how I spent my birthday and what I wore some of the time

Saturday, 10 am  drinking coffee, nibbling at coffee cake, wondering whether to wash hair now or tonight before festive dinner. Wearing oversize Donna Karan sleep tee. Barefoot. Himself in basement checking hot water supply.

10:03 am   in car driving Himself to emergency room. Wearing yesterday's wrinkled gray chinos, same sleep tee, untied sneakers.

10:20 am   amazed by instant and caring attention of ER staff. Wearing dazed expression.

10:30 am   shaking hands with pulmonologist and cardiologist who are still in golf clothes. Have found jean jacket wadded up in bottom of purse and have added same to own ensemble. Himself is now wearing uncountable monitor things, drippy things, tubes and connectors to add more of foregoing if necessary. Pulmonary emboli have been located and question is whether there is damage to heart as result of same.

11:30 am   scans, tests, blood work; advised that Himself will be transferred to ICU as soon as room is ready. Sounds like hotel when plane is unaccountably early and no traffic en route from airport. We have time to look around and admire new ER facility, which is vastly different from the first time I tried to come to the ER at this hospital with a colorful and grossly swollen insect bite on arm and was chased away by angry janitor waving mop. ER now professional and inspiring place, if a bit surreal. More specialists come and go, speaking of Michaelangelo. Consensus: super clot-buster drug not called for, conventional treatment (blood thinners) advised, with everyone reserving right to change opinion and more tests ordered.

1:00  pm     Himself is feeling stronger and mentions that he hasn't eaten since breakfast. We decide not to notify family until we know for certain that nothing other than the emboli has been found, and that a course of treatment (or not) has been definitely agreed. Wearing confused but determinedly cheerful expression. Also hungry.

2:00 pm     we are escorted to room in ICU. Himself is wearing travelling tube and monitor get-up, I have added a random hospital blanket to my ensemble, snatched from a cart as we pass. Hospital is kept very cold for benefit of staff who would otherwise become overheated from working at such an intense pace. Good, love the staff, want them to be comfortable.

2:15 pm     dissolve in helpless giggles as ICU nurse goes through required questionnaires with Himself, who finds some of the topics simply befuddling.
Nurse:  Is anyone sexually abusing you?
Himself: Now?
Nurse:  No, they mean are you the subject of sexual abuse?
Himself:  Not at the moment.
Nurse:  I'll take that as a No.
Himself:  But I have hopes.
Nurse: (reading from next questionnaire)  If you wish we can arrange spiritual comfort or counseling with a spiritual or religious advisor or practitioner of any affiliation that you may choose.
Me:   I'm sorry, I can't help it. I can't imagine anyone sitting down and writing this stuff.
Himself:  Of my choice. Is there a list?
Nurse: I have to ask, and I have to get an answer.
Me: He was raised by wolves.
Nurse: So he would like to be comforted by a werewolf.
Me: There's one on call?
Nurse: I wouldn't advise it, he's been pumped full of blood thinners.
Himself: What about a Shaman?
Nurse: I'm understanding that as a No.
Me:  He meant No, thank you.

Nurse leaves to get cart loaded with more things to stick onto / into Himself.
Himself:  She seems extremely competent.

5:00 pm   cast of specialists from ER have found their way to ICU and take turns reading test results. It appears condition is stabilizing, but still needs observation. Patient is uttering soft moans of hunger.
5:15 pm   dinner for one arrives. Bouillon de Bland, with Rice √† la Bland and Soggy Shreds of Anonymous Protein-like Substance. Moans of hunger turn to Groans of outrage. I sneak out.
5:25 pm    I return. Am wearing same ensemble as before, but have accessorized with a Pop of Color! - that is, neon orange Frito chip crumbs around mouth.

6:00 pm   ICU closes to visitors for an hour to allow staff to complete reports and do other administrative things, also to do patient care things that are better done without audience. I lurk outside door until I notice an armchair outside a door marked "Staff Only." Move chair to better vantage point of ICU door, curl up under blanket, stare at door.

7:30 pm   make calls to family. make list of other reservations and engagements to be cancelled. we have run short of conversation and are holding hands as we watch an Olympic event or replay.

9:45 pm  say goodnight, thank staff, discovering many acquaintances in common. Find car, return to Flintstone Manor.

