• Kate Midland
  • Just Go With It: When Emotions Win Over Intellect
Just Go With It: When Emotions Win Over Intellect

After my recent stay in the hospital, I received some news that, for most people, would have been devastating.  The fact that my physician grabbed my hand and placed it between both of his as he sat next to my bed, spoke volumes.  After that conversation, I made the decision to write about my experience, and everything that would come.  Funny though, once I sat down to write, what my fingers communicated with the keyboard was very different than what I had intended to convey.  In fact, it was deep-rooted, almost subconscious as to what was surfacing on the screen.  As a nurse and a writer, I tend to sometimes find myself sticking to "just the facts" and not allowing a great deal of emotion to creep in.  However, now that I have transitioned to writing about my personal health journey, I have found that emotions intermixed with facts can tell a very compelling story.  The danger with divulging a great deal of emotion within this subject in particular, is the potential to alienate the reader; there is always someone worse off that oneself.  I don't want it to be digested as a "poor me" piece but, the tightrope we walk, is that there are those out there that do appreciate knowing they are not alone in their own journey.  So, sometimes, when the emotional sides of a story win over the intellectual, fact-telling side, we need to find that balance and just go with it.  Here is an excerpt from a piece I'm working on.  Your feedback is welcome and appreciated.  ~ Kate

"How many times can I count the tiles on the ceiling," I thought to myself.  It seemed as if it had been hours since I changed out of my street clothes and into the backless wonder that is a hospital gown.  They wouldn't let me eat or drink anything until they had a handle on what was going on; test after test after test, four units of blood, 3 liters of IV fluid, the list goes on.  

"They have to know something by now, with all the testing they've done and the insurance claims they've generated!" I yelled in my head.  Then, as I was ready to interally advance my psychosis further, someone finally walked in who appeared as if he had something to say other than, "We need to draw blood for...".  Instead, he pulled up a chair next to the bed.  He asked how I was feeling and briefly explained the method behind the madness.  I could tell he had more on his mind; he was stalling.  Then, he grabbed my hand closest to him, placed it between both of his and said, "Well, I'm not sure how to tell you this so, I'm just going to tell you."  I nodded slowly, pretending to be surprised at whatever he had to say.  See, I was born with some serious issues with my liver and spleen and my parents were told years ago that I would likely need more surgeries and that I would always have compromised health so, this wasn't out of left field for me.  I could tell, though, this was tough for my doctor.  Back to the hand-holding, and attempt at breaking bad news...

"Well, friend, I need to refer you to Northwestern. You are likely going to need a liver transplant."  Then, something completely unexpected happened.  My brain began to go to the back of the room, and my heart suddenly felt squeezed; not in a "I'm having a heart attack" kind of way but, in a "holy crap, I'm going to cry but, not because of what he just said to me" kind of way.  As soon as he told me about needing a transplant, my past life wasn't flashing in front of my eyes but, something else altogether.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!  I know this all sounds scary but, you are otherwise really healthy so I know--" 
I cut him off by shaking my head, tears rolling down my face. "I'm not afraid.  I'm not even upset about getting a transplant; I knew this day would likely come.  It isn't that at all."

He just looked at me, dumbfounded, completely at a loss as to what to say, or what I was trying to say.  Finally, once I could breathe long enough to complete a sentence, I enlightened him.  "My significant other lost his wife to cancer ten years ago, a 20-month old daughter in tow.  He did the work, he moved on, he and I have a great relationship.  I just can't believe this guy is going to sit vigil at another bedside!"

He looked at me, and the strangest look of peace came over him. I'm not sure whether it was relief that I wasn't a trainwreck about his news, or that he was pleasantly surprised with what I was actually concerned about.  Whatever he was thinking, he never let go of my hand.  In fact, he squeezed harder and looked me in the eyes and said, "I promise you, and I can promise him, this will have a much different outcome."


So, when I first wanted to start writing about this hospital stay that is leading me down a transplant path, I wanted to journal it and stay with the facts and all the medical intricacies.  However, when my fingers did their own free association writing, they went away from my head, and tapped into my heart.  And I just went with it.

Thanks for reading!  ~ Kate

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