The Churn

The visiting hours at the inpatient rehab are VERY short and VERY strict. They have a lot of rules there and if you don’t follow them all, they will kick you out and not let you back in. Hrmph.

Even though I hadn’t planned to go there at all today, I ended up making that drive TWICE. The first time it was because Professor Hospital Gown demanded clothing. I don’t blame him – dude hasn’t worn underpantses since Sept 5th! So I packed up a bag of stuff for him and was halfway there when my phone rang from that number.

I hate the phone. HATE. 99.9% of the time, I’m not picking up the phone for anyone. But these are strange times so I pulled over and took the call. It was the rehab place, wanting more info on Kid Gorgeous over there, so I said “look, I’m hearing-impaired and I’m literally on my way to your facility right now so let’s do this in person because it will be easier for everyone.” People don’t really know how to take that, but I am so far beyond caring about stuff like that. Either talk to my face or figure out a different way.

So I got there and went through their terribly thorough Covid screening and chatted with the case manager and dropped off the bag of clothes. Couldn’t put eyes on our man at that time because visiting hours are between 4:30 and 6:30. That JUST SO HAPPENS to be the most lucrative time for me to drive GrubHub but oh well. Grr.

I came back home and did stuff around the house, then I had to swing by the eye doctor to get the Quick & Dirty Eyeglasses. The story behind that is a fun one. On Tuesday, it looked like our BMX Bandit was about to be heading to rehab and even though we did locate his glasses, they gave up the fight and one of the side pieces fell off. No amount of nerdy-looking tape was going to keep that arm on there so I took matters into my own hands and called the eye doctor. Did I mention my dustup with the Pearle Vision people? I know I complained about it on Facebook, but Pearle Vision is currently on my “dead to me” list because they were rude as hell. So despite the fact that they made the most current pair of eyeglasses, I had to go to the source.

I got them on the phone and asked, nicely, for them to make me a pair of glasses to Freddie’s current prescription. Them: “he’s due for an exam.”
Me: That’s not going to be possible just now, so can you please make for me the quickest and cheapest pair of glasses you possibly can?
Them: Well… I don’t know… um…
Me: Bicycle crash… landed on face… in hospital for over a week… no glasses… PLEASE JUST DO THE THING I’M ASKING YOU TO DO. I DO NOT CARE WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE. I DO NOT CARE WHAT THEY COST. I JUST NEED. A PAIR. OF GLASSES. AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN GET THEM TO ME, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Them: Do you want anti-glare coating? That takes a little longer.
Me: [screams]
Them: Got it. So, they won’t be exactly his prescription (progressive bifocal situation) so he won’t really be able to read with them).
Me: That’s fine, I just need something to stick on his head so he doesn’t make his concussion headaches worse because he can’t see.
Them: Okay. Um, will he be coming in to pick out frames?
Me: [SCREAMS] No, because HE CANNOT CURRENTLY WALK. Put them in literally any frames you like. Think Buddy Holly. Hell, put them in something that Elton John would reject as ‘too much.’ I. DO. NOT. CARE.
Them: We’ll call you back.

They called me back. Them: “Okay, we can put in an order for his current prescription in the same frames he had in 2017, is that okay?”
Me: yes, that’s fine that’s perfectly acceptable just literally I need them basically immediately.
Them: You can pick them up on Thursday.

FINE! YES! GOOD!

Picked them up on my way to Costco to get the new tires on my truck. Ahhhh hahahahahaha remember “before?” When we could drop $800 on tires for the truck and it wasn’t that big a deal? Remember that time? THAT WAS AWESOME. And remember when we thought maybe he’d be home by today so scheduling the appointment for mid-afternoon seemed reasonable? HAHAHA ohhh we were so young then.

That went fine. They had my truck up and down within an hour and I spent that time outside in the sun, reading my book. At some point I was joined by a spider and I *think* I brushed it off me but it might still be on my person somewhere and so I might have to set myself on fire JUST IN CASE. I’ll take a shower later and see if I can drown any passengers I might have.

ANYWAY, I finished up at the Costco (I did a quick run through there to pick up some stuff like hearing aid batteries and TP because we ran OUT of Costco TP during the early days of lockdown and had to use inferior TP for MONTHS and we can’t run that risk again) and headed up to Chester (again) to see Wheels McGee.

He was so pleased to have clothes on, finally! He’s currently getting physical therapy, neurological therapy, and occupational therapy, all of which are aimed at getting him back into his regular life. He is, believe it or not, a bit anxious about all of this and what it all might MEAN but I keep telling him that he’ll get there but it will take TIME and PATIENCE.

Raise your hand if you’re shocked that neither of us are terribly patient about anything, ever. No one? Exactly.

Patience is going to be the key ingredient in our recovery over here. That is, unfortunately, not a thing at which I am fantastically skilled. I am more of a “make this happen now, why isn’t this happening now, who is keeping this from happening now and why haven’t they been killed?” So it’s going to be a real fun time here at The House of Flying Pigs while The Captain makes his way (or is dragged) back to full strength. This is going to be the hard part. He stresses me OUT sometimes and it makes my anxiety go off and that makes my stomach churn which makes me burp a little bit and I had an everything bagel earlier so that’s not a fun thing for me to do.

