The ICU Follies

With just a few lesser tubes remaining, Mom is up and walking. This morning, after two full hours of sitting up for respiratory therapy and breakfast, and a walk along the hallway in the cardiac intensive care unit, she needed to stop by the restroom before settling in for her morning nap.

The nurse had given her the morning medication just after breakfast – which included a mild pain pill since the walking puts some stress on her body. As Mom came out of the restroom, the nurse noted that she seemed a little wobbly – and asked “Are you feeling dizzy? You seem to be more unsteady.”

Without missing a beat, Mom said “I’d be a lot more steady if you’d remembered to pull up my drawers”. Looking down, they were still around her ankles…

Her sense of humor is coming back. This is a very good sign… 

An artist’s rendering.  Much, much better than the real deal…

A tale of willpower. A tale of stupidity.


My mother is one tough nugget.    


After 65 years of sucking tar, she quit smoking.  Completely.  She smoked her last cigarette about a month ago.  i am in awe of this – having assumed it wasn’t possible to ditch a 3-pack a day habit that fast.  But she did it.  She took Chantix, prescribed by her surgeon, but stayed at the low dose – probably not enough to have made much difference.


This was sheer willpower. 


Where did it come from?  Yesterday she told us that a light bulb went off when Robo-Doc said – “You’re here to talk about bypass surgery.  I assume that means you want to live.  You need to quit smoking – for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery”.  She realized she really does want to live…


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Due primarily to a lack of news, i haven’t written much about The Park lately. This is just the quiet before the storm.  The Clampett’s shall ride again…

Mom’s bypass surgery is scheduled in three weeks.  In the meantime, she has exceeded all expectations in her quest to quit the demon tobacco!  i’m very proud of her, and although she hasn’t completely quit, she’s only smoking about 5 cigarettes a day.  Given that she has been chain-smoking for 65 years, this is remarkable*!

i’m even more proud of her for finally standing up to her quack family physician, Dr. Bonehead**.  In the past, this man has misdiagnosed many a malady.  Among other things, he prescribed arthritis medication for “leg trouble” which was due to circulation problems, and an early indicator of heart failure.  His office staff is equally incompetent, and excel at finding ways to charge Mom for unnecessary procedures.  A recent example:  Because they used the wrong code for lab tests, which the insurance company then refused to pay, Mom was forced to drop an unexpected $200 on lab work.

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Sorry. It won’t happen again…

Mom and Dad were planning an Alaskan cruise with a group of friends from their church when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1998.  With a departure date scheduled for just a month post-surgery, they canceled their plans. 

As his condition leveled out over the next few months, Dad settled into chemotherapy treatments every other week, and Mom assumed her role of primary caregiver.  The prognosis wasn’t great, but he’d made the decision to pursue non-heroic treatment for the near term… and was hanging in for his final year or so.

When the daily routine returned to something resembling “normal”, Mom would occasionally mention the trip, expressing her disappointment that their plans were scuttled by Dad’s illness.  Dad wouldn’t say a word as she would tell anyone within earshot “We were booked on that Alaskan cruise but had to cancel when Dad got sick…”

He apparently hit his limit one day when he quietly responded “I’m really sorry I got cancer and screwed up your vacation”.

She didn’t mention it again, at least not in front of me, until a few weeks after he died.