Monthly Archives: August 2011

There Will Come Soft Rains

Life in the arid high desert brings a new appreciation for all forms of moisture, whether it comes from the sky or in a tube of high quality cream.  Often we are treated to a light show beyond anything created in a fireworks factory, and water pours from the clouds so fast and hard it’s gone downstream before our ground can absorb more than a few drops.  Those “dry” gulches form from the excess of water racing downhill, eliminating everything in the path.

Once in a while we get “soft” rains–drops striking gently and absorbing into the ground, pattering down for an hour or more.  These rains mean we can pull the monster weeds out of the ground instead of digging them, and we don’t have to water the trees or gardens for a few days.  They also mean the cisterns will be full again, ready to use in the next dry period, which will be right around the corner.

There’s a parallel between the high intensity short duration storms and getting Mr Stoner better.  His recovery has been a long slow process and at times we had to wonder if the healing was “soaking in” or just running out of him along with unmentionable in polite society effluents.  Every time we thought he was ready for solid foods he would fail the swallow test.  Every new exercise comes with new aches and pains and it all just takes so darned long!

But he is eating solid foods and is now exposed to a hospital diet.  Hmmm, not sure if he’ll see that as an improvement.  Occupational therapy has him working his hands to use a comb and washcloth on his own–we never think of how many tiny muscles are needed just to pull a comb through our hair–he’s acing the flash cards, and far more observant of what’s going on around him.  Since there are still moments of confusion and he was after all a teacher for over thirty years, sometimes we’re not sure if the staff appreciates being directed by their patient.  Fortunately their sense of humor prevails, they nod, smile, and offer to dial his wife for him so she can hear the latest theory on why he’s in the hospital.

But all this slow progress has led to big advances.  He’ll be moving to a rehab soon, and yesterday he picked up a pencil and drew.  Not sure we’re going to share those particular sketches, but it’s another baby step on that road to home.

As an aside, “There Will Come Soft Rains” is from a poem by Sara Teasdale, which Ray Bradbury used in his short story of the same name.  Both are post apocalyptic in nature, one about the world after mankind is gone, and one about the world after mankind has obliterated itself.  Both well worth the short time it would take to read them, though absorbing both poem and story could take much longer.  Kind of like those long rains that do so much good.


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I truly do admire people who devote their lives to medicine.  From nursing tech to the most highly skilled surgeon, they have chosen an exacting field requiring in depth education and a dedication far beyond most other jobs.  But I’ve come to realize many of them missed a critical class, or maybe that class is just not offered.  It would be called something like Communication 101.  As in saying things so everyone understands what you’re saying.

And it’s not just the upper echelon of surgeon and charge nurse.  Early in our hospital experience a Case Manager told me the husband would be going to a Snoof.  “What’s a Snoof?” I had to ask, and she explained it was a place he would go to learn how to deal with any disabilities resulting from long term hospital care, and where his body would be brought back to self sufficiency.  I asked a tech later, who told me the Case Manager was wrong, it was Sniff.  Eventually I learned it was a Skilled Nursing Facility.  Ah, that made much  more sense!

This has continued off and on for the two plus months we’ve been moved from floor to floor, from ICU (Intensive Care) to Step Down (Intermediate Care) to the various nursing floors, back to ICU then to LTAC (Long Term Acute Care) which is actually not the same level of care as the hospital would give but addressed different needs.  Then he developed a slight infection in his incision, which drained and sent him back to ICU at the hospital, since those sort of holes are a huge deal for stomach surgery patients.

Once he’d been there long enough to be poked and prodded and after several visits to I/R which is Interventional Radiology but that unit is nice enough to put X-Ray under their door sign, I had a discussion with his doctor.  I was informed they had thought he had a fistula, but came to the realization it was an “abnormal connection between skin and intestines.”  Now, I have a pretty good vocabulary and can usually follow conversations.  But this one took a minute.  Abnormal connection between skin and intestines?   “Ah,” I said.  “You mean his HOLE.  It’s okay, I can understand the idea of a HOLE.”

What could have been a huge issue became a fortunate incident.  He’d been scheduled for a feeding tube replacement anyway, but first they studied where the hole led, which was nowhere dangerous, and then where the feeding tube was ending up, which was where it really shouldn’t have been.  I tell you, this guy’s going to glow in the dark even more than I did when I worked in Purchasing for ANPP (That would be Arizona Nuclear Power Plant).

He’d been under severe infectious condition restrictions, which meant glove and gown before you went into the room, and leave them in the room along with his germs.  Until yesterday when he came up clear for C-Dif (a nasty germ he’d been fighting) and negative for MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, AKA the band leader in the Ugly Bug Ball).  Then he could finally feel fingers on his arm, and not gloves.  They’re moving him back to Intermediate Care and this time we just might keep that onward and upward path going OUT of the hospital and HOME.  And we can go back to our own world of BoB, BoS (dog jargon), various specialty watercolor inks, and the sub-genres of the writing world.

We can’t wait

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