JC’s Confessions #11

In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I find it easier to deal with suffering that isn’t right in front of me.

There is still concern and worry, but it is much less likely to reach a paralyzing level.

With the pandemic, I know there are many people suffering in many places around the world. There is a certain level of continuing worry and heartache.

Still, it is not as painful for me as being with someone who is suffering.

Some of the most difficult things I have had to deal with in my adult life have been medical issues with my family. Some of these have been difficult to diagnosis conditions with my children which have resulted in being home with them continually and not having effective treatment available. It was so stressful to see someone need to hold onto things to be able to navigate, to know that there was only enough strength to make one trip a day up and down the stairs to the bedroom, to not be able to relieve constant pain.

And it is always there in front of you and, despite different doctors and their opinions and hours on the phone with the insurance company and trying everything the doctors recommend, you are helpless.

Somehow, though, when suffering is at a distance, I can imagine that, perhaps, things are not as dire, that things are bearable or treatable or maybe even okay. Sometimes, I can even banish worry for a little while.

I don’t know if other people find it more painful to witness suffering of a loved one firsthand or to be seperated from them. It’s not something that people tend to discuss.

I only know that it is much more painful for me to watch a loved one suffer, especially when everything I can do seems so small in the face of the problem.

waiting is hard work

I haven’t been posting much this week because I have been busy helping my dad, known here as Paco, and my mom, aka Nana.

Paco’s doctors had been keeping an eye on a partial blockage in one of his carotid arteries and his last ultrasound revealed that it had reached 70%, which is considered time to intervene.

So, on Wednesday, I brought my parents to the hospital for Paco to have carotid angioplasty with possible stenting.

After a morning of doing bloodwork, starting IVs, and asking more questions than you would think possible, the team was ready to begin.

Nana and I waited in the coronary care waiting room because Paco’s procedure was taking place in the same kind of catheterization lab that is used for heart vessel procedures.

It was the same room in which I sat alone in July 2014 when Nana was in the cath lab while Paco was in surgery.

Not my particular favorite place to be.

After an hour, a nurse came out to tell us that a stent would be needed, which would take another hour.

So, we waited some more…

I was using the hospital’s wi fi to read email and such to keep occupied. A rejection notice came through from a submission that I had sent for expedited review. I should have heard back over two weeks ago and had been anxiously awaiting hearing from the journal. Under other circumstances, I might have been upset by the rejection, but, current priorities and perspective definitely put my reaction in its proper place.

We waited for the second hour we expected – and for most of the next hour, too. Nana was very anxious that something had gone wrong. I tried to be reassuring, knowing that things often take more time than anticipated and that informing the family takes a back seat to caring for the patient, but I don’t think I was very successful.

Happily, a nurse came out and said that he was all set and doing well. We got to see him for a moment in the hall before they took him to his room in the ICU, which is best equipped to monitor the heart and other vital signs after these kinds of procedures. They were supposed to come get us after they got him settled.

After a few more minutes, the doctor came out to speak to us and explain some details.

Then, we waited and waited and waited some more.

When we could finally visit in his room, we waited for his nurse to get back to go over more paperwork and for other practicalities like ordering Paco some dinner.

When Nana and I finally left after having been at the hospital almost eight hours, we were both exhausted.

Waiting is hard work.

Postscript:  Paco stayed overnight and was released around 1 PM the next day. We are all still tired and trying to get back on track. And we have to change the clocks for daylight savings time tonight. Goody.

Our Real Journey

I needed to read this – and will most likely need to read it again and again.

LIVING IN THIS MOMENT

It may be when we no longer know what we have to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.  –  Wendell Berry

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