|Home, where it belongs.|
The first part here.
So there we were in the ER, Hubby hooked to every kind of intervention you can imagine. Sedated. Steroids. Antibiotics. It was as though one thing required the next.. and the next.. and the next.
When I arrived at the ER, I mentioned that all my inlaws were there. MIL and FIL and I went back to the room where they had him, and the aunts/uncles offered to watch the girls. We were for a while in the ER, where we were asked all about his medical history, the circumstances of the day, etc. The good news was that the preliminary bloodwork looked fine. Nothing amiss there. The CT scan they did while we waited also came out clear. No brain bleed, stroke, or tumors. The excellent nurse (Garth) explained what was planned and how it would work; Hubby would be moved to the Intensive Care Unit overnight, where they would keep him sedated (they didn’t want to remove the ventilator until they knew he was not swelling in his throat at all, and didn’t want him awake with a vent in). While they moved him, it would be 45 minutes and NO ONE is allowed in the ICU at that time. [I’m not sure why. Maybe medical experimentation, or probing. hehe.]
We followed a nurse or someone up to the ICU waiting area where we chose the “Family” waiting room, which was very family-friendly; a large L-shaped room, kitchenette, tv, lots of seating, and doors which close to keep the little ones safe. My MIL went back to the ER waiting room to bring everyone else to where we were. She returned with an uncle, 2 cousins, another cousin and his family (from out of town, but they were passing through when they got word of the situation), both sisters, a brotherinlaw… I got a phone call from another cousin who had left on vacation that morning, but heard about it and wanted to let me know they were praying, and prayed with me on the phone. It was like a family reunion, I tell ya.
Someone was missing though. A few someones. Hubby’s brotherinlaw, the father of the little birthday girl, had offered to take the kids… all the kids. I will just describe him here, so you can see why I love this. Brutha Josh is kindof short, strong build, former policeman, current mine-worker (?), future diesel mechanic, LOTS of tattoos, no hair, and (recently) trending towards cowboy. He took his 2 year old, our special-needs niece (almost 7), and my four (almost 10, 7, almost 4, and one-day-away-from-2) in my other sisterinlaw’s van, and took care of business. He drove them to Burger King and bought them a late dinner – making sure my Li’l Artist had food that was safe for her – then took them to Grandma’s and tucked them all in with blankies and pillows in the living room, and put a movie on. He even diapered Baby. 🙂
Once they had Hubby all hooked up in ICU, 2 at a time could visit him. Mom and I went in and could tell they’d washed his face. He looked much more comfortable in the bed, and – again – was hooked up to myriad machinery. Now he also had an automated blood-pressure cuff. A giant touchscreen recorded and displayed his breathing and respirations, blood pressure, heartrate, and probably more. Some of that information was displayed in the hallways on even bigger monitors. From the nurses’ station, they could see every patient’s heartrate at a glance. If and when something odd happened (anything outside preset parameters), things would beep, and the appropriate patient’s information would flash. Did I mention that this hospital just opened in May? I think I’ve figured out how they plan to pay for it, but I digress.
There was no change in Hubby. Still sedated, still medicated for everything, still operating on an anaphylaxis diagnosis. I left to go check on the girls (this is midnight or so) and take their pajamas and Baby’s blankie to them. And maybe check on Uncle Josh…
First I stopped in the Family Waiting Room, gave what I could for an update and sent Hubby’s dad to see him. At my inlaws’, the kids were watching a movie and Josh explained that he’d fed them, but was careful for Li’l Artist’s limitations, etc, and was doing well with such a job. I brought in pajamas, tucked everyone in and took my sisterinlaw’s van back to the hospital (I wanted to leave my van and carseats with the kids, just in case). I got back to the hospital around 1 am or shortly thereafter, and my inlaws left. Mom did tell me, however, that the IV pump had beeped (they’d not plugged it in after the transfer to ICU, and its battery was complaining). Hubby had sat up and tried to get up, momentarily. She had gone over to say “Honey, you’re in the hospital.” I asked her if she’d been tempted to say, “Honey, you’ve been abducted by aliens!” or something, but apparently I am the only one with such a twisted sense of humor… I lied down about 1:30, but the incredible amount of grit that was on my pillowcase, no matter how often I brushed it or turned it over, prevented much rest.
I got up when they came to… swab… his mouth. It was like a dentist vacuum/spray and a spongey swab, which they inserted in the last little bit of open space left in his mouth. He opened his eyes at this point too, but slept again soon.
