Friday, March 25, 2005

Are you kidding me with this?

(very long, extremely long journal update!!!)

Thanks to all of you for your nice messages and notes of concern for Blaine regarding the loss of his mother. It’s a difficult time, obviously, made more difficult by the logistical circumstances, but there’s really nothing that can be done about it except to focus on our happy memories of her and get through it as best we can. All our best, though, to our family in Oklahoma and Texas; we wish we could be there with you.

I thought I would share with you guys a few examples of the “Oh my goodness, that sort of thing could only happen to ME experiences I’ve had the past few days. Shirley had a good sense of humor and something tells me she’s looking down from Heaven and having a good laugh at my expense. So I’ll go ahead and put them out there, so you guys can have a good laugh at my expense, too. :)

Wednesday morning is when she passed away, and also when Blaine was told he could leave the hospital. I was at his room by 7:30 am and we had been assured that the paperwork was signed and ready to go; he just needed his facial stitches removed, the iv’s and tubes removed, and we’d be ready for discharge. He thought he would be gone by 9am …. I, being more realistic, was hoping for noon. He was sick and tired of being in that hospital and wanted O.U.T. So we waited, and waited. And waited some more. Those of you with hospital experience understand that for some strange reason, there is never any rush to get a person discharged. Blaine was getting annoyed. And more annoyed. Pacing, literally. Well, as much as someone who’s had a bone removed from their lower leg can pace.

Finally, at 2pm, we were ready to go, with instructions to stop by the outpatient pharmacy on the main floor to pick up his medications. We walked from his room to the main entrance. Let me rephrase that: I walked … slowly, carrying my winter coat, purse, his gym bag, and the huge plastic laundry bag of medical supplies the nurses gave us. He limped along behind me like a walking wounded …. Slower than a retiree in the commissary on pay-day. (Our military friends will understand what I mean!) I thought after being stuck inside for nine days he might enjoy some fresh air, so I took him outside, propped him on a bench to wait for me, and went back in to get his meds, which naturally took longer than I thought it would. When I finally turned around, bag of medication in hand, I saw him standing in the lobby with all the bags at his feet. He explained that he had gotten cold outside …. But I felt guilty that he had to drag all that stuff back in; the gym bag was heavy! And here, I was supposed to be making things easier on him!

I hated the thought of him having to wait … longer … while I called for a taxi, when over his shoulder I saw a cab pull into the main drive of the hospital and drop someone off. “Aha! Here’s my chance to make things happen quickly!” I thought. So I sprinted out to the cab and asked the driver to wait. I turned around to get Blaine and saw him limping out to the cab, dragging all the stupid bags with him. By now, I was getting annoyed with him. I came all this way to HELP him and he wasn’t letting me help. So I grabbed the gym bag, the medical supply bag, slung my purse over my shoulder and tucked the bag of pharmacy meds under my other arm. Meanwhile, the traffic-director guy in the drive-through was griping at our cab driver that he couldn’t just PARK there … and I’m hollering, “Wait, don’t go! We’re coming!” while Blaine limped along behind me.

I opened his door for him and ran around to the other side of the cab, mumbling under my breath about the rudeness of these people…. Could they not SEE the shape my husband was in??? The poor guy was moving as quick as he could! I threw the bags into the back seat, leaned in to sit down, and as if it were happening in slow motion, the bag of pharmacy meds slipped the other way and all the drugs fell out of the bag and into the driveway. So on my right, I’ve got Blaine, who can barely move, trying to get himself settled into the cab. On my left, I’ve got a traffic director with an over-inflated sense of self telling me I’m moving too slow, and all I can see is the medication spilling out all over the lot.

Then, I swear, I couldn’t have planned it or done it this way on purpose in a million, zillion years, but as the tubes and vials and bottles landed on the parking lot, the pill bottle with his pain medication in it kept rolling away from me, away from me …. And (no lie, I swear I’m not making this up) directly under the tire of a moving shuttle bus in the parking lot. I’m hollering, “No, no! Shit! Stop, stop! Aaagghh!” and I’m trying to get out of the cab and Blaine is trying to get into the cab and my purse is stuck on the door handle and I was lurching my body out of the cab, frantically trying to grab the pill bottle out from under the rolling wheels and sure enough, the bus kept going and CRUNCH …………. There I was, staring at the crushed pill bottle and little mountain of squashed pills that were supposed to keep Blaine out of pain for the next six days.

At this point there was a litany of foul words coming out of my mouth -- LOUDLY -- and then Blaine was trying to get himself back out of the cab to come around and help me pick up all the little pills, and the cab driver was telling me in broken English that he couldn't sit and wait on us any longer. I snapped “No shit, Sherlock, thanks for the help” and grabbed our bags out of the back of the cab. The traffic director is even more annoyed with us now because my bloody stump of a husband has to sit down in the drive-through because all this activity has exhausted him, and we’re REALLY blocking traffic, and I’m on my hands and knees trying to pick up all the pills, trying to get him settled somewhere, and keep up with the bags. Truly, I was not the best example of grace under pressure at that point.

