I gave up about one-thirty Monday morning. Lauren just could not settle down to sleep. Was she not feeling well? Was it a bad dream? There was no way to tell. So, I got her up, settled her into the recliner in the living room, and sat with her until she finally drifted off. Then I lay on the couch, wondering, listening, worrying. Every time I’d start to fall asleep, her breathing would change and I’d be alert again. Around five-thirty, I woke my husband and asked him to take my place on the couch so that I could crawl into bed for an hour. I needed to be up early so that I could be ready to leave by the time Lauren’s caregiver, N, arrived. I needed to run some errands and be back by eleven. The guy was coming to fix Lauren’s wheelchair. I couldn’t go out later in the day because our new second shift caregiver, L, is not flying solo yet.
Lauren had a seizure at seven-thirty. She was agitated and tired afterward . I managed to get some yogurt and all ten of her seizure pills into her before N arrived. Then, I left her sleeping while I quickly ran to the grocery store. As I groggily wound my way down the last aisle of the store, my cell rang with the message that the wheelchair guy was cancelling.
Back at home, Lauren was still sleeping, woke up briefly, and managed to get some pudding down before going back to sleep. Around four she seemed to be rousing, and we got her up and out on the screen porch for some fresh air. Five minutes later, she was throwing up. Lauren takes extended release seizure meds. They take a long time to disintegrate in the stomach. They came up still intact. This means that I have to pick them out of the detritus of her stomach contents and somehow, soon, get them back into her. The new caregiver and I cleaned Lauren up, and got her settled into the recliner once again. where she promptly fell back to sleep.
At 5 o’clock, my husband arrived home after work. Walking in pale and with a slight stagger, his speech seemed slightly slurred to me. Asking him what was wrong he said, “I’m tired, I’m just so tired.” He walked into the next room and five seconds later I heard the crash. Flying through the door, I found him on the floor surrounded by the remnants of a bowl of potpourri. He was conscious but weak and a bit confused. I yelled for the caregiver to call 911. She did, and I asked her to bring me the phone. Holding on to my husband, I shakily hit speed dial to call N (whose been with us for three years), so that L would not be alone with Lauren. N arrived before the ambulance. After giving some quick instructions to L and N, I grabbed George’s shoes (but not the insurance cards) and we were off to the hospital.
Concentrating on taking some much needed deep breaths as the ambulance driver used her siren to clear rush hour traffic, I tried to figure out why the EMT amongst the many pertinent questions, had asked “Is this a group home?” He hadn’t seen Lauren while he was there. My only response to his question, had been a blank look, while I tried to process his query. He continued, “Well, the house is kind of big and it has ramps.”
Doctors and nurses and EKG leads and questions, lots of questions, repeated by each new person entering the room. In between I would hurry to the entrance door where I could get some decent cell reception in order to call home and check on the progress of getting the meds back into Lauren. “She’s still sleeping.” “Ok, I got a couple of them in.” “She won’t eat anything, I’m going to try again in a little while.” I got a few more in, there’s two left.” And, then at 9:00, “I can’t get the last two in.” I have to go home.
A doctor comes in to explain what tests they are doing and why. The ones that have come back thus far have all been normal. They will admit him and do more tomorrow. He says, “Sometimes these kinds of things just happen in the elderly.” Elderly? My husband isn’t elderly! Yes, he’s seventy-four, but for George, that really is just a number. He skis and plays golf. He still works in his accounting practice. He has more energy and vitality than I do, twenty years his junior. What do you mean elderly? I picture elderly as diminished, fading, failing. Am I missing something? Am I in denial? We have too much yet to do, too much life yet to live, I won’t accept that we’ve turned some invisible corner with the finish line coming into view. I just won’t.
So I leave him waiting to go to his room and I return home to Lauren. She is looking brighter. A slight smile touches her lips. I tell her it’s been a really tough day, and that she needs to take just two bites of pudding for me (each topped with a pill). I kiss her cheek, and she quietly takes the two bites, and then two more, and then finishes the little container of pudding.
So now it is Tuesday morning. I sit here and write this while I wait for George to return to his room after more tests. Lauren woke up smiling this morning. She ate all her breakfast, She was happy and healthy and ready to get on with her day. N will take care of her till three o’clock. George’s tests are scheduled through six tonight. He seems like his normal self today. They haven’t found anything wrong or suspicious yet. I don’t know if I hope they find something, so that we can fix or treat it, or nothing, that will leave us wondering. I will have to leave him by four o’clock to get back and help L with Lauren. I'm feeling stretched a bit too thin.