How Madre Does A Hospital Stay

A week or two ago Madre had to have some surgery to get her gut rearranged, and that surgery required an overnight stay in the hospital. Back in April she had a different gut rearranging surgery wherein parts of her that were useless were removed. That removal opened the door for other gut items to shift around and act like brats so Madre sternly opted to teach them a lesson by having them operated upon. She’s fine, so there will be no surprise ending where I exclaim, “She’s in a full body cast for approximately three months to one year but she’s hopeful and the prognosis, while grim, can be good as long as she gets regular acupuncture and never has sugar again!”

Going relatively anywhere with Madre is a treat. She’s from whom I get my stunning and friendly personality so like me, Madre simply views strangers as friends that she has not yet met. Combine that personality with the increasing lack of filter that often comes in the aging process and you’ll understand what an adventure it is to witness Madre come out of anesthesia and recover overnight in a hospital bed.

Martie drove Madre up for the procedure and planned on spending the night in Madre’s room, ostensibly to keep an eye on Madre’s care but more honestly to make sure Madre didn’t loot the nurse’s cart or sneak down the hall for a midnight coffee run. After the surgery had been completed Madre was whisked off to the recovery room. We expected an hour’s wait but after two Martie and I began to get worried. Martie set off to the seventh floor to hunt her down. As it happens, things took a horrible turn for the nurses and also Madre when, coming out of anesthesia, Madre rubbed her eyes and in doing so, scraped the tape debris right across her cornea. The sight Martie found at the recovery room door was Madre sitting up in her recovery bed with an eye patch taped over her face, her mouth open and her finger wagging at the beleaguered staff.

“Did you put an ice pick in my eye?” she bellowed.

“No, ma’am, you just scratched your cornea with the tape.”

“Well it feels like an ice pick has been stabbed into my eye! Did you do this so I wouldn’t feel pain in my stomach? Because I don’t feel any pain down there but my eye is killing me! I can take pain, Martie, you know I can take pain, but this really hurts. I need some morphine for this! Have you put any pain meds in my IV? Did you do this on purpose? What kind of joint are you running here?”

It was a downhill slide from there.

When they finally wheeled Madre into her room, I got to hear this little tirade for myself. It was exquisite, how intently Madre could focus on her eye and ignore her lower body which had stitches and cuts and sutures. That part of the surgery made me squirm all in my intestines but Madre could give two hoots about that. She was pissed off about her eye.

The nurse who completed the transfer from recovery room to regular room and then recovery bed to regular bed got Madre all settled and then scooted quick, fast and in a hurry out of the room. “Here’s a cafeteria menu,” he hollered from the door, “she can order whatever she likes, no restrictions,” and then he was gone.

Madre’s ears perked up. “A menu?” she said. “Can I get coffee, do you think?”

After listening to the menu selections (because her eye was all patched up), Madre selected a quesadilla, brown rice, and carrots (for eye health – not joking). She also ordered a large cup of coffee, stat. The nurse had assured us that her eye would heal quickly and as we waited for her meal and coffee, Madre iced her eye and began to fully wake up.

“This hurts,” she said but she was no longer bellowing. “Wonder what really happened to my eye? I feel weird. How do I come in here to get my guts rearranged but leave with an eye patch? Did they do the surgery? Am I okay?”

We assured her that she was okay, and before long she was. She swilled down the coffee the moment it hit her tray and then attempted a few bites of dinner. She took a bite of quesadilla and happily chewed on that for about eight minutes. After quite a long time of that one mouthful, she said, “You know, I’m chewing but it isn’t really going anywhere.” We greased it up with some sour cream and that seemed to slide it down a little easier.

After a while she attempted to eat the carrots. They were cut into a small dice and with her patched eye and no glasses, she managed to pick up one cube. “These probably taste pretty good but I can’t see the damn things to pick them up. Am I eating them? Are there any on my fork? I need them to make my eye better.”

And that was dinner.

After a while, I left Madre and Martie to sleep it off in the room. I felt content with my mother’s care and her recovery so I slept the sleep of the peaceful dreamer.

Martie, on the other hand, slept terribly on the eggshell-mattressed cot, and was there when Madre awoke and decided it was time to go home.

“Madre,” she said, “you have to wait for them to remove the catheter and then take out the IV.”

“The doctor told me that as soon as I could pee on my own, we could leave. Get them in here so I can do that. And get them in here to get this damn tube out of my arm.” Madre was insistent.

Martie dutifully trotted off to the nurse’s station where they assured her that they would be right in. They were not, of course, because they had other patients to attend to, but eventually, after much persuasion, the catheter was removed and Madre could get out of bed. Madre did her business and then marched up and down the hall with her IV pole greeting other patients and making her rounds.

“I’m ready to go. Will you remove this IV please,” she asked every staff member.

At the nurse’s station she requested a pair of scissors. “I need to cut this line, please. I’m tired of this pole,” she explained. The nurses looked at Martie with some horror and some sympathy.

“No, ma’am, you cannot be discharged until the doctor comes in for her rounds and releases you,” they explained.

Here Madre set them straight. “Oh, no,” she said, “I was told that once I could pee on my own I could go. I’ve done that, twice, and now I need to leave. I have horses to attend to. And a dog I need to pick up. Martie, call your sister and tell her to call my doctor so that she can tell them I can be released. Do that now.”

Martie made the call and I made the call and many apologies were made by Martie and by me. Shockingly, that phone call worked. In no short order, Madre’s doctor called Madre’s nurse and asked, “Is she bucking?”

Yes. Yes, she was bucking.

“Cut her loose,” she said. “Let her go home. She’s just fine.”

