The killer is that you don't know where you stand. Yesterday, Mom looked better. This morning, she looked and sounded much worse, and our hearts ran cold, and my brothers and I went out to lunch, silently. This afternoon, she was almost up again to yesterday's level and we joked and were almost okay again. And so you don't know. It's the uncertainty that is killing. It's all uncertainty. I forced her into the hospital; did I do right? Wrong? I think it was a good thing, but I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I'm being wildly overdramatic, like I should have stood back, like it was all just PMS run amok or something. On the other hand, there she is, and the hospital certainly seems to think I did the right thing.
I talked to the doctor today. "We're giving her some blood," he says reassuringly, "Because her hemoglobin was just so low."
"She had a full blood transfusion 12 days ago," I say, "How could that all be gone?"
He shuffles some papers loudly enough that I hear them as I head up Victoria Drive. "Really?" he says and I think, yeah, asshole, like I'm faking my mother's blood transfusions to confuse you.
"Yes," I say politely, "On Friday, June 9." It's hard to remember dates and drive and I'm also thinking about how I'm about to kill a whole bunch of people by trying this stunt.
"Oh yes," he says, and then he says, "Well, that's nothing. We have patients who need 6 units of blood every 2 hours! She's doing fine!"
This reassures me brilliantly until I repeat it to my mother who says, smart and mathematical as always, "That's impossible. It took 7 hours for them to put 2 units of blood into me yesterday, and they're talking about putting in another one. 6 units of blood would take 42 hours at least."
I try to say, that well, those people needed much more blood than you, because they're so much sicker, but it doesn't fly. My mother is really good at figures and she knows that I'm not. My daughter is, and the two of them have laughed at me about it since my daughter was six or so. "Skipped a generation," they say, smirking, and they torment me with word problems and geometry. Stupid math, damn.
The holding pattern is damn near intolerable. In a week, you see, she will either start to get better, or she will start to get worse. Which one? It's a fucking crap shoot. No one knows, yet. So we're circling, holding, saying some things and keeping a lot of others silent. I, personally, am coping with this by utilizing the time honored strategies of caffeine and alcohol and nicotine abuse, coupled with tremendous cel phone abuse (Brain Tumors R' Us) and just, I don't know, being tired all the time. And not eating. It's very hard to eat right now, somehow. Which, because I am shallow, I am seeing as a terrible silver lining to this whole goddamn thing. Dude, I lost 40 pounds when my father died. Fucked up, huh? I'm thinking other shallow shit, too, like I can't get my hair done, because I don't dare make an appointment, and so on. Don't worry, I had lunch today and now I'm eating toast and besides, I can live indefinitely on PBR, black coffee and cigarettes. And I could seriously stand to lose 40 pounds.
More flip shit but you know, we are all coping as best we can. One of my brothers is cracking orders, one is cracking jokes. It's all control - some little control in what is essentially an uncontrollable, unbearable, intolerable situation. And there are some people who think I'm funny, but I'm nowhere near and never will be as funny as my brothers in full on spate. So we leave my mother, who is hooked up to a beeping five bag bearing drip thing which is keeping her alive, laughing helplessly. We crack jokes. She's thin. She's pale. She has a beeping thing, and we crack jokes about that. We joke with the nurses, who love us.
We don't know what to do with ourselves, here. We're all just, you know, in a holding pattern, waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more.