I have to say that while last summer was traumatic, I find it easier to be the person in the hospital bed. For some reason it makes me feel like I have more control over the situation, it being MY body and all. The experience of it being someone else in that hospital bed, someone who you have never seen in a hospital bed, someone that you love, it is a whole nother story.
You know that saying, “Plans were made to be broken”? Kind of like rules. : ) But not as much fun. Well my plans for this weekend were broken.
– Ok pre-warning, I wrote a little bit of a book, but I’m not apologizing b/c it was a hell of a weekend and it deserved one. My whole family actually said “Janet you could write a book about this weekend” So here it is. : )
My weekend started out really fantastic, and a little early, and then ended with relief and happiness, a little late, but was a nightmare in-between.
On Thursday I filled my tank up with gas (at the lowest price I have seen in months : ) ) in preparation for my trip to Ocean City, NJ on Saturday. Thursday itself had turned out to be a great day. I got to spend the day with my mom, went to a WW meeting where I lost 3.6 pounds. Yeah go me! My oldest, Tyler, was bouncing off the walls because he was so excited about his field trip the next day that I got to go on. : ) It was a good day.
Then there was Friday when all the shittis hit the fan. It started out to be a really great day. We stopped at Wawa and got breakfast and lunch (which I was really surprised to find out that ALL of the kids in Tyler’s class did). Tyler and I sat outside of his school and had a nice quite breakfast together. Me with my Java Monster that I didn’t even realize how bad I was going to need, and Tyler with his 3,000 calorie breakfast sandwich.
(Let me calm hearts down really quick, this doesn’t end with Tyler in the hospital)
Then we went on his class trip with the rest of the 2nd grade. Our group was fantastic. Everybody was very well behaved, polite, and a lot of fun. Definitely more than I ever could have expected in a group of 8 year olds. I was very happy. Now I am going to have to give the teacher a nice end of school present for doing such a good job with them. : ) As we are leaving the museum I take my phone off silent mode and realize that my mom, who is watching my 3 yr old, Noah, has called me 4 times in the last half hour. (No it wasn’t Noah either) But of course now I am freaking out. So I get on the bus and call my mom. Well, it’s my dad. He had had surgery on Tuesday to fix his sinusitis and when they biopsied the matter that came out of him, they found brain cells. They then promptly sent him for another CT scan which showed that he has air in his brain. This is a very bad thing. It means that there is a hole in his skull, which makes his brain now exposed to infection. AAAHHH!!! So he is being sent to Newark for emergency surgery.
Oh and now the fun really begins. This is not necessarily for the faint of heart. It is Newark after all. This also was a surprise to me, never having been there before.
My dad’s ENT told him to go into the hospital through the emergency room, where they would Triage him and then send him to a room that was already being arranged. Well we got there at roughly 6pm and they took him in immediately, did their triaging, put in an IV and started him on a round of antibiotics. Apparently we were a special case however, I guess because we had specialists waiting for us. Since only 2 of us could be with him at a time, and as you can imagine the whole family rallied together, we all got a taste of the ER waiting room. OH JOY! There were people in there waiting for hours to see ANYbody. Apparently if you don’t show up to this hospital in an ambulance, half dead, you don’t have a chance in hell. You would be better off driving an hour to a different hospital. I’m not saying that the doctors aren’t fantastic. I did really like them, but your odds of getting to see one, especially on a weekend, are so slim that you would probably do better elsewhere. There was one woman who was literally bleeding all over the place, from somewhere internally (since we couldn’t see a source), that had been waiting so long she finally just broke down hysterically crying. This brought out someone who looked like management of some kind who finally took her to see someone. It was a mad house. And we got to enjoy that until midnight which is when they finally took him to his room. It wasn’t that his room wasn’t ready for him, it was just that there weren’t any free nurses to take him. Let me just describe the area in which the kept my dad for 6 hours. I am sure that most people have experienced an ER room one time or another, so you know of the “rooms” with curtains to distinguish themselves and for supposed “privacy”. Well there’s were very small. Not to mention the