A nice warm sunny night after a hot muggy day. I haven’t been to Manhattan since June 6th when I saw the P J Harvey show. My plan was to leave work early and have dinner in the city. But the best laid plans of men often get dunked in the loo and tonight was no exception. First I should tell you about my busy week and the surreal events that transpired since last Friday as it has a picture to paint of my life and typical problems I face.
I got off work Friday last with great joy, I was off for two days and had plans to work in the garden and cook some meat on the grill on Saturday night, and that is just what I did. I spent Saturday cleaning out weeds and brush along “Le Petit Chemin” or the little path I’m building around my pool in an area that used to be very wild back when my garden vision was to live in an overgrown forest like a hobbit. My tastes changed with age and my cousins Chrissy’s serenity garden that was part of her anti-cancer therapy, inspired me to do more with my yard. Sadly, Chrissy lost her battle with cancer but her family continues to maintain her garden, it lives on so she does too in spirit.
I made a lot of progress, pruning, tieing up branches, cutting down a bunch of old half-dead shrubs and vines, and weeding too. I ran some errands and found myself happily sipping a rum and energy drink (a tasty way to take the edge off without losing energy) while eating anchovy stuffed olives while cooking steak and chicken. I was quite pleased with the work I’d done and admired the new rambling rose I got while I cooked. It was scrawny and half dead with disease when I bought it at the supermarket, but now it was happy and getting big with my care.
Mom came outside to watch me cook but soon went in, complaining of mosquitoes and to oversee the cooking of the roasted veggies in balsamic vinegar and olive oil we were having as a side dish, despite all that I was doing to destroy the population of mosquitoes with my zapper and spraying the garden with lemon water to repel them, Mom always gets stung.
That would lead to a chain of events that would result in a very hectic three days for me, but I didn’t know that yet. I should also explain that my Dad had taken himself to the doctor to find out he had a UTI and his heart rhythm was messed up despite his medication that he takes to keep it in sync. So with Dad on doctors orders to stay in and rest I had the grill and garden to myself.
We ate our meal and after goofing off for a few hours I watched “Saturday Night Live” with my Mom who was putting anti-itch cream on some skeeter bites and complaining about being hot and tired. I went to bed about midnight and the next morning I got up late. I was really cross with myself that I wasn’t up with the birds doing more work, but I was however really knackered from the previous days work anyway.
I couldn’t sit outside to have breakfast like I usually do in the summer months because it had rained overnight and everything was soaked, so I had cereal with banana with my Mom in the kitchen while Dad sat in the living room sick and unhappy and watching home improvement shows on TV.
By about nine o’clock my Mom said she felt like she had the Flu, she was weak, feverish and shivering on the inside, but… not cold. I was getting annoyed because I thought Mom was just being a hypochondriac, she does have a tendency (all her life) to imagine that she has every dread disease on the planet but I have to admit I was cranky, but when she showed me her leg I knew this was no joke.
I told her to get ready to got to the hospital, my Dad got all dressed to take her but I insisted he stay home, he was already sickish and would make it worse. So off Me and Mom went to the ER just down the road, thank goodness it’s so close…Mom feels really bad. The fear was this Swine Flu thing that is in the news every other day, and I didn’t know what to expect, I mean my imagination is already starting to run away a little.
We arrive at North Shore University Hospital at Plainview, an all too familiar place in recent years, between Mom, Dad, and my brother we had darkened it’s doors all too much for my liking but at least I knew my way around the place. I got Mom out at the ER and parked the car, then joined her in triage. The process was long and maddening, filling out papers, answering questions and waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, we moved to a second waiting room , then to an ER area where Mom was finally examined. There was an entire cadre of people who looked at my Mom, poking and prodding, collecting blood for tests, which was done again because the first time the sample was compromised because the lab was “backed-up” and spoiled the blood. My Mom couldn’t eat or drink anything until they knew what they were dealing with so it was water with ice for a while. So I ran outside and called Dad to let him know what was going on, even though I didn’t know a thing yet. Being hungry out of nervousness I walked to the cafeteria on the main lobby and scanned the offerings, no hot food unless you wanted a burger or a press sandwich, not really very good. Then I decided to go down to the employee cafeteria and find the food to be lacking there as well, so I settle on a coffee and a bran muffin, I’m not hungry…just keeping body and soul together because I need fuel. I can’t tell you how many times I had to oversee what’s happening to make sure everything is going OK.
They are pumping antibiotics into my Mom like there’s no tomorrow and she still hasn’t been seen by a doctor! We are worried about the Flu but still only have a vague idea whats wrong with Mom. Finally he doctor comes in and tells her she has cellulitis, caused by scratching the skeeter bites the previous day. Apparently the germs are right there on our skin, scratching just grabs then to the open wound and PRESTO your sick as a dog.
I mean you gotta see my Mom’s leg, it’s dark red and swollen and they admit her without hesitation, she will have to be on intravenous medication and fluids for at least two days.
We have been here now almost eight hours by the time she is in bed in her room, her roommate is a senile woman who is always cold, You gotta feel it, it’s like a blast furnace in here, my Mom is hot and so am I.