10:25 pm   Put heat-&-eat creation in microwave, decide glass of wine will improve it. Or me. Or both. Head for basement. Realise sound of water falling is not light summer rain.

10:30 pm  Having added rubber flip-flops to ensemble, return to basement, wade to far corner, grab bottle of red and turn off main water supply line, decide to have dinner (such as it is),  and call plumber in morning. Not thrilled with idea of strange man coming to house with toolbox late on a Saturday night.

Sunday morning: Wash face & brush teeth in Poland Spring Sparkling Water, put on clean clothes with arctic hospital air in mind, call plumber, who arrives within minutes and solves water problem. Check with Himself by phone, head up to hospital, stopping only to purchase Sunday paper, at which point I notice flat tire.  Proceed to nearest gas station with Free Air, add air to tire, continue to hospital.....

Sunday night:  tire seems fine. Himself will be fine. I will be fine. Need some sleep.


  1. Oh my goodness, Fred. What a scary ordeal for both of you. I'm am so relieved that himself is on the mend. Healing thoughts to you and yours.

  2. I am so sorry, it must have been terribly scary and shocking, but it's great to hear that himself will be fine.
    Then I hope that you'll have a wonderful celebration for your birthday.

  3. Hello:
    What a ghastly, frightening, surreal and not a little bit funny experience.

    But, we trust that as we type this all is now well.

    Belated birthday greetings!

  4. What a terrible, worrying ordeal for you both. I do hope Himself is well and truly on the mend. Hopefully you can have a proper celebration (of everything) when he returns home.

  5. Fred! I am so sorry to hear that you and Himself had such a scare! I am really glad that he will be fine - how long till he gets out of the loving embrace of ICU?

    Despite the horror, I had to laugh out loud at the ICU exchange with the nurse! You remind me of myself and dear husband - and humour does make awful situations bearable, doesn't it? I am sending good thoughts your way, but unfortunately, have no Shamans to pass along...

    And the water in the basement! WHy is it that it never rains but it pours? (NO water pun intended!) You couldn't make this stuff up, could you? Good Lord!

    It sounds like you got the ultimate birthday gift in the end, but I am hopeful that when all is said and done you do something special for yourself and Himelf.

    Sending the best thoughts your way for a speedy recovery and a heartfelt happy birthday.

  6. Happy Birthday to you and Happy Second Life to Himself. Try to take extra good care of yourself this week, because you can imagine the energy you will need to care for his recovery. Glad you kept your sense of humor, we all know that these situations are when you need it the most!! Please keep us updated.

  7. Oh Fred! My goodness what a shocker, but with your humour applied I did have a chuckle. I just cannot imagine Himself eating hospital food, that will not stand!
    I hope he is recovering well and that your birthday will be celebrated properly at a later date.

  8. Oh I'm so sorry to hear this news but with your fabulously upbeat approach you'll all be just fine, I'm sure.
    Medical questionnaires and form filling in general seems to be the same the world over - we are drowning in a sea of unnecessary paperwork! My husband who, as you know, is a doctor here in the UK, tears his hair out at the rubbish he has to fill in.

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  11. My thoughts are with Himself for a full recovery and a wonderful meal to celebrate your birthday and his good health at a later date.

  12. Oh, Fred, how absolutely terrifying! Thanks be to God and those angels that masquerade as doctors and nurses at the hospital, it does sound as if Dear Himself is going to live to enjoy many meals ahead. How are you doing? It is good to read that your humor is intact. I am sending you a big hug, and I would send one to the patient, but he may take it as a form of physical abuse, so I'd better 86 that. Remember, you need to take good care of yourself,as well as your beloved-morsels yanked from the crabby vending machine do not count as sustenance and wee half hour naps here and there wilst not cause thou to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Happy belated birthday, Sweet Pea! Keep us posted. Ooops-so sorry about my repeated deletes, my laptop seems to want to compose independently of me this morning.

  13. So sorry to read about your husband's health problem. I was ROTFL at "But I have hopes." He is hilarious, just as you are. Hope everything is ok and happy belated birthday!

  14. All's well that ends well. Trite, but true. Sexual abuse-LOL.
    The Aquatic Attorney from JCA.

  15. What a scary ordeal for the both of you to go through, wellfedfred! I am glad to hear that Himself is ok and on the mend though. :)

    Happy Belated Birthday, btw! I hope you are able to celebrate properly in the very near future!

