I’ve been thinking a lot about hell. We all have a section of hell carved out in our own lives, but it’s different for every person. If a wealthy woman who has never known the concept of work has to become a dishwasher in old age, is it the same degree of hell as someone going through a nasty divorce? Perhaps it boils down to what you’re used to feeling. Pain is worse to those who haven’t felt it.
Sue came to visit today. She tells me there is a patient on her unit that she can’t stand. “He’s constantly demanding my attention. First he wants his bed raised. Then it’s not high enough. Then he wants different drugs. If he can’t get them, he complains to the other nurses that I’m not treating him. There’s always something wrong with his food and he thinks I control the air conditioning.”
Sue has always been a nurse. She’s worked at the same hospital on the same unit since she was 22 and graduated to charge nurse only three years after. She’s the boss. She’s always liked to know the details of one particular thing inside and out. When she was six, my husband bought her a rock collection with all the different types of stones and their history. She studied Quartz. Where in Brazil it came from, why it’s most commonly used and every color it inhabited were all things she knew by heart. The other four types of rocks in the box were never considered.
“What do you suppose he did for a living?” I asked her.
Sue lives mostly inside her smart phone. As soon as she walks into the room, she digs through her $600 Coach purse until she finds it. It’s like a safety blanket made of cold, black glass. She’s not spoiled, she claims, because she works. She thinks because I didn’t, that this negates any hell I’ve ever experienced.
“A litigator.” She doesn’t look up from the screen.
A man with such control stuck inside a bed made from women has to be uncomfortable. I say nothing to Sue. She is lost in her own world of private heavens and hells. As is most of our reality, our feelings shape the truth.