First off, if this is your first time here, you will probably want to start at the beginning. I will try to link to other relevant entries as I go along today or you can just scroll down to the first entry (May 1) and read up.
Today is May 13th. I realize that I have left out an important piece of information that I’m sure we knew by the 13th back in 2012. Like so much else, I simply have no memory of it. Back on that first awful day , both the Neuro-consult in the ER and Dr. Z had mentioned that pineal gland tumors are rare, but normally benign. After the surgery, we had to wait for confirmation from the oncologist, though, before we knew for sure. I don’t remember this meeting. I only know that Matt is still angry about the fact that he was watching the kids when the oncologist came by and didn’t get to hear the news in person. My mom and stepdad were with me. Benign, the oncologist confirmed. It was benign. I wouldn’t have to face radiation or chemotherapy on top of recovering from the stroke which, as of May 13, 2012, I showed no signs of doing. I was still laying there bald, stapled and draining.
What’s your name? Katharine. How old are you? 36. Where are you? Riverside Methodist Hospital. Good, I have some water with a straw, so you can take your meds. Here, I’ll put the straw in your mouth.
Remember how I was the “easy” patient before surgery, coming and going from the ICU? I was making up for it now. Sure, I wasn’t getting out of bed or anything, I would just repeat myself over and over, asking for things they had already given me, asking to go to the bathroom despite having a catheter (and no use of my left leg), asking if I was going to be out of the hospital in time to go on our family vacation planned for the first week of June (that would be NO), asking them to do something, ANYTHING to make the itching of my staples stop.
Oh those damn staples!!! I may not have been aware of much, but I was aware of my pure unadulterated hatred of the staples holding my skull together. The staples and the stubble of my hair starting to regrow created the most painful, intense itching I have ever experienced, enough to penetrate the medication induced fog. When nothing else could reach me, the itching could and did. I wanted to rip those staples out of my draining skull and may have tried. The nurses were no longer hiding their frustration with me. “You’re going to get an infection if you keep touching those staples!” they would admonish again and again and again. Eventually, they tied my one good hand to the bed.
They hate me. The nurses hate me. Especially that blonde one. She looks familiar. Oh my. That’s Carmel, isn’t it? Matt’s cousin from Ireland. The nurse. We met her on our honeymoon. Why is she here in Ohio? Did they move my bed to Europe again? If I could just see her nametag, I could be sure that it’s her. There it is. Neil-Ann? What kind of name is that? Must be fake. Now I’m sure it’s Carmel. Why is she here?
I told Matt about Carmel. “I see the nurse you’re talking about and why she reminds you of Carmel, but it’s not Carmel. Carmel lives in Ireland.” Well, then maybe we’re in Ireland because SHE’S RIGHT THERE staring at me. She doesn’t like me. I can tell. She’s planning something.
Matt got his laptop and pulled up Carmel’s Facebook page. “Look, here’s my cousin Carmel.” Yes, there’s her Facebook page. And there she is standing right outside my door wearing a nametag that says Neil-Ann! What is she plotting out there?
Oh my God. I know what it is. She wants to take the kids away. She knows I’m an unfit mother now. She’s going to take them away. Why won’t she just leave me alone? She was so nice when we met her in on our honeymoon.
I told Matt about his cousin’s nefarious plot. He needed to know, so that he could protect the kids. “She’s not going to take our kids. First, that’s not Carmel. Second, no one is going to take the kids. You’re not an unfit mother. You’re in the hospital because you had a brain tumor. They don’t take people’s kids away for that.” I remained unconvinced. I did my best to lie low whenever Neil-Ann/Carmel came in to check on me. And make notes to share with the authorities. Just don’t look at her. Don’t pull at the restraints and try to scratch your head. Lie still. Pretend your normal. Close your eyes. She’ll go away.
There was no nurse named Neil-Ann. And Carmel is real and living in Ireland. I haven’t seen her since 2000 when Matt and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon. She’s a wonderful mom of three boys like me (although hers are mostly grown) and is indeed a nurse. Carmel, if you are reading this, I hope you are not offended that I have written about you. In hindsight, I find the whole thing very funny. God willing, some day we will make it back across the pond where we can sit and have drinks and make toast to the nurse that wasn’t you!