Sunday, April 29, 2012
Reruns and opening lines: what do I say next?
When the kids were little, we had the full cable TV package with all the channels (it must have been some kind of special, because I'd never have spent that kind of money). We soon realized there were many, many channels inappropriate for our kids (and for us, for that matter).
Every now and then the kids would come home from school or from a friend's house and say they'd heard about or seen some show on some channel and wanted to watch it, and I'd have to tell them "no" because it was on a channel we didn't watch. And I knew if we made an exception for one show, they would feel like they could turn to that channel anytime, on their own, to see if that show was on, increasing the chance of being exposed to something we didn't necessarily want them to see.
After one such setback in TV-watching, The (then very young) Heir stormed off in anger one day and I heard him tell a friend, "Nine hundred and ninety-nine channels and I only get to watch three!"
People ask me, "Are you sleeping OK?" and I say, "Yes" because I do sleep OK.
When I sleep.
There is a great verse in Job (I told you I was obsessed with the Book of Job) that says "When I lie down I think, 'How long before I get up?' The night drags on, and I toss till dawn." (ch 7, v 4).
I flip channels on the TV - we don't have all 999 anymore, but there are still over a hundred. I watch late night reruns of "The Big Valley" and old movies and reruns of Law and Order (my friend Kelly would be disappointed if I didn't admit that) and info-mercials on getting tight abs, cleaning grout, and - the later it gets - all these single women who are apparently just waiting to talk to me.
(I am hoping one of those girls with tight abs might come over and clean my grout - the perfect confluence of three info-mercials).
I can tell the family room light is on, and I wonder if The Young Prince is still up, watching some movie he's undoubtedly seen before, or whether he just left the light on when he went to bed.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine channels, and not one worth watching at 1 a.m.
When I do get to sleep, I sleep fine. I've always slept well. MG always marvelled at my ability to go to sleep and sleep so soundly. I have always told her that when you have a clear conscious, you sleep the sleep of the innocent.
Maybe the difference is that she grew up Catholic, where guilt was a way of life, while I grew up Baptist, where God would forgive anything as long as you remembered to ask.
Time stopped today. I mean it. I woke up this morning and looked at my watch and it was five minutes to 7. Visitation starts at 8, so I thought was doing fine. I lay back down for a minute to watch Kevin Costner's "Wyatt Earp" (Kurt Russell's version is so much better, primarily because of Val Kilmer) and when I look back at my watch it was still five minutes to 7.
Turns out, it was after 8 ... 8:22 before I go out to get breakfast and leave for the hospital.
So now I have to find time to get a watch battery (I know I can use my cell phone, but I'm in the habit of checking my watch; I've done it all day, and it's always five minutes til seven). And a haircut. And try to get my car in the shop while I'm here to get it checked out. There are so many things that get put on hold, but I find that when I'm here at the hospital watching MG, I don't want to leave; and when I'm at home, all I want to do is get back up here to watch her some more.
In her room, I position my chair where I can watch her eyes. She turns her head from side to side and at times struggles to - I assume - get comfortable (or as comfortable as she can given the situation). When her movements become increasingly frequent I talk to her. Sometimes she opens her eyes for a few seconds, but mostly she keeps them closed. I don't blame her.
I'm supposed to be good with words, but I'm running out of things to say to her, to come up with things that don't require a response - or at least a response more than a head nod. There are no more stories to tell about my day, unless its to let her know the outcomes of my nightly ping-pong matches with Gray (he's killing me now, by the way).
Otherwise, her silence is becoming my silence.
Her reality is becoming my reality.
She would love to hear me say that. One of the great lessons of marriage MG has taught me is that her perception is my reality. By that she means how she interprets things or sees things has to be real to me; I can't just dismiss her with "well, that's your perception,'' because that is just so, uh, dismissive. I have learned to at least try to figure out how she arrived at her perception of any given situation, and deal with it accordingly.
It's a life-long process, of course. Even after all the years we've been married (22 in a few weeks; reminder to me to remember the anniversary!), and all the years before that we knew each other, figuring out how the other thinks is like watching Apocalypse Now, The Redux: there just seems to be no end to it.
Words. It was interesting that, a few days ago, I was so anxious about whether MG would open her eyes and see me. I wondered what she'd say to me.
I was watching some movie last night. In it, the wife had been beaten up by some bad men, who thought she was dead. However, she wasn't, and in the next scene, she's in the hospital with her loving and revenge-minded husband by her side, holding her hand.
And of course her hair is perfectly clean and combed out on the pillow. There is one tube running across her face, into her clean and pretty little nose. His chair is the perfect height to sit easily by her bedside and hold her hand, while of course resting his forehead in dedicated exhaustion on the side of the bed. And when she speaks, she says something terribly appropriate. Not as hokey as when Adrian woke up from her coma to say to Rocky, "There's one thing I want you to do for me: win!" but something memorable.
We all know that's a crock.
But now I wonder what I will say to her when I am confident she can hear and comprehend what I'm saying. I mean, I've been telling her I love her and every thing's all right and how special she is to me and the other stuff that sounds like it came right out of a Lifetime movie special; but I'm about talked out.
I know I'm supposed to grasp her hand tightly, caress her face with my other hand, look deep into her eyes and swear I'll kill the men who did this to her ... no, wait. That's what the guy in the movie said.
It will probably be something trite and predictable, something that just comes out because life doesn't come with a script.
Something like: "How ya' doing?"
The truth is, in the end it won't really matter. I won't remember it, and I'm almost positive she won't. What will matter is the moment she wakes up and we can indeed begin to talk, to cry, to laugh (if her ribs don't hurt too much), to catch up on all that has happened - at least as far as I think she's ready to hear it all.
When I got in this morning (Sunday), the nurse told me MG'd had another rough night in terms of being agitated. MG's white cell count remains a bit high, and she was running a temperature. I asked if she continued to run a high temperature if it could mean postponing tomorrow's surgery, and I was told "yes."
However, by afternoon MG's temperature was down closer to 100, and the nurse said she believes it is staying down on its own, without meds. I guess the temperature monitor is on Celsius - it shows up currently as 38.2. The nurses' station has this chart that converts it over, but with Google, it was easy enough to see that 37 degrees is normal, and that the high 38s is where we don't want to be. They won't operate if she keeps spiking into the 102 range, so if we can hold this current range, we're good.
No one can tell me about the elevated white cell count, other than her body has been through all kinds of "insult" (that wonderful medical term), and she's apparently absorbing the rather large hematoma in her pelvis, so again - no one seems overly concerned.
However, one thing I've learned is they don't tell you what they're concerned about until either it's time to take action, or the crisis has passed.
The ortho-pod on call comes by to talk. By now I recognize this is more an effort to placate me than give me any meaningful information. He says she's on schedule to go to surgery at 7:15 a.m., but they could wait to see how she's responding which could push it back to 8 or 9 o'clock. Or it could be afternoon.
I feel like I've had this conversation before. I dismiss this nice young man as quickly as I can.
And again - best guess - is they will take her off the ventilator "pretty quickly'' (whatever that means), so it shouldn't be long after tomorrow's surgery before I will know MG will be able to hear me, and be able to speak.
A well-meaning friend stopped by to talk, and shared a story. A friends of her had a similar injury last September, and this friend told me, "She went back to work last week. I couldn't believe it! That's so fast!"
Immediately in my mind I started counting - September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April - eight months.
I know that, looking back, it won't seem that long.
But looking forward, it seems like a lot more reruns in my future.