The doctor came out himself to tell us mom had survived the surgery and was expected to make a full recovery. Isn't that odd? You go from waiting to hear she has died to making a full recovery in just a few hours and you wonder, "Did I go all crazy drama all of a sudden or was the drama real?" They had debrided her leg from knee to ankle to remove the infection. She had a wound that would need lots of care in the next few months, but the infection was gone. She should be able to breathe on her own the next day when they took the breathing tube out. She would continue in this doctor's care until the wound was healed and there was a possibility of skin grafting down the road but the wound had to do some serious healing first.
That was the beginning of what I would come to call the push to get us out of the hospital. The breathing tube was taken out and we sat with our breath held waiting to see her breathe on her own. It took so long that I was scared they would have to put it back in. But she did start breathing on her own. She started to be driven crazy by us hanging around her so we would go read magazines and laugh and chat in the atrium of the hospital.
She was scheduled to come out of ICU and she was drugged to the maximum so we decided to wait to go home until she had made the move. The problem was that it takes a long time for beds to open up in hospitals and although they wanted the room in ICU, they didn't have the room on the vascular floor. So, low and behold, she told us to go home and we did. Later that night, possibly 8ish I realized I had the one thing mom really wanted, her glasses. My then boyfriend, now husband drove me over and I ran into the hospital to give them to her. They had moved her to the vascular floor within a half hour of my arriving. I walked into her darkened room and she said, "Oh Jen, I am so glad you are here. They said I was going in for surgery and then they brought me into this dark room and nobody is around. I am not sure what I am supposed to do." She was scared and so alone and I kept thinking if I had not come in right then, who would have calmed her? So, I got her settled and told her it was alright. Surgery was over. She was in this room to sleep now. I then went straight to the desk where they assured me that it was because of the many drugs in her system and there would be some confusion for a few days until the drugs cleared out.
When I got into our car I started what I call gasp crying. It is the kind of cry you often hold in because it has the power to consume you. It was so hard to see my mom so alone in that room and so confused. Eric asked me if I thought I should stay and although I wanted to more than anything, I knew that the nurses were right. She was drugged and confused and she would sleep soon. I went home that night, but it would be the last time I made that decision when she was in the hospital.
And though we were promised a full recovery, for the next three plus months my family and I would come to know that hospital intimately. It would become the place where we comforted each other as we cried, where we chased down doctors to get answers to our questions, where we complained about the fact that they kept sending her out too soon, and eventually where we said goodbye to our mom.
For now I am leaving us on the road to recovery. The next stop was a rehab hospital, but it is not time to go there just yet. At each place on this journey it is important to stop and sift through the memories. It is important as I go through this to hold onto to each one just a little longer after I have written it as if it is a bubble out of the bottle that has not yet burst. I can watch the memory unfold in the bubble and then watch it drift out of my hands and slowly away from me to sit on the branch of a tree every so precariously before it pops and is gone for good. The memories will never be gone for good, but I am hoping some of the pain associated with them can leave on that bubble. I don't want to take the pain with me.