Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I slept most of the day, being exhausted from the events of the last 48 hours or so.

If you want a cheery, funny post, you won't find it here! Gird your loins, readers.

The big event occurred Thursday evening. My girlfriend Hilly and I were sitting down to some wine that evening, both ready for a long-overdue chat. We'd barely finished our first glass when the phone rang. It was Mom's assisted living facility informing me that Mom wanted to go the emergency room, as she was experiencing pain due to (sorry to tell you this) constipation. The facility felt it was a good idea too.

Now, everyone gets constipated occasionally, but with Mom's particular affliction and her current physical state, constipation could be serious. So I told the nurse I'd be up there in about 45 minutes to take her to the hospital. Hilly thankfully understood that our visit would have to be cut short. I walked Hilly to her car, got into my own vehicle and drove up to Mom's.

After letting myself into Mom's apartment, I found her in the bedroom shaving her legs.

"Mom. Why are you shaving your legs?"

"Because they're hairy," she said.

I remember my few visits to the emergency room over the years and I have got to tell you, the condition of my legs were of the least concern to me. More on those hideous stories in a future post.

So I went about the business of packing an overnight bag just in case the doctors wanted to keep her there for observation. Mom interjected various suggestions (i.e., commands) while I was packing the bag.

"No, not that. I want the robe instead", "Don't forget to put my makeup bag in there." Apparently she was ready for a very glamorous visit to the ER. "I need a glass of water," she commanded. As an afterthought, she said "Thanks."

"My nails are a mess," she commented after finishing her legs.

"Who gives a shit, Mom?"

"I DO. Put the nail polish remover in my purse. I can take off the polish on the way down," she commanded.

"No. No, you're not," I said, envisioning her spilling remover all over my front seat. "I'll do it. Jesus Christ, Mom," I said, frustrated. 'Is she in pain or not?' I thought to myself. I knew that to refuse her would bring her easy tears, leave me feeling guilty and forever regretting that I didn't take off the nail polish as she wished, I would think about manicures for weeks, dream about nails, obsess about my SELFISHNESS and what a rotten daughter I am. So I removed the polish.

After about an hour and a half, with the night still young (hooray), she was in my car, seatbelt on, overnight bag and wheelchair in the back. Off we went to the ER.

Check-in, triage, then the wait. Poor Mom, sitting there in her wheelchair, hunched over, uncomfortable, practically starving to death because she hadn't eaten in a day or so, but not too excited about a snack or any kind of sustenance because she felt nauseous. Me handing her kleenex, giving her sips of water from the water bottle, engaging in chit-chat. Both of us watching the incoming patients, some crying in pain. FINALLY, a room and a bed in the ER.

Then... more waiting. Xray tech arrives with a cotton cover-thingy. "She needs to put this on," he said. "She can leave on her underwear and socks." Then he disappeared. I wrangled Mom out of her clothes and into the thingy. Wait, wait, wait. A young man came in. "I'm the vampire," he said, holding up a needle and vials. "I'm going to take your blood." "This is where I turn away," I said. While he took Mom's blood, I watched the crappy local news with the sound turned off. Boy, we have some unattractive people anchoring the news in this town.

The Vampire bade us goodbye and we waited for xray man to return. After a long wait, he came in. "You done your urinalysis yet?" he asked. Mom and I looked at each other. "No-- we didn't know about that," I answered. Just then a nurse walked in. "She needs a urinalysis," xray man said to the nurse. "Yeah, well-- she's not my patient, so..." she reached into a cupboard for a urinalysis kit and threw it on the bed. "Here you go." Then she left.

Xray man said, "Okay. I'll do xrays after the urine test. I usually don't do it this way," he said, all confused that his little schedule had been messed up. "Well, thanks for being so patient," I said to him. He left, saying on his way out the door, "I'll be down the hall and check on you in a few minutes."

Clearly, a nurse wasn't going to help us with Mom's pee test. In fact, we hadn't even seen our nurse yet. "Okay, Mom. I guess we're on our own," I said grabbing the pee kit and getting her into her wheelchair. I wheeled her over the bathroom down the hall.

The next 25 minutes were a test of my patience. Halfway through our visit to the bathroom, there was a knock on the door. I cracked it and looked out. A crying, fat lady stood there with her husband. "Nope, sorry," I said coldly, closing and locking the door in their stunned faces.

Finally we got the specimen. I got Mom back to the room, where we waited for the xray guy. He showed up about 20 minutes later. "Okay, ready for your xrays?" he said, wheeling Mom down the hall. They were gone for about a half hour.

Back into the room she comes. We wait. The nurse finally ambled in after another 1/2 hour or so. "Hi, I'm Bitsy (or whatever her name was) and I'm your nurse tonight. The doctor will be in soon to talk about your tests."

The doctor, young and energetic, came in an hour later. "Well, you bloodwork is terrific, your urinalysis came back great and your xrays are super! I'm going to prescribe you a laxative and I don't think you'll be staying overnight tonight."

He disappeared through the doorway. I got Mom into her clothes and we waited. And waited. Entrez Bitsy.

"Great news! We'll be discharging you in a few minutes!" She disappeared. We wait and wait and wait. I go out into the hallway looking for Bitsy and found her talking to some other nurses at their station. "Bitsy, my Mom is fading fast. We need to get her out of here asap," I explained. "Oh! Okay! Her paperwork is right here." She grabs the papers and accompanies me to the room. She asked, "Is she dressed yet?" "Yes, she's dressed," I say, between clenched teeth.

Bitsy went over the discharge papers with us. She went over the laxative we were to get for Mom. I took Mom out to the valet parking and there we waited and waited and waited for the car. Mom into the car. Wheelchair in the back. Buckle in Mom. Drive her up to Stepford. Take out the wheelchair, Mom in the wheelchair, take her upstairs, go to find the nurse to inform her Mom's home, she needs to get Mom dressed for bed and she also needs her meds. I go back in to Mom's apartment, hug her goodbye, run down to the car, light up a ciggy, and look at my watch. It's 1:30 a.m.

Oh good. I'll get a whopping 3 hours of sleep tonight. I'm so glad the ER doctor prescribed that laxative, particularly after all this effort. It really made the do-it-yourself visit to the ER worth it.

So Mom's "fine", I guess, until her next fit of constipation and the Nazis at the nursing home make us take her to the ER.

So after working the next day then meeting friends out for beers Friday night, I got home at about midnight. Needless to say, I spent virtually the entire day in bed on Saturday. I did manage to get to the grocery store Saturday night, so I did do something productive.

I've told both of my sisters, "Honestly. If I ever get as sick as Mom, I'm offing myself. Don't feel surprised or anything-- I'll just do it and there'll be nothing you could have done or said, I'm just not going to go through what Mom's going through. I won't do it." This comment isn't met with any kind of happiness, of course-- I'm their baby sister! They'll miss me because they love me. But I'm telling you... I won't go through it.

1 comment:

The Scarlet Pervygirl said...

God, what a fecking nightmare. I'm so sorry--that's just shit for everybody.

Well, except for your mom. But that was kind of the whole problem to begin with.