Since I’ve rearranged the furniture in my office I’ve become that woman. I could run for mayor of Stowe Lane if ever the current mayor resigns, thankfully that is very unlikely. But Friday it was a good thing because my friend Henry, the neighborhood curmudgeon, came home from the hospital. He was scheduled for back surgery because he’s been in so much pain but an infection in his foot postponed it. I’ve been watching his decline for a few weeks, maybe months, and I cringe each time he gets in his car.
Every time an older person gets an infection I hold my breath, sepsis sneaks up on our seniors and they can’t fight back. Of course my mind goes directly to I wonder if he got this infection for a reason, the reason remains to be seen and there is a much greater power than me in control so I let it go. Doesn’t stop the situation from being so reminiscent of life with Thomas a decade ago. To this day I can’t help thinking a decision I made effected his outcome even though I’ve learned I don’t have that kind of power.
Henry didn’t want the ambulance to bring him home, there is this stubborn sense of pride that goes with nearly every one of these gentlemen of a certain age, and I’m guessing he is WW2 veteran vintage. So somehow his wife got him parked near the sidewalk and went in to get his walker while he was supposed to sit still. He began inching his way out of the car. I don’t have to tell you what happened, I don’t have to tell you how fast I ran, I don’t have to tell you that it was nearly the death of us both getting him up the sidewalk, two small flights of stairs and across a beautifully carpeted living room (in slippers) and hallway to the bathroom.
I am not the same person I was when I did this for Thomas, even though I remember how and use the correct positioning, my body is a decade older and I am not nearly as strong as I once was. I could feel it in my hip and my knees and my back practically carrying a 170 lb. man. I prayed very hard for the strength to hold on to him and me…apparently Thomas was watching over us both because we made it. Henry and his wife were both grateful despite the “accident” that had to be taken care of in the bathroom and then the walk to Henry’s favorite chair. Barbara asked for my number which I readily gave her but secretly hoped she wouldn’t have to use.
Back at my desk with the girls laying around me I’m going through emails and trying not to unleash a damn good and well deserved rant on a darling manager who has no idea that while he is playing big man on campus and acting like an immature smartass that there is a family on Stowe Lane trying to figure out how they are going to get through the afternoon. The profound dichotomy of priorities was astounding to me.
Of all the things I’ve learned this afternoon not the least of which is that I can’t keep either one of these men in my head or I will jump into fix mode and I am incapable of fixing certain things. My hunch, no I know like I know that the outcome for both of them may not be good whether I’m in it or not.
And so for Mr. GM “it’s just cars” and the faster he grows to understand that one fact the faster his potential as a human being will grow. He is well intended but lacks maturity. I fought the full moon to use silence as the better answer to the many emails…best for us both.
As for Henry, that I am his only friend on Stowe Lane brings me great joy, his recovery and return to his simple life of going to get his sandwich and clean his car each day will bring me greater joy. I remain cautiously optimistic for them both, reminiscences be damned.
But I am worried about my Lina she hasn’t been herself either lately. Just little things that could easily be explained by her tentative nature, until later on Friday they couldn’t be anymore. She didn’t eat. This sounds so random but for my Lina not to eat is cause for alarm. It simply has never happened.
One look at her gums and I knew we were in crisis so it was off to the vet we go. Thankfully, by calling the emergency number I was able to avoid going to the chaos of the Oradell Hospital emergency room. Instead she met me at the Ramsey hospital where there was no one in the building. I’m not sure after the day I’d already had that I was prepared for the next few hours but I learned that I am definitely the one you want speaking on your behalf in a crisis earlier thoughts of doubt about Thomas decisions abandoned.
Bleeding into her tummy could mean one of several things ranging from manageable to euthanasia. My Lina was very sick and here I thought she was mad about getting a bath that day. Think about how courageous this little girl was getting a bath while bleeding internally. My heart breaks for her courage. I’ll spare the rest of the gruesome conversation but suffice to say we had a plan (and an estimate of cost) to proceed with sonograms and ex-rays and confirmations of a mass in the spleen and pre-op underway. Phone calls made and friends by my side (which I normally don’t do but I’m learning) and we go in to see her before the procedure where she is laying on the table as if she were about to have her picture taken. She was so brave, not something she is known for, no crying no shaking just patient on the verge of serene…uncanny but I was grateful and at the same time frightened to death of the uncharacteristic demeanor is if it meant she already had one foot on the other side.
Muriel and I waited as only we could, in comfortable silence infused with fits of laughter and snippets of stories and waiting room nostalgia. It was hours, it was cold, and it was mind wandering madness.
God love that little girl she came through, which Martina (tucked at home praying in her just-like-her-grandmother-taught-her way) knew all along. Lina was so generous in recovery to open her eyes and raise her head at the sound of my voice that I felt like she would be alright at the very least out of danger for the moment. Thank you little one.
So Muriel took me home, in the pouring rain, to a glass of wine and Lina’s sister Toto who had never been without her. Toto was mad at me to begin with for having her nails clipped and her haircut but to come home without her sister just might be unforgivable. She wouldn’t come up on the bed; she did her business quickly and went right back to sit in my chair where she would return over and over after each imposition of eating or walking. She is in pain without her sister but she too is being brave. I think I’m being brave too but I was happy enough to just stay in my pajamas and withdraw with Toto all day on Saturday.
There have been tiny steady improvements over the last two days, she walked a few steps to see me for a few minutes Saturday morning which both thrilled me and broke my heart. She pooped, she ate some breakfast, her blood count improved which would mean avoiding a transfusion, and her heartbeat is more regulated. There are, however, the ever present biopsy results to await. BENIGN would be good God…OK? For both Lina and Toto’s sake. We hope to bring her home tomorrow. Stay tuned…