But we’ll get through it. We have an amazing and vast support network [waves at all of you] and even though I’m bad at leaning on my support network, I am going to need all of you people in the next weeks and months, if only to avoid me having to murder someone. Gah.

[burps]

There it goes again.

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Smell Ya Later, Motown

We sprung our man from the joint today and now he’s in the halfway house. The social worker and the doctors had a scream fight with the insurance today and negotiations were had. The doctors wanted him to go to inpatient rehab. Insurance wanted sub-acute. Freddie wanted to go home and have me drive him to outpatient therapy every day for a month.

HAHAHAHAHAHA that boy has got JOKES, I tell you.

The doctors prevailed and he was safely delivered earlier this evening. I was able to make sure he was collected by the staff there, even though it was way past visiting hours there and yeah well go ahead and try to tell me what I can’t do, lady. They’re like “um, you can’t be here” and I’m all “well I AM here so let’s just make sure he has what he needs, mkay?”

I hope this goes well and quickly. He is so incredibly sick of NOT BEING HOME and we are so incredibly sick of not having him here where we can keep an eye on him.

Eleven days, this has been going on. I am so fucking tired, I can’t even tell you. I keep forgetting things like how to unlock the front door of the house or that you should probably empty whatever’s left of yesterday’s coffee before you make new coffee on top of it. I did not do that this morning and it gave my coffee a rather… chewy feeling. It was fine, I’ve had worse cups o’ joe, but I’m pretty sure the lining of my travel mug disintegrated.

I’m super extra glad to have him out of the hospital. It was very people-y in there at all times and that’s not my favorite thing. Too many people trying to ask me questions and talk at me and I just can’t. So not having to go there every day anymore is going to be nice but I am going to miss that Starbucks employee discount. Maybe I’ll see if there are any open jobs there when I decide to start looking.

Freddie asked me today if I’d ever considered becoming a nurse and I laughed for about 15 solid minutes. I am very good at many things, but me being a nurse would be a crime against humanity. He said it’s because I “speak medical” very well and ask the right questions. Apparently the nurses have asked him if I have medical training and I do, but unofficially. My first “real” job was working in the Physician Assistant program at Butler University in Indianapolis. It was based out of Methodist Hospital and my time was shared between that and the Nursing Education department and I transcribed reams and reams and reams of paper into electronic formats and I learned a lot that way. That’s where Dr Mom got her credentials, you see.

I tell you, that knowledge goes a long way toward keeping me sane. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be confronted with all of that (from the hunk of meat in the bed to all the beeping shit attached to him) and not have a clue what any of it does or means. I was able to put myself at ease by going “okay so I know what that machine does, I know what this drug is, I know what all this stuff is for.” That helped.

As for the rest of it, welllllll we’ll see how that goes. I am holding it together but eventually that dam is gonna break and it will be interesting to see what that looks like. When I have time for it. Which could be months from now. Can’t wait!

Obviously, nobody ever wants to be in a situation like this. I can’t say I wouldn’t wish it on anyone because I keep a list, but for the most part, I wouldn’t want anyone I’m fond of to have to go through anything like this. It sucks out loud on several levels. But the staff at Morristown Medical Center have been outstanding. The trauma staff, the surgical ICU staff, the neuro floor staff, everyone has been absolutely amazing and so good at putting up with Mr Querulous and his Pushy Wife. If you have to be in a hospital, you could do worse than end up there. I’m glad we’re out of there, though.

I have more to tell you, including the Eyeglasses Replacement Caper and the Roommate #4 Plot Twist but I’m tired so you’ll get that tomorrow.

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It Swings, Baby

The chaos is starting to wear on me. There are too many people involved in Freddie’s care and it’s hard to keep track of them all. There’s the attending physician, whom I have not met. He makes rounds in the morning before I can get there. There’s the maxillofacial surgeon, whom I have met, and he has been the most informative of them all. Then there’s the dental surgeon and at least two others that I can’t remember now. We’ve had 5 different nurses since we’ve been on the neuro floor, but the nurse assistant has been a lovely constant. I don’t know if she takes days off, but she has been there every single day and I love her.

Then we have the physical therapist. And the other physical therapist and the physician assistant and the occupational therapist and the speech therapist and the social worker and the home health care nurse coordinator and and and and and. It’s a lot, and nobody has all the answers or even some of them, sometimes.

Today, we started the plan to move Freddie to inpatient rehab. That’s nowhere near what he wants but this is going to be the fastest way to get him home. He does very well with the physical therapist, but she can only spend a half-hour or so with him every day and he needs more than that. So that’s-a what we’re-a gonna do. IF WE CAN GET THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO CALL US BACK, that is. Those assholes need to sign off on all this shit and they are taking their sweet fucking time about it. Our social worker is excellent and she is going to be up their nose all morning tomorrow until they give us the green light.

And then we’ll see how it goes from there.

The thing that is stressing me out right now are his mood swings. I know he’s in pain and that sucks but sometimes it feels like he just doesn’t care anymore. Even four days ago, he was planning and plotting ways to get out of the hospital and now he’s like, “eh. Whatever.” THIS TROUBLES ME. There’s a fine line between “FINE I GUESS” and “eh, whatever.” Once is acceptance (albeit reluctantly) and the other is teetering awfully close to “I give up.”

