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August 21, 2006: All about focus

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There are moments of funny in all of this. The current one centers on the fact that when we arrived at the ICU on Saturday there was a sign on the waiting room door, stating that the Waiting Room Is Out of Order. All the furniture had been moved into the hall, so obviously they were serious about it. But it struck us as funny - the waiting room was out of order. They have since moved some of the furniture back in and opened the door, and it is pretty obvious that the room suffered from, as my little sister puts it, a 'Water Event'. The smell of mildew is so strong in there that eventually my little sister and I dragged chairs back to the hall. We weren't alone - there was another family there who had the same idea and we all shared a few smiles and small talk about the room.

I'm noticing that everyone we run into - in the waiting rooms or the elevators - seems so quick to make small talk. We all share the same exhausted, worried expressions, but the chance to chat about something as mundane as a damp carpet, or the fact that the elevators tend to make us nauseous, means that it's just a few more seconds of not having to think about the real reason we are all there.

When we are there, my knitting helps keep me sane. It seems so silly to write that, but it gives me something to do with my hands, so I don't pass the time while we are in the waiting room focusing on how slow the time is going while my dad is undergoing some new procedure or test or assessment.

My little sister, being a pastry chef and a lover of all things pastry, bakes when she is stressed or worried. So this afternoon she whipped up a bunch of things. My mom and dad were supposed to have friends over for dinner Friday night (obviously it was cancelled when this all exploded at us) and my mom had a batch of pretzel dough rising in the refrigerator. We weren't sure how much longer the dough would last, so my sister cooked those up, along with brownies and muffins and other things, and brought them in to give to the ICU and Surgery staff. They tease that they are finding ways to keep my dad in the ICU longer just so they can get more goodies. They are lovely, wonderful, talented people in the ICU and they have been taking great care of my dad, but I am so looking forward to being able to put the ICU behind us, and never seeing them again. I suspect that this is a desire that they completely understand.

The whole thing is very much a roller coaster, and today was a day with a lot of downhill. My dad had been having problems moving his right leg, and they thought they'd taken care of it by giving him some blood thinners to clear any potential clots, but he woke up this morning and it was worse. So this evening they called in a neurologist to assess the situation. He talked to the three of us (my mom and my sister and I) to let us know how things were. The bad news is that it seems pretty likely at this point that my dad suffered a stroke during the surgery. The good news is that it was mild. His mobility on that side is limited, but the key here is that he does have some mobility, which means that the neurologist thinks the situaton is extremely rehabable, and he will (eventually) be okay. It doesn't make it easier for my dad right now, since he's frustrated and exhausted and a little scared, but it means that there is hope, and that is the thing I am holding on to very tightly right now.

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