Tuesday, January 05, 2016

mary's ordeal

By now you all know that Mary has been going through a very difficult recovery after her gallbladder surgery. She is still in the hospital, now due to an infection that has lodged itself in there somewhere and is causing her considerable pain.
If any of you have gone through something like this, then you know the helpless feeling that beats down on you while you watch your loved one suffer. You know that you wouldn't hesitate to change places with her if that were only possible.
You want to attack anything that's related to her pain. You want to scream at the doctors who are obviously not doing what they are supposedly trained to do, that is cure her, or at least mitigate her suffering. When you visit her you see all the nurses busy with other patients and you want to shove them into her room because she deserves all the attention. And then you feel so terribly guilty when you get to walk out of the hospital, get in your car, and drive home to your comfortable existence, while the hurting, the pain and the despair continue unabated in that hospital room. It is hard not to rail at the God that we want to believe is beneficent and loving, and question why He allows this suffering to happen to so many.
In the past when we have been hit with some illness or other misfortune, we have always used the rationale, to make us feel better, that there is always someone out there in the world who is worse off than we are. But that only works for the minor setbacks that come along. This time we are so tuned in to our plight that thinking that there is someone else suffering doesn't help us to cope. I don't want to think that there is anyone else out there who is suffering worse than this. That seems too cruel to contemplate.
For me, coping with the realities of what we are going through, would be nearly impossible if I had to go it alone. I'm not whining or uttering woe is me. In the best of times I have some difficulty coping with the physicality of daily life due to my many skirmishes in the war against Parkinsons Disease. So when you pile on the unusual circumstances of a severe illness of a loved one and all the many changes that brings to bear on someone who requires a daily routine as a coping mechanism, you have someone who also needs a lot of care and attention. I am very fortunate to have friends and neighbors who have stepped up and lent a hand whenever I've needed it. There are times when I simply can't drive a car safely
and friends have generously hauled me around to where I needed to go. Every one I talk to has offered any kind of assistance I might need. Those people have saved me and helped me hold it together. But no one has done more to care for me and to help me to lead a normal life while all this is dragging me down than my daughter, Carrie.
Carrie showed up abruptly and quite unexpectedly last Tuesday with her 4 year old, Ezra in tow. We had expected a visit from her later in the summer, but because of her very busy and somewhat unusual lifestyle we didn't know exactly when that would be. One week she'll be home in Oakland with husband Jeremy, then she will be off to Princeton to do some research, then she will be in Africa doing field research for several weeks (with Ezra following in her wake and learning, learning, learning), then attending a conference of some sort somewhere, and then back home for a short while to recharge her batteries before the next round of activity. This past week she was supposed to be at a conference of some scientific sort in Atlanta, but she blew them off so that she could come here now when we most needed her help. And has she helped! We are most certainly the only people in the world who have a veterinarian research scientist with PhD playing housekeeper and nursemaid to her overwhelmed parents.
Carrie stepped right into the fray, got herself and Ezra settled in, organized and took inventory of the depleted pantry, bought a lot of what she claims is food, and pronounced that from now on she would see to it that I ate properly, took my meds on time on a regular schedule monitored by her, and that she would brook no arguments from me. So there! And she has acted as interpreter of much of the medical jargon and procedures that were thrown at us by haughty doctors who tended to talk down to us. All I have left to do while she is here is worry about Mary. And do my best to spoil Ezra and teach him naughty stuff that only a grandpa (or Papa as he calls me) can get away with.
Having my exceptionally bright, inquisitive, and endlessly curious four year old here has been an unexplainable joy. When he walked into Mary's hospital room that first time and surprised her, she nearly jumped out of bed to hug and squeeze him to make sure he was real and not fevered apparition. That was the first time in a long time that Mary looked happy. I can't wait to see that look on her face again. That will mean she really is getting better.

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