The picture below shows the small-town hospital that is nearest to all my Louisiana family members. I took this shot last year, passing by, because I thought the tree at the center of the photo looked pretty. A few days ago my younger daughter suggested that we rent a school bus, pile the whole family into it, and park it right outside this hospital for as long as necessary.
The first in a recent spate of hospital visits came a week before Christmas when my older daughter had carpal tunnel release surgery and trigger thumb surgery. She's done a good job of getting along with one functional hand and is recovering nicely.
An hour after we brought her home, my grandson checked in at the emergency room with severe abdominal pain, where tests were administered that led to an emergency appendectomy. According to doctors, the surgery itself was routine, but my grandson turned out to be the one person in five thousand whose body lacks the enzyme that rapidly metabolizes the drug used to paralyze the patient during intubation. He was left paralyzed and unable to breathe on his own for hours after the surgery. A respirator kept him alive until the drug eventually wore off; only then did the panic endured by his family members subside. He, too, is recovering nicely and was well enough three days post-surgery to get out of bed and cook a gumbo for a family get-together.
When I texted my sister in East Texas to let her know about those two hospitalizations, she told me that her husband had been in the hospital for several days with dangerously high blood pressure and severely swollen legs. I know he made it home in time for Christmas, and, not having heard otherwise, I'm assuming he's doing better now.
On the day after the carpal tunnel surgery and appendectomy, both of my great-grandbabies had illnesses requiring doctor visits. Both kids were much better a day later.
This past Friday my daughters got word that their father was having surgery to relieve pressure on his brain after suffering a blow to the head when he fell off a horse. On Saturday they made the 300-mile round-trip to visit him in the ICU. According to the latest report, he is doing well and expects to go home in a couple of days.
My daughters called while they were traveling back from that trip, and I told them I was glad they were on their way home. I felt fine but was concerned that my blood pressure readings were higher than they'd ever been--some of them in the dark-red range on this chart, indicating that I needed emergency care. I felt well enough that I hadn't wanted to go to the emergency room, and I thought I could bring those readings down by doubling the usual dosage of my blood pressure medications. By the time the girls got home, the readings were lower, though not yet in the normal range. After a lengthy discussion, I promised I would go to the ER if the numbers climbed high again, which they did later that night. Back to the hospital we went. The ER doc assured us that I wasn't in danger since I had no symptoms except a very slight headache. He prescribed double doses of my current medications (just as I had done on my own) and a consultation with my regular doctor after the holidays. I left there feeling slightly silly but reassured. My BP numbers today are right where they should be.
Early this morning my younger daughter was back at the same facility undergoing a previously scheduled colonoscopy. She's home now, she's fine, and she's getting some much-needed rest, the last of us to reach that precious period of relaxation.
Our Christmas celebration together was wonderful, but we won't remember this year's holidays for the lights and laughter, the gifts and good food. I hope we'll be able to laugh when we look back on this season as the one that couldn't be over soon enough.
And, just as I typed that last sentence, one of the dogs threw up. It was Levi, so we'll keep an eye on him.
Come on 2015!
The song is "Get Me Through December" by Alison Krauss.
Thanks to Tiffany Woolridge for posting this video on YouTube.
Click here to read the lyrics.