Thursday, September 6, 2018

Life Happens - Keep Writing!

Waiting for surgery to finish.
So Ma D, my MIL, has been in a care home for most of the year. Things were chugging along fine until the beginning of July when her stomach became bloated and she felt sick. A trip to the doctor led to a trip to the emergency room. We arrived at three o'clock in the afternoon on a Saturday, to find out emergency meant a four hour wait, unless you're bleeding out. And, that's just to be assigned a bed. By the time the exam and tests were done and it was clear that this was at least an overnight stay, it was almost morning. Hospitals are not great for small children - there's one crying down the hall because of the threat of a needle. I feel bad for his fear but it's not so great at this end of the hall either. Emergency rooms are not good for confused elderly either. She's upset and I don't blame her. We can't leave until she's settled. Three thirty in the morning and she's finally sleeping. We sneak home for a few hours sleep and are back by 8:00 a.m. By noon we have the grim news - surgery. Nothing major but when you're elderly, every surgery can be major. Gall bladder needs to come out.

Four hours before surgery - I step out of her room for less than a minute and on my return there are crumbs on her gown. "What did you eat," I ask waiting for the worst.
"A cookie," she says with a smile.
I'm thinking, trying to figure out where she might have gotten a cookie and then I see the offending purse that goes everywhere with her. There's nothing much in it but apparently there was a cookie. Fortunately, after I fessed up to the surgeon, the surgery was still a go.

And so a week in the hospital, a week of days by her bedside and she's finally sent home - looking fine with a drain.

The drain. I know it's going to be a problem and less than a week later it is. She pulls it out. Although, that's not quite the story. We figure out later that she's clipped it neatly off, leaving a hunk of plastic still inside. Back at the emergency there's no indication that anything is still inside. Maybe infection and a round of antibiotics and another overnighter, will fix the problem we're told. It does for a few days. But the pain comes back - two more visits to the emergency, one by ambulance, and a second admission uncovers the culprit causing the  severe abdominal pain that comes and goes and for some reason, can't be easily detected. But the hunk of plastic roaming around her abdomen is finally caught. Now another surgery to remove it. Yes, sigh - this has been the month of July. I know every corner of the hospital, where to go to read quietly, where to find the best coffee, where to get a bit of fresh air - and... where to pull out a pen and paper and get writing the old fashioned way.

As the surgeon gives the green light and authorizes discharge, I smile and look forward to putting our hospital days behind us. But the surgeon isn't done, he asks Ma D what she thinks about being discharged. And, her response surprises me as she answers with a big smile:

"I'm quite comfortable. Maybe tomorrow."

Some stuff, you just can't make up.

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