Benefits of coma

It would be mighty irresponsible for an individual to live a life with their head down only being concerned with where they’re headed. That isn’t a general criticism directed broadly. It’s a specific comment directed at one person in particular. Me.

Truth be told, I haven’t honestly always (as in very recently) been the most accepting of change — when it comes to myself, at least. Being so strong headed about certain behaviours has proven to be the least productive of my efforts going forward. Especially concerning matters of the heart. Hard lessons learned. And I’m working on it.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I’m incredibly insecure about the “answers” I do have. And I hope that never changes. However as sure as I am about not being adequately informed about everything, I’m more than secure in proclaiming no-one is. As long as we refuse to listen and learn from each other we will never get to where we want and need to be…

Take what is happening in Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) in Cuba currently. Prisoners, some of whom have been locked up there for more than 10 years without charge, have been non-violently protesting their conditions by staging hunger strikes. Now I’m not going to wade into the “politics” that are hard at work there. Frankly, I don’t care. It’s all just rhetoric. Words without any substantive meaning. But I do have something of value, I think, to add to the conversation. Concerning whether these captives are facing torture.

Let’s get one thing straight up front, I’ve never had a feeding tube put up my nose and into my stomach. Actually that’s likely not entirely accurate. I do recall being told about having all sorts of tubes being in my mouth and down my throat during the initial stages of my coma. One had to be for food (it’s hard to imagine why anything else would be in there, besides possibly for oxygen, I digress). But I have had both a “G-tube” (“a medical device used to provide nutrition to patients who cannot obtain nutrition by mouth“) and a “trache” (which is essentially a “flexible plastic tube [put] into the trachea to maintain an open airway,” surgically inserted during a tracheal intubation) which I do remember having.

Fortunately I was “out” when each was put in — benefits of coma and all. Which is for the best. They missed my stomach on their first attempt at putting my G-tube in. Or it probably fell out after they put it in. And they put me “out” to remove the second G-tube. But to remove my trache, I was conscious for that. I saw what they needed for that procedure. It sure didn’t look like it felt.

Admittedly I can’t honestly judge how bad it hurt or didn’t hurt. It happened at a time in my life where pretty much everything imaginable hurt — yes even if someone were to touch me, I’d immediately spasm, which was often very painful. And my memories are a little fuzzy from back then anyway. My point is, one thing I’m sure of are the psychological effects of a specialist having to go in my mouth to unhook the back of the trache to remove it is likely worse than anything physical.

But as scary as that was I’m convinced another procedure more accurately communicates my point, psychologically speaking at least. Getting a urological catheter. I’ve never felt anything like being catheterized before. It wasn’t so much painful, as it was extremely invasive. Keep in mind I realize it’s a legitimate medical procedure that was performed exclusively for my benefit. Much like I’m sure the people in charge at Gitmo keep telling themselves. That’s beside the point. And I’m not comparing the two. But having a tube slid up your urethra is just so fucking odd feeling. It feels wrong, no matter the intent.

But there comes a time when being in a coma, oblivious to what’s going on around you, becomes a danger. Just imagine wanting to exercise essentially your last form of expression by not eating and someone forcing a tube in you, against your wishes, to feed you? Sadly, I know what that feels like too. I can imagine. And it’s much worse than you think. Just trust me.

Being force fed is torture alright. Never mind what Sami al-Hajj went through