"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
dis-in-te-grate Function: verb
1 : to break or separate into constituent elements or parts
2 : to lose unity or integrity by or as if by breaking into parts
3 : what you don't want to happen to a major bone or joint in your body
(Sorry about the recent hiatus, we're back in the saddle again with lots to say!)
My son stood there grilling hot dogs, confidentally balanced. He had duct taped a foam drink "coozie" to his crutch, and the ever present beer was stuck in it.
My wife went inside to see the grandkids, and my son's hip collapsed into its unnatural position, and his expression showed the pain he was trying so hard to hide. We made small talk, he knew I would not pity him and that he could show how he was really feeling around me.
I knew it hurt. It hurt worse than I could imagine.
He is in his early thirties, and his hip was crumbling. Every step grated bone shards against bone shards, even with the crutches.
He worked with his wife as freelance window installers. Even in his present state, he was working. It was only recently that the hospital had found a way for him to get a hip replacement, and even that was dicey when one of the doctors told him he would have to wait until he was fifty.
Sorry, that just wasn't going to work. He needed help now.
One of his customers this weeks had come outside and looked at them, and said "Great. They sent me a girl and a cripple."
Amazing how people can be.
He turned the hot dogs.
"We'll be picking up the kids tomorrow night, and keeping them until you get out of the hospital."
"Thanks," he said.
The next day was Monday, and both kids wanted to go on to school while their dad had surgery. I thought that was odd, but it turned out to be the right choice.
We dropped off the kids and headed for the hospital. The surgery was being done at the Medical College of Virginia, which is supposedly one of the best in the state but is also an inner city hospital with all that entails. So, as we sat waiting in the lobby (they had given my son's wife a pager to let her know when the surgery was over) there was a seemingly endless stream of doctors, lots of medical students, and people with permanent bad hair days.
We had breakfast in the little fast food restaurant. We ordered three bagels with cream cheese and lox, three coffees, and it was $22.00. We made a note to pack bag lunches from then on.
Hour after hour passed. At one point the pager went off and we headed up to the surgery floor, only to get the message that the operation was still going on and everything was fine. We headed back to the lobby, where the three of us played with our palmtops and cell phones.
When two o'clock came, I went to get my grandson who would be the first to arrive home. They said they would call me if anything happened.
The first thing that happened was that I called them, since I had forgotten to get my keys from my wife. She met me halfway with them.
I picked up my grandson and headed back downtown. I began to call over and over again on my cell phone, but no answer. Oh well, maybe the hospital was blocking the signal.
We parked and headed inside. I looked around the lobby. Nobody. I headed for the information desk. They quickly pulled up a room number, and I headed for the elevator.
There was a huge crowd of people waiting for the lift. And all of them were part of the bad hair day group, and I swear one had just poured shampoo on her head and just let it harden. The smell of shampoo was stinging my eyes, and it was mixing with someone elses cheap perfume or something.
The lift opened, and the people packed like sardines got out. As the crush around me all tried to get on at the same time, including miss shampoo head, I grabbed my grandson and told him we would wait for the next elevator.
I pictured in my mind the next elevator showing up and only the two of us on it, and how he would admire my cunning in waiting.
Of course, that's not how it worked.
Even with six elevators, by the time another one arrived another crowd had formed. At least this one didn't have the aroma of the previous one, so we hopped on. Naturally, we went to the top floor, and the lift stopped at every single floor on the way.
We got out and I went looking for the room. Pretty soon we found it and my wife and my daughter in law were already in there.
Things were not good.
Apparently, no one had paged them, and they had found out the surgery was over and he was in a room just like I had. When they arrived, only a few minutes before me, he had been there an hour.
No doctor had spoken with the family, nothing.
They had set him up with a pain medication that was activated by him pressing a button. Problem was, they had set it for a very small dose and it wasn't working at all. So he had been there for an hour in excruciating pain.
Thirty minutes later, we finally got the pain med increased.
Thirty more minutes, increased it further. My wife left to go get our granddaughter. It turned out later that she forgot the parking ticket, and ended up paying ten dollars just to get out of the garage.
Thirty more minutes, and we talked the nurses into asking the doc for a different pain med. They promised they would. By the time they did, it would be yet another hour, and then the doseage would have to be increased on that one as well before it worked.
We finally headed home, exhausted, and went straight to bed since we were going to have to get up at a very early hour to get the kids to school, something we aren't used to.
The next day was a lot better. The doc had come in and said that things were perfect, the operation had gone well. That afternoon they started physical therapy, and had him up and walking on it (with a walker) up then down the hall.
On Wednesday, the plan was that more physical therapy would take place, then maybe he would get out on Thursday. He did so well that they sent him home Wednesday afternoon.
I drove him home from the hospital, gingerly picking my way down the downtown roads with their patchwork repairs until I got to the interstate with its better surface.
When we got to his house, he got out of my car without any help, climbed the stairs to his porch, went inside, and sat himself down in his favorite easy chair.
Home at last.
We gratefully left the kids, and went home to get some sleep of our own.
A Hospital is no place to be sick.
Samuel Goldwyn, US (Polish-born) movie producer (1882 - 1974)