At 4:00 a.m. they came to turn off his sedation medicine, and then they said, “Can you open your eyes?” and he did. The nurse explained that they would bring a respiratory therapist so they would be able to remove the tube as soon as possible. He nodded. At one point she left, and with his wrist strapped to the bed, managed to lift his hand a little, and make a gesture. He pointed at his face, and then made a fist and forcefully jerked his fist away from himself. I knew he was saying, “this thing: OUT. NOW.” I smiled and reassured him they were going to do so right away. I also told the nurse that he had made a very clear, somewhat insistent gesture on the subject. The respiratory therapist showed up, explained some things, did some things — like taking a sample of respiratory fluid by effectively cutting off his air and prompting him to cough, a lot. He also did something to check Hubby’s diaphragm control, and Hubby was sailing through the tests, such as they were. At some point in this, they changed the ventilator (via touchscreen!) from full respiration to cpap, which is an influx of air, but the work of breathing is effectively the patient’s. Hubby did well at this, but before they could remove the equipment he had to take arterial blood from his wrist and have the lab test CO2 levels, or something. The therapist very wisely explained that he would be unfastening Hubby’s wrist, but the effects of Hubby prematurely removing the ventilator on his own would result in some pretty serious vocal chord damage, among other things. Hubby refrained from any efforts on this front. 🙂 We spent several minutes playing handicapped charades. He, with hands tied down and no way to speak, trying to tell me to turn off the lights… Or that the corner of his eye needed scratched… That one took a while…
About 5:30 they were able to remove the ventilator and OG tube. What a process! He did great though. And I don’t think I will ever forget the way he turned to me, and in the raspiest of whispers said, “stroke?” That was about the hardest thing up to that point, believe it or not. HE, asking ME, and thinking that’s what it might have been… I don’t even know if that makes sense, or if I can describe it, but I still feel my stomach twist when I think of it.
“No honey, no. All the major tests have been fine. They suspect an allergic reaction. I think the heat had a lot to do with it too, and you didn’t have any water up there…” I fed him ice, then water, they removed the catheter and maybe one of the IVs. Then he dozed. I tried to do the same, and peered at a blue-clad woman as she did an EKG on him. I don’t think there’s a single test they didn’t do.
Later I got back to my inlaws and took the girls home to catch up on some things while they moved Hubby to a ‘regular’ hospital room. I showered – finally! – and we fed chickens, and calves, and brought the laundry that had been on the clothesline overnight (and put out another load, and put a load in the wash!).
Hubby continued in the hospital, got an EEG (to check for seizures), and I took the girls to see him for the first time. Hubby was tired, but ‘mostly fine,’ and we awaited a doctor to read the EEG. Which didn’t come that day, of course! 🙂 I took the kids home and we slept in our own beds that night (more laundry switching!), and tried to get to town early Tuesday morning. One of the ‘first responders’ stopped by (a dairyman from south of town) to see how things were and get any updates that might help hone their expertise.
Late afternoon a doctor finally read the EEG, and it was fine. This was a big relief. He’d been itching to come home, but the doctor who does that is as busy as the doctor who reads EEGs, I think. Finally he called (I was at my inlaws’) and they were NOT going to discharge him because his white blood cell count was high. *sigh* While relating most of this information to the family, the overtired doctor (he was) realized they’d given him steroids, which would do that, so they WOULD let him go after all. And there was much rejoicing.
My sweet friend who teaches a mom’s bible study made us dinner that night (we had also seen her in the day, and there were cookies involved), which she delivered to us at Hubby’s folks’ right after we finally ‘got out.’ We ate it then and there, as Mom certainly expected we would’ve been home by then and didn’t plan on us for dinner. What a blessing.
Hubby had to continue several days on a couple antibiotics to deal with the aspiration pneumonia, and had to wear a little monitor/recorder for his heart for 48 hours. His discharge paperwork noted “Heat exhaustion/dehydration” as his problem, with some concern for a cardiac problem (varied bp readings during his stay, though after he shifted position in the ICU after being un-hooked, his auto-bp registered very differently).
Last week we confirmed that there was “nothing remarkable” about his heart monitor stuff, and he never even pushed The Button (which would flag the area) for shortness of breath, or anything else. [then again, he was home watching Star Trek from dawn to dusk, because resting is a big part of pneumonia recovery!]