We are not doing that in this organization. Of all the things we do, GIVING UP is not one of them. We change our minds, we change course, we step back, we wait, we plot, we plan, we bulldoze our way through, and we eliminate anyone or anything that dares get in the way of where we want to go, but WE DO NOT GIVE UP.

So I got a tad yelly today. Any other woman would add “…which is unlike me” but me yelling at someone is pretty much my default way of being and this patient and calm version of me is a fucking impostor. Whoops! Backwards Girl strikes again! So I got a little mad at him today and accused him of not putting forth any effort and not pulling his weight in this endeavor. Sure, he’s hurt and that is an issue but COME ON, MAN. I ended with “I will literally DRAG YOU back to health if I have to.” Because I will. Someone in this partnership has to be the asshole and that gets to be me. I’m very, very, VERY good at it.

I did offer to let him read his work email if he cooperates, but THIS IS A TOTAL LIE. I do not intend to do any such thing, at least until he is close to being discharged from rehab, and maybe not even then. I will have to liaise with the Work People (hi, Work People) and hammer out a plan but for right now, his job is to GET BETTER and my job is to YELL AT HIM WHILE HE DOES IT.

Twenty years married, you guys. We have a real good time.

We did have some fun today. Roommate #3 arrived last night after I had gone home for the day. I’m not sure what his deal was (Roommate #1 was Racist Shouty Psorasis Gross Man and Roommate #2 was “My legs suddenly decided not to work for a minute” nice older man) but he brought the drama which made for a fun afternoon.

Right around lunchtime, there seemed to be a huddle outside our room. There was a Fancy Hospital Administration Lady and a dude with a chef hat because it’s 2020, and if you want to wear a chef hat around, go ahead and do that. There are no rules anymore. Turns out he was the hospital’s executive chef, which I’m sure is a very weird job.

It took me a minute to tune into what was happening over there because: a) I don’t really care; b) it’s rude to eavesdrop; and c) I am a Cute Deaf Lady and my eavesdropping has been severely curtailed by widespread mask usage because I can’t read anyone’s lips from across the room anymore. That was one of my chief hobbies and it is denied me. ANYWAY, this confab went on long enough that I started to pay attention. Apparently Neighbor Grandpa had mushroom soup for lunch and found something in it. I’m thinking it was a piece of plastic or something like that but it turns out it was a piece of mulch-looking wood. He was BIG MAD, which is understandable, and he did some high-pitched hoarse old man yelling that I didn’t hear a lot of but from context clues, it was along the lines of “what’s wrong with you people, why did you do this, I’ll sue, are you trying to kill me,” etc. The apologies were coming fast and thick from Fancy Administration Lady and Chef Hospital and I felt so bad for them because sometimes shit happens, you know? The number of meals that kitchen cranks out in a day is unfathomable and they can’t all be Michelin-star level. Plus, it’s mushroom soup! Mushrooms grow quite happily in mulch!

Eventually, they did enough bowing and scraping that they were able to leave and by then I was in need of snackies so I headed out of the room. On the way out the door, Grandpa Neighbor stopped me with “how’s he doing over there?” Aw, how nice. How… oh please don’t, I’m not really in the mood for small talk but oh my god I am, at heart, a nice girl so I said “he’s doing much better! What was going on over here?” He launched into his little story and showed me the piece of wood he found in his soup and yeah, it was a whole-ass piece of mulch. I said “aw, you have a souvenir!” and then I beat a hasty retreat, laughing like a loon all the way down the hall.

I am trying VERY hard to get someone to think that maybe I have escaped from the locked ward and then they’ll escort me over there and I can get some fun drugs and relax for a minute. So far, no dice. They all seem to think I work there – the Starbucks keeps giving me the employee discount, which is awesome.

When I returned from the Starbucks, the patient advocate had arrived and Grandpa Neighbor was unloading on her. Since her job is literally to stand there and listen, she performed admirably while Freddie and I traded eyerolls over the whole thing. You take your entertainment where you can, man.

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A Case of The Mondays

A lot of other visitors to the hospital stop me in the hall and ask me for directions. I am a visitor, just like they are, but I’ve noticed a difference in the way I walk, compared to them. I know where I’m going and I walk purposefully, with my shoulders back and my head up. Other people either trudge or scurry, given over to sadness or anxiety. I feel both of those things but I stride, I don’t mosey. Who has time?

Visiting hours start at 10. When I get to the hospital each morning, there is a parade of dads coming out the front door, laden with pillows and blankets and an “oh fuck, what have I done” expression. There are dads heading in the doors with me, carrying impossibly tiny car seats and the same expression. I like to send them all a silent “you got this, man.” They’re so terrified and completely freaked out. I love it.

I shuffle through the queue (we stand in line for everything these days) and give my patient’s name at the front desk. They hand me the visitor’s pass and ask “do you know how to get there?” I do, thank you. I say “thank you” A LOT, because these jobs aren’t easy at the best of times, and this is not the best of times. I walk to the elevator bank and press “5” to go up to the floor where ol’ What’s-His-Name is.

