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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why Don't They Let Me Go Home, This Is The Worst Trip I've Ever Been On

Just got back from spending 3 1/2 hours with my Mom in a hospital room watching over an old man trying to breath - and according to her, today was a GOOD day.

I hadn't seen Dale for about three weeks, just after his final infusion treatment, and he looked like a wreck then; now, even though everyone assures me he's out of the woods and actually on-the-mend from the flu virus, he looks like he's aged 20 years. He's lost probaby 15 or 20 pounds, most of his hair has fallen out as an after-effect of the last round of chemo, and he can barely speak after having had a respirator tube stuck down his throat for more than a week. Still, like my Mom said, at least they've taken that out, along with the IV lines, and the catheter, and he is able to sit up, and even get out of bed with assistance. But, I can't help but wonder what he must have looked like three or four days prior, when the virus was still kicking through his system - "death warmed over" probably wouldn't have been an exaggeration.

Clearly, he isn't getting out of hospital in the next few days; my obviously unprofessional guess is he'll be in for at least another week, and then probably one more week in Seattle, just to make absolutely certain he's recouperating, before they clear him to go home. Naturally, everyone is disappointed, not the least of which being Dale himself. When my Mom just casually mentioned her brother and sister-in-law coming over to Seattle on Tuesday, he started choking up; and this is a guy who, in my experience at least, rarely drops that stereotypical adult-male stoicism.

And my Mom's been doing this as a daily routine for well over a week, not to mention the numerous hours and days spent sitting in various hospital treatment waiting rooms for more than three months now. I have to give her credit; although he's the one enduring the pain, the discomfort, and the humiliation of being able to do almost nothing for himself (I discreetly stepped out of the room when he asked to go to the bathroom, figuring that between my Mom and the nurse, it would be better to get out of their way, but mostly to at least give him whatever small amount of dignity I could, considering that two women - albeit one his wife, the other a medical professional - were standing over him all the while), but she's been right there the entire time, lending whatever support she can.

We finally left shortly before 2:00 p.m., when he was due for some sort of treatment. I didn't get the details, and Mom wasn't really sure about the purpose, but apparently it requires him to be put under some sort of an oxygen tent, and the doctors and nurses have to don self-contained resperator units, so it's something that entails a relatively high level of decontamination, considering we were already required to gown, glove, and mask up before entering the room. We stopped for a quick lunch before I dropped Mom off back at the hospice hotel. She looks pretty beat, probably from worrying and lack of sleep, but otherwise, she's optimistic. After all, they've already come through the worst part, and she assures me there has been significant progress made since Dale was admitted, so I just have to trust her on that count.

I told her I'd drive her back over to the hospital tomorrow. The shuttle doesn't run on the weekends, and she's been taking the cab back-and-forth, which really add up - I scolded just a little, since, I reminded her, I could easily have driven her over, if she needed. I'm hoping I'll be able to see a little of the improvement everyone else has been reporting, and I'll probably feel a lot better about the situation if I can get some first-hand verification.

We'll just have to wait and see.

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Posted byCOMTE on 3:37 PM

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