A few days ago I mentioned that Sprite's Keeper does a thing called the Spin Cycle. Since I've been failing miserably at making it to Spin class at the gym, I thought I would take a shot at trying out a different sort of spin. You can check out Sprite's Keeper and other Spinners here.
This week's assignment is Laughter. This is a topic about which I am well-acquainted. It's an old cliché but laughter has always been the best medicine for me. It's how I deal with life's little complications.
Laughter during the good times; well, I suppose that everyone has that. I choose to handle the tough times with laughter as well. It's my way. There hasn't been a crisis in my life that I haven't managed to make light of in order to help me cope. It is by no coincidence that the name of this blog includes the words "Smart Mouth". Oh sure, over the years I've learned that not every single thought that goes through my head should be shared with the world. Realizing this one truth has probabaly saved my life. If I said everything aloud that goes through my mind I would most certainly be put in the hospital by some angry recipient of my "imagined" razor sharp wit or possibly even jailed. Believe me; I've got it that bad.
If you are a regular here, you've heard me tell many stories about my mother, Lucy. Living through her illness was one of the worst things that my family has ever been through. I had been away from My Harley Stud and the girls for long periods while I helped my Dad take care of Mom. The night that my mother died, MHS drove up with the girls so the family could be together. Plans were made to have a service in Florida and another in Indiana the following week. That night in bed he told me that his long-suffering stomach issues had been getting worse over the last few months and when we got back from Indiana, he should probably see a doctor.
**Alert the media! The man wanted a doctor appointment! I had only been suggesting this for YEARS! MHS had been having episodes of extreme stomach pain for probably three years or so (usually after over-eating at holidays or special occasions.)**
I was relieved that he was finally willing to see someone about this problem but of course we had some other things to attend to first.
Ironically, my mother in law, whom I will call Millie, was going through the same thing with her mother at the same time twelve hundred miles away in Indiana. My Harley Stud's grandmother died on the day of my mom's service in Florida. Our plans were quickly changed so that we could make it to Indiana in time for the MHS's grandmother's service also.
My father-in-law, whom I will call Phil, joined Daddy, MHS, D1, D2 and myself for a road trip to Indiana. If you're a long-time reader, these Beverly Hillbilly type road trips will not come as a surprise to you. We made it to Indiana just in time to get showered and dressed for the visitation services for MHS's grandma. The funeral was the next day. It was heart-breaking and our pain was way too close to the surface. It didn't take much to break us so humor was used as a way to divert our emotional melt-down. We visited with relatives we hadn't seen in years and laughter was all around.
As is the tradition in the Midwest, a carry-in dinner was held at a local hall after the services. MHS could hardly contain himself; he was so excited to get to eat these home-cooked Midwestern dishes. His plate was filled a few times and then came dessert. As he was eating a piece of pecan pie, I commented that if he had a stomach attack that evening, I would not feel sorry for him. Just then a late-comer walked in with a pan of home-made lasagna. MHS's eyes lit up. I gave him "the" look. Lasagna is an all-time MHS favorite. He began to waiver. I shot him "the" look again. And because he knows there will be consequences when you ignore "the" look, he began to shake in his dress shoes walked right over to the table and dished himself up a heaping portion. I gave him my best stern look, rolled my eyes and once again reminded him that there would be NO sympathy that evening when his stomach exploded.
It was about 9pm that evening as he was watching TV at Beauty's house that the volcano began to erupt. The pain increased quickly and my "I told you so's" were not well-received. At about 10pm he asked me to call my boss who is a breast surgeon by specialty but is in fact a board certified General Surgeon. I related his symptoms to her and she diagnosed from 1200 miles away that it could very well be gallbladder trouble and he needed to go to the emergency room right away.
Now we had just survived the first funeral and were facing another in just a few days. A little trip to the ER was just what we needed to make our trip complete. Of course he refused to go and we spent the night with him vomiting, writhing in pain alternated with me asking "are you ready to go yet?" He was clearly in a lot of pain but since he wasn't listening, I had no problem interjecting smart mouth remarks between helping him to and from the bathroom. Finally at 5am, he begged asked me to drive him to the hospital.
We were in a small town and the nearest hospital is in the next town about 15 miles away. I got him into my Dad's SUV and began the journey on icy roads to the hospital. It wasn't until we were already in the next town that I discovered a little problem. I was born and raised in this area. In fact, I was born in the hospital to which we were traveling. But I couldn't remember how to get there. It was early and I didn't want to disturb anyone unnecessarily. (I'm nice like that) I began to giggle as I followed those blue "H" signs searching for our destination. Between fits of pain, MHS looked up and asked what I was giggling about. I told him that I couldn't remember how to get to the hospital. Oddly enough, he wasn't nearly as amused as I was with this revelation. Men! Hmpfff.
