Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Turkey Makes You Sleepy and Some People Stupid

Saturday night was a bust.

I didn't go to the party, I didn't see my Old Friend and in the process, I got called CHILDISH.

So lemme esplain:

I went home for Thanksgiving expecting, at the very least, a good handful of drama. My aunt was to be in town, my dad was threatening to retire, my brother was going to be working at the hospital wiping dirty asses and inserting a plethora of catheters and my grandmother, MY GRANDMOTHER, had scheduled a surprise! surgery in which she was having her knee joint replaced. Now, the woman is 81 years old, has severe diabetes and a myriad other problems. NONE OF WHICH are conducive to an easy surgery or speedy recovery.

So I arrive in town on Thanksgiving morning, my offering of deviled eggs firmly ensconced within my ice chest. My mother is the only one in the house and she's standing in the middle of the kitchen, looking forlornly at the smoked turkey and dressing. My aunt, I am informed, is taking Thanksgiving dinner to their mother. My dad is taking Thanksgiving dinner to his mother. My cousin and his wife are 30 minutes away from town. Everything is ready and no one is here to eat it.

We sit at the beautifully decorated dining room table and sip coffee while we wait for the rest of the family to arrive. At which point my mother decides to brutally update me on the goings-on of the family.*

*My mother has a very bad habit of keeping things "quiet" so as not to disturb other family members. Which basically means someone could be dead in the hospital and she'll tell you over the phone that everything is fine, waiting until you show up in person to break the news. (This has actually happened.)

During the family run-down I learn that my grandmother, my mother's mother, THE ONE HAVING THE STUPID SURGERY, is having a rough time.

"A rough time?" I say.

Oh yes, I'm informed. A very rough time. She had just come out of ICU last night at 11pm.

"Why was she in ICU?" I ask.

Because when her breathing tube came out her goiter constricted her throat and she lost her airway.

"She LOST her airway??"

Yes, she lost her airway. So they kept her in ICU until last night.

"But she had her surgery LAST TUESDAY, mother. THAT'S OVER A WEEK IN ICU."

Yes, but we thought she'd come out of it faster than she did.

"So how is she NOW??"

Well, she had a bad reaction to the medication. Older people can do that, you know. They think some of her dementia may be permanent. We won't know until Saturday when the drugs are supposed to be out of her system.

"She has DEMENTIA??? Are you SERIOUS??"

She just screams and yells at the top of her lungs. They say that their hallucinations are often nightmarish and they can't discern the hallucinations from reality.

"I am aware of what dementia is. Why the HELL didn't you tell me she was having all these problems? You told me she was FINE."

I didn't want to worry you while you were at work and all.


So after a relatively uneventful Thanksgiving meal, the lot of us traipse up to the after-care facilty to see my grandmother. She's in pain, she's making no sense and she is STILL screaming at the top of her lungs. And just if you're wondering YES it will break your heart to hear someone you love screaming at the top of their lungs. Screaming like something is eating them alive, piece by piece.

Friday comes along. The drugs in her system are supposedly at half potency and she should be showing signs of coming out of the dementia. Thankfully, late Friday night she does. My aunt claims she came to in roughly five minutes. She was screaming and babbling and then, THEN- nothing. She looks over at my aunt and asks for some lemonade, her throat is awfully parched. No memory of the 8 days that have passed since she went under the knife. Not a one.

Saturday morning dawns and it's like the screaming, the ICU, the dementia NEVER HAPPENED. She's moved in to the rehab facility and immediately starts therapy. After all, the longer the time between her surgery and when her therapy starts means the longer it will take to give her a fully functioning knee. So we wave her off as the transporter comes to wheel her into the therapy gym, crossing our fingers it won't be as bad as we all know it's going to be. They've taken her off every pain medication, afraid it will trigger another dementia attack. So all she's taking is a regular strength Tylenol every couple of hours. Which does JACK SHIT for the 27 staples that extend from the middle of her thigh to the middle of her calf, holding in the artificial knee joint she's now sporting like a champ.

And so at 3pm she's wheeled back into her room, tears streaming down her face. She's exhausted and tired and she hurts and she's hungry all she wants is to lie down and cry. But she has to keep her knee moving for another two hours, hooked up to a machine that mechanically lifts and moves and stretches her leg in the most ridiculous positions for an 81-year-old woman.

By the end of the two-hour machine festivities, she's still tired but some of the soreness has been worked out and she actually feels marginally better. She's able to have her first fully lucid conversation with the family and I make the decision to stay a while longer. So instead of leaving at 4:30, as I originally planned, I don't leave until after 6pm. Which means I have a nearly three hour drive in Thanksgiving traffic back to Little Rock where I'm supposed to drive an extra 40 minutes to the boondocks of Conway to attend this party where I'm supposed to make nice with Old Friend?

Um, NO.

I have to be at work at 8am on Sunday and I have no intention, THAT WOULD BE ZERO, of staying in the car any longer. I am going home, I decide. I will sleep, I decide. I will curl up on my bed with my cats by my side and sleep in my beautiful and feathery bed.

So I call Meghan and inform her I just can't make it, I'm too tired, I left too late and I'm just physically NOT ABLE to be full of merriment and cheer. She understands and hands the phone to Ruby, the host of the party. She understands, says she's sorry I can't make it and tells me I can make it up to her at their annual Christmas party. I finish my drive home and collapse on my living room chair upon entering my apartment. The kitties are so excited to see me and it's all I can do to lean my head against the back of the chair while they head-butt each other for my attentions. I then check on my neighbor's cat, give her love and attention, returning home to dissolve into my bed and sleep like the wicked for a full nine hours.

After which I hear that Old Friend decided to call me CHILDISH. Because I was obviously AVOIDING her.

Yep, that's exactly what it was. It's all about you, sugar.


meghansdiscontent said...

I know we talked and talked about this last night . . . but just wanted to re-iterate.

Ignore it. You know where and what she was in your life. Where and what she is NOW has no bearing. It's not worth all the pain or worry. Your family comes first. Your friends possibly second. Your no-longer friends shouldn't even blip on your radar, sweetie.

We will go have a fabulous time this weekend and ignore the existence of the problem entirely. I'll even pay . . . I got some of that "special" money. :) It's yours for the taking.

Carl from L.A. said...

Family always comes first - especially your grandmother whom you love and who watched you grow up.

The "childish" remark from your so-called-friend should be the nail in the coffin of that so-called-friendship. Do not even try to explain.

Jenni said...

Your ex-friend sounds like a total non-compassionate JERK. She should have been concerned about you and your grandmother. I would ignore her, permanently. Glad that your grandmother came out of that. It would totally rip my heart out to hear it too.