Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No. 331 – Love You To

Performer: The Beatles
Songwriter: George Harrison
Original Release: Revolver
Year: 1966
Definitive Version: None

When I picked up Mom for her lung surgery in September 1999, she was pretty shaken, and appropriately so. We had to be at Riverside Methodist Hospital at 6. I know I said 7 before, but I was wrong. The surgery was scheduled for 7, but we had to be at the hospital by 6 to begin the paperwork.

I was with Mom during the admission process, during which we filled out a Durable Power of Attorney and a Living Will. I got an eye opener when Mom was asked a series of health questions that she answered honestly. When asked how much she drank on average, Mom cooly responded, nine beers … per day.

Yikes! I couldn’t drink nine beers in a single day once let alone every day. (The one time I had that much was when I went out with Mike and Steve and paid a high price for that, as I mentioned.) My max burn was a six on poker nights.

Then it was time for Mom to prep for surgery and me to hunker down in the waiting room. The surgery was expected to last three hours plus recovery time, so I would be there the whole morning.

Other than listening to the Yellow Submarine Songtrack on my Discman, I don’t remember much about that morning. I couldn’t tell you now, for example, what I did to occupy my time in the waiting room. This was before I had a notebook computer, to say nothing of a smartphone. If I had to guess, I’d say it involved some baseball-card wantlist work on paper and reading a book or two. I’m pretty sure I got some breakfast at the hospital cafeteria.

However, I waited to make any calls to the family. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this already, but no one ever is awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night or early in the morning that delivers good news, with the possible exception of the arrival of a baby.

I let Scott and Jin sleep blissfully ignorant through the night, particularly given that Jin was three hours behind my time. Plus, when I would call, I’d already know the immediate outcome, so I wouldn’t have to call back. Debbie was up and in the know, so I called her just to give her a status report.

Sometime around 10, I got the word that Mom was out of surgery and in recovery. The early word was that everything went according to plan. I called Scott and Jin.

Needless to say—but I’ll say it anyway—they were as shocked to hear the news as I was when I heard it. But at least I was able to soften the blow by saying that the surgery was successful, the doctors got what they needed to get and Mom was expected to make a full recovery. Scott said he’d call Jack and Sally for me.

Finally, Mom was released from recovery and sent to her room for what was expected to be a three-day hospitalization. (You’d think losing half of a lung would involve a longer stay.) I was allowed up to see her, briefly, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Mom still was a bit whacked out, but she recognized me. I barely recognized her: She had about a dozen tubes sticking out of her back and looked like some human-robotic amalgamation as the workers moved her from the gurney to the bed. I told Mom I would be back to see her tomorrow.

When I got home, I called Horace at The Dispatch and told him what was going on. Then, I made my final executive decision of the day: I said I was coming in to work. It was Thursday after all, and I had to lay out BT.

He wondered whether I should do this, but I said I was fine. I left open the option that I would call in sick Friday, which is exactly what I did. After the whirlwind of the past 30 or so hours—getting the call from mom at about 9 p.m. the previous night, then being at the hospital first thing in the morning and working till 1 a.m. that night, I wasn’t fine. I was pretty whipped.

So much for being on vacation.

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