This Week

My sister’s condition has stabilized, but that’s neither good nor bad. 

The physicians still have no clue as to what’s going on, nor do they have any idea as to how to combat it.  All we can do is be still, pray, and wait.

I have faith that my sister will recover, but it’s not in my hands.  I know that whatever happens will – and has – occur(red) for a reason.  Still, it’s hard to be in a position of powerlessness.  So many questions, so many doubts.  What really frustrates me is that I’m being told that some of her problems were long-term issues.  We talked regularly, yet she never mentioned (or downplayed the seriousness of) these health issues.  It was like a bad movie where a family member learns that another member has been leading a secret, double life.  Worse, the physicians can’t seem to understand that she did not share this information with the rest of us.  Twice now, a doctor has asked for information on my sister’s prior health only to be met with blank stares, and he’s gotten mad at us for not knowing.  Gee, I guess it must be nice to know every frickin’ secret of every member of your special clan, bud.  The last physician’s glare almost earned him my personal attention, but I reasoned that it wouldn’t help my sister, and that I don’t look good in a county orange jumpsuit.  So I’ll behave.

This situation is similar to the situation I’ve previously discussed – the time my other sister was involved in a near-fatal car accident.  It’s almost identical – visiting the same hospital, traveling to their intensive care unit, donning protective clothing, and . . . standing around and feeling helpless.  Then there are the people – the people who genuinely want to help any way they can, and the people who just want some information to make themselves seem important.  Same stuff, different day, I guess.

Big difference is that last time, I was filled with anger, while this time I am not.  It could be the benefit of age and experience, but I think that I’m in a different place this time.  Sure, I wish my sister would wake up tomorrow, fit as a fiddle, but I’ve no illusions that she will.  She’s ill, and it’s going to take time – lots of time – and that was something I failed to take into consideration years ago.  This time, I’m prepared.

Just received another call and the consensus is that the physicians will step back and let the antibiotics do their thing.  That’s the best news (if you can call it that) that I’ve been given all week.

In other – more cheerful – news . . .

Our kitchen was finally completed two days ago.  The four-day job turned into eight, and by that point, we didn’t care anymore – we just wanted it to end.  The place looks nice, although it’ll be a while before I can show it to anyone: We’re sorting out what items will return to the hallowed halls of cuisine, and what items will end up on a Goodwill shelf.  I’m not being facetious, either; half of our home has looked like a scene from Extreme Hoarders for nearly two weeks now.

How’d we even acquire all of this junk?  Why didn’t someone make us stop?

Even after two days of washing dishes (and I’m sorry, but where did we get so many darn cups from?), we’re only 60% of the way through this quagmire, although I will pat myself on the back and note that almost all of the food has been placed in our new pantry/cabinet as neatly as possible.  Whether this outbreak of kitchen neatness will last beyond Saturday, however, is anyone’s guess. 

One of the things that’s surprised me was the amount of food that we’ve had to toss.  Good food – or it was once – that was on the old shelves long past their ‘best by’ dates.  I’m not talking about something that had a best by date of December 2016; I’m talking about cans that were best during George W. Bush’s first term.  (I’m not kidding, by the way.)  Funny part is that I can remember buying almost all of those items – components for meals that were never made, or projects that went belly up.  Foods that sounded good at first, but were quickly forgotten in the shuffle of our lives.  Not a lot of food, but then again, just one can is too much when it comes to tossing things away.

I know that I’ve mentioned this in postings before, but I really need to adopt a Buddhist view when it comes to food – to use what I have on hand.  I’m a decent cook, so I could probably do something with the stuff in my cabinets, but I’m going to make it a priority to actually do that from now on.

This coincides with the fact that I was FINALLY able to visit the VA for a medical “check up.”  Note the quotes, because it was less of a physical and more of a, “So, what’s been going on,” kind of meeting.  If you’ve never had to avail yourselves of the VA’s services, I should point out that once an appointment is made, a letter is sent, with all of the pertinent information (date, time, physician, etc.), and anything one needs to do in preparation for the visit.  Mine contained the usual info, but there was a glaring omission:  It said nothing about fasting or that blood work would be performed.  For a brief minute, there was happiness in my heart because I hate fasting more than I hate the needles.

As I said, the moment was brief.  This is not my first rodeo, so I know that even if the letter omits fasting, then my life would be oh-so-less stressful if I did.  So that’s what happened – I fasted from 10pm until my visit at 3:30pm the next day.  When I spoke with my physician and – surprise! – she told me that she’d be ordering blood and urine work, I hadn’t consumed anything (including water) in eighteen hours.  Worse, she wanted to monitor my heart, so that meant an impromptu EKG.  This bugged me because I was suddenly conscious that I’d failed to take “the doctor bath.”

You know what I’m talking about.  That bath (or shower) where you’re extra attentive to your body’s nooks and crannies to make sure you’re so clean that you sparkle.  You can afford to cut corners in a normal bath, but the “doctor bath” has to be meticulous and complete, because so much as one speck in the wrong spot and the world would know that you practiced bad hygiene.

At least that’s how my parents characterized it.  Throughout my childhood, whenever there was a possibility that I’d have to undress, my parents’ first thought was to remind me about the “doctor bath.”  For this appointment, however, I’d taken the normal bath – good, but there were still issues.  To wit: I don’t like lotions because they feel heavy on my skin, thus, the physician was greeted with some of the driest living flesh she’s ever seen. And I was more shocked that A) the room was slightly warmer than Antarctica, and B) the nurse practitioner giving me the EKG was so insistent that I lay on the ice-cold table sans shirt or covering.  I am not a tiny man, so I will admit that I was a bit reluctant to show off my ample Man-Gut.  But more to the point, once I lay on that table, my mind kept racing – Was I clean enough?  (That, and how can I ever thank Mom and Dad for giving me a life-time phobia of stripping at the doctor’s office?)  I was starting to panic when – boomthe test was over.  It took me longer to undo my shirts and place the little electrodes all over my non-chiseled physique than it did to run the EKG.  I reasoned that I’ll never see this nurse practitioner againthey do seem to disappear at the VA after I see them – but still.

I’ll have to read that letter more closely next time.



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