Time got away from me this morning. I had planned on going to the hospital to visit my wife much earlier, but did not get there until about 10:40. She was asleep when I arrived and I had to work hard to wake her. That was an unwise move; she was not happy to have her sleep interrupted. After a few attempts to understand her very weak voice, I got the message; she was displeased with me for failing to listen to her admonitions to stop asking her how she was doing. That, despite the fact that I asked only once. I let her go back to sleep for about an hour and a half, when the nurse came in to transfuse a unit of blood into her arm. The explanation, the nurse said, was that my wife’s red blood count was very low. That, she further explained, can cause extreme tiredness, confusion, and other symptoms that generally spell discomfort. I left the room while the nurse was orchestrating the transfusion, opting to go downstairs and get lunch in the cafeteria.
A while later, the tech arrived with food—finely diced roast beef awash in gravy, along with whipped potatoes and diced cooked carrots. My wife loathes cooked carrots; after the tech learned this from me, and my wife, she swept them to the side of the plate. The tech then spent twenty minutes or so feeding my wife roast beef and potatoes, until my wife said she had eaten enough. After a while, my wife engaged me in a bit of conversation before she asked to have a tech come adjust her in bed so she could be more comfortable. We chatted just a bit more before sleep overtook her again, after brief periods of watching some shows on the Food Network. I woke my napping but not sleeping wife around 4:00 p.m. to tell her I was going home. Before I left, though, I put the newspapers, magazines, and Sudoku puzzle book on her overbed table, within reach and wished her good night. “Call me anytime you’d like,” I told her. I told her I would not try to call her, though, to avoid waking her. She appreciates being left uninterrupted; she received my assurance well.
When I got home, I had a message from the social worker at the hospital. I assume she wants to talk to me about what my plans are when my wife is discharged from the hospital, an eventuality whose time frame is completely unknown to me. I tried to call her, but it was nearing 5:00 p.m. and I got her voice mail. I expect to talk to her tomorrow.
My wife was much more alert and awake yesterday and the day before than today; today’s lethargy probably is due to her low red blood cell count. The nurse does not know the cause of the low blood count; they will continue to explore possibilities tonight and tomorrow, she suggested.
I know already I will not sleep especially well tonight. Leaving the hospital with concerns about my wife’s extreme tiredness and her inexplicably low red blood cell count is sure to translate into insomnia or, at the very least, anxiety-ridden shallow sleep. Perhaps a gin and tonic or three will remedy that prospect.
The plan today was to buy gasoline, get a haircut, wash the car, and visit the grocery store. What the hell was I thinking? How could I possibly do those things and also spend several hours at the hospital? Not impossible, but I felt—and feel—thoroughly worn out when I got home; in no mood to go grocery shopping, stop for gas, or get the car washed. I will ask Alexa to remind me early tomorrow to go do my errands before I stumble into the day. Someone stumbling upon this post might assume Alexa is my mistress. No, I do not have a mistress at present. Does that statement convey sufficient ambiguity, enough to cause tongues to wag and faces to flush?
This morning, I allowed myself to think my wife’s improvement upon moving from the ICU to a standard room on a regular hospital floor was the beginning of what could be a complete recovery or, at least, a recovery that will allow her to leave her bed and spend enjoyable and productive time in her wheelchair. But I do not know what to think today. I do not know if I dare get my hopes up. On the other hand, I do not want pessimism to interfere with progress. Sitting here in my house, alone with my thoughts, I feel isolated and distant from everyone. As lonely as that is, I think I’d rather be lonely than feel obligated to engage in conversation with anyone. The middle ground, the physical presence of a person who does not feel compelled to talk to me or to hear me talk, would be ideal. I suppose that’s why some people find blow-up dolls appealing. As weird as it is, perhaps they see that artificial human as a surrogate who does not require anything from the human “companion,” but who offers some strange form of solace to that companion. Here I am again, psychoanalyzing people I do not know, have never met, and about whom I know virtually nothing. Why do I not feel more embarrassed than I do to intrude on lives that do not need me to invade them?
One gin and tonic down. More to follow.