Leaving

What’s your name? Katharine. How old are you? 36. Where are you? Riverside Methodist Hospital. Good. I’m going to undo your wrist so you can take  your Ativan and your Keppra. I’ll leave it off, but If you touch your staples, we’ll have to restrain you again.

“You’re going to have to figure out how to use the call button when you need something. You can’t always call me.”

I seem to be on the phone. Glad it’s working today. Wait, this sounds kind of important, I should try to listen. “I’m not going to be able to come in and spend evenings with you anymore. Your mom and John are leaving. I’ll have to be home with the kids. You have to figure out the call button.”

But I don’t want the nurses coming in. They always bring the monsters. “Mom is leaving?” It didn’t compute. It didn’t make sense. But I’m in the hospital . . .

Rock Star Neurogsurgeon was back with his entourage. “I think we just need to get this done,” he said or something like that. I’m sure I nodded as best I could. what with the drains and all, and then immediately wondered get what done? What is he talking about?

The patient advocate was there around this time, too, although it might not have been this exact  visit. This is the social worker who acts as a liason between the hospital, the patient (and their family) and the insurance company. I honestly can’t think of a worse job to have, but as my mom said, it’s a job that can do an immense amount of good.

“Yes, we need to get her to Rehab,” that was my mom talking or maybe it was the social worker. I drifted in and out of the conversation. Something about an in-house facility on the sixth floor. Something about me having to be “strong enough” to be accepted into that Rehab program. Something about having to be evaluated.

Like the Hunger Games. I KNEW it was going to come down to this. They’re going to make us compete, aren’t they? Is there an arena? Think they’ll race us? Like in wheelchairs pushed by the Disorderlies? Surely, they won’t ask us to kill each other, that would kind of defeat the purpose of Rehab, wouldn’t it? Or would it? I knew I should have taken archery lessons.  Then I could be like Nightfall from Elfquest. Nightfall is curvy. Of course, Nightfall didn’t have three babies nursing for a year each. Nightfall had great hair, too. I used to have hair. I bet Nightfall could beat Katniss. Wait, they’re talking again. I think it’s about me.

They were talking about a second surgery to place a shunt that would drain the hydrocephalus that had refused to resolve on its own and was the primary contributor to my current state of limbo. Dr. G put it on the schedule for May 22, 2012, at least I think that’s when it was. I can’t find it in my Rehab journal, but I remember several people in Rehab telling me my second surgery was two weeks after the first. Matt thinks that sounds right, too. I seem to remember a high five taking place between some of my boys and Dr. G as he left, but that may have been another visit.

And my mom and stepdad really were leaving. They had been in Columbus for two weeks and had reached the end of what they could handle with this experience: with taking care of three little boys, with keeping a house ready to show, with watching me deteriorate. They were just done. My mom has a chronic pain condition and felt like she needed to get back to her doctors. I don’t know what was going on at home. I know things had gotten increasingly tense with Matt and with the boys. Everyone was stressed to the limit. My mom and stepdad did what they felt they had to do. They left. I don’t remember saying goodbye, which is probably just as well.

To their immense credit, the two people I care about most in this world (except for my boys) have spent hours and hours over the past two years mending whatever went wrong in May of 2012. Whenever we visit or they visit, Matt and my mom inevitably end up talking until the wee hours of the morning, processing and re-processing my hospitalization. I don’t participate. At some level, I think it makes me angry. This is MY trauma! MY story! You don’t get to hijack it and make it about YOU! What YOU endured, what YOU lost. But that’s unfair. It was their trauma, too. In some ways much worse than mine because they had to go through it fully aware.

I can claim May 3rd until May 8th and from about May 24th to June 21st.  That was my struggle, my journey into and back out of the darkness, but in those missing two weeks from May 8 to May 24th, it was every bit my husband, my mother and my stepfather’s trauma. But I’m telling my story here. They can write their own blogs.

In what turned out to be a very fortuitous turn of events, my aunt was scheduled to arrive in a few days anyway. This had been planned for months. My Aunt Loura, my dad’s older sister, lives in California and I hadn’t seen her since my grandfather’s funeral in 2009. Since my dad died in 2001, we’d gotten gotten closer, although we still didn’t see each other very often. She had called me a few months before with this idea to come visit for a couple of days. When we set this up, we had no idea that I would be in the hospital and that we would be in such desperate need of help. Matt was also trying to find a babysitter. He was due to start teaching summer term in early June and needed someone to watch the kids on the two nights a week he would teach. As with so much else during my missing month, I have no idea how he did it, but again, as with everything else, somehow he did.

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