Floating

My sister-in-law and I spent much of the day in my wife’s room at the inpatient hospice yesterday. Before heading to the hospital, my wife’s nurse called to give me an update; she said my wife had refused breakfast, but responded to questions with short, one-word answers or nods. She wanted to sleep, the nurse said. After we got to the hospital, my wife developed a good appetite, asking for an omelette with “everything.”  Her monstrous omelette came with ham, spinach, turkey sausage, green peppers, cheese, onions, tomatoes, and more. Though she ate only a relatively small portion of it, she enjoyed it. When she was awake and she seemed to be in good spirits, off and on. She was happy to see her sister, who had not been able to visit her since my wife went to the ER on December 6. Most of the day, my wife was asleep, though she spoke to us a bit and she wanted me to continue reading to her from where I stopped before (but my voice tends to send her into slumber, so I don’t know how much of what I read she hears). Lunch, which came only a couple of hours after the omelette, consisted of Dijon pork medallions, cole slaw, and pinto beans. The pork medallions were large and thick; my wife finished every bit of them, as well as most of the cole slaw and all of the beans. Her appetite is better than it has been in weeks. The nurse is very caring and tender; she generally is not rushed like the nurses on the regular hospital floors, though they, too, seemed to spend as much time as they needed to ensure my wife’s comfort.

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When I left my wife’s room sometime after 4:30, I felt selfish and guilty for leaving her. I had walked with her sister to the elevator when she left and, when I returned, the nurse said my wife had asked for pain medication. The pain was not site-specific; it was a generalized pain. The nurse gave her a shot with a small dose of morphine to relieve her pain. The nurse advised that it could make my wife sleepy; I thought to myself she could have been getting morphine shots all day, then. But, obviously, she had not. I could have stayed the night, but I was exhausted, even though I had done nothing to bring on the exhaustion. I returned a call from a friend from church, who has regularly called to check on my wife and who has offered to help in anything I might need. Later, I sent a message to another friend from church, another person who has made a point of checking in with regularity. Neither of them overdo it; they keep in touch enough, though, to let me know they are thinking of us and are available to help. That kind of compassionate outreach makes me glad that, after roughly fifty years of eschewing church in any form, I finally found the right one. I hope and think they know I will gladly reciprocate if ever the need were to arise. That is true for anyone as kind and thoughtful, which is true of everyone in the church who I’ve gotten to know.

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After I got home, I opened three cans—pinto beans, corn, and diced tomatoes—for dinner. With some chile powder, cumin, oregano, and pepper, the beans made enough spicy goodness for two meals. But, with two large helpings, I emptied the pan, consuming three cans of vegetables.  I followed that with a glass (or two?) of red wine as I watched the final episode of Unforgotten. I hated seeing the series end. It was early in the evening, probably 9 or so, when I decided to go to bed. I awoke several times during the night, my arthritic elbows and wrists and knees punishing me for my sedentary lifestyle.

During the night, I had a disturbing dream in which I was about to participate in a board of directors meeting for the first association that employed me. I had forgotten to bring background materials for the board in support of my proposal to radically change the association. I was to recommend eliminating the board, replacing it with an advisory board comprised of members of the general public. In addition, I wanted to recommend the association abandon its narrow focus on corrosion control; instead, I was to recommend broadening its scope to include “everything.” I do not recall what possessed me to suggest that. Before I was to speak, though, I had to leave the huge board room in search of a bathroom. Once I left the room, I found myself in a huge convention center hallway, crowded with convention-goers from several other organizations. And, then, I could not find a bathroom, nor could I remember where the board was meeting. There was more, though I am not sure if it was part of the same dream. I followed a little girl and her mother into a big field, empty except for a single tree, tall and thin, in the distance. As we neared the tree, the mother said, “We were here yesterday. You have to watch out for the snakes. They are everywhere.” I do so wish I could electronically record dreams, both video and audio, and play them back; it’s frustrating to remember snippets of dreams that obviously were far more complex and longer.

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One of these days, I should go through the 429 posts sitting in my drafts folder and decide what to do with them: revise and post, revise and save, abandon and discard, or wait a while longer—leaving them for later, and returning to them with the same plan of action. “One of these days” is not really a plan of action, though, is it? It is procrastination, delaying a decision that, apparently, I am not ready to make. All my life, I’ve been advised to make the hardest decisions first, leaving the simpler ones for later. The rationale is that hard decisions tend to require more of one’s energies. Better to make them when one’s mental and physical energies are at or near their peaks, rather than wait until energy has been spent. Decisions made when energy is low are more apt to be sloppy. Important aspects of the decision-making process are too easy to ignore when tired, fatigued, or mentally worn.

It’s silly to place any appreciable importance on decisions about what to do with blog posts that, for one reason or another, failed to make the first cut for publishing. Blog posts are insignificant. When measured on a spectrum ranging from critically important to utterly inconsequential, they fall somewhere near to latter end of the scale. That notwithstanding, draft posts tend to command greater attention in the writer’s mind than the importance they would take on in the prospective reader’s experience. Readers, after all, usually do not even know that drafts exist; certainly, readers know nothing of their content. Only in the author’s brain do hidden drafts seem to merit consideration and procrastination.

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In a while, I will head back to the inpatient hospice in the hospital. I may leave early so I can go get my second Shingrix injection; having had a mild case of shingles even after I had the original vaccine, I feel absolutely compelled to get the follow-up injection; I got the first Shingrix shot about twelve weeks ago, I think. Yesterday I got a couple of reminders calls to get the follow-up. So, as much as I want to spend the time with my wife, I think I had better get the vaccination. It won’t be terribly long, I suppose, before I get scheduled to take the two-injection vaccine for COVID-19. I am floating between vaccinations.

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I feel like I am sitting in an idling car. I have been sitting in it for a very long time and I do not know how much longer I will need to sit there. The road where it sits is full of ruts and potholes and new, replacement roads are being constructed all around me. Busses and trucks and cars and motorcycles and bicycles are whizzing by me in all directions. When I try to put the car in Reverse, its engine sputters, so I quickly return the gear shift to Neutral. I cannot get it into Park. I cannot move the shift to Drive. I should just sit patiently, but I can’t. I try, repeatedly, to get the car off the decaying roadway. Suddenly I am at ease with my dilemma. I do not need to move the car, nor do I need to exit the vehicle. I realize that whatever happens with the car happens with me. I will stay with the car, even if the road collapses beneath us.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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