Some people are really bothered by hospitals. I’m not one of them. I like the feeling of controlled chaos that you get in a hospital. This is a theme that I am working on in therapy – why am I so comfortable in chaotic environments? I have my suspicions, but it’s enough right now to not be stressed out just because I’m in a hospital. It’s fine. It smells like pee and some other undefinable things, but I have two dogs and a cat, so I am well-acquainted with the smells of pee and undefinable things. It doesn’t bother me overmuch.

Today when I arrived, our Boy Wonder was not having a good morning. His headache is VERY bad, and that is a bit worrisome. He didn’t eat much dinner (most of it was still there) and he hadn’t touched breakfast, either. He needs to eat or he’s not going to have anything resembling the kind of strength it’s going to take to get him back on his feet. But the pain was really making him uncomfortable so I had a chat with the nurse about it. She gave him IV pain meds and he settled down but that doesn’t really sit well with me because that means we’re quieting the symptoms but not really addressing the cause.

Dr Mom – who, you will recall, is NEVER WRONG – had a feeling that if we could get him to sit up and eat something and maybe get up and walk around a bit, that would tire him out enough to sleep naturally and he wouldn’t need the high-powered elephant tranquilizers (I’m guessing) that he was getting. It helps that Dr Mom is a [retired] bully [not really] and those skills come in VERY handy. I got him to sit up and eat food! He graduated to actual pieces of food today, which was kind of a big deal because it’s been soup and soup and the other soup for the past week. So I drill-sergeanted him into eating some food and then the physical therapist came to get him on his feet to go for a walk.

If you guessed “he fell asleep and was resting rather comfortably after that because Dr Mom is never, ever wrong” you are 100% correct.

And then Dr Mom REALLY went to work. I asked the physical therapist and the nurse what they thought our next step should be. They both said that inpatient rehab is probably best, because he will be able to get a lot more intensive therapy than he is getting right now. The PT has tons of patients to check in with each day and can’t really spend more than a half-hour with him and it’s not going to be enough. He’s still a fall risk and I am NOT having that in my house, despite all of us wanting to get him home. What I want and what he wants are completely irrelevant to what he NEEDS, and that means off to rehab he goes! So we are starting that process, which seems big and overwhelming and there are a lot of things that I need to keep track of which means I should probably start carrying a manila folder and a notebook to keep track of all of this stuff. It’s a lot.

What I would do if I had a “real” job during all of this, I do not know. That was my plan for this year, you see. I have a very shiny resume and had planned to look for a “real” job now that The Teenager is in high school and doesn’t need me quite so much. Whoops! I guess that will have to be next year’s plan. Maybe I can find a job yelling at people.

My poor boy is just so UNHAPPY right now and there’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is bully him into eating and focusing on his recovery. I think I finally beat his work anxieties out of him, which is helpful. I had to get a little yelly and text his boss and everything which I kind of felt was overstepping my position but all’s fair in love and war and this is both.

People keep asking me if I’m okay. The public answer is “yes, I’m okay. This is all very hard and irritating and obviously not an ideal situation but I’m okay.” This is……….. mostly true. I am tired, first and foremost. I get up, get The Teenager out of bed (which is a nice workout because there is usually a dance number), get her started on her school day, pick up stuff around the house, and head out to the hospital. I get there around 10, and stay until at least 5, usually 6, sometimes 8. It’s currently a full-time job and it’s not like I can tag someone else to stand in for me, because I have to be there to talk to doctors and nurses. It’s a lot. I have read 9 books in the past 8 days because there isn’t much else to do.

The Teenager is fine. I check in with her every morning (“I’m fine!”) and text her throughout the day (“I’m fine!”) and when I get home I give her a rundown of what’s going on and ask her how her day went. She’s fine! Her lifestyle hasn’t changed that much! Once she’s up, I try to do at least one thing, like tidy up the kitchen or make a stab at the laundry. Today I threw in a load of laundry that was all MY stuff because a certain person has been in a hospital gown for the past week and change. That bummed me out for a minute but I suppose I could just throw a bunch of his clean clothes in the hamper and pretend if I get really nostalgic about it.

Some days I get home and I’m too tired to eat anything. Some days I get home and I eat until it hurts because it makes other things hurt less. Some days I hit that sweet spot in the middle and have a salad. Other days it’s a bag of candy. I don’t drink during the week unless things are especially bad because I don’t want to fall into the whole bottle of whatever when I have to get up and function the next day. And anyway, even one glass of wine guarantees a WHOA MAMA hot flash around 2:30AM which is the most convenient time to wake up drowning in a pool of your own sweat.

45-year-old lady bodies are SO FUN, you guys.

On balance, it’s fine. Stuff in my house doesn’t require a huge amount of attention anyway so the fact that I’m neglecting things is pretty much how we do it normally. I’ve never been a good housewife and I’m not gonna start now.

Soon, probably sooner than I’d like, we are going to get to the anger portion of our program. I’m not looking forward to it, but it’s definitely coming. Right now, I just have a case of the Mondays. Tomorrow we’ll start the rehab transition process and Dr Mom will start putting her foot down about a lot of things. That should be interesting.

