Friday, January 27, 2017

The Uncertain Station Between Legal Adulthood and the Real Thing

Image result for when life gives you lemons make lemonade joke

My mom is here tonight. She'll need to fly back tomorrow night, as one of her students has a senior piano recital on Saturday night.

I've trash-talked my mom's reasons for not having been here earlier -- particularly when surgery was happening -- but her reasons for needing to remain on the job were, in truth,  quite valid. I did a senior recital a few years ago -- I did two of them, actually, being the over-achiever that I am -- and I understand the problems I would been put through had either my advisor or even any member of my adjudication panel had found a reason for a no-show. 

Obviously, coverage is arranged in such cases. It's easier to fill in for an adjudication panel member than for an adviser, who has worked with a degree candidate through every step and hurdle, but still, those panels are arranged far in advanced for maximum fairness to degree candidates, who are in competitive situations with one another. A last-minute fill-in inevitably throws off the balance (or facade of balance, anyway) of fairness.  but there's no suitable substitute for having one's department adviser (did you know that both adviser and advisor are acceptable spellings of the word, though adviser is both more common and an older spelling of the word?) in attendance at one's senior recital. Then again, there's really no suitable replacement for having one's next -of-kin in attendance when one is having surgery when the outcome is not predictable, either.

What I had in place of my next-of-kin (who would have been one of my parents, or, at the very least, my twin  brother) was one of my professors armed with a cell phone and the numbers of my next-of-kin, along with a living will/advance healthcare drectives. I was required to fill out one at the ripe old age of 22 years and six weeks because of the absence of my next-of-kin. For the record, I do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means once my brain function has ceased [some would argue that such is already the case], and I do not wish to have any form of nutrition or artificial means to preserve my life, but I do insist upon the comfort measures of IV hydration along with pain medication and sedatives as needed.  It was incredibly kind of my professor to have shown up. For all I know, the department made all of my professors who were on the premises draw straws, and the professor I got was the one who  drew the short straw, though to his credit, he managed not to act as though such was the case.  He was compassionate, and didn't try make incessant small-talk in effect to cover up the awkwardness of the situation. He talked when I wanted to talk, and held my hand when he thought I needed him to do so. It was the best the hospital could do on short notice, and I appreciated the effort on their part to do anything at all. They really didn't have to do so.

My mom has been a good mother, as my father has been a good dad, but there were times in the past when they should have been with me and weren't. i won't go through the list in the event that they happen to read this, as they already know the list all too well, and I don't need to rub salt in their wounds. The difference now is that I'm grown and that their job of raising me an of being there at the times when parents should be present for a kid are technically over. At this point it's strictly a matter of choice.  I feel as though they've made their choices perfectly clear. they don't think it's quite so simple, and that there are times when parents, or anyone doing any job who has other obligations beyond that job, get stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.  I'm not sure what exactly is the distinction here. I suppose the rock is what  person has to do, while the hard place is what a person doesn't do or the person a parent or someone else doesn't help but is left feeling guilty about not helping. 

That seems to be one of the things I'm very best at --  making people feel guilty for not helping me or for not being there when I need them. I totally get the necessity for work in the lives of most people, parents included. Most of us are not born into families similar to the Rockefellers or Romneys or Trumps, with sufficient wealth that their wealth alone continues to accrue even more wealth without the necessity of their doing much of anything about it on a regular basis other than to check in on things often enough to ensure that the accountants aren't helping themselves to huge chunks of the family fortune. Most of us have family members who may have a bit of flexible work time, but have some non-negotiable aspects to their work. 

If a family member -- a spouse, a kid, or even a grown-up kid -- is in an especially precarious state of health, it is assumed that work will be thrown aside so that the working person will be with the family member who is facing a health crisis.  If the ailing family member has a cold or a sprained ankle, the family member is on his or her own. It's the in-between stuff  -- the judgment calls -- the persistent side ache that turns out to be a ruptured appendix, the "urinary tract infection" that advances very nearly to the point of the affected kidney being removed, the subjective abdominal pain that, when all diagnosing has been said or done, winds up being a two-foot extension of gut that has to be removed and resected, and a  possible intestinal perforation that turn out to be actual intestinal perforation, that cause conflict and hurt feelings on the prt of the grown-up offspring.

