Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Only Protocol

This may seem macabre, but my Life is Funny post this week is about the time my mom was in the hospital about seven years ago. It was NOT funny at the time. Six months later, I was telling the story to a group of women I was driving in a funeral procession for a colleague who died, and they were wiping tears of laughter from their eyes. It is hard to tell whether the story was that funny, or if it was just the emotional roller coaster we were on that day, but here we go.

Seven years ago, my mom had a gall bladder operation. They were hoping to do the laproscopic one, but couldn't because her gall bladder was full of gangrene. Old fashioned gall bladder surgeries are very painful. I don't know this from experience, unless you count my changing bandages for my mom experience. Anyway, the day after her surgery, she has physical therapy, and afterwards she is breathing hard. My mom's doctor happens to call the hospital to find out how she is doing, and when he is told she is breathing heavily after physical therapy, he orders a CAT scan, stat. I overhear the nurses talking. They think he is overdoing it, but of course, doctors orders prevail.

It turns out she had a blood clot on each lung. While we were waiting for these results, a Doppler was done on her legs. Another blood clot. She is whisked away into ICU, and I am standing in her room wondering what the H-E-double hockey stick just happened.

I am allowed to visit her for brief periods in ICU. Mom is scared. She thinks she is going to die, and doesn't want me to go home (When does this get funny? Toward the end. Hang on a few more minutes. Remember, she is alive, so you know we get a happy ending anyway.) The doctor gets to the hospital late at night. I ask him...

HRM: Is she going to die? (sniffling and crying...yada yada)
Doctor: She might. She is going to need to stay calm and optimistic. (My mother? Calm? Look up nervous in the dictionary, and there are pictures of mom.) You will need to be strong and keep her calm.
HRM: How do I do that?
Doctor: You willl find a way. In the meantime, maybe you should call her any other immediate family members to see her tonight....(Yeah, a parade at 11:30 p.m. in ICU....Chamomile tea for the soul) Be prepared to stay here overnight. (Not a problem. She doesn't even want me to leave the room. The nurses have to kick me out.)

Well, I do call her sister. Here comes some giggles.
HRM: Auntie Lydia, you may want to come to ICU. The doctor says it is possible that the situation is dire.
Auntie Lydia: Well....I don't know if I should.....
HRM: Huh? (screechy voice)
Auntie Lydia: I have a sore throat, and I don't want to give it to her. (We are talking about death bed visitation, and she is worried about mom catching a sore throat. This is my life with my family. HELP ME!)
HRM: Uh, okay Auntie. You do understand that she may not be around long enough to catch a sore throat?
Auntie Lydia: Huh? (A confused huh)
HRM: Do what you want, Auntie. I need to get back to ICU.

So I go back into ICU. Prepare yourself for more giggles.
Mom: Where were you? I was afraid I'd die, and you wouldn't be here.
HRM: (Good Lord! I am supposed to keep her calm, and she is talking about dying the moment I walk in...I ask the Holy Spirit for a little help here.) Why did you think you would die?
Mom: I am in ICU with a blood clot on my lung. (Good, she had no idea that the clot was in each lung, or about the leg clot. I can work with this.)
HRM: Mom, it's no big deal. They put everyone in ICU if they have a blood clot on the lung. It's no big deal.
Mom: Huh?
HRM: It's merely protocol. So they don't get sued. Just relax and enjoy the extra attention...
Mom: Are you sure?
HRM: Sure I'm sure! So live it up, while you can. You know the nurses on the regular floors have too many patients to go to you as soon as you ring the call bell. Here they come before you even press anything! They know what you need before you do? Why would you even want to be moved to a regular floor?
Mom: I don't know.......Are you sure.....
HRM: Sure I'm sure! (I had never lied to my mom in my whole life, but if I had known she was this gullible, I may have not worn a hat all those years covering my ears....)
Mom: Well, if it is no big deal after all, maybe you should go home and get some rest.
HRM: SURE! I could do that (oh dear....what if she....and I'm not there....) But you know, if you would feel better with me staying in the ICU waiting room tonight, I could do that. Only one night though. So you could feel reassured that I am near...
Mom: Thank you, honey. You're a good girl. ( Yeah. A thirty-two year old girl. And I felt as helpless and vulnerable as if I were a child. Knowing I am a child of God helped a lot, but I still...well anyways, it turned out all right, right?)

Well, it was funny to the three ladies in my car that day. They thought telling my mom she was only there in ICU so I wouldn't sue them was hysterical. They also liked that Auntie Lydia was afraid that mom would get strep before dying if she visited (which she did the next morning). Mrs. T was wiping tears from her eyes while she was laughing. Even I saw the humor in it. I still do. Now.....Or maybe the laughter isn't from humor, but from joy.

Still, whichever is true, it is also true that...


Beth said...

Oh my, Helen! My mom has always said some people possess the gift of being trustworthy...and YOU are definitely one of those people! You could tell me a bold faced lie and I'd probably believe it forever. :) My dad is like this, too. No one would ever believe that he would be the instigator of trouble...

Wendy said...

So, have you been using your uncanny lying abilities since then? Hmmmm...?

Tiffany said...

Okay, your aunt Lydia sounds like a hoot!