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My life right now is very different from this time last year. I was in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices as much as Carter had liver pills (old, bad joke). There seemed to be no end in sight – like a long, dark tunnel. Mom had a stroke, dad had emergency appendectomy – which uncovered numerous health issues -two months later he had a car wreck and more issues, mom kept passing out, and I considered being fitted for a straight jacket. Being an only child with no relatives around to help had it’s disadvantages, for sure! I was literally in some kind of medical facility 3-5 times per week, or interacting with home heath, for almost a year.
When life throws you a curve ball like that, the only thing you can do is look up. And boy, did I ever! Maybe that’s the reason I walked around bumping into stuff all the time. God saw me through that trying time, and he also showed me how much I had to be thankful for. When I would come home to my family every night, they were still the same, funny, loving, compassionate family. Jim was the source (next to God). He just kept assuring me of his love and support, ran errands for me when he could, cooked, cleaned, whatever he could do when he was not out of town with work.
My girls cooked, cleaned, and basically taught themselves their school work. I would oversee, tell them what was next, leave a list, and say, “Bye!” They did it all, no questions asked. Laundry – everyone in the house does their own, and boy was I glad I instituted that a few years ago! Nolan took over walking dad’s ever-hyper-spastic-annoying outside dog without complaint, took out their trash, carried groceries. Taryn, although gone most of the time with work and school, always connected with me either through texts, little notes left on my purse – “Love you mom – praying for you, I know it’s hard” – or a hug before or after work. I never felt so happy and thankful for what I had until last year, isn’t that ironic?!? At the time when I was the most tested and my life felt so out of control, I learned to be thankful.
I had the medical terminology down. Anything the doctors said, I wrote down and looked up. I spoke fluent “hospitalian”. I learned to play defense, offense, and tackle. I found out what to look for in doctors and nurses, which ones were good at their jobs and which ones absolutely STUNK. I learned to speak up, to ask questions, to be assertive, to chase doctors down hallways and into elevators, to wait outside hospital rooms and jump them, and to ask and ask and ASK for assistance! I found out if I did not speak up for my parents, NO ONE would!
One night a couple days after mom’s stroke, a young big shot floor doctor decided to walk in and discharge her. “OK Mrs. Davis, I see you have been here for a couple of days now, you’re looking good, I think we can let you go!” My parents, thinking this was great news from a doctor, looked at each other, excited about this prospect. I had been getting up with the chickens every morning to catch mom’s neurologist who liked to arrive at 6:00. He had just told me that morning since she was looking a little peaked (and from some things that I had pointed out) she would not be discharged for a few more days and would then be transitioned to rehab. Armed with that information and short on patience AND sleep, I sprang to action. Jim, the normally quick-on-his-feet reactor, didn’t even have time to take a breath before I was all over Mr. Bossy Pants.
“Now wait a minute!” I said, probably not in a nice voice, “Her neurologist told me this morning he is keeping her until Monday and then she’s going to rehab.” Bossy Pants did not like this, and proceeded to tell me he had seen hundreds of stroke victims and this was the normal pathway and she was well enough to go home. “He wrote it in his notes, did you read his notes?” I countered. He said he had – he was lying, and I knew it. He backed down, said he would consult the neurologist in the morning, and left. I looked at Jim and knew we were both thinking the same thing: had we not still been there that night, mom would have been discharged, and there would have been no rehab. I talked to the neurologist the next morning. Mr. Bossy never even called him.
After I moved dad from a very non-communicative heart doctor to a new specialist, the new doctor stopped me mid-sentence: “Are you a nurse?” “No, I’ve just been all over Beckley with mom and dad and their numerous health issues.” I replied. “Well you know a lot…you know a LOT!” I almost stopped him right there and asked if he’d like to pay me for my knowledge.
Mom and dad are much better health-wise now than this time last year. We have appointments 4 times a month. They both have serious isssues, and dad’s appearance is much altered. However, I now feel like the parent, setting them free. Mom drives again (look out, world!) – they go to breakfast, grocery shopping, dinner with friends. They got to work in their beloved garden again for summer. I’ve been able to take a few steps back, take a breath, teach my girls, be with my family again, go on vacation. Dad has his sense of humor back, and mom is still praying for everybody on the planet.
And I have learned to be content. You know what that is? PRICELESS.