Tag: hospitalization

Coming Home: Goodbye room 108 and 107!

mom and Javier

(Mom being hugged by Javier, an awesome CNA who helped care for her for weeks. Saying goodbye at the emergency entrance with all her hospital swag behind him on a big cart)

My mom was admitted to Sutter Hospital on June 9th.  On July 9th she was released to come home.  She was in the hospital for 31 days.  In that time Tara made 56 visits to the hospital and I made about 42.

mom heading home

Tara drives mom home.  She has only seen real daylight and breathed fresh air once in the whole month.  She keeps commenting on how bright it is outside.

the plastic maiden 2

Goodbye Plastic Maiden!*

Sharons bouquet

Goodbye beautiful bouquet of flowers from Sharon E.’s garden!**

hospital halls

Goodbye hospital halls!  (For realz.  We hope we don’t see you again soon.)

Tara and Rosie 2

Hello baby Rosie and Tara and bright porch and Cherry Street and good food and family!

Hello life!

It’s been a long, tough, scary, painful, horrible roller coaster of a month.

Welcome home mums!

*Not really.  Tara insisted that mom bring it home with us and keep it in the shed “just in case”.

**Not really.  It had already died a few days before.

Back to Square One

reading life

Yesterday my mom had a second emergency surgery.

She was only in the ICU for one night.  They’ve already moved her to a regular room.

Her vitals are stable but her white blood cell count is really high.  I want to believe that the appearance that she’s moved through this second surgery better and faster than the first means she’s really truly going to be fine.  But we’ve already been through all of this.  She’s been in the hospital for 12 days now.  She will seem to be doing better and then – it gets worse.

Last night during her second emergency surgery I really thought we were going to lose her.

But today she’s full of her usual mischief trying to get us to give her water when she’s not allowed to have any yet and pulling out her nasogastric tube.  She is joking and feisty.  I want so bad to believe that this all means she is going to be just fine.

My meditation for today is this:

You’re not really out of the woods until you’re knee deep in the ocean. Be in the present.

I am trying to remain in the present as much as possible but it’s a roller coaster ride and sometimes my emotions can’t keep up with the changes and the facts.

I saw the nurse change my mom’s surgical wound today and I have to say that I was quite unprepared for how shocking it would look.  There is a long very deep vertical cut down my mom’s midsection.  I couldn’t look for very long.  I saw it empty and completely open and then I looked again as it was being packed with wet-to-dry dressing.  I’m not sorry I looked.  So many people go through surgeries that it’s quite common-place and easy to forget what a tremendously big deal it really is to slice a person open and rearrange things inside their bodies or to remove things or repair things and then create conditions in which those bodies can heal.  I will not soon forget what a body sliced open looks like and after watching my mom go through the healing process for almost two weeks only to end up back at square one I feel qualified to say that the human body and its capacity to endure and survive trauma is phenomenal.

At what point does a body give up?  When is it too much?  Why do some people come through impossible surgeries and beat the odds while others die after simple procedures?  There are too many factors to ever have one clear answer to that question.

The hardest thing with such a complicated medical situation as my mom is in right now is to know exactly what the best-case scenario is that we can hope for.  It’s not that clear.  The long term  ramifica-

And just like that I have left the present for speculation about the future.

Be in the present.

Right now my mom is hanging in there.

The Thing About Life

Sutter hallway

The thing about life is that it keeps on moving whether you’re ready or not.

The thing about life is that it’s messy and complicated and terrifying and it doesn’t slow down just because you can’t catch your breath.

I keep asking when my life will settle down into a calm daily rhythm in which we can just enjoy life without struggling with so many messy problems.  I’m having such a hard time accepting that this IS life.  This.  Right now.  Last year.  All the years full of major struggles and problems and disasters that keep on coming wave after wave.  All this struggle and turmoil and shifting and changing and pain?  This IS life.  I keep trying to tell myself that people don’t lead calm lives that sail smoothly from year to year without incident.  It’s what I desperately want, but it’s not reality.

On Sunday my mom went to the ER and ended up getting emergency surgery.  The details of what happened are hers to share or not share so forgive me for not telling you more.  I can say this: one more day without intervention and she would be dead.  She is not out of the woods yet.  My sister flew back from a work gig in Tennessee that she just started so that she can be near mom and help me out with the puppy.

