A Break in the Routine.

This week has been rather strange. It’s been very busy, but I haven’t been to work, except for five minutes early on Monday morning. I had to let them know that I would be taking some time off because of my sister being in the hospital. It was sort of strange, as Earl and I spent the entire weekend at the hospital with my sister, then, there I was at work asking for time off when I’ve only worked there for four weeks. And I think I’m going to need the rest of the week off, which is going to be very odd because, again, I’ve only been there four weeks.

My sister is coming along slowly but surely in her recovery. She is still in intensive care and her condition is still rated as “critical” but she is doing much better. They finally figured out what she has. She has pneumonia courtesy of a friendly little bacteria called Legionella. Legionella sounds rather creepy, doesn’t it? Almost like a disliked character on Bewitched or something equally supernatural. Uh oh, here comes Legionella.

Legionella usually brings on the infamous Legionnaire’s Disease. However, if she’s in a cranky mood (isn’t it funny that I’ve decided Legionella is a _she_), she’ll hang out in air conditioner condensation drip or other fun water sources and then jump into an unsuspecting person and give them a near-deadly form of pneumonia.

My sister’s vital signs are stablizing, and she’s getting weaned off of her ventilator but very, very slowly. Her blood pressure is somewhat normal without a med assist. That’s good news. She’s taking baby steps towards her recovery, but it’s going to be a long road. I’m glad that I can help in any way that I can.

Earl had to go to Ohio to tend to business, so it’s basically been me keeping down the fort and trotting back and forth to Syracuse to go to the hospital for the day. The hospital staff has been really, really nice, except for one respiratory specialist I call Creepella (maybe she’s related to Legionella somehow). She doesn’t have much of a bedside manner. I suspect it’s because no one is in bed with her and she’s just plain frigid, but we can’t hold that against her. Her primary concern, like everyone’s, is my sister’s well being and we will just have to save the little speech about being nice to the patient’s family (and more importantly, the patient) for another time. I’ve made it a point to speak with everyone that’s anyone and to call everyone by their first name. I don’t know why I’m doing that, but it’s making me feel better. Usually I just address someone without a name. Sometimes a rude “hey you”. I’ve even been striking up conversation with the cafeteria staff and know from first hand conversation that the lovely kitchen lady named Barbara with the really tight hairnet makes 75 salads every day and then wraps up 75 slices of cake with saran wrap. I think she thinks I’m weird, but that’s o.k., because I am.

So now I have this new routine that involves getting up as if I’m going to work and then heading to Syracuse. Thank God for Sirius satellite radio, especially Sirius Out Q 149 (all gay channel). I battle for a spot in the parking garage, then I hang out in the ICU lounge, where I pick lint off my shirt, read the newspaper five to seven times and visit with my sister frequently. Sometimes I eat pistachio nuts and relive old department store names with my cousin or Thruway road construction details with my uncle. I also ask a million and one questions of anyone that looks like they could be important medically. I remember vital signs to relay to other family members, question the purpose of medication and worry about things like bowel movements, fevers, Ensure and the purpose of latex gloves. I make many cell phone calls to keep others informed of the situation. I show other hospital visitors how to use the lounge computer. I check on the hospital master clock system to make sure everything is working correctly.

Sure, the routine is hectic. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. As long as I have a healthy sister when it’s all done.