I had the hospital forward all of his records to Hubby’s naturopath, who looked them all over. I had never followed up with the EKG, and the cardiologist nurses/technicians/assistants weren’t very consistent with their answers about the meaning of “Abn EKG” written somewhere, nor very efficient at trying to track down specific information on the subject. In any case, we were very happy to hear the naturopath say that everything was within normal range – including the EKG. This was a big blessing, to be sure!
He continues to do well, working long days (but staying hydrated!) without much problem. There don’t seem to be any noticeable after-effects, for which we’re grateful. Well, except we all have a little more gratitude for Life, and health!
Soon to come: Cost efficiency analysis of water, vs life-flight-plus-night-in-ICU. 🙂
I wrote before about the farm from which some of my great-great-greats hailed. That was the beginning of
some way too much research into the subject. 🙂 I called Gigi after that, to tell her how I could see it on the satellite map and everything. I wanted to confirm whether my great-grandma was born there or not (she and her parents came to America when she was about 10, in 1903 or so, and met with some other family and acquaintances who had already immigrated). Gigi said, no, not there, but they used to name the houses, and that Grandma Great used to talk about Plunton House as their home.
On a lark I typed in “Plunton House, Kirkcudbright, Scotland” into Google maps (pronounced “kur-KOO-bree”). Un. Be. Lievable. Yep; it’s still there – or some house is, in the right area with the right name.
Think about that for a minute. How old is an OLD house in your area? My area was settled about 100 years ago or so, and there are still some houses standing from that time, because they’re made from the rock pulled from the fields. 🙂 How long has your family lived in the area where you are? Do they still live in the same house? Are your grandparents within a few miles from you?
In looking up Grandma Great’s parents’ names, I found that her father was born in that same house. Do you know anyone who is raising their family in the very house in which they were born? HIS father was born at a house (of which google maps can nearly put me on the porch!) about 5 miles away from that (it also has a name. still.). These are all within 5-8 miles of the farm.
Something inside me is just amazed by all of that. How would it be to wake every morning to the walls that watched your mom or dad grow up? To walk the land walked by your grandparents when they were your age. I imagine a childhood instilled with belonging; with place, and purpose. Surely it might seem stifling at times, or constricting, but compared with today’s typical lifestyle, it’s incredible. Today we do what we want, we go here, go there, wrack up debt, change direction as often as the wind – that is not all bad, and certainly a cross-country separation still offers a lot more connection via technology than those ancestors even shared (possibly) from the next county over – but what an amazing difference. What would you do, how would you live, if you knew it was an important link in the generations of your family? I tend to take things one day at a time, working out what to have for dinner and sometimes what to aim for a few years down the road. But when I look back on these families that went before me, I see such a vista. Generations lined up like stair-steps, passing the baton until… me. What will my great-great-grandchildren see when they look back at me? Am I building a foundation they can build on? Will my decisions set them back? Am I taking this baton with the intent to pass it on, or will I drop it, trade it off, or use it up somehow? Talk about a perspective in Purpose.
It’s popular these days to slap a sticker on your RV that says, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance,” while you spend your golden years making up for the sacrifices your children cost you in earlier times. I submit that that’s pretty near wicked. What a terminal view of things. Look back. Look at those who came before you, and realize you are where you are partly due to them. What do you hope for the generations after you? How can you add to that possibility?
It’s also assumed in our culture that once you’re 18, you’re ‘on your own.’ Even if you can’t afford to totally move out of your parents’ home, it’s generally accepted that you will have your own job, make your own schedule, run with your own friends, and do your own thing. You’re solo – whatever you are and whatever you do is up to you, fall or fly. Sometimes there’s no choice but that, but should that be our accepted ideal? Maybe we should link arms and see how far we can go together…
Now it’s easy to think this is all about money and assets. But it’s so much more than that. What if you knew your place and purpose and role in the Kingdom of God? What if your environment was a reminder of that place, of those who came before and those who will come after, and you knew you were an important link in it? What would your decisions look like then? What would you build? How would you live? It really makes ME realize that it’s almost completely not about me. Even if dinner is still a question mark. 🙂 I need to think about where to carry that baton, and how best to help the next generation prepare for their turn.
A part of me longs for that time and that kind of secure sense of belonging (or what I assume it to be; what it looks like from here), but I need to redirect that and realize I DO belong, I DO have an important purpose and role here and now. Whether I know it or not, I WILL be an influential part of the line (both spiritually and materially). It is a blessing to be aware of that. Now I pray to be equal to the task at hand…
The other day, and I don’t remember why, I googled the name of the farm in Scotland that my great-great-great grandparents had before they emigrated to America in the late 1800s. I didn’t know where it would be, but I hoped I’d recognize a name or something, if I came close. I did. And then I entered the name of the farm (no address) into google maps.