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Pain and Patience

Things that make me cry: the part in Armageddon where Bruce Willis tells his daughter he’s not coming back (don’t judge me, you know you do it too), the Olympics (2 weeks of straight sobbing), that time I sobbed through “Halley’s Comet” at that Baker’s Dozen Phish show, and yesterday. I’m not usually a crier, because I did a lot of that when I was a kid (and a teen, and in my 20s) and I might have used up my lifetime allowance. I’m more of a “set things on fire” sort of person these days.

But yesterday was bad.

This morning wasn’t looking good, either. When I got up to his room, he was sitting on the bed, just totally out to lunch. He’s still recovering from yesterday’s surgery, obviously, and it was a bit warm in that room so he was sweaty and even more uncomfortable than usual. He’s not as sensitive to light as he has been, but his headache is still pretty bad. This is all to be expected, and so far, none of the doctors or nurses have expressed undue concern about it.

Obviously, he didn’t come home today. The doctors want him to be a bit more steady on his feet, be more compliant with the splint on his nose (he keeps pulling it off) and the one on his hand, and to have his pain come down a few notches. The OT came in and he is able to stand up and walk and he even stepped into and out of the shower but even that small bit of activity left him exhausted and so he called for pain meds and fell asleep. They are telling me “maybe tomorrow, but probably Tuesday” which seems reasonable. They want him to be in good enough shape that he can be entrusted to my half-assed care (with the support of visiting nurses, etc).

I want him home because the chairs available to me at the hospital might possibly be the least comfortable seating surfaces ever designed. And also, he will get far better rest here at home than he does in the hospital, which is an inherently noisy place. Everything beeps, the guy in the other bed in that room snores like a cow with a sinus infection, it’s never truly dark, and there are nurses coming in every now and again to poke and prod and take vitals and generally be cheerfully but therapeutically irritating.

I folded some laundry today, which felt like a huge accomplishment. I can get Jillian to do some things around the house, but only if I leave her incredibly detailed instructions and offer some kind of reward because she’s a teenager and that’s how they operate. Sometimes it’s just easier to let it go for now, which is the way I’ve done my housekeeping for 25 or so years. You’d never know there was something going on because my house always looks like this. It’s nice to not have that stress of worrying what people might think.

The pets are depressed. Well, Piper is. She is Daddy’s dog and since Daddy hasn’t been around for the past week, she is very upset. Ellie is more my dog but I’m not sure she’d notice if I were gone for a week as long as she continued to get fed. Ellie is not super-smart but that’s okay because she’s pretty. Carl is definitely eating his feelings – I had to send a friend out to Petco to get cat food because I forgot to order it on my Chewy order and Carl is hoovering up everything in sight. They’ll all be fine, though. Pets are pretty resilient.

I am doing okay. Like I said yesterday, I come from a long line of women who look at the chaos around them and just get on with it. Life is generally doused with insanity sauce and you can either drown in it or figure out a way to live with it. I am controlling the things I can control and doing the things I can do. Everything else can wait.

I know I owe a TON of people text message updates but I’m so very tired of having my phone in my hand so you will all have to just harness the power of the grapevine and keep each other updated for now. Tomorrow we’ll see what’s happening and if it’s good news, I’ll send all the texts. Until then, talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: Gene Hackman was the producers’ first choice to play Mike Brady. How would the world have been different if that had come to pass?

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Wear A Helmet

Seriously, if you’re out on a bike, put your helmet on. Because Freddie was wearing his helmet, he had surgery to repair his face, not his whole entire head.

I was a bit late getting up to the hospital today because I was trying to obtain a copy of Freddie’s eyeglasses prescription. I’d called yesterday to the place where he got his glasses done and they assured me that they could pull a copy and hand it to me. So I rolled up there bang on 10AM and the receptionist was SO FUCKING RUDE to me. She wouldn’t allow me to finish a sentence, so I was unable to fully express what it was I needed. She interrupted me and was just absolutely awful so hey, Pearle Vision – good luck getting any more of my money. And have you SEEN the glasses my family requires?

Customer service is really not extraordinarily difficult. I excel at it and I HATE MOST PEOPLE. But if I’m in a service position, you’d never know it because I am a professional and I treat customers and clients the way they should be treated. So I’m doubly pissed off that she was so awful to me today.

ANYWAY, that’s a problem to solve on Monday. I was able to put Freddie’s current glasses back together fairly well and I was looking forward to him being v. pleased at my repair job.

NOT THE CASE. By the time I got up to the hospital, he hadn’t eaten for nearly 18 hours (can’t eat before surgery) and he was SO GRUMPY AND MEAN. He’s not mean to ME, because he knows better, but he was grumpy as hell toward the nurses today, which is very unlike him. That’s uncool, even if it’s understandable so I had to give him The Look a couple of times.

Finally, they took him down to the Covid isolation floor to have a Covid test and once that came back negative, they took him directly to the pre-op area and started getting him ready for that event. He left his room around 3:30 and was back in it all bandaged up and groggy by 7:30. The doctor called me and said it went well, everything looks good, and he should heal up quickly, because it was a truly fortunate break. It’s not like things disintegrated, you know? The pieces were all there and in the right place. I’ll find out more about exactly how they did it, but for now, he’s resting and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

If, for some awful reason he is not released tomorrow, watch the 6 o’clock news because he’s going to cause a scene. I don’t blame him, but at the same time, he needs to get over it and find a way to accept that THIS is what he’s doing right now. I have a feeling we’re going to be revisiting this theme a LOT in the next couple of weeks.

