Thursday, June 26, 2014

Family and More Family

In my last post we had just gotten back from vacation in Holland, Mi.  I like to wait to post until we get back from our travels, so I'm not advertising when we are gone.

We got back on a Friday evening and took off again the very next morning for a 3 hour drive south past Indianapolis to meet our future Son-in-Laws family.  We have him and his two little girls as guests in our home regularly and our daughter also goes down to his family regularly.  This is the first time the two families actually met.

They had arranged a cook-out with the whole crew, which is a pretty much an every-Sunday-after-church thing anyway.  What a wonderful family!  Grandma, his Mom and her twin sister and their families, and a whole passel of little ones.  They pray before meals in a circle holding hands just like our family does.  Everyone pretty much looks after everyone else's kids just like our family did when the young ones were that age.  Family friends came in, fixed a plate, and introduced themselves just like our family.  They were warm, welcoming, and absolutely wonderful in every way.

Three hours is not a real long way to have your 'little girl' go, but it's not a casual drive either.  Knowing she will be a part of such a close extended family makes it a little easier to let her go.  She is already loved and will definitely be cared for.  We also got to see the place where the new family will live.  It's about a 5 minute drive from their place to where his Mom and Step-Dad live.

Sunday brought Worship, Sunday School, and some up-close and personal time with the brakes on my son's truck.  Monday and Tuesday were typical first week back at work after a vacation days, almost:  Not sure you want to be there and a stack of work to catch up on.  Wednesday, however, brought a call that my Mom was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance.  Other being quite dehydrated her condition made her quite ill, but was not life threatening.  She was treated well in the ER and admitted for a two night stay.  I stayed with her in the hospital the next day, trying to work via internet while looking after her.

I had an extended illness a couple years ago and ended up being off work for almost four months after a week in the hospital.  Much of that time I was either in bed or in a comfy chair.  I got so bored I wrote a daily email blog called "Musings from the Recliner".  It was a essentially a humorous bit that went over well with friends and family, and kept them all in touch.  I decided to do a couple of those from hospital while looking after Mom.  I'm including them, with comments, only lightly edited in this post:

The View from the Visitor Chair #1

Here I am (once again) sitting in the hospital with my Mom as the patient. 


The good news:  She’s doing much better than yesterday.  They’ve located the source of the infection and are treating it accordingly. She still in intensive care, but they’ve removed the isolation protocols.


The bad news: She’s going to be in another night.  I have all the medical power of attorney for her, so I kind of feel like I need to stick around.  I’ve found that unless a patient has an advocate with all the appropriate “powers” it’s hard to get answers and appropriate care.


The worse news (for you):  I just can’t help myself.  I’m going to subject you to another running email: “View from the Visitor’s Chair”.  You just can’t keep this stuff to yourself.


The ER: 

We’ll start with her visit to the ER.  She was in the ER for almost 5 hours before they admitted her and got her an Isolation Protocol Intensive Care room.  She was treated as promptly as it gets in an ER, and with caring and respect.  The family was all treated well also.  Not one thing to complain about.  The surprise:  We had a wonderful ER nurse.  In fact, we’ve know her for years.  She’s the vet tech that looks after our pets.  She’s the one who put down our cat and dog when their time came.  Apparently she works a couple of nights a week in the ER.  It took me few minutes to put her into the right context – I must admit it was a little weird.  One of the charms of a small town hospital, I suppose.  Still, all good.


The next morning…


The Discharge Lady:

Even though she’s not getting discharged today the discharge lady that arranges for home health care if required came in to talk.  Mom is generally in good health for an 85 year old lady, and is quite independent.  She still drives, lives on her own in the same farmhouse she’s lived for 54+ years.  She prides herself on still mowing her own lawn and will tell that anyone who might try to treat her like a frail old lady.  The discharge lady made that mistake and for her sins had to listen to the “I’m still independent” lecture.  Twice.  My Mom is a very considerate Christian lady and usually very quiet… usually.   Don’t make the ‘frail old lady’ mistake.


