Sunday 3/13/16 about noon – Well, Bob was working in the front yard, trimming the hedge, when he came into the house, telling me he didn’t feel good. He started to feel worse, and said “I have to go lay down on the floor.” That is Bob-speak for “I am going to pass out” and I hustled to his side. He asked me to get his blood pressure machine, which had fallen to the floor and lost its batteries. With fumbling fingers I got the damn thing put back together and took his BP. As I recall it was something like 80/60. Far too low to be healthy. He laid himself down on the floor and told me he was having a heart attack and he told me to call 911. I didn’t need to be told twice. I called 911 and then I called Nick and told him, “Dad is having a heart attack and I need you here, NOW.” And Nick was there in minutes, in spite of the fact he had been sound asleep. Nick is always a stalwart source of strength for me during times like this. The paramedics arrived in what was probably record time but it surely seemed like slow motion to me. In all the movies the paramedics always run to the victim…I remember that I couldn’t fathom how it was possible that they were meandering up the front lawn while my husband was rolling around on the floor in pain.
I remember feeling panicked because The ‘Bug was at church and needed to be picked up but I didn’t know what to do because I knew I needed to stay with Bob. Then I remembered my friend Kari was on the church’s “pick-up” list. I didn’t want to bother her because I knew she had company that day but I didn’t feel like I had a choice. Well I needn’t have worried because she was simply awesome. She agreed to pick up The ‘Bug from church and we agreed that we wouldn’t tell her about Bob, just yet. We would just let her think she had finally earned the much coveted play date at Kari’s house that she has wanted for months. That plan worked, and thanks to Kari I had one less thing to worry about.
The paramedics started peppering me with a million questions and I am embarrassed to admit that I was the stereotypical useless emotional wife. Couldn’t remember a thing about his medications. I couldn’t find the list of his meds that we had so carefully prepared on my phone or his. I finally just handed the pill box to the paramedic and started trying to figure out what to pack and bring, because we were obviously on the way to the hospital. I wasn’t much good at that, either.
I asked the paramedics if I could ride with them but they said no, so, as they drove off in the ambulance, Nick and I took off and flew the Prius to the hospital. I mean I drove. Safely and sanely, of course. We may have beat the ambulance, but I’m not sure since they had to stop me and Nick at the emergency room entrance and do a security check. Again, it amazed me how many people were moving in slow motion. How. Long. Does. It. Take. To. Swipe. A. Metal. Detecting. Wand. Over. Two. People? I appreciated the security guard’s smile and the calm demeanor, and I even appreciated the need for the security, but if he didn’t hurry up and let me in to see my husband I was going to punch him in the face.
Finally they let me and Nick back to see Bob in the emergency room. Bob was still in excruciating pain, still having a heart attack, still, still, still! It was so hard for me to watch, but I knew it was a million times harder for him to endure. He is such a strong, brave, man, and to see him like this was an assault on my already raw emotions. There was a huge team of people working on him, and I know they were all doing wonderful things to try and save his life, but the pain… The pain he had to endure!
Eventually they took him back to the “cath lab”, and sent me and Nick off to wait in the waiting room. This is where we started the notification process, by texting friends and family. Wow, did they all rally! I asked people to pray, and to please text me and not call me and I promised in return that I would text them with updates. I am much better at texting than talking when I am trying hard to not be an emotional wreck. So thank you to all my friends and family who respected me on that wish.
While in the cath lab, they did an angioplasty procedure where they put tubes with balloons on the end into his clogged heart arteries to open them back up. They thought they had succeeded, and so they wrapped up the procedure. However, as they started to wheel him to the ICU to recover, it turns out his heart wasn’t done attacking, so he had to be turned around and taken back to the cath lab where he had just left!
