Until recent events forced my attendance at Conway Regional, I had managed to forget what a miserable experience hanging around a hospital can be. There is no way to make yourself comfortable. I guess the tension that hangs like a fog over the waiting room keeps a person from relaxing enough to get comfy. I know that I felt my teeth clinch as I drove up on the parking lot. Hanging out at the hospital is tough duty no doubt.
On the day that Mother's surgery was originally scheduled I had brought a book to read. Nurse Bob had brought his study materials for his Boards. And yet, neither of us could concentrate enough to read. I guess we were too distracted by worry. So we just talked.
Bob: "So how's work?"
Me: " Picking up. Things are getting busy after the Holidays. What's new at the nervous
Bob: " Not much. Just the usual. Oh! We did have something interesting last night."
Bob: " We got a guy up on the floor that drank himself deaf."
Me: "Drank himself deaf ?"
Bob: " Yeah, it's rare but it can happen. We got him some hearing aids and stuck him in rehab."
Me: " That's enough to almost make you swear off drinking. Almost."
As for me, my hearing, though not what it once was, is still pretty good. One thing you notice about hospitals is that every kind of person in the world is in there. When I go to Conway, I'm either at Hendrix College, my brother's house or the nursing home. It is easy to forget that Faulkner County is still a pretty rural redneck kind of place. And the snippets of conversation I would get here and there from the other inmates were pretty interesting.
There was the group of folks with Midwestern accents talking about breeding Yorkshire terriers. There were a couple of pentecostal looking gentlemen, probably brothers, one brandishing a fine looking walking stick who passed the time arguing the respective merits of Lincolns versus Cadillacs.
Here's an exchange between an elderly gentleman and a female friend. They evidently hadn't seen each other in awhile and were catching up on old news.
She: " Are you still selling cars?"
He: " No. I'm retired from the car lot."
She: " I see."
He: " I am still preachin' though."
And this from a young married couple on Sunday afternoon:
He: " I hope we can get back home in time for the Cowboys game."
She: " What time does it start?"
He: " Three.'
She: " There's no way we can get back by three."
He: " That's not what I want to hear."
She: " We can get back in time to watch the second half."
He: " That's really not what I want to hear."
My guess from the exasperated look on his wife's face is that hubby was probably making a serious rookie mistake. I hope he has a comfortable couch because I bet he got to sleep there. By the way, in case you missed it, the Cowboys lost all because Tony Romo's mind was all befogged by Jessica Simpson. A bad day all around for our hero.
I glanced at daytime television from time-to-time during my stay there. I had never really considered how many "fake judge" shows there were out there. The one I watched involved a dispute between two black drag queens who, at the urging of the judge, ended their differences and reconciled. The show ended with them doing their act in open court for the gallery thereby fully restoring my faith in the dignity and majesty of the law.
Another thing about Conway that I noticed during my incarceration at the hospital was that there is a strong fundamentalist, evangelical presence there that you tend to forget about when your Faulkner County exposure is limited to the high church Methodist types over at Hendrix. Conway Regional is not affiliated with any religious group unlike Baptist and St. Vincent's here in Little Rock. But there were flyers up on the wall in the waiting room advertising lectures from local ministers about various subjects that were scheduled there at the hospital. Indeed, the man that did Mother's surgery-a very nice man who did a good job as far as we can tell- was offering a public lecture on the "Christ-Centered Medical Practice." You certainly wouldn't see anything like that at St. Vincent's or UAMS.
Further, the religious literature on hand in the waiting rooms I spent time on were all of a crazy "Brand X" theological persuasion. Particularly insane was one little booklet entitled "Day of Battle Strength to Stand" published by heretofore unknown to me Basic Training Ministries out of Hot Springs.
This curious little book starts out by stating that "The military is an honorable profession and killing in battle is neither wrong nor sinful. The Christian filled with the Holy Spirit and made strong with God's word should kill the enemy calmly and professionally" (emphasis supplied).
As if that weren't whacked out enough, the pamphlet goes on to describe the US as "God's client nation" and referred to the earthly ministry of Jesus as a PSYOPS mission in the Middle East in which Jesus was killed in battle. If you desire further instruction along these lines please click here.
This nonsense is supposed to sustain the sick and comfort the dying? Which is the point of hospital waiting room literature isn't it? What's going on out there?
Mother was discharged back to the nursing home last Monday. So I don't have to go back to Conway Regional again for, it is hoped, a long time. I left there thinking that some people live in a world that is very different from my own, one in which people watch drag queens on one of those stupid "fake judge' shows and where Jesus is described as a warrior. That's not a bad thing necessarily. It's just not my world.
And I am glad.
To all of you who called, wrote, and sent text messages during the last ten days, you have my heartfelt gratitude. One thing you discover at times like this is you find out who your friends are. I can say without hesitation that my brothers and I are blessed to have tremendous friends and I can't thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers.
As I stated earlier, Mother is back at the nursing home. She is still in pain but she is basically comfortable. Her dementia is far more pronounced post-op than it was going in. We are hopeful that once she is through taking Vicodin that her mental status will clear. We shall see.
The immediate crisis is past and the road ahead is uncertain. But we will care for her to the best of our abilities with the primary emphasis being pain management during however many days lie ahead.
Thank you once again for everything.