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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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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.


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.

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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We Do All Our Own Stunts

When I got to the hospital today, our boy wonder was sitting up IN A CHAIR! This is a huge, huge, huge deal, because when I’d left him the night before, just sitting up in bed was challenging. It’s a combination of his head, the fact that his eyes aren’t working in sync right now, and the fact that he’d been in bed since Saturday.

So unlike some movies you may have seen, it’s not like you can be in bed for 20 years and then all of a sudden get up and dance around the house because your snot-nosed grandson got a golden ticket. That’s not reality, I’m sorry to tell you all.

Anyway, Sitting Boy was VERY CHATTY this morning. I plopped down on the bed and got him caught up on all the gossip and passed along everyone’s well wishes and all of that. He was adamant that I text his co-worker about a situation they’d been in the middle of and he would NOT shut up until I did. But that’s all being handled just fine.

He is very anxious about work. I totally understand where he’s coming from, since our position has been fairly precarious since December. But everyone I’ve talked to has reassured me that it’s all fine, he’s fine, the job is fine, it’s getting done, it’s ALL FINE and even though I tell Freddie this (many multiples of times), he still frets about it because that’s just how he’s made. We’re gonna have a tough-love talk about it tomorrow if he doesn’t settle down a little bit.

I missed the first round of doctors this morning but we saw the social worker and the rehab specialist and the dental surgeon today. The social worker is working with the rehab person to find a place to put him for some inpatient rehab when he gets sprung from the hospital. This was not the news he was looking for, because he is extremely anxious to come HOME, but yeah there is no way I am equipped to handle the early days of Head Wound McGee, making sure he doesn’t fall or anything like that. We’ll leave that to the professionals and they can release him to me when they are confident that he isn’t going to topple over or walk directly into the wall.

I STILL DON’T KNOW ABOUT SURGERY. From what the dental surgeon said, it WILL be necessary but she isn’t sure exactly when. His teeth all look good, all present and accounted for which is a HUGE relief, but his skull still needs to be stuck back together. I guess they use Gorilla Glue or FlexTape or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

His appetite has improved quite a bit. He ate a lot of his lunch and was starting on dinner when I left. That is a big improvement. He even drank the Ensure they are providing which (ew) is going a long way toward keeping him on the path of healing. He’s still on a fully liquid diet, though. I’m not sure how that’s going to shake out when we get home, but we have blenders and strainers and all the tools we need to puree everything up to and including a ribeye (don’t think I won’t try it).

The BEST news was that the other dude in his room (you may remember him from yesterday’s post) was released and it was 30% quieter in there today. Hallelujah! But hospitals are inherently noisy places, so it’s not exactly restful. Later in the afternoon, they moved him across the hall to a different room so he could be closer to the bathroom. I guess they’re going to try to let him get there and back on his own (or with help) which will be a HUGE RELIEF (literally) to everyone. But he is still a fall risk and is under VERY STRICT ORDERS from his SUPER AWESOME WIFE to not get out of bed on his own until he is officially allowed to. He hates to ask for help but DUDE. This is exactly what all of these people are here for, man.

Overall, he is improving rapidly and the difference between Saturday night and today is startling. But in a good way! He doesn’t actually remember anything about Saturday or Sunday or Monday. His memory starts at yesterday morning when he left the ICU. So I’ve been filling in the gaps for him when he asks.

As for me, I am doing all right. This is a big thing I am being asked to do and it’s hard and it sucks out loud but I have the easy part. I’m not the one with the box of Legos for a head. But that doesn’t mean it’s fun. The chair available to me is uncomfortable as hell and all I can do is read or play on my phone because Freddie is still very sensitive to light so it’s not like I can drag a stitching project with me. He sleeps a lot and it’s very boring, but that is where I am supposed to be, so that is where I am. I am Penelope, waiting for my Odysseus, except HE’S RIGHT THERE and HE’S CRANKY.

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First Steps

First of all, welcome to my long-suffering, oft-neglected blog. Longtime readers know that this is not the place for seriousness or clean language so if you’re new to the blog and new to ME, buckle up, kids.

NB: Some of you call him Rick. I call him Freddie. It’s a long story but he also answers to What’s-His-Name and Captain. Hope this clears up any confusion!

Today was a busy day. I am getting used to the drive up to the hospital. The GPS says it will take exactly 30 minutes but I can do it in 20 if I’m careful. ETA is always just a suggestion, and hey – stay out of the left lane.