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You’re Fine!

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of caregiving. It’s not a thing that comes naturally to me, which is why I never became a teacher or a nurse. That’s just not how I was raised.

I come from a long line of flinty-eyed women whose caregiving style can best be described as “but did you die?” There was just no time. One of my grandmothers raised 10 kids and the other one raised 9. There just wasn’t much room in that life for more than “is there a bone sticking out or is the blood actually spurting? No? Then you’re fine!” And that’s what was passed down to me. Are you dead? No? Then you’re fine.

Ironically, I spent a great deal of my childhood riding (and crashing) my bike. I had an absolutely fantastic bike that I loved – it was the Huffy Capri 10-speed, where the front of the frame was pink and the rest of it was grey and I rode that thing everywhere, all the time. We had a gravel driveway, which proved challenging. You know how out in the mountains you will see, branching off the highway, trails of gravel and signs that say things like “runaway truck path” or whatever? Because yeah, you hit gravel at speed and YOU STOP. Well, your vehicle stops. Your delicate mushy human body still obeys Newton’s First Law and keeps going a bit.

So I crashed a lot because why use brakes? My mom was usually tasked with bandaging me up, and it was not her favorite job. I get a little screamy when I’m hurt and her preferred method of disinfection (Bactine) DIDN’T HELP. That shit stings!! So she would perch me on the side of the bathtub and stand in the doorway of the bathroom and squirt the Bactine at me from across the room so she could make a speedy getaway when I Hulked out, as I always, ALWAYS did. Then she’d chuck a handful of Band-Aids at me and that would be that.

And I would get back on the bike and do it again, usually on the other side.

There wasn’t a lot of “ohhh are you okay? How are you feeling? Can I get you anything, do you need anything, here’s a whole bunch of stuff you are going to need but haven’t asked for yet because I’m anticipating your needs you poor thing LET ME TAKE CARE OF YOU!” And so, growing up, we figured out how to handle things. There’s no point in wallowing, you get on with your day.

Had this been a “normal” bike crash, I probably would have handled it exactly like that. “Did you die? No? [Bactine in a squirty bottle, run]” I’ve done that for The Teenager when she was smaller and crashed more often. She’s fairly cautious, though – perhaps that’s why. Nobody wants to be subjected to Dr Mom (who, incidentally, IS NEVER WRONG) and her ministrations.

Recovery for Freddie is going to be long. There are going to be things that he wants to do before he is ready and I get to be the person to tell him no. We were going back and forth on something yesterday and the nurse said “he’s pretty stubborn, eh?” Yeah, he is but ohhhh my god he’s no match for me, and if he doesn’t already know this, HE’S GONNA LEARN.

I think he knows, though.

I hope so.

Anyway, I’m not sure how my style of caregiving is going to mesh with the recovery that he is going to require. I’m not a particularly nurturing person anyway and he’s going to need that. I wonder if I can hire a grandma or someone to come in and do all the cosseting and coddling that he needs and indeed, deserves. Rent-A-Granny? Is that a thing? That should be a thing. My therapist says this will be an “opportunity for growth” and stuff like that so… I GUESS.

It’s just… he’s going to fight me about everything. “I want my phone back.” NO CAN DO. “Can I have my iPad?” NO, unless you delete your work email from it. “I need my laptop for something.” NO YOU DON’T. It’s going to be fun and he’s going to try to outsmart me (not bloody likely, in this life or any other) and he’s going to try to be all sneaky. But I have a secret weapon.

For the first time in my life? I can outrun him. I’ll just take his phone and iPad and laptop and jog away. [evil laugh]

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Rollercoaster

I have never been an easy person to be around. There’s a lot happening in here and I’m not always the best at what a normal person would call “having a filter” or “self control.” I am, and probably always will be, a bit of a rollercoaster.

Freddie and I were friends for years before we started dating so he KNEW what he was getting into. He knew! He was FULLY BRIEFED on what life was going to be like with me and he chose to buy the ticket anyway. He’s super-brave. And our life together has not disappointed – for all the high highs, we have had some pretty low lows and everything in between. So for our 20th anniversary this year, we went to Cedar Point for the weekend to ride rollercoasters. Seemed like a fitting way to honor the past two decades of me going “hold my beer, wheeeeeeeee” and him going “oh god, what now.”

We never meant for HIM to take a turn being the problem child! That’s MY JOB, dammit! But here we are. Today was, to belabor the point, a rollercoaster.

I arrived this morning to see him in the chair again, which was awesome. They have also provided him with a cane, which we are definitely going to switch out for something cooler, such as a cane that is also a hidden sword. They took the “hey don’t get up” alarm off the chair, which is helpful because who wants a chair that screams at you when you stand up? No one, that’s who. As usual, he was cheerful and happy to see me.

Raise your hand if you’re shocked that the strawberry-flavored Ensure was NOT as big a hit as he thought it was going to be. No one? Thought so. On we go!

