Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Change is as Good as a Rest.

This past Saturday morning I wanted nothing more than to snuggle deeper into the covers and stay there. After a month of early rising and little sleep, I wanted to remain in my cocoon and hide from the world.

The very idea of rising to shower, dress and leave the house when there were no appointments to go to seemed like a punishment I didn’t deserve. But my daughter-in-law had put me on notice.

While we were all consumed with being at the hospital, she quietly took over the care and feeding of the troops, including the out-of-towners. And she paid special care and attention to my granddaughter.  We didn’t know what to tell her, she being only six. My first impulse was to protect her and tell her nothing. But how to explain the sudden disappearance of her beloved Pa?

My daughter-in-law handled it all, quietly and efficiently. So quietly and efficiently, I began to feel guilty. My son was a constant at my side, and took turns with me spending nights at the hospital, while his wife was left alone to carry the ball for the whole family.

I made a mental note to do something for her, someday, when I was not so tired, but she got ahead of me. She was taking me out to lunch and a massage she said. And though I reluctantly got out of bed and left the house that morning, leaving my son at home with his dad, I felt a little lighter by the time we made it to the corner a block away.

It turned out to be the right medicine for me. To move away, just far enough, just long enough to breathe free air.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch of specialty pizza with a lot of much-needed sangria. And afterwards we walked down blistering hot streets to the massage place. Even the boiling sun felt good.

The massage hurt, though I’d asked for light to medium pressure to be applied. Too many tense and knotted muscles in my back. Later when we compared notes, I found out that her massage had hurt too, for the same reason.

Nonetheless, it was a good experience. The dim lighting, the gentle, soothing voice of the masseuse and her otherwise healing touch, the sense of letting go and just allowing myself to be was something I hadn’t realized how much I needed until that moment.

Now I have something else to be grateful to her for. And I still need to come up with something to do for her.

Us, a few Mother's Days ago.

Us, a few Mother’s Days ago.

 

 

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The Man in my Vision

 

When I didn’t know if he was to live or die, he kept appearing to me.

Standing.

Not flat on his back in a hospital bed attached to alarming machinery, with snaking lines, twisted together like translucent spaghetti, connecting him to countless, beeping IV pumps. My brain could not accept. I was in a familiar place. A place I knew intimately. A place where one must act quickly, quickly.

I’d been there so many times. So many times.

But not in this way. Not in this way. Not when I could do nothing but sit. Sit and interpret all that was said. All that was not said. I heard those words the loudest. The ones not said.

And to muffle the sound of those unspoken words, the vision would come. I would see him standing in that way of his, one long leg forward, shoulders hunched in just a tad, shoulders wide from years of surfing. His hands by his side, one thumb caught in a pant’s pocket, the tilt of his head with that smile on his face, like he knew, he knew the sight he presented.

He would appear at all hours, day and night. When I least expected it, he’d be there. And I would compare the man in my vision to the man in the bed and my brain would recoil. No, that was not him. Not him. 

The him in the bed was unrecognizable. I didn’t know that person. I’d never met him before. He was a stranger, and yet, a stranger that belonged to me.

I didn’t know who the man in the bed would be when he woke up.

Or if he’d ever wake up.

If he’d ever stand.

Stand in that way.

Knowing who he was.

Who we were.

And so I welcomed the man, the man in my vision.

For he seemed to be there to deliver a message.

“I’m still in here.”

And that gave me peace.

 

 

The Long, Long Road

I thought I would have caved in by now, fallen in like a deflated souffle.

It’s been 25 days since our life radically changed in one split second, or perhaps it occurred over the course of many hours. Hard to tell, hard to know.

All I’m sure of is that the days we used to have are gone. Gone forever, or gone for a while, we don’t know.

His sister says to tell him, “Chin up.”

Oh, if it were only that simple. Simply a matter of will.

I worried about me. Once I stopped being consumed with worry about him, I remembered me. Twenty-four hours in, when I left the hospital for a shower and change, and a quick nap that never happened, I made the conscious decision to increase my prednisone.

I’d spent over a year weaning down, weaning off. And I did stop, for about a month, but then the old pains came knocking and I gave up. “I’m done,” I said to the nurse practitioner at my last rheumy visit. Done, done, done.

If a little prednisone is the difference between feeling good and feeling bad, then bring it on. I told her I was on one milligram, and would stay that way. She nodded, but I didn’t need anyone’s permission. My body, my life, my decision.

So that Sunday at home for the first time after his massive heart attack, after I knew that he’d made it through that first night, that first 24 hours, I told myself what to do to keep myself going.

I would increase my prednisone to five milligrams, five times what I was getting before. And I would stay on that dose indefinitely, for as long as it took, till my slow, self-plotted days resumed.

Right now my days are nonstop, nonstop, a whirlwind of medical appointments hither and tither. Nights that don’t include much sleep, or much rest. Nights that when I do sleep a little, I do so halfway, alert for any sound, any need.

And therefore, I find myself surprised that I’m feeling fine, physically. I am tired. I am exhausted at times, and I can’t think straight at other times, but that is normal. That is a normal reaction to such a crisis.     

As we proceed down this long and tortuous path toward recovery, I have to give thanks that at least one of us is feeling normal, and that so far I can still claim the fortitude to keep on traveling down that seemingly endless road.

This song keeps playing in my head, the mournful beat and the words:

You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

I watched you suffer, a dull, aching pain

Faith has been broken, tears must be cried

Let’s do some living, after we die