Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mel's Day

8:25 am - wake up to the sound of the house phone ringing. Take phone from Chris; accidentally hang up.

8:26 am - my cell phone rings. It's my father. My mother is in the hospital with severe abdominal pain. They live in a rural area, they went to the closest GOOD hospital which is on the outskirts of the Phoenix metroplex. 1 hour's drive for them, 30 minutes coming from the other direction for me. Would I please go check on her? Sure, of course. My dad mumbles something about having to work on an airplane, and hangs up. I recognize the signs of "Dad can't cope and therefore turns to his work" disorder, and determine that I'm probably going to have to handle the whole situation.

8:29 am - call hospital and get patched through to my mom's room. No answer. Dad hasn't completely gone to pieces though, so she's probably ok. Given the sketchy information that Dad gave me, I decide to go to the hospital and find out for myself.

9:30 am - having showered, dressed, done a few necessary household chores, and made my goddamn coffee (very necessary considering Chris's birthday party was last night) I finally leave for the hospital.

10:00 am - holy shit, there's a hospital there now. I used to live a mile and a half away, and that wasn't there two years ago. I guess all of the transplants to the outer edges of the suburbs increased the demand enough to warrant a real hospital there.

10:05 am - make it to my mom's room and find her alive and morhpined all to hell. No answers from the doctors yet, but she's stable and no longer in pain. She's happy to see me because she's BORED. I look around and determine that Dad was not thinking clearly - they brought nothing with her. I pull out the magazines and books I had brought to keep her distracted.

10:08 am - I start calling all of the pertinent family members, starting with Chris, and average one family member every 2 minutes. The only person I don't reach immediately is my brother Mark, who pre-screens his calls using the answering machine.

10:32 am - Mark calls back and keeps my mother on the phone for 8 minutes. His wife is home from the hospital with their 3 day old baby (their 4th child) and it doesn't look like our mom is coming to visit any time soon. Once back on the phone with me, Mark mentions that Dad is trying to call him.

10:41 am - realize that Dad is worse off than I thought if it finally occurred to him to call family members. About to call him when the nurse comes in and increases Mom's morphine drip.

10:51 am - call Dad back. He wants to know if there's any news yet. No news, no new tests. He goes back to work. I realize what time it is and that he should be in church. Dad's not-able-to-cope meter is fully pegged.

1:00 pm - after sticking around a few hours and determining that no tests will be forthcoming, and that my mom needs to rest, I decide to head home.

5:00 pm - I call to check on my mom. She's fine, she's trying to eat and the morphine is working. Now it's definite that tests will not be done until the morning, so they have no idea where the fluid in her abdomen is coming from. I think about going to visit her again, and then realize that she has morphine, people cooking for her, and nurses taking care of her every need. Dad can't ask her to come in to help him at the business. No one is bugging her, and it seems like I'm the only one who has figured out she has a phone in her room. This is the first real break she's had in decades. I tell her I'll be there in the morning instead.

5:03 pm - Dad calls me to find out what's going on. "Is she still sick?" "Yes, Dad." "Okay, I'm going back to work."

7:00 pm - have a gut feeling that Dad is probably worse off than I thought. Realize that bible study should be over by now. I call the hostess of the bible study (and queen church lady) and verify that yes indeed, he missed tonight's session. Not only that, but he did show up for church - for about 5 minutes, to tell everyone my mom was in the hospital. Then he was "off to work". Quickly extrapolate that he probably forgot to eat or do anything other than work. I am officially more worried about my father than my mother. I ask Mrs. Cain to check in on him and make sure he ate something; I'm pretty sure my mother will be in the hospital tomorrow night too. "It sounds like he needs our prayers just as much as your mom" she says. "Probably more" I reply. By the end of the call she's busy arranging a coalition of church ladies to make sure he gets fed. He'll probably gain ten pounds by the end of the week.