Sunday, July 24, 2016

Taking Leave

86 hours ago I got a phone call from a hospital nurse, telling me my 22-year-old daughter was in the ER with injuries from a car accident.

I have spent 80 of those hours here in the hospital with her. The first five hours I was here were spent in the ER waiting to find out the full extent of her injuries, standing by her bed watching her cry in pain, immobilized on the stretcher with a neck brace, not even moving her hands. I couldn’t even touch her, except for a few brief, teeny kisses on her forehead and to brush her hair out of her eyes.

I’m not whining. I’m recounting what has been happening. We are very lucky that none of her injuries are serious or permanent. Other parents are not so lucky. We may have six months or so of dealing with the aftermath of this, but six months out of a life are a drop in the bucket.

I have been here in this hospital, stressed, worried, scared, sad, helpless, sleepless, freezing, unshowered, unmedicated, useless, sober, and under-caffeinated. They unfolded a bench for me as a temporary bed which only makes my already tired muscles and back stiff. There was no sleep for the first 24 hours, and very little since then.  20-minute catnaps here and there have been a blessing.

-          And I am absolutely sure that I have it the easiest out of any person here in this hospital, staff included. 

It is Sunday morning. It is now four days After Accident. We have had some big accomplishments: on Friday my daughter got out of bed and sat in a chair, then on Saturday she worked her way up to walking (with a walker and nurse support) to the end of the bed and back, then they all walked to the bathroom. Today, she ‘walked’ out into the hallway. And she pooped. (She didn’t want me to put that up as a Facebook status, so I made her a sticker for her to wear on her johnny that says, “I Pooped!”)

Last night, my mother came with my 11-year-old daughter (who has been with her since the night of the accident. THANKYOUMOMYOUARESUCHABIGHELP!) and I was able to go home and take a shower and change.

It’s not yet 7 a.m., and my daughter is sleeping. It even looks like she’s sleeping well. She got almost 2 and a half hours good sleep, and was able to go back to sleep after a wake-up for medication, vitals check, and trek to the bathroom.

We are working up to her getting moved to a rehab facility tomorrow, and are looking at 6 months to initial recovery. Lots to do and prepare for.  I should go to sleep, too.

I can’t sleep; I’m wired. I’m so overtired, I’m punchy. We have reached an in-between moment, the down time between that period of stress-to-relief and the beginning of resolve – the work, the nitty-gritty, the aftermath.

And I’m too wound up to sleep.

Nothing productive ever happens on a Sunday morning. Phone calls are out of the question – the businesses I would need to call are closed.

I’ve decided to ‘take leave’ for a little.  To let go of reality and amuse myself. Take a mental break. 
There’s nothing I have to do right now, and I’m going to have to buckle down in a few hours.

Hey, I can’t sleep.

(This is usually the time where I start planning my “I was unsupervised” defense.)

I don't want to talk about my 'feelings'. Already did ("One Mother's Gratitude"). I'm ready to shake the Etch A Sketch and begin over.

I was fairly certain that no one here wanted me to start pushing any of the gazillion buttons around here, or playing with all the gadgets.

I’ve had my eye on this one for a while now. I’ve come up with at least 12 uses for it already:


So, I grabbed my cell phone and walked around.

Deren doesn’t want her picture taken (she has no idea how much it is killing me not to), so here is one of her feet under the blankets, with the walker in the background. When she has her own walker, she is planning to pimp it out. I'll be buying pink tennis balls later.


The WOWs (I know they can’t be called COWs anymore) are parked outside my daughter’s room. Another temptation. Even moreso, because I know how to use them (if the nurses here knew that, they would have moved them by now).


This kind of shower should be in every home.  I’m not sure which excited me more: the bench, the dual showerheads, or just the lower level showerhead. Shaving and … showering would definitely be enhanced!


Because I was in the bathroom, I had to take a selfie, and nothing says “Classy Bathroom Selfie” like a bedpan in the background.


I went outside for a bit. On the sidewalk they have painted footprints – I’m not sure why, exactly, but they are there. So I measured my step against them. I figure the person who posed for these was a male who was about a foot taller than me. If I walked with my legs that far apart, the docs would be chasing me with a suppository.



This is Kathy. She can kick your ass in physical therapy and make you happy about it at the same time. She is the perfect blend of drill instructor and mother (not ‘mother’ like me). My daughter loves her.



This is actually kind of comical.  Her activity level is written as “not OOB yet” – not ‘out of bed’ yet. I read it as a reference to our upcoming vacation next month to Old Orchard Beach. (Okay, maybe it’s just me.)


I have been wearing these hospital fashion socks since we got in a room. It's a good thing, not just because my feet are cold. If they were normal socks, I'd probably be 'skating' in the hallway.


This is ---

Damn. I was just getting into it.

My daughter’s father just got here. There’ll be more visitors, more therapy, and more to do.

Back to reality.

Hope I sleep, next break.

(For your sake, too.)


Thank you for playing!