The Doc:

You forget how much ‘fun’ it is working with hospitals until you get back into doing it.   I asked yesterday when the doc makes rounds: “Oh, never before 10:00 and usually around 11:00”.  That’s a little unusual, but I took her word for it.  I get here at about 8:15 and he’s already come and gone.  And Mom doesn’t believe his diagnosis.  And after doing this with my Dad, I learned there is nothing to be gained by debating with the nurse on the doctor’s diagnosis.  I did try…  I did crash and burn…  He’s likely right, anyway.


The Room:

You also forget what a drag it is to do ‘work’ work from a hospital chair in the intensive care area.  When your Mom is watching "Let's make a Deal" ...  And she's pretty hard of hearing...   And her aids are at home...  And folks on the show are screaming like little girls...   And the nurses are doing their thing every 15 minutes or so.  My wife is here too, and I gave her the ‘comfy’ chair.  I have a metal folding chair with a spare blanket as a cushion.  Another part of the charm of a small town hospital, I suppose.   Chris says  “Focus, Mark.  Focus.”  Working on it, man.  De brought me a third cup of coffee.  I should be able to do something…


The View from the Visitor Chair #2

Sister in law brought Mom’s hearing aids in.  Those of you familiar with aids know there is sometimes a little piece of what looks like fishing line on the earpiece that acts as a sort of spring to keep the aid in place (mine has broken off, so I can’t show you).  Mom’s also broke off and she is concerned it won’t work without her ‘antenna’.  I tried to explain it’s not an antenna.  I don’t think she completely believes me, but at least the TV is not so loud.

With the TV turned down I can now hear at least three different ‘dingers’ going off demanding attention.  They’re not getting it, but they’re not giving up.  You have to admire that kind of persistence.  (Focus, Mark.  Focus.)


Perhaps the only TV show with more screaming than “Let’s Make a Deal” is “The Price is Right”.  Don’t these people have real lives?  I just don’t get it. 


The ER nurse being the Vet nurse (her husband is the Vet) has garnered some comments.  One of my brothers double-dog dared me yesterday to ask her if she handles the spaying/neutering duties for the hospital, too.  I was tempted, but decided to let that dog lie.



Mom’s done eating her lunch and is back in bed.  Time for De and I to find some chow…


Friend L:

The ER nurse is the Vet Nurse?

Yes, I guess you can’t make this stuff up. 

On the other hand, that has got to be fodder for a story to head off in a half dozen different directions.
…pulling out a dog biscuit instead of a lollypop for a good patient
…accidentally paging the vet instead of the chief resident
…asking if they (the patient’s escort) brought a leash – Well, that one may actually be a common request of many ER nurses for their less than stellar patients.

 and later...

You haven’t answered whether you earned a lollypop or dog biscuit from the nurse for your own good behavior

I chose to accept that her not planting her hospital sneakers into my posterior was reward enough.


Friend C: 
I triple dog dare you to ask the nurse!!!!!

By the man code, this must be done.  Look forward to hearing the outcome.


Unfortunately for all, she’s gone back the vet clinic with the 4 legged patients instead of the 2 legged variety.  Believe it or not, Angola has separated the two hospitals (you can’t both get your shots updated in the same place) so the opportunity has passed me by.  Bummer!  (whew!!)

Friend J
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your hospital events . . . I appreciate the humor, but please take care of yourself too!  I am glad your mom is doing better.  I will say prayers for her. 


Friend A

You missed your calling – you need to start writing a book.

Tomorrow bring a pad for your butt.

and later...

That’s my problem!!!!  I was unaware of the man code.  Is it in the CML directory? 

(CML stands for Command Media Library - It's our extensive,  often ridiculed, and sometimes ignored collection of standard operating procedures that cover even the most trivial tasks.- Mark)

Friend M

Oh you have to love small towns – versatile with animals and patients – just be cautious if you see a cow walking down the hall while you are still in the hospital….might want to leave at that point.


Mom is doing much better, is home with some help from the Home Health Care folks.  Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes.

Col. 1: 9-12


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