I felt like we were playing “phone tag” with hospital rooms, because they would say he was ready and that we could see him, but then they would change their mind and say “The nurse needs more time to get him set up”. One time we got clear into the ICU and the nurse says “Well he was here, but then they turned around and took him somewhere. I don’t know where they took him!” She made a phone call and said something that was no information whatsoever (I don’t remember her exact words) and then pleasantly asked if we could please go back to the waiting room. This time they had to put in more stents (he already has four in his heart from his heart attack in 1999) and this time they also put in an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP), which was to help his heart keep beating even if it didn’t want to. Attack and counter attack…
While Nick and I were waiting in the waiting room, a Dr. Michael Koumjian found us and informed us that, while Bob was out of the current crisis, all of the main arteries in his heart were 99 and 100 percent blocked! He told us that he had been scheduled to do a QUADRUPLE BYPASS surgery on Bob sooner rather than later! WOW! The very pleasant doctor had been at a ball game with his son when he had been called into Bob’s emergency and he brought the son with him to the hospital. Even in my wrecked state I noticed that the boy, who was probably about 10 or 12 years old, was very well-mannered, and attentive, and polite when the doctor introduced us. First impressions count and both the doctor and his son left good first impressions. The doctor made me feel as though we were in competent hands. Dr. Koumjian said that even though he understood this was a personal crisis for us, that this surgery was routine to him, he had done many surgeries like this. He also said that he felt that there was a 97% chance that this surgery would be successful and Bob would probably be going home by Friday (Did I mention WOW???) but that if he didn’t have the surgery there was a 95% chance that he would die. Soon.
Hmmmm, let me ponder that decision for how long? Can you measure time in negative numbers?
While we were waiting for the team in the cath lab to finish doing their amazing work on Bob, I took Nick home in a flurry. Nick needed to get The ‘Bug from Kari’s house, and I needed to pack a few things to take back to the hospital. Nick and I agreed that it would probably be best if he explained the situation about Dad to The ‘Bug, since he was calm and I was pretty emotional. We figured that my emotion would translate into anxiety for her. But on the other hand we both agreed that it was important that she be told the truth. In all her few young years she has been lied to enough. She deserved to know what was going on. Not with drama and emotion, but with the calm and steady “It’s an emergency but he is in very good hands” kind of attitude. Nick pulled it off exceptionally well. The ‘Bug took it well, at first, but as usual it takes a while for her to process ideas, and by the time Nick was tucking her in bed the tears had started to fall. I told him to comfort her, and tell her Dad was in good hands. She told Nick that she had prayed for Dad while she was in bed.
I was finally let in to see him and he was in extreme pain, and looked to me like he was still having a heart attack. But he wasn’t, he was just reacting to some of the meds they gave him because his blood had pressure dropped too low. It only FELT like another heart attack. Relief? Relief that the amazingly competent medical staff were all over it and helped him get through that. At last, at last, he was comfortable. We talked a little, but mostly we just stayed together. I don’t know about him but I just wanted to be close. Close. I couldn’t get close enough.
As he recovered from that episode we learned that he was scheduled for a quadruple bypass in just a few hours, at 7:30 Monday morning! During the wee hours of the morning an “educating nurse” came in to educate us about the procedure Bob was about to undergo. While I listened, I was torn between the extreme emotions of horror, wonder, amazement, and spine-tingling fear that I could lose the other half of my soul. The technology was mind boggling. And, did I mention, horrifying? This was my husband they were talking about doing this to. First they saw his sternum open, they cut the entire ribcage apart. Then pry his ribcage open with I don’t know what and then they collapse his lungs. All with the purpose of allowing Dr. Koumjian access to Bob’s heart. They put his body on a bypass machine, and it pumped his body with his own oxygenated blood. They put him on a respiratory machine to breathe for him. Then his body was supported like that while the surgeon worked on his heart, using an artery that they “harvested” from his leg to reroute the blood flow around the 99 and 100% blockages in all 4 of the major arteries in his heart. You see dramatized stuff on TV but, to state the obvious, it just isn’t the same as when they are working on a real, live human…my human.
The surgeon worked for about 7 hours. Seven hours that seemed like 70, while I was waiting. Of course I had had no sleep. Of course I was anxious. Of course I was scared. Of course my mind kept jumping all over its exhausted self, flipping from all the emotional stuff, to the practical concerns of “What am I going to do if he dies? How am I going to tell The ‘Bug?”. Before surgery he said “If things ‘go south’, empty out my bank account.” I spent more time than I should have wondering if that was illegal. I wondered about a lot of stupid crap like that. Then my mind would morph to what it would be like after he came out of surgery. How would things have to change? One of the first concerns Bob voiced when he was out of pain was “This is going to screw up the adoption.” So I worried about that, too. I decided I wasn’t going to post this adventure on Facebook or any other social place until I knew what the outcome of his surgery would be, because I didn’t want the whole network of foster/adoptive social workers (some of whom are also “friends”) to “find out” he was having a heart attack. Like we had something to hide and feel guilty about! Compounding my horrific fear of losing my husband, was the fear that I was going to lose my daughter, too. After all those hoops and doctor exams and such we had to endure just to “qualify to be her parents”, was this going to be a giant disqualifier?
