Last week I visited my family on the East coast for a pre-holiday visit to celebrate my niece’s birthday and visit my Dad in rehab, recovering from pneumonia and a new diagnosis of leukemia. He has become all too familiar with physical rehab centers as he approaches 80. I’m sure he doesn’t know who Amy Winehouse is, but he channels her lyrics on a regular basis.
Fortunately my four siblings are around to help care for my aging parents, with my brother at the helm coordinating the care. I was in town to help out. My sister and I attended a discharge-planning meeting with my Dad, in which the date of expected discharge was three weeks away. This was met by an eye roll by my Dad – he wanted to hear the discharge date was now. Patience is not one of his strong suits.
I get it. I want things now too. We all do - material things, relationships, answers, outcomes met, things to change or things to stay the same. It is hard to embrace the uncertainty of not knowing. I wanted a medical provider to explain why my Dad’s hemoglobin of 6.9 went untreated for the last three days. I wanted one of the three medical providers (NP’s and MD)to be on site, rather than visiting just a few hours a day. I wanted cancer cells out of my Dad’s blood. I didn’t want to wait 8 hours in the ER to confirm his blood levels, type and match his blood and watch the blood drip ever so slowly over 4 hours. Sometimes the present moment is not what we want but it's what we've got.
Life is full of opportunities to see reality as it is and how we want it to be different than it is; Whether it is a car breaking down, ants invading your home, a failed relationship or a challenging health condition. Everything changes even if we try to force it to stay the same. We can either fight reality or attempt to make friends with it. Even our red blood cells get replaced every120 days. Nothing stays the same.
I watched my mind vacillate between contentment and wanting to be elsewhere. I had a wide open schedule with nowhere to go and I was psyched my Dad was getting new blood cells to oxygenate his muscles in rehab. We needed a bit of a boost to ambulate 125 feet to get him home and we needed every little red blood cell on our team.
While my dad napped, I did some reading. A watched pot never boils, nor does a watched blood transfusion. I longed for the days of gravity tubing so I could speed it up a wee bit. I’m used to transfusing blood rapidly on healthy young women experience a postpartum hemorrhage, so this four hour business felt like molasses. I realized how silly my thoughts were but this was my mind. We had an awesome nurse, my Dad got great care, he got every last drop of those energetic red blood cells and finally was ready for discharge from the emergency department. The nurse arranged for transportation back to rehab.
It was 10pm, the nurse announces that the ambulance will arrive in two hours. Yes, two hours. I should be home by midnight. This was turning into a 14 hour event.
Dad naturally met this with an eye roll.
I settled back into the uncomfortable metal chair and watched a whole new set of thoughts.