And I quit my job.  My quitting was a choice I made to end a demoralizing waiting game that I’ve been in for over a month now.  Things are changing at my work and those changes don’t include me.  So I quit because my mom is in the hospital and the house situation is therefore slightly suspended and I have my mom’s puppy pissing and shitting everywhere and I need something – ONE THING – to be resolved in a humane and clear manner.  I asked to keep my position for two more months (not an unreasonable request under the circumstances of which I am not at liberty to disclose) but they want me gone by the end of this month.  It was a risk I took by quitting instead of waiting for events to unfold at their own torturous pace.  I don’t regret my decision though, I wish the circumstances were different.

For 4 1/2 years I’ve given 110% to my job which I enjoyed doing and to which I applied my strong work ethic and my team spirit.  And now it’s coming to an end.

So my mom is hallucinating and fighting infection in the hospital and her puppy is shitting and pissing everywhere and my sister has left a temp job she needed to come and be with us and take over the puppy because her big sister can’t fucking handle incontinent hyper needy babies of any kind and I have to find a job in 2 weeks to keep my whole life from falling to pieces.

You know what?  I will DO IT.  I will not let my life fall to pieces because I have my sister’s support right now and she has taken on the enormous task of teaching the puppy the joys of a well regulated clean(er) life* and I am an excellent employee with a fantastic work ethic and I have lots of skills and even if I have to apply them to an administrative job that pays crap – I know I can get a job.  Even in this bad job climate.  In fact – I got a phone interview with Evernote for a job I am PERFECT for and would have been unbelievably excited to take on but they aren’t interested in hiring off-site employees and I’m not interested in moving to Redwood City.  While that was a huge disappointment to me, it showed me my worth.  I got a phone interview with Evernote!!  I’m letting that be a boost in my morale when I’m  being swallowed up by a remorseless cloud of darkness.

I keep emerging from the cloud.  These are tough times.

Don’t ask me how I’m doing.  I’m doing horribly.  I’m pissed off at life.  I’m pissed off at everyone.  I’m pissed off about everything.  I’m pissed off at myself.

The thing about life is that you don’t get to choose the moments when you’re ready to deal with your mother being in precarious shape in the hospital.  You don’t get to choose when one opportunity ends and another begins.  I’m not the only one experiencing constant life upheaval.  We all experience it to varying degrees.  Life isn’t a calm quiet boat ride on still water.  I am not alone in this.  You experience this too.  All of you.  Beings we love get sick and die.  We have our own health to watch over and there are times we get sick.  The healthiest of us are not immune to sickness.  We lose jobs.  Our friends lose jobs.  Our spouses and family members lose jobs.  So I’m not alone on this creaky ship in the storm.  We’re all riding the waves.  Because life isn’t still.  It never stops moving and changing and shifting and rising and falling.

I know what life I want to be living.  I know what I want from it.  I want to be a career novelist who gardens and cooks and does fun experiments in homesteading and hangs out with my weird family.  That’s all.  I don’t need to make a lot of money – just enough.  I don’t need to  be famous, I just need enough people to want to read my books.  I don’t need a whole lot of stuff either.  I need a couple more pairs of shoes and I always need more jars, but I don’t need a lot else.  I don’t desire very many THINGS.

That’s not what my life IS.  I don’t see how my life can become what I want.  Right now I need a job, any job, and most likely I will no longer be able to work at home which means my special needs kid will be a latch-key kid with fewer of his needs being met.  I won’t have time to write any more.  I won’t have time to do any gardening but maintenance stuff like not letting stuff die.  I will cook just enough to keep us from eating out which we won’t be able to afford.  And any extra time I have I will need to give to my family.  My mom will need me more than ever.  I don’t see dreams blossoming in such circumstances.

But you never know.  At least, that’s what my sister says.  She says not to decide my dreams will never happen and not to give up on them.  She’s right, of course.  I can’t know what will happen and it’s important that I don’t shut out possibilities just  because I don’t see how they’re possible.

I’m angry that my life is changing in ways I don’t want.  I’m grieving over it as well.

The thing about life is that it will just keep coming at us until we reach our stop on the line.

I ask myself what I want from myself before I reach my stop and the answer is simple:

I want to look back and see that I never lost hope for more than a day.


*I think it’s important to note that my sister is not a dog person and has no experience dog training and yet she is reading all about it and she’s creating puppy boot-camp next door in my mom’s place and is doing an AWESOME job!!