When I got in to the ICU, Freddie was awake and greeted me by name and sounded almost cheerful! He was shocked to find out that today is Tuesday, but that’s normal for his situation. .I figured they had him jacked up on drugs again, but no – he’s improving quite a bit. Enough so that they decided to move him out of the ICU and into a regular room! Hurrah!

But before that, he had to have his left hand x-rayed. He hasn’t been able to make a fist and at first we thought that was just because they were pumping him full of fluids and he was suffering from Extreme Sausage Hands. Apparently not! So x-rays were taken (I assured the tech that he wasn’t pregnant) and we’ll find out tomorrow, I guess. I’m assuming whatever it is isn’t that bad or they would have added a splint or whatever to his impressive bandage load. But we’ll hear about that tomorrow, I suppose.

The neurologist came in and did the whole thing with the flashlight in the eyes and reflex hammers and most of it is good news. His reflexes are good and all that jazz, but he’s not going to pass a field sobriety test anytime soon. The bump on his head was pretty severe and his eyes are not working together at the moment so he’s seeing double and is very sensitive to light.

I was pleased that he ate some ice cream for breakfast (LUCKY!) but a little annoyed because it’s Haagen-Dasz and that shit is delicious and I was eyeing that for myself. Still, it was good that he ate something because he hasn’t had any food to speak of since Saturday afternoon.

While he was being transported to his new room, I stopped in at Starbucks because WHATEVER SHUT UP I’M NOT AN ADDICT and I needed to be out of the way anyhow. It’s a very nice Starbucks but for whatever reason they had their music turned up pretty loud so I think it might also double as a venue for raves in the late hours of the evening. Visitation ends at 8PM so I can’t know for sure.

The new room is on the neurological floor, which is nice. He has a roommate, which kind of sucks because Roomie had Fox News on allllllll day (thankfully at a volume I couldn’t discern with all the other damn noise in that joint) and was apparently v. popular, because his phone rang off the hook and he answered EVERY CALL.

Now, some of you know that one of Freddie’s internet nicknames is SHOUTY MAN. He’s a beloved character around here because HE SHOUTS INTO THE PHONE ALL THE TIME despite the fact that it is 20-goddamn-20 and technology is so awesome now that you can speak in a normal voice and the person on the other end of the line can hear you. We’ve come a long way from tin cans and string, but TRY TELLING THAT TO SHOUTY MAN. Turns out, there are more of them. Hundreds, maybe. Thousands, probably. So Roomie is HOSPITAL SHOUTY MAN and holy god dude, now we all know that he has psoriasis and blood clots and is taking antibiotics and steroids and heparin and they won’t let him leave even though he feels JUST FINE, MICHAEL, and he doesn’t like the nurse assistant person and oh, he’s not racist but he doesn’t just doesn’t trust Black people. HOSPITAL SHOUTY MAN IS KIND OF A DICK, YOU GUYS.

And he snores like a congested sea lion, so he’s got that going for him, too.

Anyhooooooo, the lunch tray came and went (I took that chocolate pudding, since I haven’t really eaten since Saturday EITHER), and the Jewish chaplain person came in and chatted with us which was nice. The speech therapist came in and did her thing and that was interesting to me because I had considered that as a career before my 2nd nervous breakdown and the discovery that I am actually quite deaf. [Shrug] Whaddaya gonna do? Nowadays I spend my time driving food around to people and judging them SUPER HARD for ordering Taco Bell and doing the Mom thing and facilitating virtual high school and going to the hospital to hang out with our intrepid hero while he gets bits of him stuck back on. It’s not a career and the pay is shit but at least I’m my own boss!

That’s a lie, I am 100% beholden to other people. It’s fine.

At one point the physical therapist came in but Freddie was sleeping and refused to wake up to talk to her. I think he was faking sleep and was just totally over having people do stuff to him, but then again, he did try to get up earlier, thinking he was just going to waltz over to the bathroom all by hisownself. OH NO YOU DON’T, BUDDY. Sit your ass down. That’s tomorrow’s project! Because the sooner we can get him on his feet, the sooner we can maybe bring him home and I can do my whole Kathy Bates routine on him.

Oh wait, I’m not supposed to say that part out loud. IT WILL BE FINE, I DON’T EVEN HAVE AN AXE.

