Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Night Before, the Day Of ... and After

Akron General Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic
Monday morning, August 22, 2016

Sunday was a fairly rough night--full of meds and reactions to same and worries. We had to be up at 4:45 this morning so that we could arrive at the Akron General Medical Center by six for all the preliminaries for Joyce's 8 o'clock surgery, a procedure to remove a few inches of her colon, which has a small tear and has been threatening her overall health.

She was very weak by the time we got here, but all the staff were very welcoming and encouraging, and before we knew it we (our son, Steve, was waiting for us when we arrived) were upstairs in the area where all the pre-surgery activities go on. Blood draws, BP checks, questions, questions, questions, an IV. Steve and I were able to sit and talk with her until almost 8, when the surgeon arrived for the final check. I recited some poems for her--Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur (a couple of her favorites)--hugged and kissed and wept. A final wave.

She has been incredibly courageous through all of this; the stuff is far more than uncomfortable, which is a pale, pale word for what she's felt the past few weeks as it became more and more certain that we would have to be here today. There's really no choice.

Everyone raves about her surgeon--and we have met him. Dr. Horratas. So we are as confident as we can be about that aspect of it. It's just, you know, the not knowing that make you crazy.

So now (about 9:30) I'm sitting with Steve in the waiting area. His wife, Melissa (who is a nurse and who teaches nursing courses at KSU), is on the way. And I am waiting for the only news I will accept today. There is something absolutely terrifying about seeing someone you love about to be wheeled away into the unknown ... and the fear that you may never see him or her again is absolutely paralyzing.

12:30 p.m.

Through the morning I'd talked with Steve and Melissa, done a bunch of reading and writing (trying to lose myself in work; they were doing the same thing). About 11:30 I shut it all down ... surely this would be over soon? My buzzer would buzz, summoning me to the desk for news ...?

But it wasn't until about 12:30 that we got the call that the surgeon was ready for us, so Steve, Melissa, and I sat in the little conference room (#2!) until he came in. He very calmly took us through it all--let us know that she had come through just fine. He even had pictures, which I looked at with the oddest damn feeling: My wife's insides ... But I felt enormous relief--inexpressible relief. We won't be able to go see her for a couple of hours--after she wakes up and they check her out some more. Can't wait ...

Thursday, August 25

I quit keeping this blog-log of what I'd been doing--just one more thing I couldn't seem to find time to do. But just a few other memories, comments about the whole thing ...

  • The front desk somehow forgot to let us know when we could go to see Joyce in recovery, but Melissa went up and asked, and, apologetically, they said she was on her way to her room. I was a bit upset--the thought that she'd wake up--and not see me there? So we headed up to room 5205, but it was empty; she was on the way. We sat in a little lounge area where we would see her come by--and then, there she was! The aide was talking with her, and she was answering. We went to her room. Embraces. Kisses. Many tears. She was still a little "out of it" when I read to her a poem I'd written for her--so much so that, later, she said she hadn't remembered it! (I'd gotten so emotional during the reading that I was croaking like a frog with laryngitis by the time it was over!)
  • She had an excellent team of professionals who dealt with her the next couple of days--and our daughter-in-law spent Monday night with her in the room, a decision that turned out to be a good thing: Joyce had some ... issues ... in the night, and Melissa was right there to take care of them. A remarkable gift Melissa gave us--herself.
  • I was back-and-forth to Hudson a few times, knowing that I needed rest, as well. And each time I returned to her room, I saw improvement. Her speech, for example, had been a bit difficult for her; she said that she could think of what to say, but her lips, tongue, and teeth were not exactly cooperating--not at first (thanks to the powerful drugs that had put her asleep). The program also called for her to get up and moving ASAP, and on Tuesday she was strong enough to take ten different walks around the hospital unit where we were. She was determined.
  • By Tuesday afternoon they were telling her she would probably go home on Wednesday, and she was excited. Her post-surgical issues were resolving very quickly--for which we were profoundly grateful. Joyce has been very determined the past few years to keep herself in shape, and she goes out to the local health club six mornings a week (early, about 6:30 or so), where she walks, does the rowing machine, some weights. These activities really helped accelerate her recovery, we are certain.
  • Late Wednesday morning we got the news that she could go home, and it all happened very quickly thereafter. A volunteer with a wheelchair arrived to take her to the front door (too far for her to walk), and I headed to the parking lot to get the car. In the car, Joyce told me the damnedest story: The volunteer who'd helped her had been in Joyce's graduating class at Garfield High School in Akron. They had known each other back in the 1960s--and he, in fact, was a good friend of Joyce's next-door neighbor in Firestone Park, a young man who'd actually taken Joyce to the prom! So it goes in Coincidence Land.
  • She continues to feel better, to do better. Right now (10:15 a.m.) we have just come from a long walk around our block. There is still a long way to go on this particular journey, but she is determined to complete it. And when Joyce is determined? Well ... stuff happens!
We were overwhelmed throughout by the kind and loving comments sent along via Facebook, where'd I'd posted some sketchy updates throughout it all. It's just so astonishing to see comments and "likes" from people from all over our lives--from our own elementary school days to recent colleagues and friends to everyone in between. It's what I love about FB.

We have not finished our journey through the tangled wood, but we know where we're headed. We're moving steadily forward. Hand in hand.

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