This is how the past week has gone for me.
I call the hospital in the morning and ask how my mom is. If the response is negative, when I get there I'll find her doing better than what I was led to expect. If I get a positive report, when I get there I find her slipping backward.
Today I didn't call ahead. I was somewhat relieved to have her in on a regular ward, and figured that as long as the phone didn't ring things were going fine. I get to the hospital this afternoon, and Mom is so sound asleep that I am unable to wake her at all. Her lunch try is lying uneaten. I go downstairs and wait for awhile, then go back up again. She's still snoring. I try talking her and touching her awake; she doesn't wake up.
I find one of the doctors. He tells me that this morning she was fairly animated, and engaged in conversation, and even ate breakfast, but then she fell asleep. He says the staff can't figure this out; he wonders if she had some sort of mild stroke during the operation, but notes that when she's awake she's lucid and has no trouble speaking, and that she's able to move her extremities. It may be the drug cocktail she's on, he suggests, or she may be this exhausted. But if she hasn't snapped out of it by tomorrow they're going to do a CAT scan and find out if something neurological is going on.
Oh, God, I think. Not something else. A succession of worst-case scenarios tumble through my mind.
"If you can stay and help her eat dinner, that would be great," says the doctor.
If you can't wake her up and I can't wake her up, then how the hell am I going to do that? I think. And I can't stay. I mentally kick myself for attempting to put in a few hours at work this morning. (My employer has been more than generous with giving me time off, and I wanted to reciprocate by tying up my deadline loose ends for the week.)
But I smile wanly and say that, no, I won't be able to stay, but I'll be able to be around for awhile tomorrow. That's because tomorrow, March 30th, is my mom's birthday. I'd put in for a vacation day some time ago so she could have a festive outing somewhere. Not a hospital.
Surgery day aside, I've been pretty publicly stoic about this whole thing, but when I got in the car to drive back home, I just lost it. I honestly don't know how I navigated my way home from downtown Saginaw without killing someone, or myself. I don't even remember driving home. But somewhere in the midst of this it occurred to me that, maybe if she were a bit awake tomorrow I could cajole her into eating a piece of her favorite cake, so when I got back to Outer Podunk I stopped in at the supermarket -- me in dark glasses, sniffling -- for gingerbread ingredients. And I bought myself some mint chocolate chip ice cream because, damn it, I wanted some.
I came home and hugged my dog -- my poor dog, who is so befuddled every day by my ever-changing, interminably long schedule away from home, who piddled on the floor but did it on newspaper like a good boy, because on some level he seems to get that he needs to be on good behavior so things don't slide completely off the trolley here -- and I ate ice cream. And now I'm sitting here on the floor with my laptop next to the sofa, with the dog whimpering into my ear, getting ready to make gingerbread cupcakes for a birthday that was supposed to be a good day.
I am just so tired right now.