Hospital Scars: His & Hers
after 18 days,
(13 longer than projected,)
most of which were
due to the
of the surgery itself,
“When they say
one doc said,
“This is what they mean.”
The Extra Days were due to
Infections that were not with him
when he arrived,
At the Hospital.
it is part of their business plan.
“He’s healing too quickly from that
“What can we do to keep him here?”
“C. Diff, perhaps? With a touch of Staph?
That ought to triple the length of his stay.”
it is part of their care package.
“Every patient gets:
a hospital gown,
and a touch of C. Diff.”
For these hospital-dispensed infections
making this typically forgiving
Wife and Caregiver
An itch of Litigiousness,
A twinge of Bitterness,
And a surge of Anger.
But even those
he eventually overcame, and
after 18 days
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,
they are the first to do this to his
all too familiar arms.
if the chart had been read
they would know that this is
This is not,
as we say,
Our First Rodeo.
He knows he’ll feel a stick.
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
my homemade sign on the hospital door made
with words, illustrations, and even examples
that tape was not to be used on his sensitive skin.
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,
the six-inch incision
closed with thirteen staples,
other reminders of the 18 days remain:
The credit card statement,
which for days lists nothing but
a depressing trilogy of poor nutrition and long hours,
a looping road map of my two and half weeks.
The crick in my back from sitting on that hard window seat
As I anticipated his every need and
not only his every move,
the moves of the staff,
who could not always be trusted to
Do their Jobs
behaviors without which
most employees in
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,
for 18 days.
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
But I’m afraid to give it back,
knowing that it won’t fit on his
skinny as it is
on his 99-pound frame.
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
Like the moment where
he moaned in pain,
Begging For Help
I asked for help
This time more firmly.
I pulled the red cord.
Certainly the red cord would send someone running.
“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?
That moment will remain
It will not heal like the
For that incision was procured
and was done
for the greater good
of his body.
which was procured while wide awake
and felt as if
the world had
turned its ear from us
in our moment of
was the only one who could
for recognition of
In that moment
(as in all of the 18 days)
I should have been allowed to be
caring for him
as medical staff did what they were trained to do.
I had to leave his side
to make his needs known,
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
the way he was treated
or at times
Was Not Okay.
And so the path jumps up in front of me.
Friends and family give me a road map there,
with their eyes more than their words
why would I choose to not take this path
during and after seeing such things
Or Not Happening
to my beloved.
anger and disruption and scratching the itch of litigiousness,
each of these take
gifts caregivers steward wisely.
Every ounce of each of those is
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.
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
gets the extra ounce,
not me and
The Patient Relations Liaison.
the energy is saved and used to
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
that was 18 Days
is behind us.
that same scene continues to replay in my mind
the one when
The staff inflicted scar,
much more fresh and raw and painful than the one created by a scalpel,