretAgent Surreal in dead, disorienting and anxiety laden.

Vagabonde They can scare you, particularly when you get conflicting information and you seem to have no control over your own situation... they are doing stuff "to" you and often you don't know why.

Marylinn I think there were at least a couple of horror movies made where hospitals had people in suspended animation in the basement where they were "harvesting" organs. I recall being scared soundly by "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". BTW, I was told that film was a sci-fi allegory to the fears of a Communist takeover in the US.