Overall, he is showing great improvement. His short-term memory is still iffy, but he does know where he is and why he’s there. I will answer any of his direct questions about the crash but I’m not going to volunteer any information. There are things he just doesn’t need to know right now. He is understandably very upset and frustrated and sad and mad and angry and annoyed and bewildered and anxious and all of those things you feel when you don’t know what the future is going to hold. This is the longest he’s been separated from his beloved phone since that time I plopped it into a glass of water because he answered a work call while we were having our First Wedding Anniversary Dinner. I am the Keeper of the Phone now and I HAVE ALL THE POWER!! He is fretting a bit about work but I have been in touch with his bosses and they have assured me that all of his TPS reports will be taken care of and he won’t have to meet with The Bobs. His only job is to heal and rest and get better and stop looking like someone attacked his face with a cheese grater.

Like that guy in the Tom Hanks pirate movie, this is me: “Look at me. Look at me. I’m your boss now.”

Tomorrow will be more of the same. Doctors and nurses will come in and ask questions and do stuff. I will continue to tell them that I can’t hear them unless they take off their masks and they will be appalled and I will shrug because HELLO I AM CUTE DEAF LADY and we’ll figure it all out and he will sit there and ask me what happened (again) and I will tell him (again) and maybe I’ll read to him or something if he’s up for it. I will continue to pass along some of the absolutely atrocious jokes some of you have been making and he’ll laugh and then he’ll forget them so I can tell all the jokes again because recycling is good for you.

I have been so overwhelmed with all the love and good wishes and offers to help and good vibes and prayers and hippie voodoo and charged crystals and everything positive that people have been sending and thinking. We really do appreciate all of it, truly. Thank you all so much.

Stay tuned, there’s going to be lots more.

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The Long Road

Deep breaths.

Freddie looked much better yesterday. The swelling is going down and the blood (there was so much blood) has stopped welling up. Things are turning red and black and purple in anticipation of further healing when things turn green and yellow and brown. Homeboy is a one-man Pride parade float.

He is starting to retain information a bit better, so he knows where he is and kind of how he got there. He’s starting to FEEL EVERYTHING which is not a pleasant sensation, and they took him off the super-high-powered opiates so all he gets now is Big Tylenol for the pain. This is a good thing, overall, because the last thing we need to get out of this is an addict, meaning I will have to figure out where to score. Oh wait – Jill starts high school today, I can probably just ask her. I’ve heard rumors about that place. This is the suburbs, after all.

Freddie wasn’t interested in eating when I was there with him which is understandable given the pain he’s in. Maybe today will be better on that front. He did say he wanted to stand up but we all chuckled at him and said “how about trying to sit up first?” So we did that and it didn’t go well. Again, maybe today will be better. The last thing we need is for him to walk around with his ass hanging out of the hospital gown and maybe take a fall and land on the other side of his face. Oooh, but maybe I could request the “Jude Law” package from the surgeon. Let me check on that.

My hope is that today we will get some news about a timeframe for surgery. If they can do it sooner rather than later, that would be best for EVERYONE, but it depends on his condition. They told me yesterday that there is a possibility that he might be able to come home sometime this week and then go back for surgery later, but I’m not sure I want the responsibility of caring for a dude with half a liquid face, especially when he is not very good at being taken care of. This is a Man Cold writ large.

But we’ll do whatever the doctors think is appropriate. I suppose once he can get up and walk around and do bathroom stuff unassisted, he’ll be closer to coming home and then we’ll see. I know he’ll be more comfortable here, surrounded by all his stuff and his dogs and without things beeping all fucking day.

The concussion is something that concerns me and I’m not going to go down an internet rabbit hole reading about it because I don’t want to know any more than I already know right now. He has a pretty severe headache and is sensitive to light, which is why we moved him to a room with a slightly smaller window yesterday. Hospital rooms (the surgical ICU, at least) don’t have window blinds? Seems odd to me but also makes sense. He’s a bit close to the part of the building where the helicopters land, which is noisy but there isn’t anything we can do about that. One landed while I was there and I said “hey, your ride’s here!” and he didn’t get it because he just doesn’t remember yet. My hope is that he won’t remember the crash or the immediate aftermath because I will and that’s already too much.

I hope the long-term effects of this are minimal. I think they will be, once we get all his pieces stuck back together. He’ll probably need some physical therapy after having been laid up for awhile, and he will definitely need speech therapy once his jaw is reattached to the rest of his head. I wonder if I can slip the speech therapist a fiver and get them to make him NOT SHOUT ON THE PHONE. We’d miss Shouty Man, but… we wouldn’t miss Shouty Man, you know? That’s how loud he is.

But… we’ll see. That’s all I really have right now. I know he’s in the best possible place and he has good doctors and nurses taking care of him but so much of this is “well, we’ll see.” So we wait.

