A couple of weeks ago, I was in the ER. Anxiety had put me in a catatonic state, and when I realized I had been sitting motionless in my car outside Starbucks for 45 minutes, I thought perhaps I was in over my head.
Panic and anxiety win sometimes. They're tough competitors.
I don't really remember very much of the day, which my therapist says is terribly unfortunate, since she was having a really good hair day. (I adore her.)
I do remember some things, like the isolating feeling of hearing conversations happening around me, and my inability to engage. People asked me questions. I couldn't answer. They talked about me, around me, over me.
I could only communicate with my eyes.
My mom understood that language. She said to me, as I lay gowned on the gurney behind the curtain, "I know you're thankful, Sweet Pea. I can do this as long as you don't look at me that way. Tricia, please. I know. You don't need to tell me."
I looked away because I was making her cry.
My parents communicated well on my behalf, as this is their story too. And most of the nurses, administrators, and physicians assistants talked exclusively to them.
Except for one doctor. The Chief Resident. He talked straight to me.
He pulled a stool next to the bed, he took my hand in his, and he looked at me.
"Hey," he said so gently, "I hear you're having a bad day, Tricia. I hear you had an episode outside Starbucks. I hear you have a broken heart. We're taking care of you. We're going to help you."
He didn't feel my pulse, listen to my heart, or check my vitals. He just talked to me. And I could only look at him.
If ever I have reason to visit someone who is in a coma, I will talk directly to that person. I will hold her hand. Because it's really, truly possible that she will be able to hear me.