Madre was quickly released from her hospital prison, much to the relief of everyone. But, like it happens every time with my mother, the staff cheerfully waved her off with almost hugs and affectionate pats, a little sorry to see her go. She was and is fine. Marvelous, even.

It isn’t often you find a 72-year-old woman who will challenge you the way my mother will challenge you yet do it in such a way that you can’t help but cheer her on. Life with Madre – it’s never boring.


Rite of Passage

At the house where Martie and Coach now live is a creek that we used to play in as kids. All of us, Brother Bear, Brother Boo, Martie and I, spent countless hours in that creek, boating, fishing, swimming, bathing, frog gigging. Yes, bathing, even though the cows peeing in the water upstream likely rendered our shiny clean hair less clean. That’s how life in the country works, and if that means we can’t be friends, just remember that you have eaten insect legs and rat hairs (it’s in your chocolate – true story –



While we all spent countless hours in that water, the boys were always far more adventurous than the girls when it came to creek swimming. Martie and I climbed down the dock steps to tentatively feel around in the icy water before committing to a full dunk, but the boys took turns swinging off the rope tied to the tree and jumping off the abandoned bridge that covers the water. The wimpy boys jumped from the bridge itself and the brave boys jumped from the top railing, over and over again, never really swimming more than the few strokes it took to reach the bank and start all over again. I don’t remember any wimpy boys, they were all brave, and I certainly don’t remember any wimpy or brave girls. We girls liked our dock steps just fine, thank you very much, and our floats and our tentative full dunks.

Cuzz, Brother Bear, & Brother Boo jumping backwards off the bridge

Cuz, Brother Bear, & Brother Boo jumping backwards off the bridge

Actually, we liked it just fine until one day Martie got a raging wild jealous hair and decided that she was coming off that rope swing, just like the boys. Not the bridge, mind you, but the rope swing which was just as scary because if you didn’t let go of the rope in time, you’d come back to shore and smack into the tree. Plus it was kind of high above the water and you were in full swing and letting go was the hardest part because you couldn’t see what you were falling into. Martie set her mind to it, though, and expressed her intentions and Brother Bear was all in. “I’ll help you,” he said, “whenever you are ready.”

“I’m ready now,” she said, and then marched down to the creek, swimmy suit on, creek shoes tied, chin set determinedly. She clamped her hands on the rope, stepped back to get a good swing, and then faltered. For forty-five minutes. Brother Boo and I were in the creek already waiting for her to leap in. I mean, we were waiting but then we got bored so we got out and then got back in and then Brother Boo jumped off the bridge a few times and then we had a snack. Brother Bear never left Martie’s side despite the temptation of the bridge jumping and the snack having. He never walked away from encouraging her. He stood there the whole 45 minutes until Martie finally said, “screw it” and swung in. (She didn’t really say “screw it” because in our house you didn’t say words like “screw it.” You also didn’t say “shut up” or “yeah” because “shut up” got you a mouthful of soap and “yeah” instead of “yes” got you ignored.) She came barreling up out of that water with her eyes shining and pride just blazing out of her. Actually she cried for a minute when she came out of that water but after that she was a total peacock.

Bridge and rail

Bridge and rail

That rope swing is no longer there as the tree is no longer there. It died and got swept away or cut down after we all left home. The dock remains, though, as does the bridge, and this year when Brother Bear and his family came for a visit, the whole family crew built a zip line. There’s a bicycle handlebar and lot of steel cable and more bravery than I’ve ever possessed to take you from the top of the bridge to the middle of the creek.   (I still like the dock steps and the tentative full dunk, thank you very much.) Brother Bear’s kids were all over the zip line, all over the bridge both top and bottom, back and forth, drop in, get out, do it again, and Martie’s kids watched from the side lines on the dock steps as they tentatively full dunked. They were just fine with that, thank you very much.

Rigging the zip line

Rigging the zip line

Until they weren’t. Tigger, having watched all the fun for the better part of the day and getting a raging wild jealous hair, expressed her intention of riding that zip line and jumping off that bridge, just like everyone else. “I’m ready now,” she stated and then marched over to the bridge, swimmy suit on, creek shoes secure, chin set determinedly. She was in; we were in; everyone was in. Tigger’s daddy, Coach, jumped in first to wait for her at the bottom. Martie waded into the water from the dock steps and waited for her at the far end of the creek. The family and friends we’d invited over crowded around on the bridge, everyone encouraging with anticipation.

Zip line

Zip line

Tigger stepped to the edge of the bridge, clamped her nose shut and faltered. I sat down next to her, dangling my feet over the edge, and we waited. Tigger put her hand on my shoulder, clamped her nose shut, and again faltered. This will not surprise you, but Brother Bear never left her side. He and his lovely wife Shell stood next to her the whole time she wavered, camera sitting on go, just waiting for her to let go. We all waited. For thirty minutes. (Poor Coach – do you know how cold that water is? One other word we are not allowed to say in that house: “shrinkage.”)

I was looking off down the creek at Martie when I felt Tigger’s hand leave my shoulder. She didn’t make a peep. Just let go of my shoulder, held her nose, and stepped off the edge, easy as you please. The hollers and whoops from those of us on the bridge were deafening, and I have to be honest, I got all choked up. Tigger came barreling up out of that water with her eyes shining and pride just blazing out of her. Actually she cried for a minute when she came out of that water but after that she was a total peacock. Shell captured it, and its just gorgeous. See for yourselves.


Don’t wish you were that brave? To just stand on the edge of your fear, look it full in the depths and let go? I want that. I think I’m going to try it.