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Labor Day Weekend, 2020

Friends, on Saturday, Freddie was involved in a pretty serious bike crash. He hit a bad patch of road and went over the handlebars and slid about 30 feet on his face. He was unconscious and bleeding when we got to him literally seconds later, so we called 911. He was airlifted to Morristown Medical Center Saturday evening.

A bike crash is never a good thing, and this was less good than most. His injuries are primarily on and in his head. The helmet took the brunt of the impact and did its job admirably, but he does have a concussion and has fractured his face in at least three places. We have been waiting for the swelling to subside to see if and how much surgery will be necessary, but the doctors have said to me that everything looks good (the bones are all in the right area, just not actually attached the way they should be). His neck and back are all fine and he didn’t break any arms or legs. From the neck down, he just has some road rash here and there.

It happened very fast. One instant we were all riding and the next… we weren’t. I will have to keep talking to Jillian to find out exactly what she saw because she was right behind him on the road. She has been truly amazing – she got off her bike and moved out of the way and let us get on with what needed to be done. I was behind Jill and I managed to get off my bike (it’s never graceful and I usually just fall over) and get to Freddie. We were with our friends MK and John, who are the exact people I would have called first anyway. John is an experience mountain biking coach who has been trained in bike crash first aid (handy!). I am a Girl Scout but I am also Freddie’s wife so most of my first aid training went right out the window and once I realized I wasn’t going to be able to help, I dialed 911 and gave my phone to John. Then I went into the driveway of the house we landed in front of and promptly started to lose all my shit.

A car came down the road and stopped to help. Turns out it was an RN from New York who just happened to be passing by. Someone said something about how she was going out for coffee and changed her mind and turned down that road on a whim just to see where it went? It’s fuzzy, maybe that’s not exactly right but that’s what I remember being told. I’m not religious and I don’t really believe in much other than the idea that the universe has a perverse sense of humor, but this lady was put in that place at that time for a reason. She wouldn’t tell any of us anything more than her first name (Jen) but that information might be in the police report and if it is, I’m going to send her a stupid-big gift basket. Or open an Edible Arrangements location on her front lawn because I am so grateful to her for being put there by whatever inexplicable force guides us all.

The owners of the house we landed in front of were also absolutely spectacular humans. They came out with gloves and masks and towels and didn’t mind at all that five bicycles were parked in their landscaping. We’ll be sending them a big thank-you as well.

After I had a little freak-out, I managed to pull it together and check on Jill (she was fine, she pulled her headphones out of her bag and stuck her face in her phone because she’s a teenager and that’s what they do) and through sheer force of will, I guess, I kept going. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug, too.

It’s funny, the things you focus on in these kinds of situations. I needed the keys to my truck and we dug through the backpack Freddie was wearing but they weren’t there, so they must have been in the pocket of his shorts. Everyone was like “you’ll get them later, it’s fine” and I remember thinking “no, it’s NOT FINE, that’s literally the only set of keys I have for this truck.” Sure, it would have been fine but can you imagine if they’d been lost? I would have had to figure out how to get a new set of keys somehow. The number of small errands that would make up that large errand… nooooo thank youuuuuu that was not a thing I wanted to have to think about having to do, so dammit, I needed those keys (we did get them). At one point, one of the cops (or fireman guys or EMTs) was like “does he wear glasses?” Me: “yes, do you have them?”

He handed me a single lens. Okay then! Turns out glasses aren’t going to be part of Freddie’s life for awhile anyway.

So they loaded him into the ambulance and explained that they were going to helicopter him to Morristown. Mary Kay was going to handle getting Jill home to check on the dogs and see what she wanted and needed to do. Since the house key was also on the truck key, I asked Jill if she knew where the spare house key was hidden and she does. But that location had recently been rearranged and cleaned up as part of one of our Coronavirus projects so it was possible that the key went elsewhere. I had to make sure Jill could get in so we discussed how to go in through the window if need be. Luckily, she didn’t need to do that.

John and I went to the hospital to wait. We got there only a few minutes after the helicopter did, so we had to waaaaait and wait some more. A nurse came and took us from the ER waiting room to the Trauma Unit waiting room and we waited SOME MORE. Finally he was stabilized enough that we could see him but he was a MESS and totally out of it and 100% did not know anything about anything. They had him intubated and sedated and restrained (he gets very punchy in situations like this, it’s the weirdest thing). But he was alive and that was really all I was concerned about at the time. I gave them all the insurance information and all that jazz and signed all the things and when they got ready to move him to a room in the ICU, we were able to leave.

