Friday, January 29, 2016
A Week in a Quiet House
I was not meant to be quiet - not to behave quietly, myself, nor to live in a quiet place. As a rule, there's just Ron and me and the pets, but either he's watching CNN, or something on Netflix is blaring from his computer. Cheyenne barks to alert us that someone is walking by three blocks away, and the two tabbies are complaining that they've had the same meaty grille stuff in their bowls for three days and they're tired of it.
Everything changed last week. After a year of dealing with congestive heart failure and debilitating arthritis, Cheyenne went to be with all of our beloved pals waiting at the Rainbow Bridge. I still hear her beside me and behind me. Of course, she'll always be within me.
Three days later, I was helping Ron to the stairs to go to bed and he complained of muscle weakness and said he was 'going down.' So, already wrapped around him, I just held on and we sank to the carpet together. I called the Fire Dept. for an assist to get him up and they thought there was more wrong than just a worsening of his neuropathy. The ER found a raging UTI (Me: Why didn't you tell me? Certainly you felt it! Ron: I don't know. I never feel great so I didn't know anything was wrong!) and all those important levels of potassium, magnesium, and sodium were way, way down.
He was admitted.
I got home at 5:00 a.m. to absolute stillness. I put on the television for the noise and made a cup of tea, emailed the kids, and fell asleep. When I woke up there were two cats in my lap, the male, Stormy, looking into my eyes with a clearly questioning, "Where IS he?"
Fed the cats, watered the plants (I think they were fine, but with Cheyenne gone and Ron in the hospital, there was nothing to do.) and tried to gather a load of laundry, but there wasn't quite enough. I went back to the hospital. ( It's just half a mile away, so a good morning walk.)
I was astonished by how much hospitals have changed. In one area, the electronic take-over is amazing, and in regard to patient comfort, Columbia Memorial is part of the Planetree setup which is focused of truly making the patient feel at home. No more dictated mealtimes - the patient reads from a menu almost as long as Denny's and orders what he wants when he wants it. When Ron began to feel more like himself, he thought he was in pig heaven, until the voice at the other end of the line told him a diabetic could have only one egg, and not two; only half an order of hash browns, and under no circumstances would they bring him a mocha. He said he did feel like he was at home - the voice on the other end sounded a lot like me.
Ever the artist, Ron loved the parading through of sweet and pretty young women - nurses, aides, housekeeping. His doctor (a hospitalist - that's new for me and I have to look that up) is middle eastern with thick gorgeous black hair, beautiful black eyes, and cute black boots that were all I could see beneath the hospital coat. She seems also to be very caring and efficient. I asked Ron if he wanted me to bring him his sketchbook and pencils. He said no, that he was committing it all to memory,
His electrolytes are getting back in order, infection is gone, and the big test yesterday was whether or not he could walk with his walker and do the stairs. If he couldn't, we were looking at a couple of weeks of in-facility rehab. Our boys and son-in-law were trying to coordinate schedules to get together to build a downstairs bathroom, and patient care ordered a hospital bed for our dining room as we shift gears to make the house livable for Ron.
I hated the thought of a few more weeks alone in the quiet house. I could manage, of course, but, as I said, I'm not made for this. There's supposed to be a barking dog, kids passing through, Ron shouting over Netflix, "Could you get me . . . ?"
I wish you could have been there when Ron was given his first test. Brian, the physical therapis, sat on his haunches in front of Ron, sitting on the edge of the bed, and asked if he could kick. Brian ducked just in time to miss a kick to the jaw. His partner laughed hysterically. Brian put the walker in front of Ron and asked if he could pull himself to his feet. He was up before Brian finished the question. So, then, the big deal was the stairs. Even though Ron seemed to be doing well, if he couldn't do stairs, he couldn't go home. They took him to occupational therapy where they have steps and he aced it!
So, patient care cancelled the hospital bed, the downstairs bathroom will still be done but the urgency is relaxed, and I'm going to pick up Ron this morning. The house is still very quiet, but Ron will fix that. And one of my neighbors stopped by last night. She has two small dogs, and just a few months ago acquired a little white mix that had been her dad's. She said her dogs don't like the newcomer and are making her life difficult. Did we want another dog?
Of course, we do! I just have to get Ron settled in first. The dog's name is Claire. Will report on that later.
Have a great day, you beloved Heartwarmers and readers. By some miracle, my life continues to be a wonder. I attribute it to the Danish oak between my husband's ears.