Happy Tuesday! As I am writing, there is a colossal downpour happening on Main Street, Vermont (and environs). I tried to capture an artsy shot of the sheets of rain, but this is all I got with my camera phone.
While I wait out the rain storm, I am in a coffee shop/gallery where there are all kinds of unheard of Vermont luxuries, including air conditioning, Internet and good coffee. Because I want to prove that quaint coffee shops still exist and can look like something other than the interior of a Starbucks, here is the view as I write.
So, hey, listen. I have to wrap this Pancreas Play/Wagner Ring Cycle up in the next couple of days and then sign off until I have learned my lines/songs/blocking for the show. I think I'll finish up the DFWthePancreas-The New York City Edition in the next couple of days, and then wait a little bit and write DFWthePancreas-The Maine Edition (I enjoy that they sound like versions of Monopoly) once I have the show memorized. Sound good? Good. Please place any complaints in the complaint box or send them on to Stephen Sondheim who thinks it is a blast to write songs with oodles of lists to memorize.
Alright! Here we go! Let's bring this gallbladder gala on home!
So we left off with the arrival of Saint Maryday and her daughters, Elizabeth and Gwendolyn. Yes, and my kids’ names are Charlotte and Beatrix. And yes, we know (and like) that our girls’names sound like they are straight out of an Austen novel. Maryday and I spent a lot of time watching period films in college (and still do).
Once Maryday arrived, the child burden fell almost entirely on her, which would make a lot of people pull their hair out strand by strand, but is somehow fine with her. “I’m Marmee!” she says (this Alcott reference will appear later on a quiz).
Everyone waited moment by moment for Beatrix’s temperature to drop. Her typical pattern is to run a raging fever that is caused by a mysterious toddler virus, and then, as quickly as it comes, it goes. I must have sent 1,267 text messages from Rob’s hospital room asking what Beaz’s temp was, only to get back “103.2” or “102.6” or “it’s down to 100.6 but that’s on Motrin” I never got the text I wanted saying “it’s 98.6!!!” The mystery fever raged on for the entirety of Rob’s hospital stay. Desperately looking for something positive, I took comfort in the fact that Beatrix’s pediatrician worked out of Lenox Hill, so if Beatrix ended up going to the hospital, at least she and Rob were under the same roof. Fortunately, that never happened.
I’m not sure if you’ve already thought of this, but if there are four kids and only one adult taking care of them, what do you do with the other three “well” kids? Right? We’re in an apartment in a not incredibly safe part of New York City, so you can’t just push three kids out the door and say “go ride your bike” unless you are interested in them joining the fine uptown trade of crack sales. My lovely friend Jacob pinch hit again and took the three big kids out, as did my long-time friend Stefani Rae. Oh, and just because nothing was supposed to be easy, it was also the first heat wave of the season with 90+ days in May. Perfect.
We did have a couple of big improvements on Rob’s end of things. His move up to the 6thfloor was great, with a few exceptions. On the first night, a fire alarm went off the entire night. Really. They didn’t evacuate because they knew it was an electrical issue or a sensor issue or something, but they couldn’t get it to go off and stay off. So imagine being in pain, in the hospital, starving, getting vitals taken and medication every 90 minutes throughout the night AND a smoke alarm going off intermittently. Miserable. They fixed the smoke alarm, but then Rob’s heart monitor went on the fritz and beeped all night due to a low battery. Which it didn’t have, because it was plugged in. When I came in and realized it had beeped all night, making the grand total of beeping 24 hours (not including the smoke alarm) I pulled out my best Shirley MacLaine and refused to take “I can’t seem to fix it” as an acceptable answer, telling them I would not leave the nurses station until they’d found a new monitor. And……he got a new monitor. And……he got moved to the luxurious side of the semi-private room, the window side. Views, more space, closer to the bathroom, no beeping alarms, it was like moving from a Super 8 to a Westin. He finally got a little sleep. No diet coke, but sleep.
The next couple of days continued in a pattern. Maryday stayed home and watched 5,238 episodes of Bubble Guppies with Beaz and made snacks seemingly around the clock, because when you have a 3, 5, 10 and 13-year-old, someone always needs something to eat or drink. Amy Rogers hung out with Rob in the mornings so I could get Charlotte to school and spend some time with sickly Beatrix. When I got to the hospital, Rob and I played Scrabble and took walks around the 6th floor, waiting for his pancreas to heal so he could finally get that stone-filled gallbladder out. The doctors came in and out with stats, “Hey! You’re down to 400 today! You’re getting there!”
The big race was for Rob’s pancreas to heal before the Memorial Day weekend hit, because the doctors weren't ashamed to say that vacations were scheduled and if he wasn’t well enough for surgery by Friday, no one was going to want to operate on him until Tuesday. Unless he could come to the Hamptons and have his operation pool-side with a Gin and Tonic as anesthetia.
They were also clear that not only would he not be released from the hospital, but he would not be allowed to eat over the long weekend. This might be as close as Rob got to losing his shit and he made it a personal mission to will himself better. In fact, on Thursday morning, he got busted by a doctor for jogging in the hallway. For real. While rolling his IV along with him.
It was fun to take walks with him and hear his commentary on the 6th floor. He was keeping track of which staff was goofing off, “She’s texting on her phone every time I go by” and who was a real pro, “Maggie has been a nurse for 45 years and everyone is scared of her, even though she’s only 4’10 and can’t reach the IV stand”. On a side note, we were there for Maggie’s very last day as a nurse and we clapped for her as she walked down the hall to her retirement party, all decked out in sparkles. When I asked her what her plans were for retirement she said she was flying to the Phillipeans to take care of her 90 year old mother. Once a nurse, always a nurse.
The doctor stopped by late Thursday night and said they were very hopeful to get Rob on the schedule for surgery on Friday. He said he’d be an “add on” to the schedule, so if it happened at all, it would happen in the late afternoon. Rob was feeling terrific and optimistic, but I on the other hand, was completely trashed. Beatrix continued to get up in the middle of the night every night with her fever, and I was having trouble sleeping at all. It seemed like as soon as I managed to calm down enough to go to sleep, I had to get up, and then had to get Charlotte to school. I was as tired as I’d ever been in my life (sorry to whine, but there is a point to this), even more tired than ‘newborn’ tired, which is the exhaustion you have when you have a newborn baby. I was just totally wasted. Rob sent me home with strict instructions to give the baby monitor to Maryday that night and sleep until I woke up. Charlotte was to get herself up and dressed and to school. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to follow these instructions, I had about 90 different kinds of guilt.
All I can tell you is that while I did manage to get a stretch of about 7 hours of badly needed sleep, what I woke up to was enough to age me 10 years.