Saturday, June 6, 2009


Back before we set off on this hospital adventure, I was mulling over what seems to be a recurring theme with me - balance. One thing that still stymies me is how young couples today can balance ambition, careers, marriage and parenthood. I know of one couple where the wife had dreamed of a certain career since she was knee-high to a duck, but it was one that required her to stay in one place. When she fell madly in love with a young man whose career required him to relocate on a regular basis, she tossed six years of private school education aside and settled in to be a full-time homemaker.

I know another young woman who does have some yearnings towards motherhood, but she has shoved them into a box, labeled it "ridiculous dreams", and locked it away in the recesses of her mind. She has devoted half her life to education and training in order to reach her career goals, and just doesn't see any possible way to balance motherhood with her demanding career.

For both of these women, life is an all-or-nothing proposition. At some point, they are bound to experience twinges of doubt, wondering about the path not taken, but they just don't see any alternative. I wish I could tell them otherwise. I wish I could say "Here, just follow my advice and you can have your cake and eat it too, and life will always be in perfect harmony," but as you well know, it doesn't work that way. There is no perfect solution for those with very high expectations.

I used to worry because I wasn't amibitious enough. I was never the type of person who could set her sights on a goal and put all else aside until that goal was achieved. Heck, I even have trouble picking sides in an argument, for I can usually see both points of view. Some call it being wishy-washy. I like to think of it as flexibility. I often wished that I could be more gung-ho, more stick-to-the-path, but now I realize that life is much easier for those of us who don't see everything as black or white, but more as an ever-blending color wheel of endless combinations and possibilities. We see no straight roads, only winding paths with many, many forks jutting off of them, and we realize that there is no such thing as perfection.

My children seem to be polar opposites in this regard. One tends to think in black and white - you are either right, or you are wrong. The other should probably have been named Gumby. I think the world needs both types. Where would we be without the Ghandis, Mother Teresas and MLKs to lead and inspire us, but what kind of mother would want their child to follow that path and suffer that kind of hardship? On the other hand, where would we be if we were all just happy-go-lucky, roll with the punches kind of people? Occasionally I find myself wishing that I could toss my kids together in a blender, whirl them around for a bit and let each rub off on the other just a tad. Not because I don't adore them exactly as they are, but just to give them each a wider array of weapons and tools to select from, on the journey ahead.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Obviously, John is on the mend. Know how I can tell? The last time I wrote anything non-hospital related in my journal was on May 26th, just before I loaded up the car to come to Houston. Since that point, I don't believe I've had even one thought that wasn't focused on John and his health. Suddenly, however, the outside world is beginning to elbow its way through to me. I've found myself wondering about the mail and bills that are piling up in our P.O. box back in Wimberley, the workmen who are anxious to finish up our water catchment system and get paid, the Romano beans that are languishing on the vine, unpicked and uneaten... We must be making some headway!

John had only two questions for Doc Klein on the day of his release: "When can Becky take me to see a movie?" and "When can she take me to Wimberley?" Yesterday we were able to cross number one off his list - seeing the movie UP and taking a nice little walk in the mall. The movie really caught us by surprise, being a strong testament to commited marriages and abiding love, and had us both grabbing the tissues in the first few minutes! Hopefully, by this time next week we will be crossing number two off the list. The doctor said John only needs to wait a week after getting out of the hospital before heading to Wimberley, but must be back in time for his two week check-up. The only caveat is that he must ride in the back seat - can't risk having an airbag hitting his chest full-force! If I place an order with Bountiful Sprout today, we should be there just in time for pick-up day next Wednesday. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Guess who got out of the hospital yesterday afternoon, is already pestering me to take him to see the movie UP, and will probably be allowed to go to Wimberley with me for a few days in about a week? Wonders never cease!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Although we came face to face with the dregs of humanity at the hospital, we also met quite a few who surely have earned their wings. It is this balance that always keeps me going, keeps me from giving up on the human race altogether.

