Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Some things about the hospital.

1. No one, and I mean no one, can predict when the doctor is going to come around. 

Except for that 6:30 a.m. rounds thing.

2. I have eaten the same sad salad at the salad bar too many times.

Lettuce, kidney beans, mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers. Croutons, a few. Some sort of ranch-y dressing. What can I say? It is my go-to salad bar salad, and unless the salad bar is quite fancy, it'll do, or have to do.

3. Places I have spent a lot of time: 

The surgical waiting room. The CVICU. The Starbucks in the lobby. The cafeteria.

4. There is fairly reliable wireless. So you can "teach" from the hospital.

5. Your nurses are what you have going for you, most of the time.

Most of them are pretty awesome.

6. When things get unnerving, the whole gamut of medical professionals are an awesome team.

However, the minute there are a million specialists coming in and out of the room, you can have a bunch of different narratives of what is happening, and someone needs to be there to synthesize. And critically think. And generally to resist, even if for a few moments.

7. It would be amazing to be able to ward off their worst case scenarios. Like, with a shield or something.

I would tell you some of the scenarios spoken in certain ICU rooms, but you, dear reader, don't really need that. You really don't.

8.  The doctor will say things to you, but unless he writes it down, it's as if you made it up.

You know, when you try to tell it to a nurse later. Is it rude to say to the doctor, "So are you writing that down?"

Also, today, when we were trying to track down a chimerical order that was spoken but not written, one of our nurses said, "I'm gonna see if I can track down those CT desperadoes and get to the bottom of this."

9. I wish I could send a dozen roses to one of our nurses from the ICU. 

Because he was splendid.

10. In the cafeteria's favor, they do have Banbury Cross doughnuts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The best/worst. (medical edition)

a marble impression of the IV trolley.
1. the ICU. So much beeping. So many alarms! The IV contraption is Medean in its multi-stranded-ness. So many people coming in and out with medications and blood to draw and ideas about how
you should get up and walk. And the beds. So, so uncomfortable. YET: when they transfer you upstairs to the counterintuitively named "step down" unit, with its heavy solid door and its much more quiet, you kind of worry they've forgotten you. What about all the needs? what about the alarms that go off and nobody comes? In the ICU this never would happen.

a bunch of people who can describe part of the problem.
2. Specialists. The Social Worker. The Case Manager. The Physician's Assistant. The Anesthesiologist, both attending and resident. The ICU nurses. The Respiratory Therapist. The Dietician. The Hematologist. They all know so much! Yet not a soul of them can tell you, really, how's he doing. Except maybe...



THIS GUY.
3. The Surgeon. Who is the best. No, really: the best. He might be a hero, in fact. He comes in at
6:30 for rounds with the medical students or interns or residents or whatever they are, their tired yet young faces fixed on his. He says, "The Historian is a X-year-old man..." and then gives the historian's case history. There's a lot of interesting stuff there, what with the factors and the surgery and the developments and the ins and outs and what have yous. Then, he steps into your room for all of 45 seconds to say that, despite this or that serious GD big effing deal that is causing you to lose sleep and possibly be at the ICU at 6:30 in the GD a.m., the historian is nonetheless looking good. Looking good.

Okay then!

I love/hate this place.
4. The hospital. This is an entirely admirable hospital. It's publicly funded, and thus it takes Medicaid, which means that they take the sorriest, meanest cases, and do a damned good job of helping people get better. So when I say that the hospital is the worst, I only mean that I hate it. I mean, I hate/love it. I mean, I am so damned grateful for it, and yet still I hope that my days there are few and fewer, and that it won't be long at all before the historian is in good enough shape to leave it for good.

But not until the hospital finishes its healing work with him, of course. Not until then.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Open letter to this week.

Dear This Week,

I wish that you were not driving toward a serious medical event, but you are. There, I said it. I'm saying it in a blog post stroke open letter that means, in some weird way, that I am trying to talk about why everything, literally everything has felt so strange. Like one's life is living one, and not the other way around. Is it stranger to talk about it, or to keep it to myself? This is what I've been asking myself for weeks now. Just like, This Week, I have been planning you for many weeks before now--before This Week. Planning how to teach after This Week. How to withdraw from any but the most essential commitments. How to ask for help (how does one ask for help? I think I would know how to ask for help if I were, say, drowning, but for this? how?). I have been trying to manage everything including my feelings about you, This Week. Maybe it's easier to plan and schedule and work and cram meeting upon meeting than to grapple with the serious medical event that is the apex of your arc.

On Friday, more or less the end of you, This Week, I will be sitting in the waiting room of a hospital while my beloved is in surgery.

On Friday, I will not be alone, but I will feel so alone. I know I will, it's just how I'm made.

By about midday on Friday, I will know the meaning of the week, the arc toward which this narrative seems to have been inevitably tending. I, who by training know that there is no one story, rather many stories, feel threshed and chastened by the power of this story. Helpless, maybe, in its inexorability. Is this a fruitful way to think about one's life? I think not, but there I am: I am at the mercy of this story.