I am kind of an expert at worrying. On a normal day I wake up in the wee hours of the morning with a blank mind, and I will find myself checking the checklist of my life to try and find something to worry about. I hate that about me, but I confess, it is true. I am quite a proficient worrier, even though I know it is a useless waste of time. And I had quite a bit on my “worry plate” even before this catastrophe, because my business has been faltering, my business website was flat out BROKEN, as are my finances…blah, blah, blah…
I am also one who is VERY dependent on my beauty sleep. Okay, it may not work as far as the beauty aspect is concerned, but it helps keep my sanity out of the “in” box.
And there I was, in the hospital, with no sleep in over 24 hours, and a truly legitimate worry of my husband’s heart not working any more. Yes. Basket case. Emotions wrecked me. Exhaustion overtook me. I wandered around the hospital in a fog. I tried to sleep in my car. I tried to pray to God. A lot. I tried to eat in the cafeteria. I remember sitting in that same cafeteria, looking at all those people sitting at the tables around me, eating, conversing, even laughing! I was wondering how life could just go on, as though my very heart and soul wasn’t under the knife in the next room, teetering between a new beginning or an unthinkable end. I remember I took a bite into a maple donut and I choked. The emotions just fell out and I sobbed with that damn maple donut in my mouth. Must’ve been a pretty picture.
97% chance of success. Those words were what I tried to focus on. Tried. I think that it was the texting that got me through it all. It helped me to know that people were concerned and had rallied. It was good to have friends. Friends that couldn’t actually see what a wreck I was. Friends that I could text to, update, and keep up the guise that I was calm and in control. I wasn’t. I was numb. But I believe I kept it all together enough to text informatively to all of my concerned family and friends.
I finally found myself in the waiting room where I was supposed to be waiting. After several hours Dr. Koumjian came into the waiting room to tell me that the surgery had gone very well, but that Bob’s blood wasn’t clotting quite the way they wanted to, so they left him “open” while the doctor casually walked out to give me the update, and then casually check in on a couple other patients. I was of course tremendously relieved, to the point of almost turning into a blubbering idiot right then and there. I was mesmerized by the calm, cheerful demeanor of the surgeon, while simultaneously horrified by the vivid image my cruel imagination was painting for me, envisioning Bob laying unconscious on the table with his broken ribcage pried open and his heart visibly beating there in the center of his exposed chest while the doctor and each member of the team went off to take a little coffee and smoke break. I could almost see Bob all alone in a semi-darkened room, heart beating, beating, beating, exposed…ahh Stephen King would have been proud. At that point I was so tired and overwrought with emotion that I just shook the doctor’s hand and thanked him sincerely, and then I thanked God.
About 45 minutes later rumor has it that the doctor casually scrubbed in and closed Bob up. Apparently the blood started clotting like it was supposed to, so the doc put his ribcage back together and wired it up!
They brought him into the ICU to recover, and eventually let me in to be with him. He was still asleep, with tubes and monitors everywhere, coming out of his chest, his arms, and he had the breathing tube in his throat. The pre-operative spiel the nurse gave us warned us that the next 48 hours were going to be very difficult for Bob. He said Bob would feel like he had been hit by a truck. EVERYTHING was going to hurt. He also warned us that Bob would have to be awakened to be sure he was breathing on his own before they took out the breathing tube. They also said that he would HATE the breathing tube, and wake up very disoriented and not understand what was going on. I wanted to be there for that moment. It was important to me that he NEVER think he was alone. The idea of Bob being scared was horrible to me. That he be scared and feel alone? Intolerable.