He is REALLY getting antsy about getting out of there, though. Mornings in the hospital are busy with doctors checking in and nurses swinging by and the physical therapist comes and the speech therapist comes and the other this and that and the other thing. He gets tired after all that and has been taking a quick nap after the morning crew is done asking him questions like “what year is it” and “who is this lady sitting on your bed and why is she dressed like a giant toddler?” Today, however, he was determined to stay up and awake in that chair until the doctors came back and [maybe] let him go home.

NO DICE.

Instead, they told him that he needed to stay put until they did the surgery. He suggested they let him go home and he’d come back. After all, I’m sitting right there, fully ready and able to drive him anywhere he needed to go! No can do, they said. Most of the people were very apologetic because they totally understand, but one nurse (who I secretly like a lot) was like “dude, they are not scheduling things at YOUR convenience. If they can’t do your surgery until Tuesday, you’re staying here until then.” I think he wanted to stab that nurse and yeeeeah we could have done without her saying THAT but she had a point.

That was when he decided he was just gonna leave! “That’s it, I’m LEAVING. NOW.”
Me: Oh, you are?
Him: I want to go home. NOW.
Me: I understand, but you can’t.
Him: I will start screaming.
Me: Go ahead and do it. You’ll find yourself on the ward with doors that lock. See how you like that.
Him: [GRUMPY NOISES]

Poor guy.

I really thought he was going to lose his mind when the guy in the next bed was being discharged. It was a prolonged process because apparently his clothes were misplaced and so he couldn’t go anywhere and didn’t have anyone to bring him anything. I thought maybe Our Boy Wonder had stolen the dude’s outfit, but he didn’t. I bet it occurred to him, though. Eventually the guy’s clothes were located and he was whisked away, but that was not a fun part of my afternoon.

He spent the rest of the day trying to micromanage me replacing his glasses. I called our eye doctor, but no answer. Not surprising, it’s a Covid Friday so I’m sure he didn’t bother opening the office if he didn’t have to. So then I called Pearlevision, which is where he actually gets the glasses from (way less $$ than doing it through the eye doctor) to see if they had a copy of his prescription. They did! And that’s awesome! But it would take them 3-4 WEEKS to make a new pair of glasses and that is decidedly NOT awesome. So my current orders are to take the Rx from Pearlevision and drive it over to the Lenscrafters in the mall and see what I can find out about getting a quick and dirty pair of glasses for my insane husband.

BUT WAIT, PLOT TWIST – it turns out, we did in fact find more than just a single lens of his glasses. We have not only the frames, but… WAIT FOR IT… the left lens! It’s scratched all the way to hell and back but the right lens is basically clear and in a stroke of massive good fortune, he is wearing an eye patch over his left eye so something is going my way in this situation, finally!! I am slightly more excited about this development than I normally would be but right now we are taking our celebrations where we can get them.

Right around dinnertime (mmmm strained soup), the surgeon rolled back in and said “tomorrow afternoon, my friend!” HOORAY, FINALLY, JEEZ. His mood did a complete about-face, which was helpful because it was going toward a pretty dark place for about an hour there. I had to use “Kathy Bates” as a verb, which… if you know, you can tell how bad it was getting.

As a reward for not stabbing a nurse or screaming, I let him talk to a few people on the phone. I think that helped a lot, just to talk to other people WHO ARE NOT ME for a few minutes. He settled down a lot and seemed to accept the fact that he has two more nights in the joint before we can spring him. As I left, I said “Shawshank is not a how-to video. Stay put. Also, you can’t eat anything after midnight so get a move on with that soup there, bud.”

Tomorrow they will put my husband’s face back together so he doesn’t end up looking like Sloth from the Goonies, even though I am doing my level best to look like Chunk. And they loved each other, right?

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The Tough Love Parade

Today was SUCH a good day. After the phone call (addressed in my previous post), I got another call from Morristown Medical Center. I immediately went into “oh shit” mode but it was just my goofy husband calling me from the 1987-era phone on his bedside table.

“Bring my clothes today, please,” he said.
Oh, are you getting out today?
“Maybe! And don’t forget they moved me across the hall! See you later!”

I’ve had a change of clothes for him with me every single day, because I am a Professional. You can tell who the pros are – they are wearing Comfy Pants and are carrying backpacks. They’re going to be there for awhile. The amateurs are the ones who maybe dressed up a bit or are wearing uncomfortable shoes. The gift shop makes $$ on these folks because they aren’t prepared. I’m prepared. I have my phone and a backup battery, and my Kindle with 12 new books on it. I can easily be there for the full 10 hours of visiting (which is exactly what I did on Sunday and that was a LONG DAY, y’all).

So, yeah – I had his clothes with me. When I got to his room, he’d acquired a new roommate (not nearly as loud as the last guy) and he was sitting up in the chair again, happy to see me. He had a lot of news to report! He ate food! He went for a walk! He went up and down a flight of stairs! He wants to go home! Today! His whole demeanor was an exclamation point! Which is awesome!

All the reports from doctors and nurses were good. They changed their mind about inpatient rehab and said he was probably okay to do it outpatient or we could have someone come to the house for physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. It’s going to be a lot of work to get him back up to speed but compared to what he was like on Sunday (or even Monday), this is amazing progress.

