Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I had my third breakdown today

Since Mom's emergency surgery was -- as these things tend to be -- unplanned, I'm in Iowa on a Surprise! I'm Not Coming To Work work visa. I'd called my boss yesterday to tell her Mom was still struggling to do basic things like stand and walk and eat and ... um ... poop, and my boss told me to stay another day. I was going to hop in the car around 3:00 today to get to Chicago at a decent hour tonight so I could get some sleep and be bright and fresh at work for two days and then head back to Mom for the weekend. But my boss called me today at 1:00 when my dad and sister and I were in the hospital cafeteria and told me that since my mom was still in the hospital and my family obviously needed me that I should just stay the week and come back to work on Monday.

And right there, in front of my family and my on-the-phone boss and a cafeteria full of strangers and a plate of exceptionally good cake, I burst into tears. Or, more accurately, I burst into loud, gutteral sobs. And I couldn't contain myself.

And let the record show that my sister and dad laughed at me. Because apparently nothing's funnier than a guy who loves his mother.

Either Mom's brush with mortality has made me hyper-emotional or I'm going through The Change. And I don't mean the change in my pocket because I always give that to the kids. Because two quarters and a nickel are way more exciting to an 8-year-old than they are to a 39-year-old. But I haven't cried once since my last grandparent died in 1999 and here I've burst into out-of-control crying jags three times in three days. Which is NOT the stuff of action hero fantasy, I'm sorry to report to those of you who see me as a modern-day Don Knotts.

I've been practically living at the hospital since I got here Monday night so Mom isn't recovering alone and my dad and sister can have some time to deal with the real world. And Mom and I have done all kinds of fun things together in the hospital, like: get shots, ride to the X-ray room, talk to the nurses, applaud farts, keep her butt from poking out the back of her gown, and take long shuffly walks on the totally cool four-lane 1/16-mile walking track at the end of the hall. It circles the cardio rehab room, and it has to be one of the most brilliant additions to a hospital since throwaway underpants. In fact, everything about St. Luke's Hospital has been top-notch, from the nursing care to the cafeteria food to the walking track to the free laptop lending program with wireless Internet acccess that I just discovered. How cool is that? So I'm sitting here blogging from the comfort of the surgery recovery ward as my mom recovers from her surgery right next to me. Only probably not with all the comfort I'm enjoying. I do have to register two wee tiny little complaints about the hospital, though. First of all: the other patients. They all look sick. It's depressing. Second of all: the wall art. It's ... um ... uh ... let's just say it's not something you'd run back into a burning house to rescue. Probably because it manifests all the empirical beauty and artistic achievement of a Cliff Huxtable sweater. For example:
But since the bulk of it hangs on the walls of the walking track (part of which you can see at the bottom of the picture), it does motivate you to move faster so you don't have to spend too much time looking at it. And Mom's up to seven double-laps today, so the art should have her marathon-ready by October.

Unfortunately, for all its ugliness, it still hasn't made her poop. And what's the point of bad art if it doesn't move your bowels?

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