  16. Oh, my dear friends, how cheering and comforting your words are! Things have stabilized, he may even be sent home tomorrow. He will be taking blood thinners from now on, which means a special diet, but, honestly, was not too upset when the dietician led off by telling him not to eat kale. I don't think he views it as a sacrifice. Well, we'll see what tomorrow brings. Luv you all.

    1. OMG - NO KALE!!!!!!!!!

      there is for sure another post in this!

      so glad Himself is stabilized!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Yes, any food or drink that is a natural blood thinner interferes with the work of the medications. I don't think Himself even knew kale is considered an edible foodstuff until he saw it on the list.

    3. Yes, but given he was raised by wolves, that is understandable...

  17. Happy belated birthday! What a terrifying situation. Clearly your collective sense of humor helped you get through your ordeal. Sorry to hear about the plumbing situation, too. The flat tire is just insult to injury; I think you deserve some retail therapy! The men in my family would just as soon eat the frill at the end of a toothpick for fiber, rather than eat kale, so they too would be comfortable with that pronouncement. BTW, does wine improved microwaved food?

    1. Dunno about food, certainly improves disposition of the drinker .

  18. Delighted to know himself is stable!! I did not realize kale was a natural blood thinner either. BTW-happiest bleated birthday; you need a do-over IMHO. Fortunately in NYC you can find a restaurant that can easily accommodate the new diet that himself must now adhere to with items you'll enjoy as well. Hoping a good bottle of whatever you like is able to be shared soon. Best wishes!!!

  19. Oh no, I hope your SO is well and increasingly feeling better. Your quick thinking and sense of humor had helped the day pass for your SO more easily, I am sure. ;o)

  20. Serious scare, questionnaire, flooding and softie tire survived, whew! So glad you found more than a pop of color in the grim. Trust your birthday celebration will be soon, mico-meal and kale-free, thank goodness. Meantime sending a jeroboam of good wishes and a healthy smidge of patience your way. Very best WFF & H!

  21. Oh dear, this will be a birthday you will remember ;) So glad Himself is better and that you could laugh about it. You guys are a hoot!
    Happy Birthday!!! We are still in the same month, so I'd say celebrate both your birthday and his recovery and since he needs some rest you can just buy your own presents, right?
    Best wishes for both of you!

  22. Glad to hear you are both OK; this is my line of work and you can't make up what needs to be asked-- the poor nurses! Scary for both of you, though.

    Yes there is a diet , but if you have about the same amount of things you can sometimes make it work. the thing to avoid is vitamin K which counteracts the action of the blood thinner and you end up under-anticoagulated.

  23. Beautiful writing. My birthday was the day before, and lucky for me, a lovely one. But yours was lovely in its way, turning out for the best and reminding you of what's important. Thanks for sharing, and happy birthday, thankfully!

  24. thank you again, dear friends, Himself was released today, will be checking in with doctors again on Thursday, and from now on each day will be a celebration.

    there are some complicated multi-entry intersections between Flintstone Manor and the hospital, and this morning one of them was backed up like I've never seen it before. Couldn't imagine what was causing the traffic. well. as I approached the traffic circle, I saw what we were waiting for: a bald man in flapping bathrobe was making his way across 6 lanes of traffic on a walker. and a woman who could only have been an employee of a nearby senior residence was running up the other side of one of the approach roads, waving her arms... I looked but there were no BBC camera crews. Decided Walker Guy was heading for one of the local barbecue places, and wondered why I had been blessed with this apparition. I didn't wonder long. This had to be a sign that we'll be on the road again soon.

  25. Fred! So glad Himself got out! Am sending good thoughts your way! Are you sure that wasn't my father you saw? He is hell on wheels with the walker!

  26. Dear Fred-so glad Himself is on the loose again. Hopefully with a few nights of uninterrupted sleep and some good vittles he will really feel like a human again. I am so very happy for you that he is better. Rarely do we realize how wonderful just ordinary days really are.

  27. Happy belated birthday. At least you shopped it out in your unconscious. Thank you for sharing this with us and with such levity. It's all you can do when dealing w/health and waiting for answers. I'm happy to hear you encountered excellent hospital personnel. That makes a difference!


  28. What a week! Glad to hear that Himself is feeling better and that you had a good hospital personnel experience. Retail therapy cures (almost) all ills.

  29. Thank you again, all, it's easier to remember the silly bits than the terrors...


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