The Mayor of Rehab

I think we are nearing the finish line here. I hope so. I’m tired of driving a half-hour each way and answering the Covid questions to see my husband. I’m sure he’s tired of alarms going off every time he shifts his weight on the bed because the bed thinks he’s standing up.

Greybeard the Pirate is making amazing progress. He is walking very well, his double vision is improving, and his speech therapy is helping A LOT. I still have trouble understanding him sometimes but usually if he slows down it’s okay.

Apparently the eyeglasses I fought so hard to get are useless. SOME GRATITUDE, MAN. I had to yell at people to get those made! At least pretend they’re fine and switch to the old busted glasses when I’m not looking, jeez.

I am meeting with the therapy team on Monday. They call it “family training” and I guess it’s a show and tell of what kinds of things they’re doing and which of those things we’ll need to continue at home. My hope is that I can go to that and then be all “Okay, thanks, we’re leaving now” and then bring him home.

The good news is that part of his recovery is to… do stuff. I had offered him the use of my cowbell in case he’s upstairs and needs something but he said the therapists tell him that he’s supposed to get up and do whatever it is that needs done. THIS IS AMAZING NEWS. It also appears to encompass things like chores, so instead of yelling “JILL, EMPTY THE DISHWASHER” he’s supposed to do it himself! It will help with movement and memory! I’m hoping “folding laundry” falls into this category as well and if I play my cards right, I might not have to do anything domestic for a good long while!

Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Once we’re home and start establishing a routine, we are going to sit down and make a list of everyone who needs a thank-you card or whatever. It’s a long list. Freddie is very grateful for all the medical staff in both the hospital and the rehab, because they have taken very good care of him. Aside from one nurse and one nursing assistant that I didn’t personally love, everyone we have worked with has been outstanding. So there will be a lot of thank yous going out.

My husband is a personable guy. He is genuinely interested in people and has been making friends with all of his caregivers over the past week. He was the Mayor of the Neuro Floor over at Morristown and he’s the Mayor of Kessler Rehab this week. This is a good thing, because he’s the one who remembers names in this relationship. I’m super-bad at that so I rely on him to find out people’s names and remind me. The fact that this side of him is coming out so strongly is a very good sign.

As for me, my gratitude is focused on all of you, my dear readers. All of your check-ins, your offers to help, your Starbucks gift cards, and your incredibly terrible jokes helped a lot these past two weeks. I know a lot of folks asked if there is anything they can do and it’s very hard for me to ask for what I need, but if you really feel like you need to do something, I could use a bunch of Wegmans gift cards. Wegmans is my happy place, and cooking is the main way I deal with stress, and there’s going to be quite a lot of that in the next little while, I think. So if you’re willing, that’s what I need and can really really use. I promise not to spend it all on scratch-off lottery tickets and booze. You can reach me via text, email, or Facebook if you need my address, and thank you in advance.

I’m not sure we’re going to get back to “normal.” I don’t think we ever were normal in the first place, so whatever we end up doing is going to be what it’s going to be. We need a routine, because our house is an ADHD house (everyone has it except one of the dogs and possibly the cat, but he’s a psychopath so…) and routine is KING in this joint. Any fluctuation in our routine crashes the whole boat so with luck, we’ll get that back together and get on with it.

This has been an… interesting fortnight, to be sure. It feels like the longest and the shortest two weeks ever, and it’s definitely not a period of time I ever want to re-live. When the TARDIS lands on the lawn, we definitely aren’t going back to any of this bullshit. What we’re gonna do is go see the Sex Pistols in Manchester in 1976, then swing by Live Aid at Wembley in 1985. But 2020? No thank you. Zero stars, would not recommend.

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Good Stuff

I just got back from visiting Cap’n Greybeard and he looks great! He is talking more and whining less and he even ate a lot of his dinner without me threatening to jack him up with a feeding tube like they do for geese when they make foie gras.

