On Friday Justine and I met up with Vernon and his two EMTs at Dr. Leiber’s office in Irvine for Vernon’s arm checkup. I didn’t have a babysitter today, but I thought it would be pretty short session so that would be fine—it might even cheer him up a little.
While waiting for an elevator in the lobby, I held her up so they could see each other. He kept saying: “She’s so sweet. She’s so sweet.” I noticed the female EMT got a little teary in her eyes and looked away. They all know him because he takes so many trips weekly and I’ve gotten to know some of them too, just slightly.) I suddenly felt emotional also, and I avoided looking at her very closely the rest of the time, sure that if we connected, we’d both start crying. To see someone well up when she was watching our familial situation reminds me of how sad it is. But I can’t think that very often or I’d give up…anyway, most of the time, I don’t think about it being sad…we just have to get on with it, it’s our normal now.
The plan was for Vernon to have his sutures removed on his arm and hip as well as having x-rays of the arm. Dr. Leiber decided it was pointless to try to cast him up again as he’d likely get out of it and possibly harm his arm even more in the struggle. I’m more relaxed about the idea than I was a couple of weeks ago as obviously, there is nothing I can do to protect his arm if he’s non-compliant anyway. It’s not like there are any more options we haven’t tried. He seemed up for it, a little confused today though. I had to remind him over and over that he’d had a surgery on his arm. He got quite angry about the cast story, denying it all, and then telling us that his doctors in England had disapproved the cast and it had come off on it’s own—he claimed no responsibility. His confusion would be funny (and at times it IS) except that when it came time to remove the sticky bandage over his hip, he writhed in pain, lashing out at the nurse who was trying to do it. He suddenly didn’t trust anyone there, especially the nurse.
“I don’t like her!” he yelled.
The poor young nurse was doing her best to calm him down and get the job done. I told her not to take it personally.
“Don’t take it personally,” he agreed, looking at her. “Its just that you seem like someone who doesn’t knows what she is doing.”
Another admission he made to the growing group around him, trying to hold him down so he wouldn’t get hurt or hurt another: “I don’t like that you think I’m stupid.” That hits the nail on the head, I believe, and is where much of his paranoia comes from. He doesn’t want to seem clueless or be treated like an imbecile. It’s a recurring theme. He also picks up on something he doesn’t like or trust about someone and it can take awhile to reassure him that that person is safe an qualified.
Anyway, it took a very dramatic half hour to get the bandage off alone. I’d taken Justine out of the room. She would have been happy to play games on my phone in the hallway, but eventually, I left her with Dr. Leiber’s assistant in the office. Shannon and I have talked many times over the phone in the planning of surgery and post-op appointments so I felt I had a friend in her and could ask for this favor. I went back in and held his hand, as he wouldn’t let anyone else hold him down. The sutures were all eventually taken out. The whole thing took over an hour. Afterward, he kissed my hand and said: “Thank you for holding my hand. That was awful. You saved my life!”
At this point, I happened to look over at the tender EMT again and saw her eyes welling up again. Of course that made mine a little wet too and I avoided her face completely after that. Still, its nice to see the sensitivity of his carers sometimes. I already liked this girl, from our previous interactions, but now I know that she feels for him, I trust her even more.
Vernon’s x-rays showed that his arm is in the process of healing, but he was sent home with just a bit of tape on his scar. I hope he manages to keep THAT on. If not, it’s out of my hands anyway. We’ve done our best. I asked Dr. Leiber about physical therapy for the arm. He said, “Non compliant people tend to give themselves their own therapy just by moving around a lot.”
I made it up to Justine by taking her to a movie afterward. We saw the Secret Life of Pets. Often during the film, I leaned over to kiss and hug her. She was so well behaved today. Also, at the moment, she is my only person at home and summer is just for a few more weeks. I want to slow down time and enjoy her in this season. On days like today (with Vernon) it feels like we are going backward again and it can really affect my mood for awhile. I am working on this, because life does go on regardless of pain and frustration. And I don’t want to miss the wonderful parts because the bad parts put me in a tail spin. On some days, I just feel burnt out on Vernon’s situation and I feel so bad for his endless discomfort, but knowing I still have someone to love and take care of at home helps me with this quite a lot. And I remember I am blessed in other ways.