A Season in Hell

A powerful essay by Mark Dery about the experience of illness (specifically cancer in his case), and not for the faint of heart. Skip the essay and go right to the Flogging Molly song if you scare easily.

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.11
 I remember feeling like we were living like everyone else, struggling at times, trying to raise our kids well, trying to find meaning and have fun. And suddenly, literally overnight, we found ourselves alone in a dark alley, with a new language to learn (that included words like metastasized and cytotoxic and bevacizumab), completely dependent on utter strangers for survival.

Hospitals aren’t like prisons; they are prisons. True, they’re kinder, gentler ones, whose inmates are usually desperate to be admitted, but even the most grateful patient realizes, at some point, that hospitalization is just a more benign incarceration: the lookalike cell and inevitable cellmate; the swill-bucket food; the patient’s powerlessness in the face of the lowliest flunky; his Kafkaesque uncertainty about when and at whose whim he will be transferred from one hospital to another, or sent to the O.R., or discharged to walk the streets as a free man.
 Here's the link to the full essay.

And now for some world-weary fightin music, Flogging Molly's "Rebels of the Sacred Heart":

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