The nurse that was in charge of Bob at that point was amazing. He was a well-muscled Latino man, short of stature, and decorated with a plethora of tattoos. He exuded an air of confidence and competence that made me feel like Bob was safe in his care. In an effort to help get Bob off of the respirator, another nurse was called in. He kept taking Bob’s blood, so I incorrectly assumed he was a phlebotomist. Bob always refers to phlebotomists as “vampires”, and this guy, by stark contrast to our main nurse, perfectly fit the role of a vampire. He was 6 foot 8 inches tall, very Caucasian, and very bald. To complete the “vampire” image, our phlebotomist had a thick Swedish accent. The only thing preventing this guy from being a vampire was his very pleasant demeanor and lack of fangs. It was surreal to watch these two. What a team they made, working together – short dark/tall white. Both obviously KNEW what they were doing. They worked together like a well-oiled machine, and Bob was their only priority, their only patient. I was so impressed.
As it turns out the vampire wasn’t a phlebotomist after all, but rather a respiratory therapist. He was checking the gasses in Bob’s blood to see if they could take him off the respirator. That was quite a process. They would tell the respirator to not “breathe” as often, to see if Bob could take a breath on his own, and he did. But when they would start to lower the IV sedative to wake him up so they could take out the breathing tube, Bob would start writhing in pain so much that they would have to turn the sedative back up. Bob was pretty looped, and would look at me through glassy eyes. I wouldn’t have even been sure he was really awake, except he would try to nod yes or no to the nurse’s questions, and he held my hand.
It took several attempts before they could finally pull out the breathing tube. It was 1:15 Tuesday morning. The surreal nursing duo brought me a recliner chair to sit in. For the most part Bob slept, but he was still in pain. It hurt him to breathe. They had told us to expect this, but that didn’t make it much easier. The nurse fiddled with his pain medication, finding the balance between complete sedation and tolerable pain. After more than 48 hours of virtually no sleep, I finally succumbed to exhaustion in that recliner. I remember waking up at one point and Bob was surround by nurses. More than just the amazing duo, there must have been at least 5 nurses in there. I heard them asking if he was in pain, on their constant 1 – 10 scale. “10” he croaked through his raw throat. The nurse asked “Only when you breathe deeply, right?” Bob replied “When I breathe at all.” I heard all this from the relative comfort of the recliner, and I felt like I should get up there and stand by his side, but then I just decided that I was too tired, and that all I would do was get in the way anyhow, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. Shows two things: 1) I felt confidence in the nursing staff (which is really saying something for me) and 2) my exhaustion was complete.
Within a few short hours, they actually had Bob sitting up in a chair! Again, we were told to expect this, but I could hardly believe it. Our Ace Nurse told us that if he didn’t get Bob upright before shift change he would get in trouble! Apparently it is extremely important to the breathing process. The photo pictured above was taken when he was in that chair. Just a few hours after surgery. Rather flabbergasting, right? It seems they had the pain medication dialed in perfectly.
In less than 24 hours, on Tuesday afternoon, they moved Bob out of the ICU and up to the 5th floor, where I guess all of their routine quadruple bypasses and other cardiac patients recuperated. The intensity of nursing care dropped immediately. Instead of Bob being their only patient, he was suddenly 1 of 4 that each nurse was responsible for. I won’t say the quality of care dropped, exactly, just the quantity. Instead of hovering over him every minute (like I prefer) they would only come in the room occasionally, or eventually if they were called. We learned that the only way to get the nurses to move QUICKLY is to set off the bed alarm. The one that goes off if a patient gets out of bed when they aren’t supposed to. That sets every nurse on the floor to running pretty impressively. We set that alarm off a couple of times during our stay…(by accident of course!)
When we were taken into Bob’s hospital room, I was immediately impressed by the size of the room, the fact that it had a couch (of sorts) and a recliner, and it even had a view! The room was set up for me to move into, and I did. I had no intention of leaving his side. In spite of the miracles that these medical professionals had just performed on my husband, saving his life, I am still basically untrusting of the medical community. I believe and will always believe that no one has my family at as high of a priority as I do. They may have more knowledge and skill than I do, but they don’t care as much. I felt it was my duty to be his advocate, and his body guard. I tried to watch and understand every single thing they did to him, every pill or IV that was administered. I asked a lot of questions, trying to understand what was happening, what they needed to do, and what I needed to do. I tried to keep THEM accountable, which is difficult because they think they know so much more than I do! Well, technically that is true, they DO know more than I do, but I was a quick study. When I was satisfied that all that could be done WAS being done, I was able to relax a little. But I was ever vigilant. I tried to be pleasant, and I would say that for the most part I was, but I wasn’t going to stand for any neglect of his care. In MY mind he was the only patient in that hospital that mattered. I know that’s not really true, but he was (and always will be) my priority.