Would you believe it puts it right on the site?
It gets better though. Or worse, depending on your perspective. :] I’m glad it’s not my farm, in this case:
This street view just blows my mind AND scares the crud out of me, all at the same time. You can turn 360˙ and take in the whole view, and ‘walk’ along the road. When my forebears left this area, they really never expected to see the place, or the people, ever again. And here I can sit in my rocking chair with my computer on my lap and ‘see’ everything. Wow.
Have you traced your family line at all? I’ve absorbed many stories and a lot of information from Gigi, but I need to take the time to sit down and ‘interview’ her. And my husband’s grandparents. I certainly don’t have the time to sit down and really get into the genealogy thing, but you know what? By the time I have the time, the information could be long lost. Take the time today to write down what you know, or call your grandparents and at least get some names, dates, places. Then later, when you have the time, you can do the census research and all that. It can be a fascinating and meaningful exercise. You never know what you’ll discover. 🙂
Where were we? Ah yes:
“Mom!” Big Sister yelled. “You killed BUSTER!”
**Lest you be concerned for the alleged Buster, and any pain he experienced, Hubby says he was shot through his ignorant head and was dead immediately – he died much better than my chickens, and that is how you tell the good guys from the bad.
Where were we? Oh yes, the report of a shotgun…
…And the dog, feathers in his mouth, dropped.
(well, actually he flipped, then landed in a firm drop.)
Along with the immediate feeling of protecting and saving (what was left of) my hens, several thoughts collided in my head, before the echo of the shot had even returned. Wow, that was loud!… Oh NO, who’s dog did I just *kill*?!?…Wow, that bump on my cheek; THIS is the gun I was to afraid to practice with when Hubby was teaching me to use his guns!
I was stunned, and shaking from the adrenaline, the cold, the fact I’d just used a firearm while in my slippers. (you might be a redneck if…) The dog didn’t even twitch, and I began coughing and scrambling – I need to call Hubby. He needs to come home NOW, and bury this dog, before someone comes looking for their pet. Where is the phone? In the sewing room, that’s right.
I took the 8 steps to the back door, beelined for the stairs, and called him. Between choking breaths, my raspy voice said, “You need to come home and bury someone’s dog. Please, now!” He thought I’d said he needed to bury OUR dog, and that I’d finally come to the end of my rope with her. 🙂 I explained, and he said he would pay for his purchases and head home directly. There was some discussion of how many shots it took (I only had one bullet. Shell. Whatever), what size the shot was (I don’t know. It was on your dresser. It fit in the gun.), did I eject the shell (huh?), where I hit him (I’m not going back out there, YOU come check!). It took him a long time to get home, or so it seemed to me. I emerged from the sewing room, trying to steady my wimpy self, and found the kids by the front door putting on their coats and boots, ready to check things out. “You are NOT leaving this house! You just stay put until daddy gets home.”
I sat down on the stairs, PRAYING he would get there before I had to face whomever might actually value the wicked beast, and tried to relax. To my chagrin, the kids all headed for the dining room window, which offers the best view of the backyard… and also a fairly close view of the evidence.
“Mom!” Big Sister yelled. “You killed BUSTER!”
To be continued..
Read part 1 first. 🙂
So I rounded the house on the east, where there was now NO dog and NO chickens. Our dog in her kennel continued to bark, facing toward the chicken coop, to the west. Here, like this:
I jogged toward the northwest corner of the backyard – to the coop. Most of the chickens were in front (eastward) of their coop, clucking nervously, but I didn’t see any marauding canine. Our dog, in her kennel, continued to bark. I jogged back toward her, and considered letting her out, because she seemed more likely to find the intruder. I thought twice though; not wanting to shoot at anything (if I had to) with her in the mix. Where did that beast go??? Perhaps it had left, circling the west side of the house as I had come around the east? I jogged that direction, and stood at the east corner of the house, looking down the driveway for movement or any sign that the animal had left. I was momentarily glad we had no neighbors within viewing-distance – I was sure I made quite a sight; frilly half-apron flapping in the breeze, worn slippers, shotgun in hand, chest heaving from the freezing air… and bits of thread and sewing-fallout all over me I’m sure.
