Wednesday, August 31, 2005


As I write this, my mother is under sedation at Toronto Western Hospital.

After refusing to consent to surgery for a kidney infection that will kill her if it is not treated, her doctor asked the Psychiatric Unit to intervene. My mother instantly became psychotic, and, still tethered to her IV, tried to leave the hospital. A Form 1 was hastily filled out, and security called. It took five people to hold her down long enough to for them to inject the Haldol.

Apparently, it worked a charm.

Her doctor called me tonight, and we talked for almost an hour. She told me to expect a call early tomorrow morning to give my consent for the surgery in lieu of my mother’s. I said that I would happily give it, but asked if I could do so anonymously. The doctor said she wasn’t sure this was possible, but that she would look into it.

I also asked the doctor what will happen after the operation. She said that they would see how things go, but that once my mother's physical condition has stabilized, she will be turned over to Psych.

For the first time that I know of, my mother will receive medical care for paranoid schizophrenia.

I called my father soon afterward, and instructed him to contact my brother tomorrow and to send him some money. Then, blindly, I called Ada and Arit and James to let them each know. Then, I sat very quietly and wondered about the sense of elation that I feel.

I don’t actually think that my mother can be helped. As I told her doctor, I suspect that she will vanish the moment she is released from hospital, and that she will never allow a doctor to come near her again. However, I do think that there is some sliver of hope for my brother, that he may benefit from whatever intervention results from this ridiculous turn of events. There’s no guarantee, of course, but it is possible. It is, at least, conceivable.

Still, this slight sense of optimism doesn’t account for the way I feel tonight, at exactly the time I was born thirty-four years ago. Somehow, I feel lighter, even though the events of this evening are, by any measure, grim. I feel unburdened.

For the first time since I was a child, I don’t feel singularly responsible for my mother’s well-being. Someone else has stepped in, someone who has more power than I do, more skill, and more resources at their disposal. Someone who doesn’t feel the paralysing weight of love, and with it, betrayal. It is, finally, out of my hands.

For years, I have dreaded the day of my mother’s funeral. I have imagined myself looking out at an empty room, knowing that there are no friends, not even family left to mourn her passing. I have imagined trying to console myself and failing, knowing that she was not happy, that she did not have a good life, and that she suffered unspeakably.

Most of all, I have feared wondering if things might have different, if she would have suffered less—and, if we would have suffered less too, my father, my brother, and me—if only she had been treated for her disease. I would have wondered that for the rest of my life.

As of tonight, I won’t have to wonder about that anymore. I’ll know, one way or the other.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday !

g_pi said...

Vila, cherie, many happy returns. Your blood's worth bottling (as my Grandad -- and Mum in turn -- were fond of saying!).

I'm glad there are others, finally, who can share some of this burden with you.

Oblivia said...

I don't know your mother but I know that to say she knew no happiness is an overstatement of fact. Today is a day where we celebrate a momentous occasion in your mother's life too - your arrival. Don't deny her current pain but equally, don't deny her her past joys either because its all she can ever truly own. She might be ill, but I'm sure she loves you and is probably wonders how she managed to produce something so fantastic.

Happy birthday to both of you.

Anonymous said...

Happy belated bday- my fellow virgo! (26th :) ) Thanks for the note-