I had John take me back to my truck and then I drove home. I honestly could have left it there and dealt with it later but the way I’m made, I like to not have things to worry about so it was just easier for me to go get it and drive it home. Got home, checked on Jillian (she’s fine – she’s surprisingly unflappable sometimes) and paced around the house for about three hours (adrenaline hangover) and then I finally fell into bed around 2AM.

Yesterday I was able to visit. When I got there in the morning, he was still intubated and sedated and restrained but they had done CT scans on him and were waiting for the results of those so we could make a plan. Over the course of the day, various nurses and doctors stopped in to explain what was happening and they gradually took him off the fentanyl (likely the cause of him being so combative) and worked on getting him off the ventilator. I left briefly in the afternoon to come home and check on Jill and put pants on (hospitals are FREEZING) and by the time I got back, he was off the vent and starting to be more aware. Eventually we were able to talk a little bit and I was able to tell him where he was and why but because of the concussion, his short-term memory is flickering so we had that same conversation about 4 different times. The nurses have assured me that this isn’t out of the ordinary and we’ll keep an eye on it.

I’m exhausted. I keep going with caffeine and carbs and a lot of REALLY terrible jokes. Just… truly offensive things that make me laugh about this situation. Because if I stop making jokes, then you know it’s very serious and we can’t be having that. So we laugh.

I have at least 6 different group texts going right now with various friends and family members, which is one of the major reasons for this post. I can post updates here instead of sending 13 texts a minute.  I am heading up to the hospital in a little bit and I will post updates when I have them. Please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers and we’ll all get through it together. We have everything we need, for now. Jillian is well taken care of and as long as our supply of Trader Joe’s mac & cheese holds out, she’ll be fine. I am holding it together but I am keeping a list on my phone of things I am planning to do when this is all over and I have the time and space to have a breakdown. It’s going to be AMAZING, unless I just never find the time to do it. Then I will just… keep on keepin’ on, I guess.

The staff at Morristown has been outstanding. The people whose house we crashed in front of were outstanding. Nurse Jen was amazing. The first responders were amazing. The cops who laughed at my wholly inappropriate jokes were amazing. Our friends… there are no words to describe our friends. We take “ride or die” VERY SERIOUSLY in this house, apparently.


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It’s Been A Minute

2020 has been a trip, to be sure. I had tons of things I had planned to do this year that just never happened. Eventually I will get around to collecting my Covid-related posts from Facebook and dumping them here, but not today.

This past weekend, What’s-His-Name and I drove out to Cedar Point with The Teenager to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Seemed appropriate, since the past twenty years have been quite the rollercoaster.

I’ve wanted to go back to Cedar Point for years now, but it hasn’t been in the plans because of one thing or another. Schedules don’t line up, or we have other plans, or we just don’t think of it when deciding on vacations. This year, we decided to do it, even with the pandemic, and it was fine. We stayed in the hotel on the Point and everything was clean and sanitized and people were wearing masks and doing distancing and all that jazz.

It was weird, going back there after so long. Twenty-six years ago, I spent the summer living and working at the park, and I was interested to see how much had changed. Turns out – LOTS of things had changed. All the old dorm buildings that we lived in were gone. Some rides were gone. Coasters were either taken down and replaced with something else or revamped into something new. It didn’t look the same at all, and I think I’m glad about that. My memories of “my” Cedar Point aren’t affected by the “new” Cedar Point where I spent the weekend.

I read somewhere that if someplace is truly “home” to you, you can see the layers. You can look at a building and you remember what used to be there and what was there before that and before that. That’s Cedar Point, for me. I grew up going there a bunch of times each summer, and then spent that summer working there – I could see the layers as we walked around, and it was a little bittersweet.

Midway Games (my section) was mostly closed due to the pandemic. That was a bummer, because I wanted to show The Teenager the games where I had worked and tell her the little secrets to winning them (hint: you usually can’t unless you’re very lucky. The only exceptions are things like the ones where you throw darts at a balloon or something. Everything else is not rigged, exactly, but definitely set up in favor of the house). She asked all weekend to hear stories of my time there and I told her as many could be decently told to a 14-year-old. Some stories will have to wait until she’s older.

We had a good time. We had to stand in line after line, but you always do, right? The weather was perfect, and the rides we did manage to get on were exactly what we wanted. The Raptor was still amazing after all these years (but showing its age, definitely). The GateKeeper (new in 2013) was outstanding, and I finally got to ride Millennium Force, which I have waited 20 years to do. I also rode the Gemini with The Teenager, and it was nice to do that because that’s the first “big coaster” I ever rode and it’s still awesome.

If this pandemic ever ends, we are planning to go back and not take 20 years to do it.

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