This has truly been a learning experience for me. I might cry at my daughter’s weddings, my grandkids’ births and my wife’s award ceremonies, but underneath that cuddly surface I tend to be a rather hard-boiled sort who prefers to shrug off pain, illness and setbacks.
But now, for the first time since the night after a tonsillectomy nearly 50 years ago, I am the patient, not the visitor in one of these joints. I have quickly learned how to raise my left arm for a blood pressure cuff and my right hand for a pulse-ox clip without waking up. I have learned that when they pump lasix (diuretics) in your IV port, you keep anyone you care about out of the path between your location and the restroom. (For those impressed by stats, I added up 2650 ml in the 3 hours after my last shot.)
Other lessons I have learned:
- All guests are welcome, but kids like my grandchildren, Lily Purdum and others of the elementary school age somehow bring the most cheer into the room.
- Never ask your son-in-law to smuggle in beer, nuts or hot links. Remember, they answer to their wife AND their mother-in-law.
- Phone visits are tolerable if you are more practical than ethical. If your caller launches into their own tales of medical woes after telling you to get well, just interrupt them and say, “Oops, it looks like they want to get some more samples for the lab.” It works.
- If you complain long and loud about the buffet restaurant early bird hours the kitchen maintains (cripes, my spaghetti and meat balls arrived at 4:30 today!) someone may listen and take pity on you. The other night my younger daughter brought leftovers from the Middle Eastern rice and marinated chicken breast dinner she had served to her mother that evening. So I ate a great “snack” at my normal dinner time.
- Most of a hospital visit involves absolutely nothing. No doctors, no nurses, no aides, no shots, no tests, no activity at all. If you don’t want to die of boredom, you better figure out quickly how to make an engaging use of your time. TV won’t cut it. Neither will solitaire (with cards or with bytes). Fortunately, as I was updating some friends on FaceBook, one of the ads reminded me of a book I’ve been wanting to read, a light-hearted humorous Janet Evanovich book. Then a Carl Hiassen comedy mystery came to mind as well. Those, along with some of the great music stored on the laptop my baby girl has loaned me will make the time go much better the next few days. If you can plan ahead, do so. If not, keep a list of light-hearted books you’ve wanted to read in your wallet … then send your Mom to the library. (I like using Mom because she used to volunteer there and they won’t have the heart to fine her if I return these late.)
I imagine there are more lessons to learn in the next day or so until they finally kick me loose from this place. I just hope one of them is to wait to post blogs about smuggling food (it did happen) and beer (I can only wish) until after I am paroled.