Weirdness, interrupted


Yes, I know, it’s been a while. So sorry… I still love you, but have been simply too dang busy to even think about writing. Well, that’s not really true, I write in my head all the time. I’ve just been too tired to type it all in.

When I last left you, the roof was leaking, I’d made headway on the boxes and we’d hung some art, which makes me smile. D was about to fly away to another far-flung exotic locale to play with double helixes or something.

I figured I’d make even more headway while she’s gone. Silly me.

The morning after D left, her mother woke me up. She was really, really sick. Had been up all night, looked like an SUV ran her over, minus the tire prints on her back. Chills, aches. So I figured it was either the flu or an infection, which we’d been so zealously guarding against since the nasty little Dog Bite Incident.

She didn’t want to go somewhere new, where we’d have to fill out paperwork and medical histories again. You know how that sucks when you’re sick, trying to remember all of your meds, your past surgeries, your last splinter, the name of your third-grade boyfriend and your previous three addresses. So against my better judgment, we went back to the same suburban ER that treated her for the dog bite.

Add that to my ever-growing “Really Stupid Things I’ve Done Lately” list.

The ER doc came in and immediately swung into Mr. Cranky Pants mode. “You need to have your own doctor!” he says to Madge, who’s practically in a coma at this point. “You shouldn’t use the emergency room. Why you don’t have your own doctor?!? What am I going to do? I cannot call Internal Medicine and just get you a doctor!”

I slowly reached down and lifted my jaw up off of the floor. “OK, hold on a minute. First, she just moved here, and hasn’t had a chance to get her own doctor yet. Second, she’s really sick, and you shouldn’t be haranguing her like that. And third, you’re an EMERGENCY ROOM. You’re for really sick people. Now check her out and don’t make me put my angry eyes on!”

He rolled his eyes and started to leave. So I, having a medical background and knowing that at most hospitals you have to really look out for your loved ones, ask, of course, “What’s the plan?”

“The plan? The plan? The plan is to check her out. Is that OK with you?”

You’re kidding me. All of the ERs, in all the towns, in all the world, we walk into his? Here’s lookin’ at you, doc.

We snarled at each other, like those werewolves and vampires in that inexplicably popular movie series, and he left the room.

They took blood. Then a nurse came in, started an IV and hung a bag of saline because Madge is dehydrated. Soon we can go home, she says. I looked at Madge, who’s kind of lying on the little ER gurney bed looking all battered and weak, like a jellyfish washed up on the beach after a tropical storm. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere for a while,” I say.

Soon the nurse came back in, a little abashed. Turns out her white count was over 18,000, which is a pretty icky number. She had a raging infection of some sort. So they hung a little bag of Levaquin, told us she’ll get some pills and, again, can go home soon.

Skeptical Me: “That’s it? You’re kidding. Can you not see how bad she feels? That white count is really high.”

Nurse Ratched: “Well, that’s what Dr. Cranky Pants wants to do.”

Skeptical Me: “That’s not gonna be enough. Can you send Dr. Cranky Pants back in to talk to me?”

Nurse Ratched: “He’s the only one working today. I don’t know when he can get back.”

(Note: Any ER where there’s only one physician working ALL DAY LONG should be avoided, much like the plague, reruns of “Three’s Company” and green-tinged, four-day-old “Manager’s Special” pork chops.)

Skeptical Me: “Well, she feels really hot to me, and she’s all flushed. Please take her temp before we leave.”

Nurse Ratched: (Sigh.)

In a little cartoon bubble that popped up above her head, I read her thoughts, which went something like this: “Geez why do I always get the people who are so demanding and won’t just do what we tell them and now I have to go get a thermometer just because this pushy little woman thinks she knows more about medicine than me, who’s worked at this fine facility for five whole months now, and Dr. Cranky Pants, who’s got a medical degree from the Lower Busby Island Medical School on the lovely island of Nauru? Doesn’t she realize that we are professionals and she just needs to take this woman home and put her to bed geez oh geez.”

I wonder if she could read the cartoon bubble that popped up over my head just then. I hope so.

She came back, stuck the thermometer on Madge and then turned kinda sickly green-looking, like four-day-old “Manager’s Special” pork chops. “Uh, I’ll be right back,” she said.

I peeked at the thermo. Madge’s temp was 103.4. That’s just a smidge high, like close to the level when your brain starts to bake and your kidneys shrivel up and quit making pee. (These are technical medical terms, because I work in a hospital.)

Dr. Cranky Pants, while not brave enough to come back into the room, was at least smart enough to admit her, hang new bags of much stronger antibiotics, and call a hospitalist. I also asked for an Infectious Disease consult, because this was obviously a bug she’d picked up because of the antibiotics she’d been on from the dog bite. Our best guess was c. difficile, which usually won’t kill you but makes you wish it had.