fact that there were beds along the walls in the hallway as well with people in them. One of which I kept referring to as “the dead guy”. He never moved and was as white as the sheet that he was holding over his fetal position body, I think to block out the light. Half way through my dad’s stay in this place they wheeled another bed into his already tiny room. We didn’t realize you could even fit another bed in this area. It was now so small that if you closed the curtain, which I hadn’t noticed before, you couldn’t stand between the beds. So they left it open. There goes any pretense of privacy. Which I guess was ok for us, we were really just waiting around, but we got to hear all about the other guy. Who no one knew why was there. He didn’t know, none of his family knew. It was very odd, but hey he had his blue suit in a bag, so they were all happy. I don’t know. Ah and a fun thing that they told us while there, you can’t keep any personal items on you. Even the doctors carried all of their equipment (the portable enough kinds) around with them. Apparently even if it is screwed into a wall, it will be stolen. I know, I know, now is when you say “Why are you even in a hospital like this?” Or at least that’s the question that I asked. Well the Neurosurgeon and ENT that were recommended were only in this hospital this weekend, so we were there for them. Which ended up being a very good thing, they may actually have saved my dad’s life. So after 6 hours my dad was taken to his room. The doctors told us that there were too many traumas that night and we would have to wait for tomorrow morning for the surgery. They scheduled it for 7:30 and would take him as soon as an OR opened even if it was before then, but that was unlikely. So we made sure that my dad was good, we said good night and went home for the night hoping that he would get some sleep.
Then there was Saturday which only slightly trumped Friday in the insanity. We got back to the hospital at 7am. We waited around until about 11am for an OR to open. That was when the doctors gave up and came in and told us we would try again tomorrow, the surgery was scheduled for the same time the next day. They did this instead of just praying an OR would open because they didn’t think it was likely and my dad wouldn’t be able to eat for yet another day. So now he could eat and my brother came to the rescue with some D&Ds. Everyone loves a little Dunkin right? After lunch we went home to shower, change (you really do feel gross after being in that hospital) and pack for another night. I’d like to mention really quickly now that the hospital is an hour north of my mom’s house and my mom’s house is an hour north of mine. So to go home and pack for another night was not a lot of fun, but I did get to see the boys briefly. I was a little concerned about my stress levels and the lack of sleep but the image of my dad’s brain popping out of a hole in his sinus cavity was enough to make me not care and tell myself I had all next week to rest.
The exciting part of Saturday happened when my mom and I got back to the hospital. (oh I wish I could draw you a picture) The set-up of the hospital is such that to get to the front door from the parking garage (which cost $10 a day : ( ) you have to walk past the ER, including the “driveway” for the ambulances. Well as my mom and I are walking across, and thank god we were almost to the other side, a car comes peeling around the corner, definitely not looking for pedestrians. I am pretty sure that there weren’t any wheels actually making contact with the road, he was going so fast. My fear of getting run over was quickly replaced with another fear as the car was driving full speed at the ambulance entrance to the hospital with his door open yelling “Help! Help! Yo he shot! He shot! We need Help!”.
Ah Newark, how I’ll miss your entertainment.
After spending some time with my dad, in his nice quite single room, we brave the walk back to the car. Thankfully this time it was just nerve-racking, but not to my knowledge actually life threatening. Although, I think that my mom would beg to differ. As soon as we got out of the hospital door my mom grabbed my arm and made me walk to the other side of the “road” to avoid the swarm of people in front of the ER. This of course included what seemed like an entire police force. My mom was convinced that it was the rest of his gang standing around with the cops, or the other gang waiting to make sure that he was actually dead. This also included, to my amusement, “their women” (I mean that to sound derogatory). You know the women in ridiculously tight dresses (who should probably not be wearing tight anything) and their ridiculously high heels. We made it to the car without incident however, and prayed that tomorrow the surgery would actually happen.
Then there was Sunday.