It was quite interesting to ask the same questions of the different nurses. Some of the answers were consistent, to be sure, but some of them would give answers that were so different, as in…opposing…that you wonder if they both went to the same nursing school. One of the issues was pain medication. In fact, just about the biggest issue. Bob and I are, as a rule, not people to take drugs of any kind, legal or not. The idea of taking pain medication, especially in the amounts that they were dosing, was…umm…unappealing to us. We knew he would need some, of course, but both of us, especially Bob, wanted to wean off of them as soon as we could. And one nurse we spoke to agreed. In retrospect I don’t think she was an actual nurse but more of a lab tech. She was very sweet and comforting in her white coat, and said, “Of course if you need the pain medications, take them…but the sooner you get off of them the sooner you will get out of here.” Well, since that was our own personal philosophy already, we hung onto that advice like a sucker fish to an aquarium window. In spite of the fact that dozens of doctors and nurses (and well-educated friends) schooled us and spoke to us about the benefits of pain medication in this situation. They said that the most important thing for Bob to do right now is BREATHE, and breathe as deeply as possible, to prevent the very high risk of pneumonia. Apparently that is a high risk when you get your lungs collapsed. They gave him breathing “toys” to exercise with, and advised him to use them as often as possible. And he did. And he felt so good about it all that he asked them to not give him the pain medication. Cause that one lab tech told us we could get out of the hospital sooner if we could tough it out without the pain meds. And of course her knowledge and our philosophy outweighed all of the real nurses and doctors, right?
The pain medications work at a therapeutic level that takes time to build in your system, so we have learned. It also takes time to leave your system, when you ask for them to be stopped, as Bob did. And so he was feeling so good for the next day or so that he felt he had “escaped” the necessity for the pain drugs.
One side effect that we weren’t exactly expecting when they took him off the pain drugs was an immediate sense of AWAKE he suddenly felt. He had been asleep all day and when they stopped the pain meds he WOKE UP! He felt like it was 9:00 in the morning when it was actually 9:00 at night. He was restless and absolutely awake. We asked the nurse if maybe he could get something to help him sleep, and they said “Sure.” I was so tired that I fell asleep before they finally got him his sleeping pill. Suddenly, a few hours later, he sat up and started trying to maneuver his legs over the side of the bed. I was instantly awake and I asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take a walk.” says he, all sure of himself and determined.
“WHY?” said I, not at all sure of anything.
“Because I want to. Why not?” He seemed so lucid, so alert, I couldn’t help but wonder, myself, “why not?”
I glanced at the clock, it was 3:00. In the morning. “Because it is 3:00 in the morning!” I exclaimed. But still he was determined to get up. All I felt I could do was try to keep all of his dangling chest drainage tubes, his multiple IV lines, his external pacemaker, his heart monitor, and his very unsteady legs untangled as he proceeded to get himself out of bed! Thankfully his bed had the alarm turned on, and as his weight started to shift off the bed, the alarm sounded, and nurses came running from every direction. I backed up and let them take over, and they convinced him to get back in bed. As he was settling back down I asked the nurse, knowing and dreading the answer in my mind already, “What did you give him to sleep?”
“Ambien” came the answer that I suspected.
I hate Ambien. When my mother was in the throes of dying from cancer someone thought it would be smart to give her Ambien to help her sleep. My mother was weaker and in worse shape than Bob, definitely bed-bound. And she wasn’t in a hospital bed with an alarm, she was in a bed in her home. Alone. And just like it did with Bob, the Ambien gave my mother the feeling that she could walk, maybe even fly, and she got up out of bed. Reality took charge and she fell down and could not get up. She laid on a cold floor, injured, until my son found her in a crumpled heap the next morning. She lived through that, but not for much longer.
Later I was listening to one of those insipid ads on TV that advertises a drug, and they were advertising Ambien. Of course, under his breath, as quickly as possible so you can’t possibly understand what they are saying, the announcer lists off all of the known side effects, as must be required by law. This particular ad had those same side effects listed in fine print at the bottom of the ad. I paused the TV and looked at that list of side effects. Amongst other things were “May cause restlessness. May cause sleepwalking.”
