December 20, 2008

Life since Thanksgiving 2008

I don't quite know how to write it all, so bear with me. Our life has been a shambles since Thanksgiving, though we are of course grateful for what we have.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we got a call that Pat was again in the hospital, with a severe headache that was eventually diagnosed as bleeding in her brain. The medical folks never did figure out exactly where the bleeding came from, though they ruled out both aneurysm and stroke...technically, I suppose it is just a brain hemorrhage. ("Just.") The bleeding was, however, massive. Naturally, Matt grabbed a suitcase and left to be near her as she lay in the ICU at St. Vincent's.

It was shortly after that that I realized Dudley had gone to that Great Ball of Yarn in the Sky at exactly the perfect time--a week and a half earlier--because I'm not really sure how I would have managed the whole first-year teaching too much thing, plus sudden single working parenthood, plus being worried about Matt, his mom, and their family, plus trying to explain to the girls both what was happening and why they didn't even get to say goodbye before Daddy left (it was nap time), AND do all the care Dudley needed. Of course, all the while I realized that I had by far the easier job, at least compared to Matt's. (It was also good timing, because it did give at least Laura a touchstone...in that way children have of bringing humorous catharsis to tragedy, when I told her Grandma was so sick she might die, Laura immediately said: "Will she go to the vet?") We were very grateful for the many offers of help that week; special thanks have to go to Kyle for continuing to shepherd the speech team while its two other coaches were incommunicado, and Eric for chipping in to judge at the tournament that next Saturday.

By Wednesday of that week, they had decided that Pat had stabilized enough to move her to a regular room, out of the ICU. She had been unconscious, then in and out of consciousness, in part at least because of the painkillers, but she very gradually improved over the next week. They could tell by now that she had what is called "left side neglect", and while I probably won't explain it correctly, it mostly means that her brain ignores the fact that her left side exists. This is not quite the same as paralysis, but has many of the same effects, plus some really weird ones like not acknowledging what her left eye sees....Dianne reported that she watched Pat eat half a plate of food, and think she was done, until the plate was turned to reveal what had been on the left side of it.

By that, you may deduce that she is doing a little better; the plate of food was in the nursing center she has been moved to. She's able to speak, a bit; not nearly as well as before. The doctors, though, have warned us not to hope for too much.

This really sucks.

The weather has kept us from going up to visit her this week, though we're hoping for a break in time for Christmas. Although in comparison it seems like a small matter, you may be able to imagine how far behind I got while Matt was gone for six school days, and worse, how far behind *he* got in that amount of time (his kids were mighty glad to have him back instead of another substitute). And that is what we have been up to, why there are no Christmas cards, no Christmas letter, definitely no blog posts, and not a heckuva lot of Christmas cheer around here. But we'll see what we can do about that last one in the next few days....