A Skeptic’s Brain

Finally, yesterday morning, I put air in the tires of the Subaru—not precisely the proper inflations, but enough air to cause the tire pressure alert light to go out. I bought gas from the gas station so I would not feel guilty for using their air compressor. I wonder whether that’s the point of the air compressor situated next to the fuel pumps. That thought, I think, emerges from a skeptic’s brain.

I wrote yesterday about my “issues” with the hospital. No need to go into them again; except to say the nurse manager from two west sought me out in the ICU and offered what seemed to be a heartfelt apology. She then handed me a preprinted “we’re sorry we failed to meet your expectations, we hope this token of appreciation for sharing your experience will be meaningful” (or some such words) apology card, along with two $5 Walmart gift cards. Though I thanked her for the “gift” and for seeking me out, I felt the preprinted apology card and Walmart gift cards represented the epitome of “cheesy.” Again, the full-throated skeptic in me emerges.

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This morning’s schedule deviated dramatically from usual. Instead of getting up and having coffee, I got up and immediately showered, shaved, and got dressed. Then I took the trash to the garage in preparation for moving it to the street a bit later. And then I gazed at the budding sunrise: bright coral and salmon layers at the horizon underneath  blends of the two colors and, higher still, orange fading into blue. The sun still remained hidden, but the bright edge of the horizon announced its impending arrival. Clear blue skies and sunlight should welcome days full of gladness and cheer. They should. And then I sat at the dining table for a while, contemplating the day. I cannot visit my wife until 1 pm because she is in the ICU, where visiting hours begin at 1. Until then, I will contemplate the future and my place in it.

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Little of what I have just written—neither the tire pressure nor the hospital’s programmed behavior nor the morning’s show of colors—holds any special significance for me this morning. These events and visions do no represent good or bad, they just are. I am in a state of disturbed confusion, I think, because my wife was home from the rehab center for only two nights before going to the hospital. One of the ICU nurses told me yesterday she likely will remain there for at least several days because, as he said, “She is very, very, very sick.” Later, my wife’s attending physician, during a telephone conversation with me, verified that. I expect return calls today from my wife’s cardiologist and from the administrator of the rehab facility from which my wife was recently released. But I expected a return call from the administrator two days ago, so my expectation may again go unmet. I want to express to her my anger at the quality of the treatment my wife received at the hands of the facility. Expressing my anger may do no good; maybe all it will do is exacerbate the guilt I feel for having failed to better investigate the level of care the facility provides to its patients. I recognize, of course, that my wife’s underlying condition is at fault for the challenges she has faced and continues to face. But I cannot help but wonder why I, and some medical professionals, did not recognize symptoms earlier and help her seek treatment.

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There’s no chance my writing will do anything but ramble this morning, so I will stop for the moment. I need to write something private for myself, later, so I’ll preserve what’s left of the energy in my fingers so I can do that.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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1 Response to A Skeptic’s Brain

  1. Bev says:

    I’m so sorry about all of this — yes, the confusion and uncertainty. My experience of caring for a loved one who is very ill is that it’s often much like a wild roller-coaster ride. There often aren’t too many flat spots to rest and recover and little knowledge of what comes next. I used to say, ‘I hope I can have just a couple of days to rest and for us to have some peace without nothing going wrong.” Once in awhile, I got my wish. A lot of times it didn’t go so well. The only thing I can offer is that it’s good to use any breaks to catch up on sleep and eating (if you can) because it’s important to stay strong and have your wits about you during the crazy parts of the ride. For myself, I felt that writing things down was a good way to get stuff out of my mind. Fortunately, during all three of the times when I was a caregiver, I had a good friend who I emailed with to discuss the latest brain damage. That can help a lot with decompressing during the rough spots. I hope things get back on track at the hospital. Take care. b

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