You’ve seen the episode. Granny needs a routine medical procedure, but the Clampett’s don’t trust them smarty-pants doctors and them new-fangled doctorin’ machines. With a show of force that could have changed the outcome at Normandy, the Clampett clan descends upon a poor, unsuspecting hospital staff, unleashing their homespun brand of hillbilly hijinks, and much hilarity ensues.
“Hilarity” is one word for it. My word for it is “shoot – me – the – fuck – now – i – cannot – POSSIBLY – be – related – to – these – sociopathic – mutant – hillbilly – fucktards”. For the purists out there, yes – i can count. i tried the thesaurus. There was no single word that captured the complete sentiment.
Arriving at Mom’s yesterday, we headed for the hospital for her outpatient heart catheterization. Mom informed me that S and DQ would be meeting us there, and that their spouses, J and BJ would be along later “for support”. A cast of thousands way too many for a procedure that was scheduled to start at 2 pm, followed by discharge at by 8 pm.
It started quietly enough – we were through registration and settled into the room at the “cath lab” before the first truckload pulled up. Mom was hooked to monitors, sprouting tubes and wires from various body parts, but resting quietly. i spotted S and DQ heading toward our small room. DQ carried a gigantic slurpee cup and an empty McDonald’s bag, and S had a lovely, but unnecessary-for-outpatient-procedure vase of fluorescent, foam-filled, smiling flowers. The noise level went up by about 20 decibels.
The first topic was “fear”. S was clearly shaken. I mentioned that heart cath is a fairly routine procedure, and that it wasn’t likely that there would be complications. She came unglued, launching into a tirade about how scared she was, and that it was a “routine” procedure that killed Dad*. Mom is, of course, physically in the middle of this discussion and hearing every word. Mom and i both explain that Dad didn’t die as a result of that surgery…
Deploying a little yoga breathing, i didn’t react.
Fortunately, the discussion quickly turned to food. Mom hadn’t been allowed food or drink since midnight, which is difficult since she’s used to continuous grazing. While this wasn’t the best subject, it was better than the topic of “unexpected complications and death”.
Talk of the “amazing fried mushrooms” served in the hospital cafeteria swept the room. Salivation all around… followed by concerns that the cafeteria lunch line would be closed at 2:00 pm, so they’d better hurry. The objective was to have battered, deep-fried ‘shrooms on hand for Mom to gnaw on after the procedure.
DQ’s husband BJ, and S’s husband J arrived, which meant five people – two of them (DQ and BJ) quite large – were wedged in a small room, with Mom in a hospital bed. Various staff members squeezed through the crowd to adjust tubes, take notes and review procedures. To appease the pregnancy hunger of DQ, she grabbed S and BJ, and the three of them raced to the cafeteria seeking the magic mushrooms before the lunch trough ceased operations. J and i chatted quietly with Mom – about my kids, his adventures at work**, keeping the discussion light.
They returned from the cafeteria 30 minutes later, carting trays of sandwiches, bottles of soda, bags of chips and a bucket of heart-stopping deep fried mushrooms. It took a couple minutes for them to realize that Mom was gone. The cafeteria closed at 2:00 pm, the exact time Mom’s procedure was to begin. S shot me a dirty look, and asked why i didn’t call her cell phone. J helpfully mentions that Mom had just been taken, and perhaps they could still catch her in the hallway***. S immediately tore out of the room to say “goodbye” to Mom before it was too late. DQ lumbered out after her, smelling a chance for high drama.
I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my laptop. Knowing the hospital gig intimately, i’ve learned to use the down time as productively as possible, and had brought work with me. S and DQ returned, with S seething. She complained that she didn’t get a chance to see Mom before they took her away. Without bothering to look up from my laptop i said nonchalantly “You wanted the fucking mushrooms. Besides, it’s pretty routine stuff…”
I got both barrels. “The last routine procedure was when Dad died in surgery, and i never got a chance to talk to him again. Don’t tell me it’s ‘routine'”. DQ then chimed in that she’s still pissed off that Dad’s surgery went ahead of schedule, and she was robbed of the chance to see him because she was stuck in traffic before he went under the final knife.
I sighed. I said nothing. J stood up to intervene, but it was unnecessary. Rather than fuel this “Lifetime Television” moment, i went back to my work. It would have been amusing to mention to S that this was, in fact, the third time Mom has had heart catheterization – but it would have been selfish for me to have taken the moment from her…
* Dad did not die as a result of a “routine procedure”. He died of multiple organ failure, complicated by sepsis, following a battle with Stage IV (metastatic) colon cancer – not to mention, over 3 years of chemotherapy. The palliative “routine” procedure was performed to fuse the lining of his lung, preventing fluid build up. Because of his degraded physical state, he simply never woke up from anaesthesia, remaining mostly comatose for 10 days in intensive care before i made the call to remove life support.
** J is a great guy. We periodically bond over our aversion to drama, and the the trailer park tendency toward “one bad damn decision after another”. He also is a paramedic/fireman, and tells hysterically funny stories!
*** J is also quite playful. He knew damn well Mom was long gone, but thought it amusing to watch S and DQ sprint out the door. We chuckled. Yesterday i realized that J must really love S a lot to put up with her shit.