I hope that you will be merciful, this week. I am, in fact, praying for that mercy.

lisa b.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Never mind, I found it.

Tonight, right before we went out to take Bruiser for a walk, I received two nearly identical pairs of messages from students. The first went a little something like this:
"Dear Professor Megastore, I cannot find my assigned peer reviews! Where did you hide them from me, at the eleventh hour and three quarters? Why are you the kind of teacher that would hide something at the eleventh hour and fifty minutes from her students? Why are you so terrible? Also, can you help me?" 
And the second went like this:
"Uh, never mind, I found it."
It's actually kind of amusing--it's like the kind of teacher-story that the Universal Ministry of Educational Flack (UMEF) hands out every so often, so that teachers can regale one another (not to say one-up one another) over sandwiches or tea:
Professor one: (sipping tea and nibbling a biscuit) I had a student the other day who called me a wanker! In the class! Where everyone could hear! And I was being observed! For tenure!
Professor two: (taking a savage bite of his cookie) LUXURY! I had a student who threw sandwiches at me while insulting my teaching because he couldn't find his peer reviews, and then followed by a sheepish never mind!
--rinse, repeat, etcetera &c &c then there was no more tea and we all cried.

This pedagogical episode puts me in mind of every other different-yet-similar episode, wherein one person puts another person into a panic because the first person (are you with me? there are only two characters in the story, but neither of them has a name, because it's a generic story etc. &c you will simply have to pay closer attention!): one person (my son, say) puts another person (me, myself, moi) into a panic because the first person (son) can't find his, say, immunization records. And he's in China! and he wants to register for school! or something. So I turn up the entire house in its chaos, trying to remember where it was and then it always ends up with a never mind from person one, and that is, somehow, deeply amusing to me.

Here are some things, however, that I have not yet turned up, that I am really not amused about, and thus the universe stands, holding its breath, waiting for the sigh of a never mind to release us all from our panic:

1. this one poem draft that I remember as somehow having something brilliant in it but who really knows, because: poof. It is no more, and this was before the advent of the personal computer and files, etcetera &c the poem she is lost. (this happened a really really really long time ago. I think I better just get over it already.)
2. plenty of books, oh yeah. I just remembered a couple and I'm still kind of mad about them.
3. plenty of DVDs that people borrowed, I think, and then never returned, I'm pretty sure, although who can say, really. Maybe they're here in the "shelving system" that is really nothing but the Screwy Chaosimal System (say it aloud, you'll hear it) with no rhyme nor reason nor Findability Index that will work for a person with a working, data-organizing, normal-functioning brain. (also, I'm suddenly, and with exquisite embarrassment, remembering that I have in my possession certain DVDs that belong to other people that I had better return, pronto!)
4. two beautiful and inky pens that were (a) expensive and (b) given to me as cherished gifts from cherished people. Alas I believe I left them in a motel room in West Yellowstone, Montana, and lo they are no longer to be found.

But! it's 11:32 on a Sunday night and I have graded like a champ, done some subtle yet somehow critical reordering of my new manuscript, and it is almost bedtime, there is a lunch packed already, waiting for me in the refrigerator. Earlier, I helped my son make two casseroles that he intends to eat in limited installments until they are gone, and also I made corn salad! So all is well, order reigns, etcetera &c except for the fact that the DVR stopped recording before the last two minutes of tonight's The Good Wife episode--so we know only part of what happened to Cary Agos and we do not know which of the lawyers duking it out in the bond hearing prevailed in those last two minutes.

As my son says, tomorrow the episode will be on the internet ("I think if it's on the internet, it's legal"), and then we'll say (wait for it)...




Saturday, September 20, 2014

Things that are the worst: a short list.

Idiosyncratic, of course. Don't even bother arguing with me.

1. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court. And while we're at it,
2. the Citizen's United decision. And also,
3. the Hobby Lobby decision.

That's probably enough for the Supreme Court section of the The Worst list. Although I totally could go on. But I shall not. Instead, I shall move to the restaurant section.

4. the fact that my favorite Mexican food restaurant for several years running made a shrimp enchilada that was soggy, and now I must give that restaurant a rest while it gets its act together, I hope.
5. the fact that the good restaurants in my neck of the woods are thin on the ground, which means that sometimes we eat at chains, and mostly we just eat a lot of whatever's there. Also,
6. the fact that we ate so much Thai food for awhile that I've kind of had it with Thai food. Alas.
7. Applebee's.

Movie critic section:

8. the way certain movie critics just cannot stop being grouchy about Seth Rogen and Jason Segel and Judd Apatow. I mean, I get it, but for crying out loud, David Denby and A.O. Scott and David Edelstein: maybe just watch a massive personal film festival of your favorite heyday films and shut up about it?

Personal lifestyle:

9. the condition of my study.
10. the disorganization of my books.
11. there is tooooooo much food in my refrigerator, and, incongruously, it is hard to figure out something to make for dinner.

That is all for now. For now, that is all.


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