Finally, I got Blaine settled, I went back into the hospital, got back in line for the outpatient pharmacy, crushed pill bottle and mound of pills in hand ….. and explained what happened to the pharmacy tech. Her first response was to tell me, in so many words, too bad so sad, they don’t take meds back under *any* circumstances. I told her I understood that, but obviously my husband couldn’t ingest these pills … they had been on the ground in a parking drive and under the wheels of a BUS TIRE, for pete’s sake, not exactly hygienic, and we obviously would need a new prescription. At which point she felt compelled to mention to me that these were pain pills, (because I am obviously so stupid I didn’t already know that) a CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, and we couldn’t have another prescription. That’s when it hit me: “She thinks I’m some sort of drug addict, trying to score more pills!” She’s saying to me, in broken English (Seattle is a very ethnic town, let me just say that) “I don’t know what to do; there is no policy for this sort of thing; my supervisor is not here; we can’t give those pills to anyone else and I can’t give you more pills” and the response that went through my head was thankfully not the response that came out of my mouth. It took a few very-restrained comments from me and required the doctor (who also thinks I am a drug addict, by the way) having to hand-deliver another written prescription to the pharmacy, but half an hour later we left, new bottle of pills in hand. And to add insult to injury, they made us pay full price for them, since the insurance would only pay for one prescription! Whatever.

So we got back outside to a cab, back to the hotel, went up to our room on the 8th floor; Blaine, not moving any faster and in quite a bit of pain from all this activity; me, hauling all the crap, being extremely careful not to spill anything this time. I got him settled in the room and decided now was as good a time as any (meaning while it was still light outside) to walk the 200 yards up the road to Safeway and buy some food for our hotel room. We have a mini fridge and microwave, thank goodness, since Blaine can’t really leave the room for the next six days. We made a list of things eligible for his “soft foods” diet, plus drinks like milk and Ensure (for him) and pop (for me) and then I realize, being the weakling that I am, there is no way I can carry all this stuff back to the hotel.

So, necessity being the mother of creativity (or whatever that saying is) I decided the best thing to do was take one of our rolling suitcases to the grocery store. Blaine suggested I take the big suitcase, but I was thinking how embarrassing it was going to be, walking down the street with a suitcase full of groceries, and how the smaller suitcase might be less conspicuous. So there I go, still slightly frazzled from my run in with the pharmacy tech, missing my mini-van and life in the suburbs more than you know. I mean, is this what people who live in the city DO???? Drag a suitcase with them whenever they need to buy something? Lori and Darren, if you’re reading this … you lived in downtown Manhattan with no car before the twins were born … how do you get groceries into your apartment? How in the hell can you get a 24 pack of double roll Charmin home from the store????

Anyway, I digress. I bought the smallest size of everything they had in the store, but as you might have guessed by now, it still wouldn’t all fit in the suitcase I had brought. (Damn Blaine and his being right about the big suitcase!) So I put the heavy stuff like the soup and oatmeal and Boost in the suitcase, balanced the 12-pack of soda on top of the suitcase, carried the bags of the lighter stuff like paper plates and bowls (to hold the soup and oatmeal) and Twizzlers (because come on, *I’m* not on a soft-food diet!) over my arms and set off. As I’m walking back to the hotel, I’m struck with the irony that I am now a bag-lady if ever there was one, and wouldn’t it be funny if somebody tried to mug me and all they got was a suitcase full of yogurt and grits.

Then, I hit a curb, the 12-pack of pop fell off the suitcase, when I picked it up the bottom fell out and two cans landed on the ground, one of which was punctured on a rock and started spewing Coke product all over the street. As long as it wasn’t on ME, I didn’t care. I think if I had been hit in the face with a spray of Coke at that point, I would have exploded, too.

So I got back to the hotel, unloaded all the groceries in the room, made Blaine something to eat, wondered if I could take my suitcase into the local liquor store (kidding) and realized that thanks to the three extra days in Seattle, I didn’t have enough clean clothes to make it until Sunday. I’m not above wearing the same sweat pants for two (or even three) days in a row, but I draw the line at pulling a pair of dirty underwear out of a laundry pile for recall duty. So I called the front desk and they told me there is no laundry service available, but there is a public Laundromat just up the street. Hmmm. OK, maybe I am a spoiled rotten brat, but I have never used a public Laundromat in all my life. But at this point I figured well, what else could go wrong? And so I loaded the suitcase back up with dirty clothes and set off again.

Things started off well; the coin machine actually worked and the booth to buy laundry detergent was manned, so I’m thinking “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” And you’ve got to admit, the convenience of doing three loads of laundry at once (figured I might as well wash all Blaine’s clothes while I was at it) is pretty handy. Then, a moment of panic when I realize the fronts to all the dryers are see-through. I’m the kind of girl who hides her underwear under her pants in the chair in the corner when I go for my yearly physical, and now I’ve got to watch my bras and panties on public spin cycle for the whole world to see???

But I do it and try to sit, without being noticed, in the corner. To be honest, it’s been a long, hectic day and I just want a few minutes peace and quiet to sit down, enjoy my book and wait for my socks to dry. Then I hear a deep, guttural voice ask, “Dis is unbeleeevable, no?” The question is repeated and I look up to realize the man sitting a few seats down from me is holding a newspaper and pointing to a picture of Terry Schiavo. And he’s talking to me. I said, “I beg your pardon?” and he just LAUNCHES into a monologue with the most unbelievable Russian accent, about everything that is wrong with our country with regards to health care and government intervention and George Bush and the law.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to use this journal as a platform to state my personal feelings on this issue, and I wasn’t about to get into a discussion with this gentleman, either, especially considering his accent was so thick I could only understand about every third word. But he just kept talking and talking and talking! I was nodding, and mumbling neutral comments like, “yes, the whole thing is too bad” and “yes, a lot of people on both sides of the issue are very upset” and I was so eager to get away from him I didn’t even wait for the dryer to finish completely before packing up my suitcase and getting the heck out of there.

So .... Seattle is great. It’s beautiful, cultural, and interesting. But it’s time for me to go home. It's been almost two weeks for me and almost three weeks for Blaine. Today is Kellen's birthday and we missed it. I also miss my mini-van, and I miss my washer and dryer in my very own utility room.

At the very least, I hope Shirley is getting a chuckle out of this.

Thanks for checking in,

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