Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two, Four, Six, Eight: Time to Hyperventilate!

On Sunday, I'm flying to Iowa to do a class visit, reading and talk at Buena Vista University, where my friend and former student Inez teaches. So I'm trying to get ready for the trip, plus I have two meetings at school tomorrow, plus I just got a new set of freshman-comp papers, plus I'm buried under a ton of other paperwork and committee work and general clerical insanity, plus I'm behind in every other part of my life, plus I didn't have time to exercise today.

So I told myself I'd grade until nine and then watch some Veronica Mars with Gary to relax. Patrick Nielsen Hayden describes VM as "Buffy Methadone." So far, we don't like it as much as he does, but it's diverting, and we're interested enough to keep watching.

I dutifully sat at my desk and shuffled papers -- didn't grade any, but at least got them organized -- and then remembered that I also have to go for routine bloodwork tomorrow morning, and I'm not sure where the lab is. That led to a Google search for the lab, with very unhelpful results, which had me feeling even more frustrated.

I sat there trying to figure out why I was so phenomenally scattered, even for me, and then remembered: "Oh, yeah, Dad's in the hospital."

I got an e-mail from my sister right before my 4:00 class today; Dad had been having some erratic heart rhythms he thinks were caused by a new medication, but when he went off the meds, the cardiac stuff kept happening. Today he went to the VA for a routine check-up, and they were concerned enough to send him to the ER, where somebody decided he should be sent up to the ICU for overnight monitoring -- not because he's in dire peril, but because the ICU is the only place they can do that kind of monitoring. (Huh? The Philly VA doesn't have a telemetry unit?)

Anyway, my father had called my sister's house and told my mother all this. (My parents have been divorced for decades; Mom lives with my sister, and Dad has an apartment.) Mom passed it on to my sister Liz when Liz got home from work; Liz e-mailed me to say that she'd called the hospital but they'd never heard of Dad, so she had no idea where he was.

I called the hospital. The main operator, sure enough, had no record of him, which was puzzling until I figured out that he was probably still in the ER and hadn't been admitted yet. I called the ER; yes, he was there, and I got to talk to him. He sounded fine and said his heart had slowed down from 120 to 70, which sounds pretty good to me. He didn't know if they were still planning on sending him to the ICU.

After I talked to him, I called Liz back and explained the situation to her; then I raced to class, taught my class, discovered after class that I'd locked my keys in my office, luckily found a janitor to open the door for me (since it was after hours), and came home.

And proceeded to get no work done. But I think I'm going to forgive myself for having jangled nerves tonight, and just give up and watch an episode of VM.

What do we do in times of stress? We blog, of course. And then we watch DVDs.


  1. Holy Smokes, talk about a full plate! I hope the doctor's are able to figure out what your father needs so that he doesn't have a long stay at the hospital. Have a safe trip to Iowa, and hey maybe the flight there can turn into a grading session.

  2. I am praying for you, and your father. It sounds like you're very busy, but I hope you enjoy the trip to Iowa.

  3. Thanks, jsd and nickie!

  4. One day at a time, and prayers for you and yours, all of them.

    Sometimes I think of George C Scott's remark to Diana Rigg in
    'The Hospital' - where do you train your nurses, Dachau? - and think it is true. Then I remember that it is really one person trying to do two people's work in less than half the time it would take three, using systems designed by a committee of camels and manufactured by robots in factories where there is a permanent brown out.

    It is understandable but if it isn't easy on those who know how to navigate the system, what must it be like for those who don't, and are intimidated by anyone in a white coat?

  5. Good luck to your dad. Let me know what happens.

  6. Have a safe trip. I'll keep you and your dad in my prayers.

    Peace and Hope!


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