Going to the Mat

Suddenly the world is shifting. I am aware of things starting to tip, hoping to find re-balance.  Vernon puts on a few pounds, Joe loses 8. While I am playing scientist, my daughter, who wanted to be a doctor as well as a scientist, now announces she wants to be an actress. Maki spends his winter in New Zealand while we enjoy our summer here.  Things are topsy turvy.  That’s good.

I went to see Vernon at dialysis today, as I’m still watching his dosage and withdrawal closely. He was asleep when I got there, but when he woke ten minutes later, his eyes were wide open for the rest of the session.  He seems to be increasingly alert, which is exciting.  He still lashes out at times, but today I noticed that seemed to happen whenever his blood pressure would drop (something to watch?) I’m still so amazed how quickly his turnaround is happening. Long may it continue…or at least into tomorrow!


So I called the head nurse and the social worker over to bring them up to date. I told them how we had got Vernon off the Ativan and how I thought it was killing him, and isn’t it great how well he is doing now?  Maybe in my new fighter mode, I seemed to come in with too much attack. I could be wrong, but I think of myself as a pretty easygoing gal, so when I lean in a little, I just assume its a gentle leaning…of course, that may not be how others perceive me.  Somehow this morning, we were defensive with each other. I saw a face start to crumple in doubt when I mentioned the Ativan and I got into a heated conversation about things. I panicked. I guess she did too. I don’t want him to go back to a drug that was so clearly hurting him, and she is afraid of the pending discomfort of the staff and other patients. We both see our own side clearly.

I got more frustrated, trying to tell them I was on the right track and they should trust me. But I felt so disrespected.  I realized as they spoke to me, that they thought I was the bad guy: “We’ve bent over backward for you,” they said. “You’ve made so many demands and we’ve met them all!” I know when I’m under passive-aggressive attack.  They probably felt the same from me.

Wait a minute. I thought I had bent over backward for them! I have had strangers and friends sit with Vernon to keep him safe and quiet for months, some who are even willing to change a dirty diaper, while the staff focuses hard on their job descriptions. I suppose in their minds, we are the bad guys. We make their jobs a lot harder.

It was if they refused to see the recent positive changes in his health because they were so nervous I was going to let him go crazy in their facility for two hours a day. It was a challenge to get my head around that. Everyone at Vernon’s nursing home has been so encouraging so far.  But there are different arenas in health care…that do things for different reasons.  Obviously there was a clash of interest here. I feel myself  becoming a tiger, but I don’t know how to fight gracefully yet.

I wish I had kept my good news to myself.

Ironically, at the awkward “are we still friends?” end of the  conversation, Vernon sat up and pointed emphatically at me.

“You are GOOD.” he stated.

“Thanks, Darling. Good at what?”

“Good at being you.”



His eyes were wide open most of the time I was with him, and he looks a little fuller in the face. He was able to say that he does feel better lately, he seems to realize it. We had much longer conversations than we’ve had for a long time, and I read to him a page from this fantastic book I’ve been reading, The Purpose of Boys.  I asked him to remember what it felt like when he was sixteen, then I invited him to answer this set of questions as if he was his sixteen-year old self.


He may have gotten a little confused but he answered completely. I always had a hunch that internally, we never graduate High School. It was nice to be able to reach him there.

I played him some Joy Division, asking him to remember what it felt like when he first bought the album (he may have been 12?) brought it home, waited for the house to become empty, and listened to it for the first time. (I’d heard this endearing story a few times in the past.) What did he think of the music?

“It was spooky.”

What did it make you think of?


“Yikes, do you want me to turn it off then?”

“No, I like it.”


(Almost like a day at the beach.)

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Going to the Mat