Such is often the case all the more when the adult offspring is in many aspects f life, both by parents and by others,  not treated as an adult, it seems, except when it comes to health crises.  I can't decide for myself whether or not to purchase a cello, but I can decide for myself with not parental input how much of my colon can be cut away and resected.  I can't decide without parntal input whom to date on a regular basis, but I can be expected to single-handedly take on incompetent hospital staff members who are not following my doctor's medication orders.

I have many relatives and friends-who-are-like-relatives who have functioned as pseudo-next-of-kin at times in the past, including in medical situations.  For these times and for these relatives and not-quite-relatives, I am most sincerely appreciative of the times they've stepped in. The statute of limitations seems to have expired where these people and this service in concerned, however. They seem to feel that since I'm now an adult, I don't need them anymore when a medical situation that threatens to reach crisis level hits. 

What is the answer to this? Getting married? Spouses seem to have the right to demand that each other be available for health crises.  Perhaps I need a nice, kind, sensitive spouse, complete with an iron-clad prenup if things ultimately fail to work out.

For tonight, my mom is here, though. She's alternating between the bed next to me and the recliner between our two beds. She rubbed my tummy when I was in quite a bit of pain due to trapped gas {TMI i know} against my incision. {Trapped gas in my case is a side-effect of not being able to tolerate the full-liquid diet and having to exist on chocolate pudding and ice cream or sherbet - the only things on the full-liquid diet that I will consider eating. It's one of those things a same-sex parent can do without it quite reaching the "Deliverance" factor, plus she has small enough hands that she can rub the part that hurts without touching anything else that I would prefer not to be touched, though in my case, my midsection consists mostly of flat abdomen; there's a pretty decent margin of error.

There is some peritonitis as a result of the colon perforation as indicated by a temperature of just above 102. If the condition were serious, my temp would be more like 104 or higher. The moderately low fever would indicate that the Levaquin and Keflex (I think that's what I'm being given, but I'm also very confused) are somewhat doing their jobs, but not quite so efficiently as I would like. i would have liked to be back in my condo by now. As it stands, Sunday is the earliest possible discharge date. My mom has to go back for another recital before on Sunday. My dad is supposedly coming back when she leaves.

I get a great deal of ulteriorly motivated attention from male staff members when my mom is here. I'm not allowed to post pictures of her, but I've been told that she looks years younger than her actual age of 49 and is almost movie-star hot. Male staff members find the most superfluous of  reasons to come into my room. In any event, the idea of not getting my medication when I need it or anything else when I want it is laughable as long as my mom is here.

I think I'll switch my scholarly concentration (a supplemental required component of our education, intended to be done independently; I'd already completed considerable work on my original topic, but change and flexibility are both good) to "Patient Experience in Our Facilities." I've been admitted to at least three and have been treated at an additional three.  I may as well make a bit of lemonade out of the lemons life is currently serving up in generous quantities.


  1. I expect the lemonade would just add to the acid already in your digestive tract. I'll have to keep an eye on my "next of kin" status in case I am the last kin in the group. Thanks for the reminder. And heal up, okay?

    1. I just saw a rerun of "King of Queens" in the hospital (that's how bored I was - relegated to watching trruns of "King of queens" - where the lead character handed out his business card to some random person and ended up being that person's "next of kin." Be careful to whom you give yur contact info.

  2. I'm glad your mom could be with you, if only for a short time. That must be comforting. My mom would probably drive me nuts!

  3. I'm sorry for everything that has happened over the past 2 weeks. It is good to know that your mom is with you and that you're not completely alone. I've been there and done that a few times and it really is one of the worst feelings, especially in the event of emergency surgery/procedures. Hang in there!

    I also apologize for my lack of response over the last several days. Things have been a bit challenging in my universe at the moment. We'll have to catch up more appropriately once life calms down and you're better.

    1. Becca,
      we all have real lives. Sometime they're busy. take care of business. It would be nice to talk to you sometime after things calm down for you a bit. I lost your number in my old phone, but iO'll twitter dM my number so that you can call at your convenience if a break happens to open in your schedule.

      i hope you're well.