Monday, October 10, 2011

Things I know while visiting my father in MCA hospital:

I know from “listening” to my father’s facial expressions:

Three hand squeezes means “I love you.”

A winking eye does not mean, as a nurse said, “your dad was flirting with us earlier!” but instead means he has something in his eye and please remove it.

Eyes wide and looking here and there means, “When am I getting out of here?”

Eyes to my watch, of course, “What time is it?”

Eyes wide, eyebrows up down together, look right left: "How long have I been here/What day is it?/When am I getting this tube out of my throat?"

Squinchy eyebrows drawn together, “What’s going on? What are they going to do?”

Moving feet/legs back and forth means, “Could you put a pillow under my legs?”

Mouth forming "W" . . . what/when/where/why - and I must figure out by asking.

Open mouth, close, open: Thirsty/mouth is so dry.

I know that . . .

I know that nurses work really incredibly hard. I know that most of the nurses I really like and respect, but there is one that I do not particularly care for, though I’d never tell her because why would I? But I carry that with me like a little nippy dog in my purse. I like and respect the doctors, save for one who patronizes me and thinks I’m not smart enough to know he’s an ass and I am the consummate Ass Spotter. I don't think I hide that nippy dog as well around him.

I know that no matter how germaphobic one can be or many times one washes one’s hands, and uses antibacterial lotion, and tries not to touch things, that sometimes people who visit the hospital feeling well will find themselves on the bathroom floor for nine hours sick as the clichéd dog while later the nurse says, “Oh, yeah, there’s a virus going around the hospital.”

There is a filled bed in the ICU one minute, and the next minute there are people sobbing, and the next minute the door to that room is closed, and the next day the bed is emptied and the sobbing people do not return and soon there is someone else in that bed with new people visiting.

Hospital cafeterias are not known for their healthy food—go figure.

Someone in the elevator can look at your worried face and when the elevator doors open, they say simply, “Good luck,” and you want to hug them.

Living out of a suitcase makes one feel as if they do not belong, even if they are staying with welcoming wonderful family, they feel a sense of intrusiveness, a sense of being in the way, an almost apologetic “sorry” across their features as they try to meld into the routines of the lives of those they love but rarely see.

Sometimes I feel whiny: I miss my bed. I miss GMR. I miss my dogs. I miss my mountain cove. I miss my singing creek. I miss writing my book. I miss the smell of fresh mountain air. I miss the trees waving at me. I miss my mountain cove walks. Then I get over my whining and go about the business of family.

Everyone else’s coffee tastes like shit.

My daddy didn’t look like himself until today, and that was when I looked at his forearms. Those were his forearms. And then I saw his face and it was again him.

A rainbow, just a tiny piece of one, bloomed between the breaks in the clouds and I pointed and said, “Look Daddy, a rainbow arcing right over your room, right over your bed.” He was asleep but I think he heard me.

There is tired. There is exhausted. Then there is Loved One Is Very Ill Fatigue, and that is a fatigue you know oh so very well once you’ve known it. It won't stand to be forgotten.

Whatever I am going through, there are people who have gone through so much worse for far longer and I have the utmost complete awed respect for them -- I can't say that emphatic enough.

To all of you - thank you, once again, for your thoughts and well wishes for my father. He is improving and we are hoping he'll have the intubation tube removed within a week, maybe soon as a few days. I told him how you all were pulling for him and sending such nice wishes and thoughts and prayers and all the ways you believe in. Thank you! I know I am erratic in coming around, but I think you all understand.


Angela Dove said...

Praying for you and your dad, Kat. And thank you for writing this. Your words build a bridge to others who have experienced this. While we are reading, we are all with you. I hope you feel us giving you a hug! (Sorry we haven't figured out how to give you good coffee.)

Angela Johnson said...

Beautiful. I smiled. I choked back a tear. I said a prayer. Peace to you and yours.

john bord said...

Keep the chin up, maintain the struggle and continue to be a strength for your father.

I have been reading your FB posts and watching this spot and pray for you and your father. So glad to hear there are some good signs showing in your father.

Keep the faith.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kat - I know and feel for you .. have been there and sometimes am still there .. it's not good and I feel so much for you and your father. With many many thoughts .. Hilary

michiko said...

I'm sorry to hear that your father is not well Kat,
I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers for your father and your family.

Carolyn V said...

You and your family are also in my prayers. You are well loved.

I hope your dad gets the tube out soon. I'm glad he is improving.

NCmountainwoman said...

I put a prayer card in church asking prayers for Kathryn's father. I figure God would know for whom we were praying.

How wonderful that you can now communicate. And I do agree about all the things you know as a hospital visitor.

There is one thing you must not be quiet about. If anyone approaches your father without washing his/her hands, gently remind them to do so. I would often tell my husband, "She will be right with you when she finishes washing her hands."

I've been on both sides of this situation, as an RN and as a visitor. I can assure you that being the visitor is the harder job by far.

Stephanie said...

Kathryn, I've been there with my own father. I remember the days of sitting next to him in ICU when he was intubated. So scary. So exhausting.

I've also been the one who was in ICU and intubated, and I want to let you know from a patient's POV that he appreciates your presence more than he'll ever be able to say. Also, just getting the tube removed will make lift his spirits and help him feel so much better.

And yes, he heard you when you told him about the rainbow. I was in and out of consciousness during my ICU stints, but even when I was "out", I often heard things my loved ones said to me.

Stephen Craig Rowe said...

Dear Kathryn, Hope your father continues to improve and that you stay strong. You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. As ever be well my dear friend

Terri Tiffany said...

I pray that soon he will be able to tell you about his needs in his own voice. It's hard living in a hospital,waiting. I used to want to cry for the families when I worked the ER. The staff is doing their jobs but the families have the hardest part.Hang in there!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Glad to hear there is progress. It's tough having a family member in the ICU. I continue to pray for you.

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh sweet lady, I am praying for you both. What a difficult time for you.
You still managed to make me laugh with your comment about that doctor, and how you can spot his type. ;-)
Take care and hugs.