We made it there without any real detours. (Thank you, little blue sign makers.) The emergency room thankfully was not busy and they took him into triage right away. We were quickly whisked into a curtained room with a gurney. It was about this time that my own stomach began to react to the stress. I should maybe save this for one of LiLu's TMI Thursday posts but I have this little problem. Everyone reacts to stress differently. Some people break out in a rash, others lose their hair and some get ulcers. During any crisis, you can find me……………..in the bathroom. It's not like I can control it. So the ER doctor comes in and does a quick exam on MHS. At this point, I can wait no longer and excuse myself to find the nearest restroom.
After taking care of my business, I return to find that MHS is missing. I couldn't help it. I began to laugh. Just my luck. Not that healthy sort of chuckle when you find something amusing but instead that maniacal laugh you hear just before the basket is dropped. Eventually a hospital employee found me and informed me that MHS had been taken for an ultrasound. They instructed me to wait in his curtained cubical all the while giving me "the eye" that said "What are you laughing about?"
He was eventually returned to me and after a short while, we were told that he indeed did have a bad gallbladder and they were going to admit him. A surgeon had been called in to consult but in the mean time they would move him out of the ER and to a room on the surgical floor. Once again, my stress levels soared and I had to quickly excuse myself. Upon my return, he was gone……….AGAIN! This time I was able to catch up with them in the hall. Again, I was getting strange looks from medical staff members who thought I was either an uncaring bitch or a possible psyche patient posing as this patient's relative. By this time, he had been medicated heavily for the pain and could not be relied upon to identify me. They continued to watch me with wary eyes.
I really don't remember all the details of the following days. The surgeon showed for the consultation and confirmed that surgery needed to be done immediately. MHS was prepped and whisked away once again. By this time I was joined by family members and friends. In fact, the pastor joined us in the OR waiting room to pray for MHS and plan my mother's services. Yes.we.did. We sat in the waiting room while MHS went under the knife and planned a beautiful memorial service for my mother. There was a lot of nervous laughter going on, believe me. It was surreal. I couldn't believe it was happening and yet what can you do? You have to soldier on through it. I would like to be able to comment here about how other family members were making out but honestly I was so consumed with my own anxiety and just trying to keep it together, I didn't even notice. As I look back, I feel for my poor children who must have been scared to death. And there I was hanging by a thread, oblivious to their pain. In fact, if I remember correctly, they were comforting me. D1 was a freshman in college and had just turned 19. D2 was in the eighth grade and was 13. Bless their hearts.
I've worked for surgeons for years and while it's different when it's your own family member, I probably wasn't as anxiety ridden as others might have been………….until……………..the surgery took much longer than expected. When the surgeon finally came in to tell us how it went, they had to pry me off the ceiling. It seems that MHS's gallstone was larger than most people's entire gallbladder. He said there was no doubt that he must have suffered quite a bit before getting to this point. Stupid.Stubborn.Man The poor dear.
He was still pretty much out of it when they rolled him back into his hospital room. The Daytona 500 was held that day. The nurses were discussing the winner. It was revealed that Dale, Jr had won and we were all assured that he had survived the surgery when he groaned, "Oh God!" He is not a Dale, Jr. fan. Again laughter broke through the stress and the worry that we were all feeling. The wonderful medical staff at the hospital provided MHS with a morphine pump so that he could control his pain himself. I was given strict instructions that he was to control the pump himself and I was not to touch it. I should mention at this point that the man relies on me to manage his medical care. He doesn't take an Advil unless I say it's OK. It's how we roll. Needless to say, I controlled the pump when they weren't looking. And he was a kinder, gentler MHS. He had a permanent smile on his face during the entire stay. If he got a little cranky, I would smile and press the button. Voila! Problem solved. Everybody wins. Bwahahaha.
Coincidentally, a cousin delivered a slightly pre-mature baby at this same hospital during this time. When the stress would become unbearable, you could find me at the nursery window. A sure-fire stress reliever. :)
I stayed in his room with him the entire stay. We had hospital connections who arranged it so he wouldn't get a room-mate for his semi-private room and I was able to stay over-night with him to push his button. He was released a few days later just in time to attend my mother's services at the church. I won't go there again but you know how difficult this was. More visiting and laughing. As I look back, it's the only thing that kept me from falling off the edge.
We laughed again when it came time to write an excuse note for D2 to return to school. "Please excuse D2 from school from this date to that date. Her grandmother died, her great-grandmother died and her father had emergency surgery 1200 miles from home." Who would believe that?
***I realize that this post is not really funny and apologize if that is what you were expecting. I guess I should probably also apologize for its length as well but once I got started, it just kept pouring out and I couldn't stop it. Laughter. It's the best medicine.***
If you're still here, here's a little something for hanging in there for this painfully long post: