Who needs Twitter?

Because I am at the hospital and the computer I use to punish my journal is at home, this post may be late. That may be true of the next couple of days as well. Thank you for your patience.

I usually don’t include too much identifying information in my public journal, but my wife, Susan has been hospitalized for atrial fibrillation over the past week. Yesterday her heart stopped briefly and she had to receive CPR twice before everything stabilized. I’m camping out in the ICU as I write. The prognosis is good. She has been stable for quite a few hours and the doctor will be withdrawing the ventilator this morning. It was very frightening yesterday, but she was in the right place at the time, and everything went well for her treatment. The doctors assure me that the underlying problem of atrial fibrillation is common and can be fully treated, but that she reacts to some of the medicines that they have tried. The long-term solution is electrical, not chemical, and plans are being made for a procedure that will provide a permanent fix.

If you have read a bit more about hospitals in my journal week, that is the reason. I’ve been hanging out at the hospital a lot. And yesterday was genuinely frightening for me. I don’t remember ever being quite so scared. We are, however in a better place today. Susan has been stable for more than 20 hours and they will be able to withdraw the ventilator soon. The long term prognosis is very good. Because A Fib is essentially an electrical problem, it can be treated with an ablation procedure that often gives a permanent fix to the problem. This is just one of the bumps in the road that we will be able to tell stories about and laugh at when we get over it.

With the tube in her throat, she cannot talk. This does not affect her hearing. Although she is on sedatives that make her sleepy, she wakes from time to time and smiles and looks at pictures and we converse by her writing notes on a pad.

This morning, I’m looking over the notes she wrote last night and they bring a smile to my face. Here are a couple of examples:

Her first note was “What happened?” It is a really good question, given that within a very few minutes, two crash carts and about 10 people rushed into the room. They were putting a board under her, giving her chest compressions, injecting medicines, listening for a pulse, watching her breathing, and giving her a shock with a defibrillator all at the same time. As soon as they had a good rhythm, they moved her (bed and all) to the Coronary Care unit, two flights down. Much happened quickly, including another code. I was ushered into a waiting room for the second code, I’m sure it was as exciting as the first That whole story, however, is far too much for a short answer, so I told her part of the story, which seemed to explain things enough for her to understand where she is and why she had the tube in her throat, etc.

Another note said, “They took my clock. What time is it?” In the room where she spent the last week, there is a large clock on the wall at the foot of the bed. This room has a clock as well, but it is on the wall to her left side and she is positioned so she cannot see it. It was easy to tell her the time. Then she wrote “On Monday?” which was a good question, and the correct one. All of that happened in the same day and yes, it was Monday. She was, however surprised that it was evening. The last 12 hours had seemed like a short time to her, which was good news to me. Perhaps she won’t remember the people pounding on her chest and some of the pain of the life-saving procedures.

Here is a note that gave me confidence that everything that has happened hasn’t changed her personality. “Please move blanket down 11 inches.” She is nothing, if not precise. Not having a ruler, I had to estimate, but it seemed to satisfy her to have it moved.

Twice she asked me to show her pictures of our children and grandchildren. That is a good sign, as they are very important parts of her life. Moreover they are important parts of our life together, so a topic about which we are capable of endless conversation. We love to talk to each other about them and the notes asking to see the pictures are precious to me.

I told her that her sister and my sister and our son were coming to visit and she wrote: “Sheets on all beds are clean. Move papers to bin. Move pillows as needed.”

She wrote “thank you” a lot. When the shift change came and the new nurse was introduced, she wrote, “Tell her I write notes,” so the nurse would know how she communicates.

She wrote me notes asking about the day. I had a substitute officiate at a funeral today and she wanted to know who had done the service. She knows i had another service planned for Wednesday and she wanted to know who was going to lead that service. She wrote me a note about the cellist for a wedding in October, just wanting me to know that she had arranged that detail.

I spoke to our daughter on the phone. She needs to come to see her mother to know that she is all right. Susan wrote a note: “Wait a few days until we have a plan.”

I guess we’ve been writing notes to each other for nearly 50 years. We’ve been married 46 and we’ve always written little notes back and forth. So getting notes from her yesterday has been a real treat.

Who needs twitter when we have a notebook and a pen?

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!