Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mom Has Me Facing My Worst Fear: GERMS

There's never a dull moment and yet, there seems to be a bit of comic relief when it comes to anything in life with my mom and myself. Unfortunately, she ran into medical fiascos which left her getting a blood transfusion due to a cancerous tumor sucking the life-force right out of her. So, we sent her up to get the good ol' colonoscopy, which left her later that evening schlepping up to the ER due to a sepsis infection. Well, that left her in the hospital for the rest of the week - and what a week that was. Let me backtrack a bit and just say this: I asked her while the EMT crew was carrying her away, "Mom, which hospital do you want to go to?"

"Do I have a choice?"
"Yes. Your doctors can go to either one."

So she picked the ricketiest, oldest, almost abandoned looking hospital there is around. For the love of God, there's moss and vines growing all over the outside of the building, quite similar to The Munsters' house.

"I'm more comfortable there." she says.
"Fine."

While waiting for Mom's procedures, my two sisters and I went into the waiting room so we can see the progress on some TV screen and wait for the nurse to call us back in. To give you an idea of how old this hospital was, there was an old fashioned phone on the wall that kept ringing and ringing and ringing. Hell if I'm gonna pick it up no less contract some nasty disease from that dirty receiver. So we sat there, noses down into our iPhones. Moments later, the nurse comes charging in and yells out, "Why aren't y'all picking up this phone? I'm trying to call you! Larry? Your mom is in recovery. You can go in now." We all looked at each other like, "Who woulda' thunk?" On top of that, I have a really bad case of OCD, so when Mom kept dropping her remote control for the TV, I kept telling her, "This is the LAST time I have to disinfect myself after picking that dirty thing up off the floor. Stop!"

She laughs.

Outside of her hospital room window was quite a sight. I can't even tell you what they were trying to muster or clean up - it was in a courtyard full of generators and old abandoned equipment. There was broken glass windows and huge central air and heating units that blared out the most obnoxious noise.

So we got this nurse named, Alice. She was a spitting image of Berta from Two and a Half Men. She was feisty, rude, sarcastic and just loved my mom to pieces. So all in all - she was just great. Mom was desperate for a cigarette. She was now on her third day without one.

"I feel fine and I haven't smoked for three days." she says all proudly. But we all knew how quick she'd jump up if the nurse said, "Cigarette break?"

When I came back to her room from using their bathroom (which had numerous tiles missing and black mold forming at every corner imaginable), I heard a nurse screaming in the other room to this older gentleman.

"Again? You can't smoke in the hospital! This is the last time, George!"

I chuckled and told Mom some guy was smoking in his room next-door.

"Oh pass me my cigarettes! Really? He was smoking?"
"He got in trouble, Ma…"

I spent most of the days there, sitting with Mom and watching game shows and pumping the antibacterial gel dispensers like it was Pez. A lady from the cafeteria came in and wanted to take Mom's order for dinner. It was around 4 o'clock or so, and I was about to leave anyway. The nice lady turned to me and asked, "And what would you like? We have encrusted fish with roasted potatoes with diced onions and mushrooms with your choice of beverage." It sounded like a 4 star hotel, but I graciously declined.

Later that night, I called Mom. Well, I more or less pranked Mom.

"Hello?"

And in my most annoying 'happy-go-lucky-nurse' voice, I said, "Hi! This is Wendy over at the nurses' counter! I hear that you would be interested in an e-cigarette? Is that correct?"

"Oh yes, please! Oh thank you so much! Oh, please yes!"

*silence*

"So how was your 'encrusted' fish, Ma?"
"That's mean! That was mean! And it wasn't encrusted fish. They were fish sticks."

On Saturday morning, I went to go pick Mom up. I already planned on staying maybe 5 + hours just to check out. So I made myself comfortable and watched some more game shows. I brought her 1 cigarette in an empty pack and a small lighter per her request. When Alice, aka "Berta" came back into the room, she placed her bag onto the chair and saw the pack of cigarettes. She grabbed them. Mom looked over quickly, still attached to her IV and tried swiping them out from her grip. Berta swung back and put them far behind her.

"Oh no you don't!"
"Gimme' them! Gimme' them," Mom begged as she reached over as much as she could.
"These are bad for you!" Alice said as she tucked them into her pocket.
"You just want them for yourself! Ya' told me you quit not too long ago!"

Mom was so desperate that Alice finally gave in and threw the pack of one into her bag again. She then looked over at my two sisters who were frantically texting away in the corner and just shook her head. I watched Alice as she was taking down one bag of blood to replace it with another. I cringed when she was holding the caps of the tubes with her own mouth. As some of the adhesives fell onto the floor, she quickly picked them up and continued to use them anyway. I turned to watch the TV instead because my OCD was in high gear at this point. Another problem I had was that Alice spoke way too much for that small room. And what I mean by that is, the room was much too small for the amount of halitosis that came flowing out into my direction. I cannot tell you how many times I had to hold my breath in. I have never seen a room so small. When you opened the door, it was not even an inch away from the bed itself. My chair was tucked away in the corner, along with some dirty gauzes and a few wrappers that never got swept up from the patient before Mom.

So, Mom's doing okay right now. Her infection is gone and her blood levels are now normal. She has appointments with Sloan Kettering in NYC and not some rickety old shack up in the mountains to meet some hillbilly medicine man, thankfully. For now, please send some extra prayers, extra positive energy and maybe even some extra vodka for us. Mom is also excited about Friday. Why you ask? It's then she can have her martini, because the antibiotics that were given to her are the same ones they give to alcoholics when they're trying to dry out. So if you have even a sip of alcohol, you puke. Lovely, right? We had a beautiful afternoon with our family who visited us from Brooklyn. Mom and her sister are like best friends. She came up with my Uncle Tony (who I mimic quite often).  It was nice to see her laughing and feeling good again. So please keep sending your positive energy our way. Mom wants me to document all of our funny stories while we take this journey and kick cancer's ass together!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!