Now, why in the HELL would they give a bed-bound patient, either my mother or Bob, a sleeping pill that is known to cause sleepwalking? I cannot begin to tell you how stupid I think that is.
After they got Bob back in bed, he was the closest he has ever come to being obnoxious. I asked him “Are you okay? How are you feeling?”
He responded with a somewhat curt “Pull up a piece of ground and sit down.”
I said, trying to lighten the mood “No more Ambien for you!”
He says, obnoxiously “I’m going to buy boxes of it and pass it out to all the miners in the desert! I feel great! Now go over there and sit down!”
So I went and sat down, and watched him from afar until he relaxed and fell back to sleep. My nocturnal friend texted me “He won’t remember any of this in the morning.” Luckily for Bob he was right! Bob had no recollection of any of it, except the part about thinking that it was 9am in the morning when it was actually 9pm at night.
When I relayed to the next shift of nurses and doctors what happened, everyone had a universally negative opinion of that medication. Pretty much reiterating my personal feelings of it. Question 1…Why was it given to my husband (or my mother)? and Question number 2…Why is it still on the market?
The next afternoon Bob started coughing. Have you ever coughed right after having your sternum sawed open and wired shut? Ya, me neither. But judging by the look on his face, it HURTS. They gave him a cute heart shaped pillow to hug when he needed to cough, “So,” they told him, “you won’t feel like your chest is going to explode.” He hugged that pillow more in those days than he has ever hugged me. I was starting to feel pangs of jealousy! The pressure of the pillow really did help somewhat with the pain of coughing. However, the coughing became more spasmodic, more frequent, more painful as afternoon turned into evening. At one point his coughing was so bad he was turning gray. I pushed the nurse’s call button but she was slow to respond. Phlegm became enemy number one. He coughed, he choked, he spit out mass amounts of phlegm, he coughed some more. He hugged his heart pillow and grimaced in pain. He was wracked with pain and, as far as I could tell, couldn’t breathe. The nurse didn’t seem overly concerned. She listened to his lungs and said they were clear. How could that possibly be? Where was all this phlegm coming from if not his lungs? I finally, for the first time, called in a friend of mine who is very knowledgeable in the field of medicine, because I just felt like Bob’s number 1 advocate needed a number 2 advocate. Bob was in distress and I was scared. The professionals didn’t seem to care. The nurse called the respiratory therapist to get them on their way, but she certainly didn’t put a rush on it. My friend, who was driving from 20 minutes away, beat the Respiratory Therapist by a margin.
Finally, my friend, all the nurses, and all the kings horses and all the kings men convinced Bob and I that all this coughing was all caused by the lack of pain medication. Exactly as they had warned us, schooled us, admonished us….the pain was too much to bear, if he expected to breathe. Breathe with those same lungs that had been forcibly collapsed, in that chest that had been sawn open and wired shut. It hurt him so much to breathe that he was taking too shallow of breaths for the respiratory system to do it’s job. Take the damn pain pill, Bob, personal philosophy be damned! And so he agreed. And I agreed. And the pain pills were given. And the nurse left.
But it did not get better! Remember that therapeutic level of pain meds I was telling you about, and how it takes time to reach that level? Well, it takes time, and he was still in excruciating pain, exhausted, coughing his lungs (and phlegm) out. I swear they took their time, after being called in a couple of times, and a shift change (different nurse) to suggest giving him some morphine on top of the regular pain pills to give him some immediate relief.
And it did.
And so we slept.
The next morning Bob felt better, but we were still shaken up a bit by the night before. We both agreed that we were scared for him to come home yet, even though they had been hinting that Saturday might be his release date. We agreed that if he started coughing like that at home that I would be calling 911 anyhow, so why risk it. Yes, Bob and I were both of the opinion that another day or two in the hospital would be a good idea.
Meanwhile, back at the home front, things were happening. I must take pause right here with a huge exclamation!