But I get her set up as comfortable as possible, order her dinner and wait for it, she has had nothing since breakfast, finally with a tear in my eye I leave her, I know she is scared and so am I, her condition is actually very serious.
The time is now 8:00 PM and I go home to fill my Dad and brother in and make dinner for Dad and myself, he often forgets to feed himself, so after cleaning up and watching a little of the Travel Channel, I take a call from Mom who already has a phone set up before I fall into bed unable to sleep knowing that if I don’t call into work, my Dad will defy doctors orders and run around like a nut trying to do too much. I guess it’s his nervous reaction to problems, cleaning like mad, fussing over small details, running to stores to pick up things we need or to bring to Mom, even though he was told to stay down and rest. So I lay in bed and worry and fall into a disturbed sleep.
When the alarm goes off in the morning, I feel as if I haven’t slept at all, I am spent and I call into my work, get dressed and go down and get a coffee going before washing up, Dad is already up fussing, nervous and making me more so, too many questions too early. We make up a possibles bag of things she wanted and a few things we thought she might need to bring with me when I go to see her today after nine o’clock. We put her slippers, magazines, makeup, etc into a bag and I leave to go to the several local places looking for a small portable fan to bring to her, it’s hot…I mean scorching so as I go across the parking lot to go into a CVS and find her a small battery operated fan. I find one with a water reservoir attached so she can spray her face and fan it whenever she needs to cool off, this is just what I need so I pay for it and go speeding off fighting the mid-morning traffic to see her. The parking lot is full and so are the streets surrounding the main parking lot, so I have no choice but to park Mom’s car on a side street well away from the hospital and walk in the heat. I am sweating buckets by the time I get to her room, and start fussing over her getting her cold water filling the fan with water and batteries so Mom can cool off and start asking questions about her condition and walking to the nurses station to talk to the staff and ask even more questions. This is what you have to do, you have to make sure the proper meds are being given, you have to insist that needs are met in a timely fashion. My grandmother was almost killed in the hospital when a nurse almost gave her a bag of blood for no reason! You gotta cover all the bases all the time, my Mom is a lousy patient for me but doesn’t want to “bother” the nurses.
This is the way it goes for the next two days , a blur of running to the hospital, foodstore, cooking, cleaning, making sure Dad is OK and doing what needs to be done as it occurs. In between all this I take a break and get a few shrubs and perennials and put them in the ground while I’m home and have the chance between visiting hours. I bring Dad to see Mom and after work my brother joins us, he brings a hand-held quiz game for Mom to play in bed. We try to make the best of it but she hates hospitals and wants to be home. So by Tuesday I’m totally “cream crackered” which is the English way to say exhausted, I want only to bring my Mom home. I’ve used the last two vacation days I had for the year and don’t want my Dad to have to bring her home tomorrow, he gets himself so nervous over things he will be a wreck and turn a simple trip into a military operation. The worst part is that at his age and with just a touch of Alzheimer’s, he can be very forgetful and also get very confused and my Mom is a very impatient person, this is a cocktail that can result in explosive arguments in the car just going to the store, and I don’t need a phone call at work saying Dad wrecked the car or worse, a call from the cops saying they both have been in an accident. My Dad already wrecked his own car in 2007 and almost killed my brother, all because he insisted on going out in the dark rainy night to pick up my brother instead of letting me do it, he sneaked out in defiance while I was getting out of my work clothes, even though he knows he has trouble seeing at night.
So on Tuesday with Dad suggesting over and over that he can do it, I sneak out and take her car and go to the hospital to get her and hopefully bring her home, she really can’t leave till the doctor sees her and no seems to know where he is, so we wait and wait. well, as you might have guessed this takes all day. I mean I ate breakfast with Mom and then lunch came and went and we still waited. Finally, the doctor shows up with a few scripts and gives her the green light to continue convalescing at home, although he really wants her to stay he agrees to let her out. The list of do’s and don’ts is extensive, elevate the leg, soak the leg, stay out of the sun for three days, wear long pants and insect repellant at all times after that, come back in a week to the office for a looksee of the leg and take all the medication till it’s finished.
We wait some more for the paperwork to be filled out and I pack up Mom’s stuff and take it out to the car, bringing the car to the parking lot from it’s far away location (again) to make it easier when we leave. Then after waiting for an orderly and a wheelchair we get to go down into the heat wave and I bring the car around and off we go homeward bound, of course the first thing Mom suggests as we pass the Old Country Creamery is a scoop of ice cream!
When we arrive home Dad has got the house on pins, he has the living room set up like her hospital,even though he was told to take it easy he does what he wants. But she will have to sleep downstairs because her leg hurts too much to walk upstairs. We settle Mom in and I go to the pharmacy and wait for her meds to be made up and then come home to make dinner, finding them bickering as soon as I walk in the door.
I guess it’s back to abnormal, which is normal for them, I don’t understand but I guess some couples love each other but don’t really like each other. Does that make any sense? …I’d rather be single than wind up like that, but maybe that’s better than being alone. I thank God that Mom is okay as I lay in bed so tired I can’t sleep, I think about work tomorrow and the concert on Thursday night and work again half a day on Saturday too. I’m gonna feel like someone whooped my ass by Sunday, oh wait a minute…I already do!