Maybe I heard something, or maybe I just turned around, but I saw The Critter running along the chicken house, towards me (though probably 100 feet away still) with one of my hens in its mouth!!! “Oh no you don’t…!” It saw me as it came alongside the playhouse, turned in front of it, dropped the hen, and went racing across the backyard toward the swingset the way it had come. I thought very little, except that I didn’t want to shoot my chickens or my dog, and that I had better do it before he was out of sight on the other side of the house. I raised the gun, aimed just in front of him, tracked him until our kennel wasn’t behind him (from my perspective) and… <<<boom>>>…
To be continued…
I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. I’m so sorry. To make up for it, I’m gonna tell you a story. However, I do caution sensitive readers… (as if any sensitive readers could read here for any amount of time…).
I’m hoping the statute of limitations has run out by now… 🙂
Last Christmas Eve, I was chained to the sewing machine, where I usually am on Christmas Eve. Hubby had gone to the local toy/household/seasonal cheapy store (where HE usually is on Christmas Eve). It was early in the day, but we intended to be at the inlaws for the evening (and again the next morning), so it was my last chance to finish up gifts and projects. The days before were taken with cooking and baking, and prior to that we’d spent a few days with Gigi.
We were sad to note, upon our return from Gigi’s Big City, that a predator had killed a couple chickens, and injured almost all the rest. They were bleeding/wounded mostly at their tail area; feathers missing, blood-stained, etc. We hadn’t seen the coyotes since September, but figured that is what had happened. [The worst of it is, we had them cooped up – but the door is an old screen door, and the glass had cracked in a windstorm. Apparently the glass fell out, leaving just the screen for protection.]
In any case, I was in the sewing room, upstairs, with a view over the driveway (facing south). I was on the phone to my mom when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of brown in the driveway. Being otherwise occupied in more ways than one, it didn’t register as it normally would have. When I finished my conversation, I noticed I could hear the dog (in her kennel) barking, and the chickens clucking noticeably. I hollered to Big Sister to see what was making the dog bark, but I had the door locked (and the children banned from the room), so she didn’t hear me. I yelled again once or twice before getting up and opening the door to the hallway to yell down the stairs. I turned into the girls’ room (view to the east, side yard, swingset) and went to the window to see if I could see which way the dog was barking, and ascertain anything.
Just below me was a terrible sight. A fairly small brown dog was mauling one of my hens. My heart just seized up within me. I slammed my palms on the window and shrieked the most ear-piercing girly-girl scream ever (I’m so not proud of that). I tried to open the window, but we had wedged a broom handle to keep it from sliding open (when Organique spent a naptime shredding the screen and pitching anything within reach to the small porch below), and I could not get it out. I slammed my hands repeatedly on the glass, and screamed even more, without having any affect on the violence being done there below.
I turned and ran down the hallway – in my slippers and frilly apron – saying things like, “I need a gun. Where’s the gun? You are NOT going to kill my chickens you filthy ba*****.” Hubby keeps one by the bed, so I ran that way and grabbed it up. Hubby had taught me to shoot the .22, and I looked for the spot wherein you put the ammo. “Where’s the little slidey-thing? I can’t find the thingy. Oh Lord, what do I do?” I turned the gun over, back and forth in my hands. No slidey-thing. But on its underside, a springy area. I remember that. I lifted my eyes to the dresser top, covered in nuts and bolts and keys to things, and saw shotgun shells. I grabbed just one, and dashed back up the hallway, turning the shell this way and that, wanting to make sure I knew which end was which. Firing cap. That goes to the rear. Genius, I tell you. I flew down the stairs while tucking the shell into the little springy slot, and said to the girls in my most firm voice, “Stay IN this house!” and I was out the front door (towards the driveway). I crossed the front lawn towards the east side yard and swingset muttering, “I need to get it into the chamber. How do I do that? I don’t know what to do.” My left hand on the foremost grip responded to some kind of genetic instinct* and I heard the oh-so-Hollywood sound – “shuh-shuck!” of chambering the shell. My eyebrows lifted in wonderment, and a little bit of surprised pride, THAT should do it. I came around to the side with the swingsets and saw…. nothing.
To be continued…
*My mom (who died, see About Us) told me, when I was young, that the purpose of my conception was so my dad could have a hunting partner. As it turned out, I wasn’t the boy they expected, and my dad met the Lord when I was a toddler, and thereafter laid down his idol – guns and hunting – so I think a little part of me must be wanting to fulfill my original – if misguided – purpose. 🙂