Several weeks ago, I noticed an odd thing about the otherwise sturdy and modern hospital where Kathy is fighting leukemia. As is the case with most high-rise buildings, there is a little alcove where you wait to catch one of the multiple elevators. But oddly, the floor in that area shakes just a bit. Not a lot, but sort of a surprising amount for a building you don't want to collapse under you. However, I assumed that elevator shaft design probably was engineered for a little extra give and take.
In Kathy's latest extended (and ongoing) visit to the hospital, she was promoted to the 11th floor. The chair where I lived much of the day was between the windows and her hospital bed...and oddly, that floor was shaking too! Oh sure, tall buildings are built that way, but it still felt odd in an environment where unsteady patients are trying to do basic physical therapy tasks.
Curious (and bored), I downloaded an app that would measure vibrations when you lay your phone on a flat service. I stood near the window area of the room and waited until things were shaking pretty significantly before putting down the sensitive meter and seeing that the vibration rate was...zero.
The building wasn't shaking - I was. And random little gravity waves were starting to suddenly pull on me - sometimes straight down, sometimes to one side or the other. And the condition was worsening. So I finally fessed up to Kathy and Daughter J, and made an appointment for a video visit with my doctor at 10 am today. I'm hoping he'll laugh and say "allergies," but I'm betting he'll say "we'd better look at that. How about an MRI as fast as you can possibly get here?"
But there's a doozy of a complication, because of course there is.
Since some damn fool gave Anthony Effing Fauci tax dollars to fund the creation of a seemingly unstoppable plague, the hospital is instituting a new COVID visitor policy today. I can live in Kathy's hospital room if I like, and even wander around the interior of the hospital. But if I so much as walk outside, then I'll be barred from the hospital until the new lockdown is over. And the previous one lasted eight months. And of course, the "stay or go" decision has to be made today.
Who knew Hell had this many circles, so much evil imagination, and such an interest in my family?
Kathy is a fighter but she's sick and tired of being sick and tired. She needs someone there to help (try to) keep up her spirits, as well as to act as her advocate while she has (hopefully temporary) hearing issues and chemo brain. On the other hand, she reminds me that I'm frequently boring as hell, and just having me stare at the wall in gloomy silence isn't the sure-fire good time that you might assume it is. She also feels like I can get more things accomplished for her on the outside rather than just turning into a sleepless, unwashed zombie who spends nights sucking air through a CPAP machine while sitting upright in a Naugahyde chair.
But if I don't stay, I might never see her again. Or at least I can't get that horrible thought out of my head. Maybe the hospital would let me back in (just once and if I get a COVID test) if Kathy starts having a rougher time. Or maybe this particular lockdown won't last 8 months, now that the Biden administration is throwing around unreliable free tests kits and ineffective masks while blaming the unvaccinated for carrying and spreading Omicron just like the vaccinated do. How can that not solve the crisis?
As I've previously established here, Kathy is something of a technophobe - so when I'm not with her, I'm really, really out of touch with her. That's hard for me to deal with for even a day...let alone for weeks of months, especially if I'm only getting short and cryptically terrifying messages from the hospital once a day.
I don't know what to do, but I'll have to make a choice today. Or maybe it will be made for me: if my symptoms suggest a real physiological problem, I'll have to leave the hospital and hear the lock click behind me. Or if Kathy gets a disturbing health update today, then my place is with her. Period.
Neither choice is good. Neither choice, based on current information, is clear. But here we all are anyway, in the world that Wuhan broke.
Your good wishes, back slaps, jokes, and prayers mean a lot, so please keep them coming. And you may want to pray for Kathy's nursing staff as well - some old guy keeps giving them Johnny Optimism books as a weird but sincere way of saying "thank you."
It’s just past 11 am on Monday and I want to update everyone and clarify a few things (which weren’t necessarily clear to me at the time of the writing above). SPOILER ALERT: Our lives haven’t gone to hell yet and hopefully won’t.
To begin with, it turns out that the lockdown isn’t for the whole hospital. It’s only for the oncology floors where patients range from “super-vulnerble” to “Oh, my God - don’t breathe on them!” And that’s a smart policy to protect our loved ones, especially since there are stupid people loose in the world. One patient recently had a visitor (you’re only allowed one per day) who felt sick and didn’t use a mask. Within hours, the patient also had COVID. So “trusting people to be smart and responsible” clearly isn’t a viable policy option.
Of my balance issue, my doctor of course wanted blood work and a CAT scan, but he has no way to arrange that at the hospital I’m stuck in. He also said it doesn’t sound like Parkinson’s or anything similar, so for now I can let it ride until, well, I can’t. Happily, it’s still at the “annoyance” stage.
Getting care at THIS hospital is hard, but again the policy makes sense. If a visitor feels ill, they need to report to the emergency room for examination and possible treatment. And sitting around in a waiting area with a bunch of people who are conceivably infectious. So we’ll say “no” to that for a while, but it’s an option.
The visit from Kathy’s oncologist this morning gave us some vague new insights into where we are. She’ll continue getting chemo through her brain port (probably two injections a week). Then, since she still hasn’t achieved remission after her initial rounds of chemo, she’ll be starting a new round in a few days. The chemo itself will be somewhat milder this time, because of Kathy’s age and overall condition. Our goal is still remission and stem cell transplant.
As for my residency question, we’re going to take it day by day. I’m here for now, and each new day can be a “decision day” - with the possibility of hospital policy changing at any time to (hopefully) take the pressure down a few notches.
At the moment, things are going okay here, Kathy and I are in relatively good moods, and life goes on.