The most amazing people weren't even the doctors and nurses, though some of those were truly wonderful. It was the people I camped out with in the Cardiac ICU for those four days, that made this whole experience worthwhile - the ones who had already been through the wringer before I even arrived, but who still took the time to show me the ropes when I wandered in looking lost and helpless... the ones who always made a point to ask how my husband was doing each time they saw me, and who seemed so happy for each improvement, despite the fact that their own loved ones were going steadily downhill... the ones who stood up and burst into spontaneous applause when they heard the nurse tell me to grab my things, for we were on our way upstairs! I can't even think about that, without choking up.

Monday, June 1, 2009


If I were recovering from heart surgery, the ICU is the last place I'd want to be. Oh, it's OK as long as you are totally knocked out, but you do not want to be there once you wake up.

When I arrived at 6:00 AM on Sunday, my husband had the desperate look of a sane person who had accidentally been locked away in a loony bin. It didn't take long for me to figure out why. Apparently it had been a very eventful weekend, and they had packed five or six patients into the small overflow room where John was, in the bowels of the hospital. Two of them were delirious, had yelled at the top of their lungs the live long night, and were doing their best to climb out of bed and yank off any equipment that was attached to them. One was a gentleman from Dubai, who spoke no English. The other was an elderly gentleman suffering from the results of a chemical bomb. Apparently his son had set off bug bombs all over his house while he and his wife were out of town, and they came back earlier than they were supposed to. It sounded as if there was then a shooting, to top it all off. Pretty exciting stuff, huh? But wait, there's more.

On Monday I expected to see John doing much better, since he finally had the nasty tubes out of his throat and could speak. Instead he seemed to be worse than ever, and hadn't slept a wink all night. "Were you in a lot of pain," I asked? "No, I was too frightened to close my eyes." "Frightened! What do you mean?" "I can't talk now. I'll tell you later."

* * *

There is a special room off of the ICU waiting area. It's called the "Family Room." I saw a couple of families using it, at different times, and thought "Lucky them. They're getting the VIP treatment!" I was wrong. Turns out that's actually the UN-lucky room... the bad news room... the you-don't-want-to-go-there room. Once I'd figured that out, my stomach clenched each time a nurse stepped out and called a name, then said "The doctor would like to speak with you." On Monday one of them called my name, but instead of asking me to step into "The Room", she said "Hurry, grab your stuff! They're taking your husband up to a room now." Jeez Lady. Pardon me while I go change my underwear!

The minute they had him settled in and had left us alone, John launched into the tale of the terrible night. It seems that Man From Dubai had yanked something loose from his leg, so they'd had to put a clamp on it, to hold an artery shut. A new patient was brought in, and his adult son apparently was offended by Dubai's continuous rantings in a foreign tongue, so he sauntered over and knocked the clamp loose, then started laughing! When everyone came running, the red-haired lady in the bed next to Dubai pointed to the bigot and said "He did it!" Security was called in, and they hauled Bigot and Wife away. But later they were released, and they came back, with a gun, and started threatening Red! A nurse somehow got ahold of the box with the gun, and the two were hauled off to jail. Then the patient they had been with started threatening the nurse, saying he was going to be waiting for her one night as she came into work, and they ended up hauling him off too!

When John finished his tale, I just sat there, flabbergasted. Could this really have happened? John seemed perfectly lucid, but what if he was having a reaction to his pain meds, and they were making him have paranoid hallucinations, the way they always did to his mom? I didn't want to hurt his feelings, by telling him I found this all a bit difficult to believe, so I just went along with him.

Later, I was coming back from the restroom when I happened to notice that Red was now in the room right next to John's. I poked my head in to say hi, and asked how she was doing. "Well, other than the fact that no one will answer my call button, and I haven't slept in 24 hours, I'm doing fine," she replied. "That's odd, John's having the exact same difficulties! By the way, he's told me some pretty crazy stories about what went on in ICU last night. I don't know whether to believe him, or to just chalk it up to morphine paranoia." "Believe it honey," she said. "That's not the morphine talking!"

So I ask you, can two people be having the same delusion simultaneously?


Man, have I got a hospital tale for you! Hopefully, I'll get a chance to blog it tonight. Stay tuned!