Four More Days…

Five and a half days down, four to go…  I hope I make it.  I am exhausted.

So where are we?  Let’s see.  I got here Wednesday night.  S’s surgery (or should that be S’ surgery?  No.  That looks to weird.  It must be S’s.) (Anyway.) S’s surgery was on Thursday, which was a long day for everyone except the surgeon, who got to skip merrily off for the weekend at 2pm.  Friday was the long day of jumping up every few minutes like a rabbit to make tea or rearrange pillows (etc) that ended in the scary semi-seizure (there have been no more of those, thank goodness).

Saturday carried on in the same vein, although C., a military airplane mechanic friend of S’s, kindly came over to take me out for some fresh air.  He offered to take me up hiking in the hills above Anchorage, but my heart was already so strained from the two days of traveling and the taking care of S, I was pretty sure trying to trudge up a steep hill would knock me flat for a couple of days.  So we walked along the water for a mile or two instead.

I hadn’t really every paid attention to where Anchorage is located, but if you look on a map (like I finally did), you’ll see that it’s nestled up at the top of the long, skinny Cook Inlet created by a chunky peninsula between it and the Gulf of Alaska.  There is a nice walking/biking trail that runs along the shore of the inlet, past at least one lagoon and grey clay tidal flats that will trap you like quicksand if you are stupid enough to stomp out through them.  Even though it was down in the 40s at the time, it was a great walk and even weather wimp me only wore a sweatshirt and no hat because the sun was strong and warm.

10 12 2019

And there are mountains everywhere.  People seem to live on the very flat strip of land between the ocean and the base of the mountains, which rise straight up into the sky.  (I’m guessing that this is one of those places that is going to be rather bummed by any sudden significant rise in sea level.  Although, who knows, maybe the flat, which was clearly at sea level or slightly below it, for it had to have been created by the ocean, has been tectonically uplifted enough for that not to be a problem.  I guess I could read up on that!)

10 12 2019b

Anyway, we ended up chatting about everything (C turned out to be quiet and yet easy to converse with) and walking about 4 miles.  I think it saved me from going crazy (I am clearly not a natural caregiver), but by 8pm I was totally KO’d.  So when C came back on Sunday to take me out for another stroll (because it was another gorgeous day), I had to sadly decline.  Because it would have killed me.

Sunday nearly killed me anyhow because now that S was no longer taking gabapentin and her nerve blocker had run out, she was taking the maximum prescribed dose of oxycodone + acetaminophen as often as she was allowed.  This made her so groggy, she lost her capacity for grammar.  Everything she said (which was limited to requests/commands) came out in the monotone of a robot: Want water.  Make tea.  Me sleep now.  Ice shoulder.  Has been 20 minutes?  Bring box. {with phone and pills and stuff like that in it}  Food good.  {as in, food would be good now, or food is a good thing to eat, not thanks the food was good} ETC.  All the while the cat is howling because the change in routine has upset her and I’m doing everything wrong and she doesn’t want to eat any of the food I keep putting out for her.  And S wasn’t just sounding like a baby, she seemed to be as helpless as one as well.  You don’t need two hands to do any of the things involved in making tea (put water in kettle, put teabag in cup, pour water over teabag, drizzle in honey from squeeze bottle, etc).  Or half of any of the other things she was commanding me to do without the lubricant that is please, thank you, could you, would you, or great!  And that turns out to be a very quick way to enrage me, although I managed to bottle it entirely in.  Because what do I know about what it’s like to have been cut open and scraped out and drilled into and then drugged up on opioids?

The other fun part of Sunday was removing the bandages from the surgery and the catheter into her shoulder that had been delivering the nerve blocker.  I’ve never taken out a catheter before and the nurse had been all you have to take it out gently and make sure the tip doesn’t break off and stay inside her!  But the bandages were all but glued to the tubing and I couldn’t see where the catheter entered the skin until I took off the bandages but because I couldn’t see that, it was really hard to get the bandages off without ripping the catheter out of the skin.  Plus I have never seen such BRUISES!  YIKES!!! And there wasn’t just a bundle of stitched up keyholes left from the surgery, but a long gash that had been glued back together instead of stitched (apparently where they’d removed the bit of bone they’d sawed off).  But eventually I got the bandages unstuck from the catheter and the catheter removed in one piece and applied a new set of bandages and we were both very much relieved when that ordeal was over.

Then I was up half the night because S kept getting up to use the  bathroom and then she needed help (which was kind enough not to ask for, but since the flushing of the toilet woke me up anyway, I got up and did) getting herself back into bed and propped up correctly with pillows to support the arm that needs to remain immobilized in a sling until the middle of November.  Then the cat wanted a clean litter box.  Then the cat wanted another clean litter box.  Then it wanted more food.  But not tat food.  Or that food either.  So it was a good thing I’d collapsed and gone to bed at 9pm, because I only managed to snag about 20 more minutes of sleep after 3 o’clock in the morning and then at 5:45 I just said fuck it and got up.

Then yesterday’s big adventure was S’s first shower after having had surgery.  Luckily (?), being American, she’d rather ruin her repaired arm than have even a friend of 30 years see her naked, so my roll was mainly to turn on the water and make sure it was just right and then loiter on the other side of the bathroom door until I was summoned to help her back into her sling.  So S can’t make tea by herself, but she can get out of her sling, take off her clothes, shower, dry off, and get into fresh clothes unassisted (although I did have to help her finish buttoning up the special after-surgery shirts she’d bought… instead the front half of the shirt being sewn to the back half of the shirt, there are a long string of snaps, so it can be put on and taken off without having to go over a head).  So this was both a relief (I am an even more private person than S is) and an annoyance (because if she could dress herself, then she didn’t need to be becking and calling as much as she was).

That took whole hour! she noted afterwards.  And it was true (it was a long shower and there were a lot of snaps on the shirt and getting her back into the sling without wrenching her arm took a while).  We both had to sit down after that and after she had another nap, we watched Heathers, which I hadn’t seen in a decade or two and was the only movie on Netflix that we could find that I had any interest in seeing (apparently, all the movies I want to see are not on Netflix).  Heathers was so very… Gen X!  Although, I have to confess, I never got the point of Christian Slater.  Also it was really depressing.  Half of the people who were in that movie are already dead, even though it was only from 30 years ago, and the rest are as old and, if not as frumpy, than at least as no longer so fresh faced as I am.  And I was thinking, I’ve known S since we were both 18 or 19 year old rebels, full of plans.  How is it that I’m sitting her nursing her after her surgery and she’s already got those weekly pill cases lying in her medicine cabinet and my heart is to weak to hike up a hill and we’re both greying middle aged ladies?  It’s not so much how did this happen, but when??????

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