Monday, November 15, 2010

The business, as usual

Well, they can't say I didn't warn them. For that matter W can't say I didn't warn him! I got a call from the ward about 10:30AM, and the nurse said that since W had been rather out of it when brought in they were not sure what was 'normal' for him. I must have sighed, knowing what that meant.

'Well, when he is all there he is witty, astute, a great conversationalist with a dry sense of humor, and probably very cranky because he hates being in the hospital. Sounds like he's feeling better, eh?'
The guy at the other end gave a sound that was half laugh and half sigh of relief because clearly I understood the situation. I went on;
'I understood that the staff wanted to keep him here until Monday so the weekday doctors could check him over. I take it you want to cut him loose today?'
'Well, he certainly wants to go home today.'

That was a clear admission of defeat - W had bullied or given enough grief to someone that they just didn't want to deal with him any longer than absolutely necessary. I don't blame them - BTDT. Besides, by now it was pretty obvious that he was on the mend - the beer had been the problem, and the old yucky liquid med was the answer.
'No rush - after lunch is fine' he said, trying to be nice, but not realizing that with the 2 hours it takes to get there, even if I left right then I'd only get there just about lunch time.

OK, so I had just started thinking breakfast, having let myself sleep in, went for the papers at 9 and hadn't read them yet. I made a hearty brunch - eggs and ham - and settled down to read the papers. Then I got dressed and was on the road by noon. I was more than a little concerned about his attitude when I finally arrived - last time he started griping right off to the tune of 'what took you so long'. However, this time, in an effort to placate him, they had told him I was coming, and about what time, and he was magnanimous in his victory, allowing them to shampoo and bathe him without too much fuss. For that I was grateful - when he is depressed one of the first things to go by the wayside are little amenities like regular showers. His last was almost two months ago. I can remind, and show by example, but while you can lead a man to water...

It took about 10 minutes to get him dressed - first he tried to put his foot into the sleeve of the long-john shirt, then was going to put his briefs on over the hospital jammy bottoms, but eventually he was sorted out. I even dragged a comb through his still damp hair before he could clamp his trusty denim hat on it and ensure it would dry kinked and snarled. They delivered paperwork to sign him over to me, and a big bag of the liquid med to take home. From now on he takes both the pill and liquid version.

Since I had brought his personal wheelchair, getting him back to the car was easy. The rest stop visit he requested not so much. Unfortunately I didn't see the handicapped/family restroom door until after he had disappeared into the depths of the regular men's room. I did my own thing and took up station outside the door and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I asked a gentleman leaving if there was an older bearded man in denim who seemed to be having difficulties. He looked startled but said yes, but there was someone helping him - he thought they were together. I said no, he's with me. He said I could go on in if I wanted - the two were the only ones left. I thanked him and went to the end of the access hall.

It turns out one of the workers at the rest stop had either been asked for help or had seen his difficulties and offered assistance. By the slightly wild-eyed look on the kids face (he couldn't have been much over 18) he was close to panic, afraid of doing something wrong and getting himself sued. I told him I'd take care of this and gave him a big smile and thanks, and once W had gotten to me the kid's face was a picture of relief. He had been trying to put his arm into the wrong arm of the jacket - I'm almost afraid to think of what stuff might have fallen out of the pockets in there, but since the worst would be a bit of money or a lighter I decided not to ask to inspect the premises - just cut my losses and got him out to the car.

We made it home without incident, and much to my surprise D was already there. Apparently her fiancee had shown uncommon foresight and suggested she come back Sunday to give herself time to get her head together and get some sleep, rather than taking the bus straight to the viewing and being totally wiped from the trip. After I put together a quick supper and got us both fed he began dozing, so I told him to go ahead add sleep, but I was going next door to give D a chance to vent, cry or reminisce. He was OK with that. D did a little of all three and an hour later felt enough better that I was able to excuse myself and head back to bed myself.

Of course just because he was sufficiently better to come home didn't mean he was together enough to be left unattended. One full cup of milk spilled all over the floor and everything on it in from to his nightstand (a perpetual problem area) and at 2AM I was awakened by him thrashing his way to the bathroom and proceeding to pee on the floor. I yelled at him to open his eyes and turn on the light. He muttered 'I'm OK' - I said 'No, I can hear it hitting the tiles - nothing is going in the toilet'. He ignored me, as usual. <sigh> I had just cleaned that bathroom floor (again) and put down the freshly washed rugs (again). I just hope this liquid med works quickly enough that the rugs survive daily washing until he can think clearly enough to sit rather than stand.

The final analysis is that his options now amount to drink his beer, get divorced and die much earlier than necessary, or quit drinking, live as long as possible and continue to bust T's chops and make my life interesting a while longer. He has accepted the new mandate (so far), and has promised to follow doctors orders. No more beer or alcohol of any kind - period. I have some small hope that as his brain gradually de-pickles he might even get back some of the motor skills he lost over this last binge. If so, great - if not, so be it.

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