He has been upgraded from a red tag (DANGER FALL OVER MAN) to a yellow tag (probably won’t fall over, but maybe so keep an eye out just in case) which is awesome news! They do keep him in a wheelchair (unless he’s in bed) with a seatbelt just in case, and that’s good because otherwise he’d make a run for it. Trouble is, the facility is literally three miles from anywhere so where would he even go?

Compared to yesterday, he has improved almost 100%. He’s still having trouble with his throat (and if you want to google “elongated uvula due to intubation, feel free but I don’t recommend it) and he still has some headache and double vision but at least he’s alert and chatty again. We had a nice talk about stuff and I didn’t have to yell at him once! I could tell he was feeling more himself when we were talking about run-of-the-mill domestic stuff and he said “are you okay with keeping the house clean?”
Me: Ummmm… no?
Of course not. That’s not a thing I normally do and I’m not gonna start now. It’s pretty much as clean as it ever is – we live here and it shows. I did have a weird dream that we moved to a new house and the entire thing was done in shades of beige but it’s possible that was just the ghost of my mother-in-law checking in.

OH I FORGOT TO TELL YOU: I gave him back his phone. This is the longest he has gone without some kind of device since he was super cool and awesome and got a pager back in 1995. But since he promised to behave, I gave it to him, so if you’re getting a ton of messages, I’m sorry. But not really.

We’re very much on-track to get him home on Monday, and while he will still need to see various doctors here and there, I don’t think we’re going to need as much visiting nurse support as we had originally thought.

Today is Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year. I’m not super-observant but my hope is that this will mark a turning point not only for us, but for everyone. So, you know, prayers and junk for a happy and healthy new year.

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That Never Happens!

Holy shit, you guys – someone actually LISTENED TO ME. It’s a Christmas miracle.

As you know, I am a Cute Deaf Lady. It’s bad and getting worse and there’s no way to fix it and the hearing aids only do so much. Therefore, if you need to talk to me for any reason and you need me to understand whatever it is that I’m saying to you, you’ll have to email or text. Otherwise, everyone gets frustrated.

Yesterday, when I met with the rehab case manager, she explained to me about how they do a conference call every couple of days for update purposes. I explained that a phone call, especially in a situation like this, is not going to work for me and she said “oh! No problem, we can make it an email.”

HALLELUGE. Finally. After years of me saying “please put this in an email or a text, please for the love of god” someone finally did it. Amazing. We’ve had the technology for years, let’s put it to good use!

So the update I received is all good news. Tour de Freddie can walk pretty well with no assistance and can go up and down a set of stairs and all that stuff. He probably won’t be joining the Olympic Men’s Gymnastics squad this time around but he can move and not keel over, which was really the main thing.

He is still having some issues with his vision, which is to be expected, given the level of TBI he suffered. We will work on that. He’s also having some memory issues, which are also to be expected, and will probably resolve over time (along with therapy and other treatments). I’ve been doing some reading about TBI and some of it is TERRIFYING but most of it is like “yeaaaaaah, recovery is possible but it takes time.” Okay. We can work with that.

Someone asked me the other day if his condition was as serious as I’m saying it is. My answer was “it’s actually quite a bit worse but there are details that you people don’t need to know. I will carry enough of that with me until the end of my days, and I don’t need to share it with everyone.” It was bad. It’s getting better. But yeah, it was pretty bad for awhile. Nobody spends 11 days in the hospital for a mere bump on the head. But as bad as it was, it could have been so much worse.

Helmets. Every time.

Overall, I’m pleased with the progress he’s making. Just two days in rehab and he already sounds so much better, even though I have a little trouble understanding him on the phone. Most people I’ve allowed him to talk to have done just fine, so that’s probably a lot of static on my end more than any deficit on his. Since he is progressing so well, I have decided to allow him to have his phone back. He asked me to bring his computer but I laughed because I’m going to be hiding that until he’s good and ready. He will be allowed to have his phone and even though I will tell him to take it easy, be prepared for him to start replying to emails because that’s how he’s made. If it gets to be too much, I will confiscate the phone again, but it will be helpful for him to have a connection to the outside world.

So get ready, kids.

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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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