Hospital Scars: His & Hers

Discharged

after 18 days,

(13 longer than projected,)

most of which were

NOT

due to the

Seriousness

of the surgery itself,

though

Serious

It Was.
 

“When they say

‘Major Surgery,’”

one doc said,

This is what they mean.”

 

The Extra Days were due to

Infections.

Infections that were not with him

when he arrived,

but instead

acquired

At the Hospital.

As if,

it is part of their business plan.

“He’s healing too quickly from that

Major Surgery,”

they said.

“What can we do to keep him here?”

they said.

“C. Diff, perhaps? With a touch of Staph?

That ought to triple the length of his stay.”

 

Or Perhaps,

it is part of their care package.

“Every patient gets:

a hospital gown,

travel-sized shampoo,

and a touch of C. Diff.”

 

For these hospital-dispensed infections

no one

Apologized,

Took responsibility,

Action,

or Blame,

making this typically forgiving

Wife and Caregiver

feel

An itch of Litigiousness,

A twinge of Bitterness,

And a surge of Anger.

 

But even those

Infections

he eventually overcame, and

after 18 days

he was

Discharged.

 

Now.

Three Days Home

and the scars still remain.

The ever-changing bruise on his arm from an

Infiltrated IV on Day 2.

Purple dots to mark the spots

where needle after needle poked for blood.

“You’ll feel a stick.”

they always say,

as if

they are the first to do this to his

all too familiar arms.

Perhaps,

if the chart had been read

they would know that this is

Year 5,

Surgery 20.

This is not,

as we say,

Our First Rodeo.

He knows he’ll feel a stick.

Please,

Save your Breath,

perhaps for some healing words of kindness.

 

Other marks include:

gray, sticky spots where bits of adhesive still remain

from countless pieces of tape stuck to gauze

Even After

my homemade sign on the hospital door made

clear

with words, illustrations, and even examples

that tape was not to be used on his sensitive skin.

And yet,

days later

the adhesive remains,

as do the skin tears from the tape I drew a line through

on my homemade sign.

 

Even as the scars from surgery,

the four where the robot entered,

and

the six-inch incision

closed with thirteen staples,

Heal

other reminders of the 18 days remain:

 

The credit card statement,

which for days lists nothing but

charges for:

coffee,

hospital food,

parking,

a depressing trilogy of poor nutrition and long hours,

a looping road map of my two and half weeks.

 

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The crick in my back from sitting on that hard window seat

Day

       After

Day

As I anticipated his every need and

Watched

not only his every move,

but also

the moves of the staff,

who could not always be trusted to

Do their Jobs

with

Accuracy,

Integrity,

Sensitivity,

Kindness,

behaviors without which

most employees in

most professions

would be let go.

But not here

in this so-called

Place of Healing.

And so I watched from the hard window seat,

the spot where I could see all,

       Day

       After

       Day

for 18 days.

 

 

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Other reminders include

the noise of his wedding ring bumping into mine,

still on my left hand,

stacked on top of my rings

long after the need for

removing all jewelry

is gone.

But I’m afraid to give it back,

knowing that it won’t fit on his

Ring Finger,

skinny as it is

on his 99-pound frame.

You see,

he traded 16 pounds for their gifts of

       C. Diff and Staph,

and so I keep it,

most often forgetting it’s there,

until it jingles

as I scratch the kitten

behind the ears.

 

Other scars are deeper

and appear as flashes of remembering.

They feel simultaneously

visceral

and

other worldly.

 

Like the moment where

he moaned in pain,

Writhing,

Groaning,

Begging For Help

And yet,

No

One

Came.

I asked for help

Once

Twice,

This time more firmly.

Nothing.

I pulled the red cord.

Certainly the red cord would send someone running.

No

One

Came.

“Where are they?” he moaned.

“I’m dying!” he groaned.

I flung the door wide.

I stared at the faces at the desk,

Too many there to have an excuse to

not be coming.

I threw my hands high and said,

not calmly at all,

“Is ANYONE coming?

We

Need

Help!”

 

That moment will remain

Seared

Scarred

Deep.

It will not heal like the

Six-inch incision.

For that incision was procured

while asleep

and was done

with consent

and

for the greater good

of his body.

Unlike

My Wound,

which was procured while wide awake

and felt as if

the world had

turned its ear from us

in our moment of

Greatest Need

and I

was the only one who could

Fight

for recognition of

his Pain

and

steps towards

his Relief.

 

In that moment

(as in all of the 18 days)

I should have been allowed to be

his Wife,

caring for him

as medical staff did what they were trained to do.

Instead.

I had to leave his side

Repeatedly

to make his needs known,

to fight,

to decide how far to go

on the path of anger and disruption,

a path I rarely take,

typically choosing the

road that is higher

the road built on

Love,

Forgiveness,

Grace.

And yet,

the way he was treated

or at times

not treated

Was Not Okay.

And so the path jumps up in front of me.

Friends and family give me a road map there,

Questioning

with their eyes more than their words

why would I choose to not take this path

during and after seeing such things

Happening

Or Not Happening

to my beloved.

 

But

anger and disruption and scratching the itch of litigiousness,

each of these take

Energy,

Time,

Mental Clarity,

gifts caregivers steward wisely.

Every ounce of each of those is

poured

into the care of the loved one,

some days slowly and carefully and delicately, like

warm, soothing tea into a painted china cup

in a candlelit restaurant.

Other days big and splashing, like

fresh lemonade cascading into a large glass of crinkling ice

on a hot summer day.

Either way,

they are

Poured

straight from the heart, mind, and spirit of the caregiver

in a singular direction

for a singular purpose.

If a spare ounce ever remains,

it is used for others in the village,

in our case

our Daughter.

She

gets the extra ounce,

not me and

certainly not

The Patient Relations Liaison.

 

And so,

the energy is saved and used to

Watch, and

Care, and

Pour.

 

Now,

we’ve been

home 24 days.

Antibiotics are gone.

Infections have quieted.

Physical scars are fading.

Credit Card statements show a more varied itinerary.

Greeting cards are slowing.

Casserole offers far less frequent.

All signs that the

Hospital Stay

that was 18 Days

is behind us.

And yet,

that same scene continues to replay in my mind

the one when

No

One

Came.

The staff inflicted scar,

much more fresh and raw and painful than the one created by a scalpel,

still burns.