I’ve always had a bit of a weak stomach. I can deal with blood, guts, feces, etc. from animals — but not from people. Don’t know why, just always been that way.
When BrotherBoy was hospitalized for liver failure, he managed to ooze, shoot, excrete, blast, emit, torpedo all sorts of solids, liquids, and gasses from his body. It was pretty rugged. When he was going through the D.T.’s, not only were we dealing with physical filth, we also had to deal with an enormous amount of emotional and spiritual filth. One day in particular, he cursed at me for nearly 3 hours straight. Nanny & Daughters 1 & 2 left crying on more than one occasion.
I guess you could say we were in the beginning stages of our own version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was one of the most taxing events of our lives. We four females prayed, laughed, cried, and did whatever it took to survive the ordeal. Most of our antics were caught on the hospital surveillance cameras, but we’re happy to have supplied them with a few grins, too.
At one point BrotherBoy died — with all of us at his side — watching the transition. Because the DNR was not signed, the hospital staff removed us from the room and began to work on him. We were in the hospital over a month — a very hellish roller coaster of a month! We were blessed with the most compassionate and helpful hospital staff, but it was still a very traumatic time for us all.
Over and over again we prepared for BrotherBoy to die — sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. After a while we were too exhausted to whip up much excitement when, once again, the death proclamation was issued. That’s why, after he was out and about, I probably sounded a bit calloused when people questioned me about his condition. “Yeah, he was supposed to die, but he won’t stay dead. Yeah, they say he’s terminal, but he’s not listening.”
We were told to go to the VA Medical Center to get BrotherBoy’s initial tests. Eazy breezy, back home for a good afternoon together. Daughter 2 called to say we needed to report to the VA’s ER in another town. Why? Blood tests reveal BrotherBoy could die at any moment.
I went to the bathroom door and knocked, BrotherBoy sounded ticked, “What do you want?” “Are you dead?”, I asked. After some cursing under his breath he said, “No, why?” “Well, because I have to take you to the ER, you could die at any moment.” “WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”, he yells. “Nope, serious as a heart attack — no, wait, that’s what they say you’re gonna have any second now.”
After some colorful discussion, BrotherBoy agreed to go to the ER. There, we learned how to play a new game. It’s called, “Sit and Wait, and maybe you’ll die….or maybe you’ll just wish you did.” We dusted off the cobwebs when they called BrotherBoy’s name and he went through another round of being poked and prodded. BrotherBoy was not amused. BrotherBoy began to say bad things to the staff. BrotherBoy told them he was not going back into another hospital when he just got out. BrotherBoy walked out — and, seeing the mood he was in, I stayed back several paces. <He had attempted to give me flying lessons while he was hospitalized — flying out the window of his room and down about 5 floors. I preferred to skip those lessons.>
The next morning BrotherBoy was scheduled for a visit with the VA Medical Center again. The doctor he saw berated us for leaving the ER the night before, refused to treat BrotherBoy, and made several unnecessary comments. Needless to say, BrotherBoy was furious.
It took a few days before BrotherBoy relented and went back to the ER for further testing. (All the while, I’m getting phone calls from hospital staff telling me I should force BrotherBoy to go. I remind them that I am no spring chicken — and BrotherBoy is a Marine with extensive training in extermination.) At the ER, he is once again poked and prodded. They threaten, beg, guilt-trip, and scold to try to coax him to stay overnight. BrotherBoy refuses quite heartily. Nurse Practitioner begins to tell me that BrotherBoy could die on the way home. I can’t help but grin. I’m sorry, it’s tacky, but I’ve heard it so many times — and have actually seen him do it — but BrotherBoy is like the Energizer Bunny: He keeps going and going and going! Nurse Practitioner tries to enlighten me as to the seriousness of the situation. I explain that I truly do understand, that I’ve seen him die already, that I’ve heard it all before — and that after a month of very little sleep, I’m just not that hyped up about it. Nurse Practitioner tries again to impress me with the gravity of it all. I shake my head and smile. BrotherBoy is grinning at me. He likes watching them go after ME.
Finally, I relent, “Okay, he might die at any second. Exactly how will he die? I mean — will he flip flop around a while — or will he puke or what?” BrotherBoy is laughing at me now, “Why do you want to know?” he asks. I reply, “Because we’re in my van today — -and if you’re gonna puke, you’re sitting in the back seat — This is NOT a two-for-one deal! If you’re just gonna grab your heart and flop around, you can die up front.” BrotherBoy is roaring with laughter, Nurse Practitioner is speechless.
It takes her a while to regain her composure.
Hey, I’m just being realistic. If he started puking, I’d start swerving — and we’d both wind up dead.
Nurse Practitioner says he probably won’t puke, he can ride up front. BrotherBoy’s grin gets even bigger.