In the old section of this hospital, my great grandmother died long before I was born, before even my mother was born. In a newer section, a few years after this part of my story, my daughter was born. I love that history. Sometime in the early 1980s, I went to this hospital for detox. It was my first and so far only hospitalization for alcoholism. During my first period of sobriety, I did of course notice that I hadn’t done so much of what others had, and they all told me I hadn’t done those things YET. This was one of my yets.
I spent that drunken night at Marva’s. Eventually the others went home and I went to sleep. Marva told me later that in a rather funny moment, Ross came home, saw me asleep on the couch, and said, “Oh, Lydia’s sleeping over?” And then some. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, needing to pee, knowing the bathroom was through their bedroom, not wanting to go through their bedroom, and peeing in a plant. Not one of my proudest moments.
The next day they took me to the hospital. I don’t remember much from that. I remember learning that due to insurance, my mother would have to find out. She was actually away at that time. I remember having a mental status exam, during which they asked me who was president, and I reluctantly admitted it was Ronald Reagan. They told me my liver was enlarged, and not much else. If I remember correctly (big if there), it was a weekend, and none of the regular doctors or counselors or therapists were working. I think I may have gone to an AA meeting in the hospital, one I’d been to many time before from the outside. If I did got as an inpatient, I would have sat there with the plastic bracelet and listened.
When I eventually got home, Marva took me, and my mother was in bed. In a truly bizarre situation, she stayed in bed while we told her what transpired, and she told Marva she knew that it wasn’t my fault, I had inherited the alcoholism from my father.
From bizarre to disturbing, it turns out that while I was in the hospital, Marva didn’t take care of my mother’s cats like she had said she would. I could have asked my friend down the block. Isabel would have gladly done it. There was no reason for Marva to lie. I think I also asked her while I was in about the cats, and she told me she was caring for them. When my mother came home, they hadn’t had food or water for two or three days (though open toilets hopefully staved off dehydration). That still strikes me as one of the worst things ever. There was absolutely no reason for it, and I never imagined Marva would do anything like that. The scene my mother had found frightened her terribly about my safety. She called Isabel and asked if she knew where I was. My mother and Isabel knew I wouldn’t leave the cats without care, and Isabel could have easily cared for them. As much as Marva was to blame for that, I also take blame, because that’s where my drinking got me right then.