Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hospital Experience #19: Riches of Writing

This is the nineteenth in a series of posts on a recent experience at Ochsner Hospital - having a cardiac catheter ablation procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia. These posts describe and reflect on various aspects of the hospital experience. This nineteenth post will reflect on the riches I have received through writing about this hospital experience.

I have already written about the ways that writing enriches my life in my post of December 23, 2009, titled "Frank Schaeffer's Patience With God: More Thoughts on Writing and Words." After reading Frank Schaeffer's book Patience With God, particularly what Frank says therein about writing and words, I felt inspired me to make my own list of the many ways that writing enriches me, and I did so in that earlier post. In this current post, I will use that list to examine how the same riches of writing apply to my blogging about my recent hospital experience.

KEEPING MEMORIES. These blog posts hold my memories about the hospital experience. I can return to these posts time and time again to remember.

Writing often also helps me access memories. In other words, if I start writing about something I remember vaguely, I often find that the act of writing brings up more and more detail. Writing also brings to mind entire memories that I had forgotten. I did not experience this in blogging about my hospital experience, probably because the memories are still so fresh, but I want to mention it.

LIVING MY LIFE TWICE. This is a wonderful benefit of writing. I can live my life twice. I live it first as lived experience. Then I live it again by writing about it. The writing causes me to delve deeply into my experience, to mine its richness, to live my life more fully.

This is certainly true of my hospital experience. I lived through it as the events unfolded in the hospital. Then I lived it a second time, far more deeply, through my writing.

I want to know what I think or feel about something, a sure way to find out is to write about it. The very act of writing freely about a subject pulls up my thoughts and feelings and spills them onto the page or screen.

With my hospital experience, I took the time to articulate my thoughts and feelings and to organize them into a coherent piece of writing. Working with this inner material clarifies it.

In addition, my thoughts and feelings are no long roiling about vaguely and namelessly inside me. I have named them and placed them outside myself - on a page or screen - where I can stand back and look at them. This also makes my thoughts and feelings clearer to me.

I am aware, too, that any piece of writing is a snapshot of my thoughts and feelings at a particular moment in time, so I need to hold them loosely, realizing that my thoughts and feelings may evolve and that I can clarify that evolution with additional writing. If I look back on my hospital experience a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, I may be writing about different thoughts and feelings.

PUTTING MY EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE MYSELF. Writing takes my experience outside of myself and puts it onto the page or screen, where I can look at it more objectively. I can "see" my experience more clearly on the page or screen than I can when it remains locked within me.

This allows me to be calmer about troubling aspects of my experience. Just the fact that I can look at the experience in written form, outside myself, makes any inner turmoil far less intense, including how I now view my panic in the procedure room, my encounter with Nurse Dreadful, and the post-procedure bleeding incident.

name and articulate something, to put it into words, makes it real. Unnamed experience is often vague.

For example, as a result of writing, my panic in the procedure room is much more real to me. It is not some vague and nameless terror. I see the physiological manifestations of the panic and the inner feeling state that went with them. I have named all this, making the experience real and concrete. As a result, I am better prepared to speak about my panic potential with my doctor and to let my doctor know what I'll need in any future such situations.

Likewise, having written about my clash with Nurse Dreadful, the dynamics of the clash are real to me. What happened is not some vague unpleasantness but a specific interaction with distinct moves of words, facial expression, and body language. Here, too, as a result, I am better prepared to handle such potential clashes very differently in the future.

The many ways I was supported by my friends are more real to me through my writing. I haven't just vaguely received lots of great support, but the specific gifts of each friend are distinct and real to me.

ENTERING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES. Writing opens a kaleidoscope of perspectives. I can explore how a situation appears to someone very different from myself by putting myself into his or her mind, so to speak, and writing from that place.

Among these blog posts are two where I look at the encounter with Nurse Dreadful from Nurse Dreadful's point of view, giving me a far broader perspective on what happened. This nurse came across to me as Nurse Dreadful - but is it not possible that I came across to her as Patient Dreadful? Writing from someone else's point of view is a wonderful way to stand in someone else's shoes and to build compassion.

PULLING UP INSIGHTS. Writing is a way to access my unconscious, to know consciously things that I didn't know I knew. As I write, I sometimes find myself pouring insights onto the page or screen, insights that I would not have accessed otherwise.

This is most evident in my two posts on Yvonne's gift of healing music, particularly the first of the two. I reached an amazing insight at the end of that post - an insight that came through writing. When I began writing that post, I had no idea that my writing would take me to this insight. The insight was present within me all along - but I was not conscious of it. The act of writing pulled that insight up into my awareness.

FINDING SOLUTIONS. If I write about a problem, I often find myself writing through to possible solutions. Those solutions come to me through the act of writing. In other words, I start writing without knowing how to solve the problem, and the writing itself pulls possible solutions up into my awareness.

With my hospital experience, I would say that writing has given me solutions to similar future situations. I now see better ways to be authentic, especially in stating my needs to my doctor concerning potential panic and in relating to a person who comes across unpleasantly.

HEALING. Writing heals. Because writing clarifies my thoughts and feelings, puts my experience outside of myself, makes my experience real to me, allows me to view an experience from multiple perspectives, pulls up insights, and finds solutions - because writing accomplishes all these things - writing heals.

Here are four specific ways that I have experienced healing through writing about my hospital experience:

  • Taking baby steps in compassion
  • Opening myself to receive love from others
  • Glimpsing that life is worth it
  • Becoming more authentic by telling the truth

and articulating my experience connects me with others. When a writer shares his or her writing, readers connect with the writer's experience and even connect more deeply with their own experience. Frank Schaeffer, the catalyst for my earlier post on the ways that writing enriches my life, is one of many writers who connect me to my own experience and help me to understand myself more deeply.

In blogging about my hospital experience, I have made my writing available to anyone who wants to read it on the Internet. I connect with people who read about my hospital experience - people I know and people I don't know - who will never tell me that they have read my posts. The connection is nonetheless made, even though I don't know about it. I also connect with people who read about my hospital experience and let me know that they have done so. In these cases, I am aware that a connection has been made. Most wonderful are those people who read about my hospital experience and respond with their own thoughts and feelings about my experience and/or with experiences of their own. They do this through the blog's comment function, through some other online channel such as email or a Facebook comment or message, by phone, or in person. I find this incredibly enriching.

These connections also help me to tell the truth. In blogging about my hospital experience, I tell the truth to myself, to those who read my blog posts anonymously, and to those who read my blog posts and respond. By connecting with others through blogging, my truth is told, heard, and even valued.

writing, I create. I produce a piece of written work. Creating is deeply satisfying and increases my joy.

Indeed, I do take joy in these hospital experience blog posts.

energizes me. Sometimes when I write, I feel actual currents of energy flowing through my body.

I have often felt this excitement and energy upon sitting down to write these hospital experience blog posts.

The act of writing causes me to study my subject closely. I look deeply into the person, place, object, experience, or idea that I am writing about. This close study opens my subject to me in greater fullness and glory and increases my appreciation for my subject. The more subjects I write about, the more I fall in love with my world.

In writing these hospital experience blog posts, I have fallen in love with the whole hospital experience, with my friends, with life's ability to absorb pain into joy, and even with the physiological and emotional state of panic and with Nurse Dreadful. I didn't enjoy the panic, but I have enjoyed analyzing it through writing and gaining an understanding of its different components. I didn't enjoy the encounter with Nurse Dreadful, but I have enjoyed examining the encounter from her perspective and analyzing the dynamics of our interaction through writing.

I would say that my blogging about my hospital experience has caused me to fall in love more deeply with more of my world.

No comments:

Post a Comment