He thinks he’s sneaky, though. He made friends with one of his nurses who happened to mention that she loved Rush so we had a good 15 conversation about the band and their albums and a good time was had by all. He thinks she’s on his side and will help him get out sooner but MWAH HAHAHAHAHA NOPE! She’s firmly on the side of “when you’re ready and WE SAY YOU’RE READY, not before.” I love her. He’s like “but I have a bed! And a full bathroom! And a chair! Upstairs! I’ll be fine! My super-excellent awesome wife will be there! To take care of me! All the time!”
Which… yeah, I will but SHUT UP, man. Stop volunteering me for shit. Also, we do NOT have a chair upstairs because I made him drag it downstairs. So if he wants it upstairs again, guess which dummy gets to huck it up the stairs again? ME. I’m awesome.

At one point, he said to me “I’m not coming here tomorrow.”
I said “of course you are, because YOU ARE NOT LEAVING.”
Him: “I’ll just walk out! I can walk now you know.”
Me: “Oh? Wearing your cute little dress you got on there?”
Him: “Well, you have my clothes, right?”
Me: “Indeed I do, and if you think I’m going to give them to you, you must be back on the fentanyl again, my dude.”

To retaliate, he made me watch Rachael Ray’s talk show, knowing how much I absolutely dislike everything about her, from her voice to the fact that she spells her name incorrectly. I suppose we’re even. Side note, and I know this is rude, but: has anyone noticed how chonky Emeril has gotten? Homey needs to come out with a cookbook of salads or something.

You know, it just struck me that I am impressed he was able to remember my phone number. That’s a good indication of progress, for sure.

The rest of the day was spent with him asking me things like “can you call the eye doctor” (later) and “did you get tires on the truck yet” (no, I’m waiting for Costco to call me and tell me they’ve arrived) and “did you talk to anyone from work” (yes and shut up about work) and “wait, what about XYZ work thing” (I said SHUT UP ABOUT IT, and I won’t tell you again) and “okay, so I want to go home today” (not today, buddy) and “was I in a helicopter?” (yes, you were).

We had some variation of those conversations about 4 times. He’s a lot of fun right now. When the dietitian came in to discuss the kinds of things he can and cannot eat right now, she talked to him about the Ensure drinks they’ve been providing with his meals. She said “do you want to stick with chocolate? We also have vanilla and strawberry” and he was SO JAZZED about the idea of strawberry Ensure, it made me laugh. I suppose we have to take our pleasures where we can find them these days but it was so cute because he was SO EXCITED about it. So go on with your bad strawberry Ensure self! Get them vitamins!

He really did look better today. The swelling in his head has gone way down, his scrapes are healing nicely, he can talk (HE TALKS A LOT) but his voice is all raspy from the ventilator. He sounds a bit like Edward Burns which isn’t a bad thing but also not what you’d choose, you know? His vision is improving, which is excellent but he’s still sensitive to light and has a bit of blurriness in the one eye. Some of that could also be due to the fact that he hasn’t had his glasses since Saturday so there’s a bit of strain happening while his brain is trying to see and his eyes are all “lol, no we aren’t doing that.” His memory is pretty good – I told him some stories and stuff this morning and he was able to re-tell them to the nurse in the afternoon with no difficulty. So all signs are pointing forward, which is just totally amazing, considering the fact that his head looked like meatloaf on Saturday night.

With luck, we’ll have him home this weekend, perhaps as early as tomorrow. I cannot express how truly grateful we are for everyone who has reached out and kept us in their thoughts and prayers and for all of you who took the pins out of the voodoo dolls of us (even if that’s just temporary). This has been a wild and strange couple of days and it’s not going to ease up anytime soon, so knowing we have a huge army behind us is so incredibly helpful. Y’all are so good-looking and smart!

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It Has Begun

I’m a Cute Deaf Lady, and as such, I don’t usually answer the phone when it rings. Unless I am expecting a call that I can’t roll to voicemail to deal with later, y’all have to wait.

Lots of robocalls just get ignored. School calls go to voicemail, mostly because I also get an email AND a text. All my people know better than to call me, so they text like the good-looking and smart folks they all are.

This morning, I got a call from “Ambulance Reimbursement Services.”

Fuck that. He isn’t even out of the hospital yet and they’re already trying to come at me for money? No. We are not doing this. Ambulance Reimbursement Services is cordially invited to TAKE A SEAT and SIT THEIR ASS DOWN. Pretend you’re at the DMV and take a number and we will get to you WHEN WE GET TO YOU. That will not be today, friends.

This will be the hard part. Dealing with all of these people who of course, deserve to be compensated for their services is going to be a humungous pain in my sexy ass. Most of you know that my ENTIRE LIFE GOAL is to not have things be a pain in my ass. But here we are. I had a rather elongated adolescence because I really really don’t like being an adult. I hate it. I only graduated from college two years ago, after all. All this adult nonsense is for the birds. But some people enjoy that, and that’s fine! Actually, the people who enjoy being adults should be assigned to those of us who do not. A Designated Adult would be awesome to have. Or maybe I can train one of the dogs to be my secretary.

I will call them back later today or probably tomorrow and try to politely (yeah I see you all laughing) explain that maybe they could start by sending me a bill in the mail like normal people and we’ll go from there. Don’t be blowing up my phone right now, because I AM BUSY.

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