Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home again from Harborview

It's been quite a pair of weeks. Yesterday, Emily was released from Harborview for the second time in just under two weeks. She was re-hospitalized because she was experiencing nausea and disorientation, which was eventually determined to be the result of a sodium/water imbalance that can, in turn, stem from injury to the part of the brain that regulates such things. Starting a week ago, I began pulling the "night shift," coming in each evening and staying the night in a chair-bed in Emily's room. I ate breakfast each morning in the cafeteria, which has a surprisingly robust bagel selection and some pretty good bran muffins, too (and hemp milk!), and tended to head home around 11 a.m. Emily's mom arrived each morning and stayed through the day, while I rested and caught up on various and sundry errands. (And played switchboard for a lot of Emily-related calls from her friends and Co-Counselors.) Now she's home and resting comfortably. She goes in on Monday for a chat with a kidney doctor, I think, and is scheduled for Tuesday hand surgery. I'll spend Tuesday night at the hospital again. If anybody has recipes to suggest that might effectively soothe a convalescing friend, please submit them here, or just give me a call.

Ah, Harborview. Packed with fascinating stories, and me without a little notebook in which to record them! I met a 47-year-old hard-rock vocalist (who looked to be in his thirties) and his 26-year-old girlfriend -- they met in Anchorage at a karaoke bar, and she picked up him, expecting nothing more than a one-night stand. More than two years later, they're still together, and they seem like a good couple. (I'd reveal the malady that landed her at the hospital, but I'm trying not to overdo it with the identifying details.) I also met a woman who was in for a virus in her spine (no, not meningitis -- I asked) and had been at the hospital for five weeks. She was bored and occasionally hallucinated, most often at night. Rumor had it she'd "seen" her Pomeranian outside her (fourth-floor) window at least once. There were a few cases sadder than these that I won't get into; suffice it to say the experience was an education in human nature and behavior, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I'll likely be in a position to make social plans again pretty soon, now that Emily's hospital time seems to be nearing its end. I'm also rethinking my long-standing plan to leave town this summer; I'm finding it harder than expected to do, and I'm beginning to wonder whether my resistance means something more than simply fear of leaving my comfort zone, the place I've lived for more than a fifth of my life. Maybe I have some unfinished business here. More as I figure it out. Right now I need to get some much-needed rest.

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