The entire time that Bob and I were completely wrapped up in his crisis, my family and friends rallied to keep my life at home going even when I was not in it. Nick stepped up to the parenting plate and took over responsibility for The ‘Bug, as if he’d been parenting his whole life. He kept her schedule pretty much the same, he didn’t let her get away with any shenanigans (well, not too many) and he kept her fed, safe and secure. She acted out a little here and there but he handled it with a sure confidence that kept her on an even keel. When she was upset or worried he was calm and comforting. Truly, I was impressed. He took to it like a duck to water. So much so that we had that difficult conversation of “If anything happens to me and Dad, would you please take The ‘Bug to raise?” and he said he would.
As most of you know, The ‘Bug is homeschooled, which is a huge, full-time responsibility. The entire week that we were gone, Ashleigh kept The ‘Bug completely caught up on all of her lessons. Ashleigh’s awesome husband, Eddy, put in some volunteer hours helping The ‘Bug with her schoolwork, too. Homeschooling The ‘Bug is not an easy task in the best of circumstances.
Normally while I homeschool The ‘Bug, Ashleigh, Blythe and Nick run the TK Preschool. They have been doing a fantastic job of that for this whole first semester while I worked with The ‘Bug’s homeschool. But with me missing in action Ashleigh took over all of the homeschooling responsibilities. While she did that, Blythe took over both her job and Ashleigh’s job, teaching the entire preschool class single-handedly. Then, to go above and beyond the call of duty, Ashleigh and Blythe even planned a great St. Patrick’s Day party for the kids.
While I was in the hospital it occurred to me that Bob’s bedroom was an unacceptable place for him to recover. The room was fully filled with a full-sized bed that was very high, and there was junk piled wall-to-wall. I felt a bit helpless because there was no way I was willing to leave my post as Bob’s body guard. So I imposed on my family once again. At my request Nick sent me photos of the room and I told him what I wanted removed (almost all of it) and he removed it. Sounds so simple but it was a huge task! While he was working on that I got Bob’s permission to use his credit card to buy a few things for the bedroom, like a single sized bed and a recliner. Because I can’t generally sleep on a flat bed (because it makes my shoulders hurt) I have gotten into the habit of sleeping on my reclining chair in the living room. Well, no more of that. I want to sleep in the same room as Bob so I can be near if he needs me. So I bought a cheap recliner and a great little bed. Nick cleaned the room out on Thursday. Friday morning a friend of mine (who happens to clean our house sometimes), re-arranged her schedule and squeezed in an emergency deep cleaning. Friday afternoon Amazon started delivering new furniture. Some assembly required. Nick assembled it into the wee hours of the morning.
All in all I have to say that Bob and I can’t express enough how appreciative we are towards these kind and generous people that we love and are proud to call our family. This crisis could have snowballed into an even bigger crisis without their hard work, support and loyalty. They rallied together to keep us functional, even when we were most assuredly NOT! And I also have to give a little hats off to our little ‘Bug. She was so strong, so well-behaved and she did a stellar job with her home-school-work. She is going to be an amazing addition to our family.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, like I said Bob and I had both agreed that we felt it was too soon for him to be coming home. When the doctor came in that Saturday morning we shared our concern with her, and she was surprised! She thought he was doing so well! But we relayed our concern over the horrid coughing he had been doing just a few hours before, and I explained to her that if he started that coughing again at home that I would be calling 911 and we would be right back in here. So she agreed to “revisit” the idea of discharge later in the afternoon.
When she said later afternoon I was imagining 3 or 4. And I desperately wanted to get home and do the final touches on the bedroom arrangement and get a shower. So I called Nick and asked him if she could bring The ‘Bug and come to the hospital and trade places with me so I could get home. He did, and I rushed out with ‘Bug to try to accomplish a few things.
The. Moment. I. Stepped. Out. Of. The. Room. the doctor reappeared and told Nick and Bob he was being released in two hours! Oh My Gosh. I was so frustrated. On my way home I texted my friend and told him how frustrated I was that they were rushing to let him out, and my friend met me at the house to help me throw the final touches on the room. Luckily there wasn’t much to do (thanks to Nick) so I basically turned around and rushed back to the hospital. I was so tired I’m sure I was more angry about being rushed than I needed to be, but there you go. I was angry.
But in the long run it turned out the doctor was correct. He was ready. We’ve been home several days now and he is recovering at a remarkable rate. I will write more on that later, but for now I will end this 7000 word blog so that you all might be able to finish reading it. And so I can get Bob off to the first of many doctor appointments.
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