What I do want to tell you about is the technology shit-storm that results when you hospitalize a woman and her four "caretakers" are a librarian, a programmer, a retired engineer and a traveling salesman. We wanted to be there, in her room or in the waiting room, but, speaking for myself, there is just absolutely no possibility of me being able to go a day without having to work. My husband is basically the same. When we got the phone call about her being admitted, we became a panicked couple. When we left the house, this is what we took:
Clothes for 3 days
Kindle Fire HD
Cords - lots of cords
Cords - double what I have
(Notice that my husband did not pack any clothes so he's also gotten himself some new clothes in the last 10 days.)
We met my father-in-law at the hospital, he had his laptop and his flip phone (?). 2 days after we arrived, my brother-in-law arrived with 4 days worth of clothing, his laptop, his iPhone, and maybe some other gadget. We looked like we should have been there to install a network or something. And I bet we could have.
On the second day, Talkie McTalkersen entered our lives. Her mom had diabetes. She slept on a chair. She also talked - non-stop and dumb. Somehow she got me from Birkenstocks to Hug Therapy in under 5 minutes. All of us - each and every one of us - collectively groaned and dug in our heels. This was going to be our waiting room. We've already realized that she was going to be a problem. The first day or two, everyone became 'tech stormtroopers, making sure our stuff wasn't stolen. The Los Angeles brothers were there for 2 days. They were leaving, no matter what their mother's condition. They had tickets and were clearly very important. They let us know that.
There were three teenagers who drank way too much complimentary coffee. They broke the coffee machine twice.
Each day, we'd trudge onto the elevator. Every floor number in those round bubbles was crooked. Each day, my husband saw how it bothered me and he spent the 4 floors up straightening them.
By the third day, we had no stormtroopers. We just left all of our technology laying all over the place - laptops open because my brother-in-law's computer is stupid and if he closes it, it closes out his network connection or something. He walks around the room holding his laptop by the top of the screen.
I checked my email irregularly. I responded when I had enough energy. My husband worked a little, but he couldn't concentrate with Talky over there, telling us about her mean sisters who just want to pull all the plugs. One day a lawyer came to meet with them and I later found out this is not the first fight they've had about whether or not they could agree. She won. They kept her mom alive.
I'd sit by her bed and watch her sleep. This may be the first time in all these years that I've seen her without make-up. All her beautiful diamonds were gone, her fingers swollen to twice their size. Her nails were newly-polished. On Thursday, my father-in-law brought in nail polish and painted her nails as she lay there hooked up to a ventilator. I always knew they loved each other - but I had no idea how much they loved each other. He would whisper in her ear, no idea whether she could hear him or not.
My brother-in-law - the exact opposite of me - was putting together quotes for window coverings for his clients. There is absolutely no way the two of us should be able to even sit together in a room. He is conservative, I am the opposite of conservative. He's a devout Christian. If I walked into a church, I'd bet you $100 that the whole thing would burst into flames. He likes Rush Limbaugh. Somedays, I have to pull over on the shoulder because I'm laughing so hard I cannot see. Howard Stern. See? But I like him, so for some reason, we haven't gotten into a political argument in years.
My daughter was in school so we talked 4 or 5 times a day so I could update her. Aunt Jane came. Uncle Marty came. I saw a photo of their granddaughter Samantha. The last time I saw her she was just a kid and now she's this beautiful young lady with the kick ass grandma. I got lots of text messages from my coworkers and emails from my board and phone calls from my friends. It was so nice to know they were thinking about her. Jason got the same and we realized how lucky we were. Becca took a huge chunk of work for me. Keith is suddenly in charge of updating Facebook at least once a day.
We would look stuff up when doctor's came by. Jason stood there with his cell phone and took notes about what each doctor said. We're now calling them Dr. Kidney, Dr. Brain, Dr. Breathing, Dr. Department Head and so on. There was the deaf nurse, Karen, who took so much time to explain things to us. She noticed that my mother-in-law's foot muscles were starting to lose muscle tone so we put her Sketchers on her. Laying there, in a hospital gown with no jewelry, no makeup and no primping, she still looked lovely. Beautiful. One time, she wiggled her shoulders - probably an involuntary act - but it looked so darned cute. One night, we sat with her when she was in real pain. Both Jason and I had nightmares that night.
Suddenly, all these things...all this tech...it meant nothing at all. Normally I check my email at least one time every 15 minutes. Those first couple of days I didn't check my email for 8 hours at a time. I didn't want to text or talk or do the million other things on my to-do list. Jason systematically checked his email and triaged them for NOW, now, later, trash. I think my brother-in-law sold some blinds and my father-in-law was surfing the web with his AOL browser. (Did you know that still existed?)
I carried my tech - and so did everyone else - in and out of that hospital every single day. I don't know why. Maybe it was so that we could pretend like we were doing something so Talkie McTalkerson wouldn't ask us questions like, "They don't use U.S. dollars in Germany, do they?" This chick should have really gotten a mullet. I think that is the only time in my life when I will say that.
When I went back to the library Thursday night, I realized the sheer volume of work that I had to do. I've been working straight through since 9 p.m. so basically, I've been working 52 hours straight without any sleep. And what am I doing? I'm blogging.
I have to stop now. There are books to be ordered and exhibitions to plan and a gazillion other things that are now piled on the back burner. I think she's doing better. Hell, I don't know. I want her to be doing better. I love her a lot and I don't want her to be uncomfortable or unhappy. I think she's the only person in the world that was able to make tech unimportant.