This was a "congratulations for busting out of ICU after 6 long nights" present.
Happy Friday and Happy 14th Birthday to Charlotte Meffe! She has a full and fun day lined up today, and I hope every moment is full of joy.
I am thrilled to report that after a 6 night stay in Surgical ICU, my mom was finally moved to a regular room today. I think the change of scenery is doing her well. Word on the street is she’ll be kicked out of this joint on Sunday and then Nurse Chuck will be in charge. God help us all.
So, my sister Susan got us all caught up on the comings and going at University Hospital’s Emergency Room on a Saturday night a few weeks ago (including the contents of my father’s pockets–which I have to tell you might be my favorite picture ever taken for this blog, tied only with the pictures in the Pancreas series when I was ambulance chasing Rob and out of gas). Did you catch the part where she said Mom went back to work the day after she was discharged? Correct. That is a fact. Susan and I want to make sure that you absolutely and completely understand that she works in this very building. As in, you walk through the hospital cafeteria and you are in Mom’s office.
Now I might need Susan for the next section of the story because I wasn’t in town for it, but let’s see what I can reconstruct based on e-mails and text messages. It might be fun to see technology at work. It’s even funnier to think that we used to all pick up the phone and call each other.
These text messages started on Sunday while she was still in the hospital.
Me: Where are you? What’s happening (I always feel left out)
MJ (She is still in the hospital): They are bringing food. Going to be released and keep the schedule for Thursday (the endoscopy). Could be severe upper intestinal spasm. In plain words I guess I am full of shit.
The next day MJ went to work and I remember talking to her after work and she said she was tired. Geez. Really Mom? I mean….you’d been a patient in the hospital less than 24 hours before….but I only teased her a little. The next day she sent out the following e-mail. Remember that my Mom works as an administrative assistant for the hospital surgery group and works closely with the surgeons.
First Susan checked in with Mom.
Susan: So how are you today? Did you get a decent night’s sleep? Don’t over-do.
And then Mom sends out this incredibly frustrating and vague e-mail.
You are never going to believe this………………..
And finally an hour later send this out:
OK….You will not believe this one…..One doc walked up to me about noon today and asked me how I was feeling. He started asking me lots of questions and wanted to know who I saw and what they did and what they were going to do. He asked me if I minded if he looked into this further. Next think I know, two others docs (our top Surgeons) were here and I had to go down to the conference room while they asked me lots more questions. They are looking into what is on my records. They want to examine me and I thought they were just going to throw me on the conference table in my work cloths and examine me right then and there. They are scheduling a Cat Scan tomorrow before I have my scope on Thursday because something about they need to see before I do this one test.
YOW……………………………I cannot believe this. I am sitting here shaking…………………
In a rare attempt to condense the story (I could get really bogged down in medical details here) I will tell you she had a bunch of tests done, that then required more tests and probably more tests after that. I was following as best as I could while being 500 miles away and purchasing a car.
Speaking of purchasing a car, when I was walking into the now-famous Manhasset Honda to pick up our new car, my phone rang. It was one of those moments where two people were talking to me at one time, I was trying to balance a backpack, a purse, a coffee and the phone and I was dressed to the nines because I was giving a speech at a college that night. When my phone rang and it was my Mom, frankly, I almost ignored it. Don’t judge me, we’ve all done it. But I didn’t ignore it, I answered. In a nut shell, she told me that she’d just been told she almost certainly had small bowel cancer and she didn’t want to tell my Dad.
I stepped out of the car place for a minute and talked her down. Knowing she was just sitting at her desk worried, scared, upset, and wanting to tell Dad, but not wanting to scare him, I called Dad really fast.
“Chuck.” I said when he picked up. “Mom is about to call you with some medical news and I want you to prepare yourself, okay? She’s afraid to tell you. In fact, why don’t you just call her. Call her right now. Don’t scare her by getting into all the things that can go wrong” (my Dad can catastrophize things).
He was firm with me. “Honey, I love your mother more than anything in the world. Whatever this is, we can handle it.”
Good boy. That’s the ticket.
I don’t know how the conversation went because I didn’t speak to anyone until much later (after my speech) and by that time my sister was over at Mom and Dad’s and they were having lengthy conversations with doctors and planning for the surgery. It was scheduled for a week later, Thursday, March 8th at 7:30am.
I booked a flight to Cincinnati departing March 8th at 6:30am, and while this isn’t about money, I will report in that plane tickets are stupidly expensive right now. Consider yourself warned. Anyhoo. I started lining things up, writing my zoo show, and trying to get a bajillion things done. The biggest bummer was that I was going to miss Charlotte’s confirmation at church, and so would my sister, who was set to be her sponsor. We arranged that Susan would still come for the confirmation and I would hold down the fort in Cincinnati (isn’t that the weirdest plan? But it made sense.) It all seemed to work and we started in the process of getting Mom ready for surgery. Which I have to say, wasn’t a big deal because she was remarkably calm. Maybe it’s because she works with all the people who were slicing her open, and knew they were dependent on her for so much (my Mom arranges and runs a lot of the surgery department). They were going to give her the very best of care because they need her back at work. Perfect.
The night before the surgery I was starting to pack and my phone rang. My sister said, “Okay don’t freak out, everything’s fine, but the surgery is cancelled. For now.”
And with that, I have to go to bed and am too tired to even put in pictures. We’ll finish this up next week. Have a great weekend!
(To read the next post in this series, go here)