Tag Archives: hospital

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Eight: Why am I like this?

It starts at Reception.

There I am, trying to ingratiate myself to a woman named Lavinia.  I am late for what I think is my pre op-physical appointment (but subsequently realize is pre-admission which is Not The Same). I am late because instead of going to the Ambulatory Care building for my 9 am appointment, I went to the main hospital approximately six city blocks away.

And I didn’t just go to the wrong building. No. Before I realized my error, I took a guess at which NYU color pathway to follow to which tower to the north-not-south elevators and went to the 4th floor. It was there that I finally thought to look at the calendar on my phone where I had conveniently noted the location of my appointment. Which was at the Ambulatory Care building, not the hospital.

I walked the six or so blocks to the right building, sweating in the heat and humidity as I hustled past morning midtown traffic and the busy entrance to the Queens-Midtown tunnel. Honking cars, whistling traffic cops and damp ol’ me. I searched my phone while I walked, trying to find the right phone number to call to apologize for my lateness and stupidity but my call log is full of various unsaved NYU Langone phone numbers..

When I arrived, twenty minutes after my appointment time, Lavinia smiled anyway which I took as encouragement to become a giant, ingratiating suck-up and try to make her laugh with my terrible adrenal mass gallows humor. I tell Lavinia that my surgeon has promised me six-pack abs once the mass is out so I’m not at all concerned about my surgery.

Soon Lavinia, who giggled at my efforts, has passed me along to her colleague to make my copay. I joke about never knowing if it will be $25 or $45, and ask her to rig things for the lesser amount given that my Flexible Spending Account dollars are a distant memory. I tell her how my recent hospital stay, after I was bitten by a scared kitten, produced a statement totaling $31k. My goal for the day was no five-figure hospital statements.

Baby cat 20160818_120116

Not the biter

“I was hospitalized FOR A FINGER!” I exclaimed in horror and embarrassment, and soon this woman whose name I didn’t catch is laughing hard and bringing her cat-loving colleague into our conversation to ooh and ahhhh over the kittens pictured in my phone who did not bite me in a way that led to my hospitalization. Continue reading

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Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Six: A Horrible Digression

So there I was, Marc Jacobs in one hand, orange urine collection jug in the other, when I decided some Kitten Therapy was in order.

Baby cats IMG_20160813_161452

Beyond the fact that I was feeling low in spite of efforts to shop my way out of my bad mood, it was hot as hell. PS9 is air-conditioned as well as on my way home from the spot where Uber Pool dropped me off. Stopping in for a visit seemed like an easy call. Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part One: I have an adrenal mass

This is kind of a long story, one that doesn’t yet have an ending so I am opting to break it into parts. Here is Part 1 of who knows how many.

I’m not a Broadway person (other than this really) but recently, I keep find myself rewriting the lyrics to that famous song from Rent.

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But instead of “minutes,” I’d say “blood tests, CT scans and doctor visits” because for the last two weeks, that has been my life.


Things were looking up, mostly.

I went on a fabulous vacation with friends. Though hard, I survived a year of sad anniversaries. I moved to a shiny new apartment and had a trip to Italy in my immediate future. Continue reading

My idle mind

My plane landed early at JFK Tuesday night, but a hiccup with the equipment meant that we didn’t disembark until well after 11 pm. While we waited for the tow, my mind wandered. My phone was dead. Without email, texts, Twitter and Words with Friends, my thoughts were all I had. And they quickly turned sad and dark.

There are a few memories about my father’s death that I have tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to tuck away somewhere unreachable. I try not to think about the heart-breaking ride from hospital to hospice. About how I knew that the end was coming, but felt trapped between not wanting him to die and wishing for the torturous in-between to be over. I remember how he had begun to change physically, no longer looking like the Dad I had known and loved every day of my life.

But what forced my emotions to surface Tuesday night was remembering what it felt like to sit with my head on Dad’s shoulder one last time. It was July 16, hours before he was moved to hospice. Dad had been in ICU for a while now – days? a week? It’s all a blur now – and subject to isolation protocol due to the fact that he had contracted several infections including pneumonia during his hospitalization. Each time Mom and I entered his room, we were required to don a fresh yellow paper gown and blue rubber gloves, all of which we would discard upon exiting. Each re-entry required fresh garb.

On that last day, I couldn’t take the gloves anymore. I tossed them aside as I pulled up a chair close to Dad’s bedside. My sweet mother worried for my safety, but I couldn’t be concerned about myself.

Dad was sedated but sitting up at forty-five degree angle. Carefully, given the monitors and tubes connected to him, I put my head on his shoulder. One of my hands held his while the other stroked his forearm, committing the feeling to memory as I knew it would be one of my last opportunities to touch his warm skin.

Dad’s shoulder, which I leaned on throughout my life both literally and figuratively, felt smaller than I remembered. As we sat there, I took in the feel of his bones against my cheek, thinking of the many times he lifted his arms to carry or hug me. I marveled at the strength within.

“My Daddy,” I thought to myself, like I was a little girl. Tears fell.

 

I heard the woman in the seat next to mine rustling in her purse.

“Would you like these?” she asked in a lightly accented voice (Czech, I subsequently learned), offering napkins for the tears that had begun falling from my tired eyes.

“Thanks. I’m ok,” I replied before adding “I lost my dad four months ago,” so she wouldn’t think I was mooning over something dumb. I care too much about what people think of me sometimes.

We talked. She was kind.

And then it was finally time to get off the stuffy plane, return home to Brooklyn for the first time in a week and hopefully let this aching heart of mine get some rest.

family

Lows and highs

“I’m so sorry to disturb you,” I said to the woman next to me.

“It’s ok. I wasn’t sleeping, I was just dreaming,” she replied as I stood to slip past her on the Philadelphia-bound train to visit Dad in the hospital.

I smiled. Across the aisle*, her elderly husband was full-on asleep, arms crossed and head bowed. He was older than his wife who had taken the lead in finding seats and then in ensuring his comfort.

Looking at them as a couple, I thought of my mother, fit and strong and ten years younger than my father. Growing up, I never thought of their age difference as a big deal. Now, Dad’s age and health conditions are yielding a lot of heartache.

I’m trying not to equate love with pain and loss. But right now, it’s so very hard. Someday everyone I love will be gone. I too will leave this earth someday. And because I don’t have the crutch of believing in heaven, these feelings are a heavy burden.

Dad’s condition is stable now, but eight days into this hospital stay, we have no sense of when he might be ready to go home. No independence for Dad this July 4th.


Rehoboth

I usually spend Independence Day with a family group in Rehoboth Beach. This year, there was an issue with the house we stay at so even if Dad were healthy, we were not going to be able to spend the holiday there together as is our tradition. Continue reading

Renting my brain to science

Candle
Paper
Sugar
Sandwich
Wagon

It’s the third time the neurologist has said the list aloud, asking me to repeat the words back to him. I get three words right the first two times and on the third, I remember four of the five.

‘Wagon’ eludes me. It isn’t on the tip of my tongue. I am not close to spitting out the word. I feel as if I am blindfolded in the woods, grasping in all directions for some sense of where I am. I couldn’t even guess what letter that fifth word starts with.

I can feel my brain contracting, pulsing and squeezing like a muscle as I try to jump through the cognitive hoops the medical and psychological professionals present to me.

On the forth round, I hit “sandwich” and then pause. It’s a long pause. I somehow find ‘wagon.’ None of the visualization techniques or mnemonics I would normally use to remember things are working.  Instead, I find wagon because I suddenly heard in my head the somewhat awkward way the doctor said the clunky word.

Wagon. Continue reading