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At Transformation

Jane Rideau Demuth | Longreads | May 28, 2019 | 5,756 words
Posted inEssays & Criticism, Feature, Featured, Nonfiction, Story, Unapologetic Women

At Transformation

On the cusp of a life-changing procedure, Jane Rideau Demuth makes peace with the paths that brought her here, and the obstacles she had to wrestle with along the way.
Illustration by Brittany Molineux

Jane Demuth | Longreads | May 2019 | 23 minutes (5,756 words)

It’s March 13th 2017, the eve of a late season snow storm that will blanket the Northeast and shut down major cities, and I’m on the ninth floor of a high-rise hotel in downtown Philadelphia chugging bottles of laxatives on a tightly prescribed schedule and making regular trips to the toilet. I am alone. As I count down hours one by one, my mind is reluctant either to focus or to rest. I flip through the TV channels briefly, but none of the broadcasts catch my interest. I talk to my brother on the phone several times; he is also in the city, and wants to know if I need anything or would like his company. It is thoughtful and generous of him to offer, but solitude feels like the right choice for me in this moment. I do not know what moods will strike me in the coming hours, but in the past my fears have sometimes coalesced in a fiery blaze of anger, and I do not wish to subject my brother to this. For an hour or so, I listen to music on my headphones, but the songs toward which I thought I would gravitate on this day are not hitting the emotional sweet spots I’d hoped and expected they would. Mostly I nap, on and off, between bottles of laxatives, prophylactic antibiotics, and urgent visits to the washroom. This morning I awoke at home in the Hudson Valley, feeling calm and clear for the first time in months, but a lengthy run of restless nights and a mounting air of anticipation have taken their toll on me. Tomorrow I will be checking out of the hotel early, and although a pharmaceutically induced period of unconsciousness is on the agenda for later in the day, right now I am grateful for actual sleep in whatever increments it offers itself.

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