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.