Leaving Home

Saturday morning, I got up, washed up and got dressed in sweat pants and a longsleeve T-shirt. I hobbled downstairs, clutching the handrail, moving one step at at time leading with my bad knee, so I wouldn’t have to bend it much. I had a little breakfast with Bethann, before she had to leave for work. Serge Kaminsky came over to stay with me. Bethann arranged this, because I was in so much pain, she didn’t dare leave me alone. I took two Percocet at 9 and settled into the recliner. I dozed for a little bit. The pain returned before 10. The Percocet had already worn off. I was miserable. Serge was quiet and patient.

My doctor called sometime between 10 and 11 and told me to go to Grand View Hospital’s Emergency Room. They were to admit me and start treating me for infection. As I’m leaving the house, I looked around and try to take it all in. I thought this may be the last time that I see this place. I thought of my unfinished projects, the messes in the barn and my office. I looked at the garden that I had planted earlier this year, with some flowers still blooming and wondered if I would see them come up again next spring. I grieved for my family having to clean up after me.

We didn’t have to wait long to get into the ER. They tried to get blood and had a terrible time, because I was so dehydrated. After several attempts to get a line in me for drawing blood and for IV fluids, a man from the IV team at the hospital took his time and brought out his full arsenal of tricks and got a line into me. I think by this time Bethann had arrived after the half day of work and Fr. Noah may have been there, too. Serge was still there. We thanked him and finally persuaded him to go home. It was mid afternoon.

An orderly came to take me for some x-rays. I make it a practice to ask people their names. Ages ago I worked in a hospital and I observed how people who push gurneys around all day or deal with one specialty or another can treat the bodies they are dealing with as just so many widgits. By the same token, I have seen patients treat orderlies and nurses aides as if they were just worker drones. So if I engage them by asking their name, it serves as a gentle reminder that I am a person, not just a gurney that may have uncooperative wheels at times. It also reminds me that these are people at work. If I show them human respect, both of our days will go better. At any rate, I asked the orderly his name. He told me it was Kevin; then asked why did I ask. I told him it was so I could yell at him if he messed up. Without missing a beat, he said, “O, my name is Steve.” Later I thanked Steve for not banging me into any walls.

Sometime that evening, they moved me up to a private room on the third floor, with a window facing North over the main entrance, with a view of the fields across the street and Sellersville, Perkasie and the Delaware valley off to the right. They gave me better pain meds. I still had pain, but I was sensing progress. Movement had started and recovery became thinkable.

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