At this point, I call D, who’s off at some Very Important Meeting in New Jersey. I ease smoothly into this latest news. “Hi! Are you having a good trip? We miss you. Well, I do, anyway. Your mother’s in the hospital with a WBC of 18,000 and a fever of 103.4, but if she were coherent and able to speak, she’d say she missed you, too.”

It’s amazing how few planes there are from a big place like New Jersey to Dallas, at night, during driving thunderstorms.

Things got better when the hospitalist arrived; he actually seemed like he’d graduated from a real medical school. It turned out to indeed be c. difficile, and D’s mom ended up hospitalized for five days while they poured antibiotics into her and rehydrated her.

While I tried to be with her as much as possible in the hospital, I also was trying to keep three dogs fed, watered and convinced that they did not, indeed, need to destroy the house while they were alone.

Then, in the middle of the week, the roofing guys came to figure out why when it rained two weeks ago, my home office looked like that scene in “Titanic” where the sea pours into the ballroom. The roofer guys called in the framer guys, and they all mumbled to each other in a weird language, saying things like “soffits” and “valleys” and “cost” and “thousand.” It was deja vu again, just like the house inspection.

Apparently it’s not easy to find a roof leak, because the water could actually be stealing over to the drippy place from anywhere on the whole roof. Kind of like finding a small grain of truth in an hourlong Bill O’Reilly show.

It ends up that we need some reframing, and then maybe some new shingles in the valleys. This, while not unexpected, did not put me into a shiny, happy place. In fact, when they didn’t show up this morning like they were supposed to, it put me decidedly into a dark, unshiny place.

D isn’t much help with this. While she was able to come back and help with her mom throughout the last hour or so of her hospitalization, she once again this week headed off to some far-flung exotic place. (OK, it was back to Nashville. But believe me, that feels far-flung and exotic to me right now.) This makes the 3,456th time in 12 years that we’ve had a crisis of some sort and she was off on a business trip. I think that qualifies her for some sort of Guinness World Record.

The roofers say they’ll come tomorrow. We’ll see. I’ve already run background checks on all of them, so if they don’t come see me, I’m going to drop by their houses tomorrow to say hi. I think they’ll like that.

The only other fun thing lately has been the arrival of our first electric bill. Here in Texas, unlike in Nashville, you can pick your electric provider. I’ve been very proud of myself for choosing to buy wind power. It costs a hair more, but I figured it would offset those days when we burned vast carbon resources jet-skiing all day. I got a little warm feeling every time I flipped on a light, fueled by a replenishable resource.

The first clue that trouble was brewing came when the bill arrived, engraved and hand-lettered and edged in gilt. It should’ve been, anyway, since it was for $451.83.

After the EMS team successfully resuscitated me after only three jolts with the paddles, I tried to talk myself off of the ledge. The A/C had gone out, I reminded myself, so the system ran like crazy then. Plus, the movers arrived and we had the doors open all that day. And since D’s mom is there, we haven’t been able to turn the A/C up to a more reasonable temp while we’re at work, like 93 degrees.

I wasn’t real convincing. The power may come from a renewable resource, but our checking account isn’t renewing quite as fast. So when D gets back home tonight, she’ll find that I’ve instituted a few small measures to cut our electricity use.

Although I can admit that I’m prone to a bit of OCD overkill, these measures are perfectly reasonable and well within normalcy limits, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’ve unscrewed every other bulb in our light fixtures, and replaced the others with bulbs that don’t work. I have replaced our refrigerator with a wooden, straw-filled box into which I’ve placed a large block of ice. The drain I’ve installed underneath it empties into our bathtub, thereby providing brisk, power-free personal cleansing.

For three hours a day, Chase will be harnessed to a small wheel in the side yard, which connects to a small generator. During those three hours, we will turn on the A/C until the temperature of the house drops to a chilly 94 degrees. We also will hand-wash our clothes then, by the light of one of the 3,456 candles we have found during the move. And after arriving home from work, we will not be opening any doors to the outside until the next morning, when we will both scoot out the garage door to head to work, where we’ll both put on our fleece jackets and enjoy our -14-degree offices. I figure if we’re sweaty hot at home, and frozen solid at work, on average we’ll be quite comfortable.

See? Barely noticeable efforts.

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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2 Responses to Weirdness, interrupted

  1. Sharon says:

    Why am I finding myself saying “bless your heart” every time I read your most recent post? Your luck is bound to change soon — take it from me, Ms. Bad Karma, whose list of “challenging” situations this year are off the chart! Glad to hear D’s Mom is doing better! BTW, just how does Lower Busby Island Medical School rank with US News & World Report 🙂

  2. Tera says:

    I applaud your green efforts 😉

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