I promised you some stories from my two-week-long incarceration in a lunatic asylum (catholic hospital). The physical pain and illness I was feeling was nothing in comparison to having to hear the various roommates of mine that came and went having communion every day and cry in their beds for hours afterwards. The god representatives and religious visits did absolutely no good for them at all, and actually made them WORSE. One woman who happily chatted on the phone with a friend despite her cellulitis in her leg stopped to take communion from a priest and he was so somber and sad. Droned out the mumbo-jumbo incantations to the great sky daddy, the sad and sorrowful prayer for the sick and by the time it was over she had to tell her friend she was in dire pain, had to go and was calling for morphine and for the nurse to come comfort her. She even went so far as to request a catherter to be inserted because her leg was too painful to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, though she was getting up to reach her snack crackers minutes before the priest arrived. The god incantations seemed to do much more harm than good.
I lay there in pain while Drs. Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp, and Joe tried to figure out where to start with me since I had a variety of problems. Pulmonary edema, irregular heartbeat, biliary dyskenesia of the gallbladder, ulcers. I needed surgery, but they needed to get other things figured out so they would not be responsible for killing me on the operating table. But like I said, those problems were just a puzzle that doctors needed to use science and their education to figure out and fix. The real suffering was caused by the god-botherers who swooped in for the kill the minute I was admitted to the hospital.
I had told them in the ER when I was admitted that I HAD NO GOD BELIEFS and to please leave me be about it. No sooner I was in my room, before seeing a nurse or a doctor, a chaplain came waltzing in asking about my “spirituality”. I said I was an atheist, I had no god beliefs and she said she would leave some tracts by my bedside and I said “NO THANK YOU, TAKE THEM AWAY”. I explained I did not believe in god and didn’t want to be bothered with it. Does she respect that and respect that I am in great pain and sick? Of course not. The selfish need to validate their own beliefs takes priority over patient wellness and stress levels.
Most of my roommates didn’t stay more than a couple of days and didn’t have anything too serious, except for one woman who had open-heart surgery a few months before and was having a bit of complications. She took communion and became like a baby afterwards, letting herself be cooed and coddled, refusing to even sit up though she had been sitting up earlier that morning. The two who were not religious struggled through their problems, went for their tests, were optimistic about getting out ASAP and were very active in finding out what was making them ill so they could fix it and get home, and they went home happy. I was trying to do the same thing, as was my husband since I had a similar problem in 1987 and he was trying to round up medical records from ancient archives, and I was trying to get doctors to listen to me…all productive things that oogie boogie prayers would be no use for.
I had an aunt who never, ever calls me at any other time except when I have been in the hospital over the years called me once again to tell me “god is with me”. I told her in a kidding-on-the-square kind of way that if that was true to tell the sick, sadistic bastard to BACK OFF! She was stunned for a minute, then started to talk about god bringing us trials and not giving us more than we can handle and blah, blah, blah and how god helped her though all of her strokes and her friends dying etc. and I told her it seems like god did nothing but torture people. I told her I could not believe in her god. I believe in human will and resilience. I am like Tigger, I bounce back. I don’t need god beliefs. I was in so much pain I just said things as I felt like it. I didn’t really care if I offended anyone who was trying to take advantage of my vulnerable situation to zoom in for the “kill” with the god stuff.
I am usually a very nice person, and try not to be mean to people, however, the pain and the added god botherer aggravation turned me into a very militant atheist at times. I was taken down for a test one day and left on a gurney to wait in a holding area. There was an older woman there waiting for her husband to have a test done. She said to me “so what’s your problem?” I said, “I don’t feel like talking.” She said, “did you have surgery?” I told her “I don’t talk to strangers about my business, please leave me alone.” She said, “My husband had a blah, blah blah, and I had a stroke back in January, and I have arthritis and blah, blah, blah, waa, waa, waa….” I interrupted and told her that I was sorry to hear that but I really didn’t want to hear it. She then got close to me and said “trust in the Lord, he is there for you” and I said “I AM AN ATHEIST, THERE IS NO GOD” and she backed up as if I had spit fire at her. LOL! It was great. I wanted to add if god is there for her, she still has a bunch of freakin' problems and he didn't seem to be helping since she had so much to complain about.
There was an incident even worse than the frustrating god representatives and godly roommates. I had been in the hospital in the cardiac ward for about four days and just got a big drowsy with the pain meds and was all hooked up to monitors and I.V lines and all of a sudden a shriek came from another room “ALLAH AKBAR! durkadurkadurkaalalalalalalala and a bunch of chanting in what sounded like Arabic. I was so startled, and disoriented. It continued. “ALLAH AKBAR!! ALLAH AKBAR! durkadurkadurkaalalalalalalall” Then a bunch of people were chanting and yelling and sounded like there were about 40 people in one room. I started scanning my room for someplace to hide. I was delirious with pain med and pain itself so everything was quite surreal. Turns out what happened was that an old muslim man had died and I guess it is normal tradition to bellow to their sky daddy like Klingons when a loved one dies. Holy crap, that sounded like they were screaming out war cries of the start of some kind of violence! It would not be allowed if it were not for “religious tolerance”.
I should have done this sooner, but I looked up the “Mission Statement” of that hospital and of several hospitals in our area and all are affiliated with some kind of mythology cult. The hospital I was at is affiliated with the catholic church and according to the ethics and religious doctrine of the catholic church. Then there are Lutheran run hospitals, Baptist and Methodist. I have found that the only few places I can go where people are treated medically first and where individuality is considered and respected are the secular university hospitals. I am now in the process of finding new doctors and specialists at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Northwestern is another good one, but too far away. As atheists, I suggest that before an illness strikes, check out the hospitals in your area and find one that you can be comfortable in because when it’s really religious it causes more stress, uncomfortableness and frustration.
It’s sad that these religious patients who were my roommates could not see that talking with their friends made them feel better. Watching television made them feel better and took their minds off their problems. My family who visited cheered me. Watching a sitcom did far more for me than communion did for the god believers. Religion made them SICKER and more full of self-pity. But it seems like many of them like and even thrive on that masochistic part of xianity.