Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Not What We Had Planned

Last Friday I had to make one of my periodic trips to Nashville. My husband came with, and somewhere on the trip home, lunch or dinner, ate a bunch of salmonella and got terribly, terribly sick. He was admitted to the hospital in the wee hours of Saturday morning and stayed there until yesterday. He's never before been so ill.

I had been planning to leave for my annual trip to Florida, to ride with my friends Angelica and Betty, on Sunday afternoon-I'd shipped my horse down a week early, for some training-but of course I put that off. I'm ashamed to say that when I was younger I might have felt a frisson of disappointment or ill-usage about not getting my treat on schedule; it wouldn't have kept me from taking care of my husband, but it would have made me less happy about it. Thankfully I seem to have grown up. I didn't  feel anything beyond profound sympathy for my suffering husband, and gratitude that I could help him, because, frankly, our hospital did a pretty crap job of things and it was good he had me for an advocate.

His room had a sign on its door that said, "name alert." I thought that was odd, as Bradley isn't exactly a difficult name. But my husband explained that it meant there were two people with the same or very similar last names on the floor, so the sign alerted staff to be sure they were treating the correct one.

On Monday I was waiting to take the elevator to get some lunch when another woman came and waited beside me. She was middle-aged, overweight, and had the dazed and rumpled look of someone who'd been trying unsuccessfully to sleep in the clothes she was wearing. In short, much like me. I yawned, hugely, several times, then apologized. I told her that my husband had salmonella poisoning, that I'd been unable to sleep the night before, and and that I'd been trying to nap in the room but all the noise from the machines made it impossible.

She nodded wearily. "I stayed the night here and I was up all night," she said. "This morning I was so tired I couldn't stop crying." She said that her husband had cancer. "They just told us he wouldn't ever leave the hospital," she said. She drew in a huge breath. "This isn't what we had planned."

We rode the elevator down in silence. As we got out I told her that I was sorry about her husband, that I would pray for him and her family. "Thank you, honey, and I'll pray for yours," she said.  She repeated, "This isn't what we had planned."

Later that day I saw her walk into the other patient room tagged with a "name alert" sign. Her husband has the same last name as mine.