We arrived at the hospital again at 7am. The walk in was thankfully only entertaining by the fact that we got to follow a blood trail into the building. On arrival we found out that the surgery was pushed back to 9am but they were confident he would not be bumped. The anesthesiologist (spelt that right on the first try!) came in to get him at 8:30 and when he told us it was definitely going to happen I felt like confetti and streamers should have started flying around. He took us down to the prep area where we waited for them to get the OR ready for us, they didn’t want to take any chances by making us wait for that in our room. And not surprisingly as they started to wheel him into the OR another bed was literally coming in the room with a multiple lacerations victim. My dad’s people started walking faster afraid they would lose their OR again. They told us to wait in the surgery waiting room and that the surgery should take about an hour and a half. This was a good time for us to grab breakfast. We had been too busy that morning for anything and I was jonesing for some coffee. SO we get to the cafeteria and the coffee shop is closed. UHG! And I just couldn’t force myself to settle for the Dunkin Doughnuts coffee that they had brewing in the caf. One day of that sludge was bad enough. I was actually hoping for one of those coffee machines in a hallway, there weren’t any. : ( After breakfast it was back to the waiting room. After 3 hours of waiting we started to get a little worried. My husband tried to console me with the fact that my tubal which was supposed to take only a half hour took 4 ½. Which I’m sure also freaked him out. I of course was asleep and had no idea. Well, after 4 hours of waiting we started to get some interesting people in the waiting room with us. Turns out there was more activity on the fun and exciting streets of Newark. We now, on top of the stabbing victim, had two gunshot victims. One of which had his intestines pouring out of his stomach. Oh the things you get to hear. The hallways were now swarming with cops. A team of them for each victim. And the concerned friends and family crowd was growing by the second. After 4 ½ hours my dad’s doctors came out. The surgery took so long because the hole had been much bigger than they expected and the base of his skull was so thin that it was in danger of, actually I don’t know what, cracking, disintegrating, but the neurosurgeon was not happy about it. They reinforced his skull, not unlike a floor or roof, and filled the hole. If they had known the extent of the damage he may have warranted an OR before one of the many gunshot victims. We were just relieved that he was fixed and safe of further damage and could get away from that waiting room.
In the recovery room my dad showed a sign of himself that I had never seen before. Well two actually. He was just coming off of his anesthesia and apparently was more scared of the surgery than he let us believe. He kept telling us that he wasn’t fixed yet and that we needed to get the doctor back. It was a little scary and we had to remind ourselves that he was still all doped up and didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he started to get very amusing. I think that he was having some seriously messed up SciFi dreams. He said that pigs were eating the world. Before the surgery they told us that there was a possibility that they would have to take pieces of him from his leg and what not to fill the hole, which he was concerned about. I noticed that he was feeling around for stitches and I told him, don’t worry, they didn’t have to use any of your pieces. He then looked at me with all seriousness and concern in his eyes and said “Did they take yours?” It was all I could do to not crack up. He was saying things like this for about an hour. Who knew my dad could be so funny. I think that we all really needed something to break the tension of the weekend. Of course when he was fully lucid he didn’t believe us about any of it. : )
They kept him over night one more time just to make sure that he was ok, which was not surprising. One small, but pungent thing that I forgot to mention, but still amazingly played a role in this weekend. We had to park on the 4th floor of the parking garage every time and the elevator smelt like rotting sauerkraut. How for three days it had the same sent that never got better or worse I have no idea (well besides the lack of cleaning). We tried holding our breaths, but apparently we don’t have the lung capacity for 4 flights. We attempted the stairs, but honestly we were all lucky to still be walking we were so exhausted, so that only happened once. It was just yet another piece of Newark that we had to endure.
Thankfully Monday morning was uneventful and dad got to come home. Now the trick will be to get him to relax and stay still for the next couple of weeks so that his brain can recover.
All I have to say now is Good Bye and Good Riddance Newark. I hope to never darken your doorway again. But thank you to all of the doctors who fixed my dad.