Thursday, October 27, 2005

Plan All You Want ...

We take too much for granted.

Day to day, hour to hour, does the sameness of our lives lull us? Lull us into thinking that we have have limitless time?

I'm supposed to be in New York right now. Asleep in an apartment in Brooklyn. I was supposed to go to a book event at 12th and Broadway tonight and then out to dinner for Moroccan food. Tomorrow, I was supposed to meet my friend John at Rockefeller Center, at exactly the same spot where we meet every year. I have ideas jotted down for where we could have gone to lunch. Day by day, a.m. and p.m., I had plans.

I was supposed to do laundry and pack last night, but I stayed planted on the couch, watching "Gilmore girls," even though I was taping it, and, during commercial breaks, squeezing in the last episode of "Sex and The City" on DVD, two minutes at a time.

And then the phone rang.

Mom was calling from the emergency room. She'd taken my father in, against his initial wishes, of course. But even my father, who has developed a severe aversion to hospitals over the past four years, which stems from spending way too much time in them, is smart enough to accept that when your body is shaking uncontrollably, something is wrong. Mom asked me to call my brother Brian and let him know, which I did. And then I grabbed my wallet and keys and headed to the ER. (The hospital is very close to all our homes.)

Of course, I looked like utter hell, which was karma's cue to make the cute resident appear in front of me as I stood outside my dad's quasi-room. Matthew, his coat said. His stethoscope was obsuring his last name. He told me what he knew so far (not much at that point) and was very kind. (No, I didn't notice if he was wearing a wedding ring.)

On his gurney, my father looked like a patient, his gown askew off his shoulders, oxygen tube across his face, his hair somewhat mussed, IV taped to his skin, leads stuck to his chest, blood pressure cuff around his pale right arm.

I try not to contemplate the mortality of my parents - of anybody, really - but moments like these (and there have been too many of these moments over the past few years) startle me. Scare me.

Brian arrived as mom and I headed back out to the waiting area as Dad was wheeled off for x-rays. Bri stayed for a couple hours. Mom went home to make some phone calls to arrange for work coverage at their business the next day. I told Dad I would walk Brian out and be right back.

Brian was my means to get to the airport today. "I'm not going to go to New York," I told him. "You don't have to pick me up." He asked me about my tickets. Non-refundable, of course, but cheap to begin with. No big deal. "You know what?" I said. "Call me at 6, just in case."

I returned to my father, as did my mother. We went upstairs while he was put through his admission paces in his third-floor room. Dad was taken down for a CT scan around 12:30. It seemed odd that tests are taking place at that hour. At 1 a.m., I insisted my mom go home. She wanted to wait for the nurse to talk to the doctor. I walked to the nurses's station and asked her when she thought she might talk to him.

"It could be a couple hours," she said.

"Good," I said. "She's been up since 3:30 yesterday morning. I'm trying to make her go home."

Turns out, the cafeteria in the hospital is open until 3 a.m. Mom hadn't eaten dinner, and the couple cookies and the bottle of water we'd cobbled together out of vending machines weren't making the grade, so we got her some soup and then walked back through the empty hospital halls to the ER entrance, to our cars.

Why is it that no matter how exhausted you are, when you finally have the chance to go to bed, you invariably pass through exhaustion back into alert? I stayed up until about 3 a.m.

I woke up at 6:15 and realized Brian hadn't called, which was fine.

The phone rang at 7:30. He was at work. "I pulled into your driveway and sat there for five minutes," he said. "There were no lights on and you're usually right at the door, so I figured you weren't going. You didn't want to go, did you?"

No, I said. I cancelled my reservation when I got home from the hospital. It cost me $100 to not fly anywhere today. But I have a partial credit to apply toward booking another flight, which, considering I had a non-refundable ticket, is more than I expected.

The jury's still out on Dad. He had more tests today (yesterday, now; it's after midnight again). The doctors have a pretty good idea what's wrong, and surgery will likely be necessary.

The bitch is, this was probably preventable.

I'm trying to reserve judgment until the doctors render their verdict, but I'm pre-pissed. But that makes me feel guilty. I'm looking for the lesson in all this. There are several, more than I can write about now with what consciousness I have left tonight. But one is: Don't waste time. Everything is finite. Pettiness is pointless. Move past it. Whatever it is, it's not that important.

It's not life or death.


Anonymous Ethan said...

I am so sorry to hear this. Hopefully your father pulls through OK in the end.

(This may be a 2x post, Blogger gave an error when I tried to put this up.)

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be praying for him

9:27 AM  

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