May 5th was a Saturday. Ativain? Breakfast of Champions. I think my mom and stepdad John had gotten in very late the night of the 4th, so this would have been the first day I saw them. My mom hadn’t seen my grandfather since they were estranged a few years before, during his unfortunate Trophy Wife phase following my grandmother’s death. That reunion took place before they all got to the hospital and everyone was grand pals again (or doing their best to fake it) by the time they got to me. Matt and the kids were there, too. The ICU is definitely not the place you want your 3 boys under the age of 7 running around, particularly when it is discovered that my room appears to have a laxative effect on the one in diapers. The nursing staff was pretty low key with me pre-surgery. I was an easy patient (I would make up for that later). I could come and go from my room as long as I was with someone in case I had a dizzy spell. Funny how I had been dashing all over the city like a crazy person with those dizzy spells for months. Or not funny, I suppose.
I have odd, disjointed memories of this visit with my family. I remember walking to the hospital Tim Hortons. My need for coffee had grown to almost desperate levels. I’m used to dominating at least half a pot at home and the hospital had me on caffeine starvation rations. Some wonderful soul decided that Riverside Methodist Hospital should have a playhouse built into one of its waiting rooms. Bless you, whoever you are! We ate there, then Matt decided that he had reached his limit chasing the boys (because it was always him chasing the boys, my mom was focused on me and my stepdad was appointed to entertain my grandfather who must always have the undivided ear of an adult) and he went home for some relative peace. You know, the relative peace of three boys under 7.
Without the boys, we went back to the room. I was starting to get very anxious whenever I was out of my room for more than a few minutes. Isn’t that what the Ativain is supposed to be helping? I think our realtor Liza came by that afternoon. I know it was some time when everyone was there because I remember introducing her to my grandfather. When she left, they sat around my bed: my mom, my stepdad, my grandfather. I asked them if they realized that we hadn’t been in the same room together since my eldest son’s first Christmas in 2005. “Really?” someone asked. Yes, really. Pretty much sucks that it took this to get us here.
I could tell my grandfather was getting antsy. Talk about ADHD, I love the old coot (despite his poor judgement in second wives), but he must be DOING something at all times. He can make the Rock Star Neurosurgeon look comatose by comparison. Sure, he can sit and BS with the best of them, but only if he’s holding a scotch or martini. The Neuro-ICU was dreadfully short on both. I could also tell my mom was NOT getting antsy. She wanted to stay, but Matt had already taken the second car.
Enter Karla to the rescue! Karla is a good friend even though she lives pretty far outside of Columbus. When this happened, she still had her farm near Johnstown (that means nothing to you non-Columbus people, sorry). She had met my mom before, so when she stopped by to see me that day, it was easily arranged to send the menfolk back home and Karla stayed to drive my mom back. Of all the memories that have sifted into the oblivion, I still remember that. Thank you, Karla.
Matt settled into a kind of pattern, he would come back to see me after the kids were in bed. It was kind of like a date. A sad, pathetic, Ativain-laced date. And, after he left that night (at least I’m pretty sure this was the night) I had a brand new experience. My head was killing me (literally). The hospital strength Tylenol wasn’t cutting it. I had been self-medicating with bottle upon bottle of ibuprofen for months, pretty sure Tylenol (super-strength or not) wasn’t going to do it for me. “It looks like Oxycontin has been added to your approved list,” the nurse said. “Would you like to try it?” What the hell, let’s give it a go.
I woke up on the bathroom floor.
It took several long moments to figure out where I was. When I remembered, I vaguely thought about pulling the “emergency” string right next to me to call the nurse. That seems like an awful lot of trouble to reach all the way over there. So I stumbled back to the bed and went to sleep. I’ll never know if it was the Oxy or the hydrocephalus that made me pass out that night. Lucky for me, I didn’t split my brain-tumored skull open on the toilet. Small blessings, you know?