San Mateo, CA
My mom was released from the hospital at the end of February. This hospital stay was a lot harder for her than the previous one; it was quite an ugly shock to be back “in the joint” once she had been freed. Although the antibiotic’s physical side effects were not as bad, the emotional toll of being once more away from home (and without privacy) was even more difficult this time around. Mam felt as if she had spent those first two weeks in the hospital for nothing; she took a step forward only to take two back. All in all, her re-admittance was frustrating, depressing, and scary.
She is still being administered the Nafcillin but, thank God, the doctors and the insurance company arranged for Mam to get her dosages while at home. She has a PICC-line installed in her arm (it’s like a long-term IV connection that enters through the crook of your elbow, runs through your veins, and then stops right near your heart. PICC lines tend to last about a month before they have to be taken out and re-installed; normal IV lines last up to three days) and is hooked up to a small machine that works like a mini IV. Her medicine bag attaches to a small stretch of tubing that runs through the machine and out again, and then hooks onto her PICC line. My sister and I change the medicine once a day, and Mam carries the bag and machine in a small fanny pack.
My mom still has back pain and only recently regained her appetite. Dr. Lindquist (the infectious disease doctor) wants to keep Mam on the Nafcillin two more weeks (total: 6 weeks–not counting her first hospital stay). Everyone feels that it’s better to err on the side of caution; Dr. Lindquist could have taken Mam off the medicine at 4 weeks (which would have been March 11th), but there was a slight chance that the staph wouldn’t be completely gone and then Mam would have to repeat the entire process. Since my mom hates the idea of going back to the hospital, she was more than happy to extend the treatment by two weeks.
As for the trip…well, we have decided not to continue. We weighed all the pros and cons and came up with more cons than pros (is there a jail theme to this entry?). Mainly: we are tired of the nomadic life; we hate the idea of even one more 13-hour plane ride; we want to begin looking for jobs/schools and get that aspect of our lives in gear; we really want to start our home and find a little apartment and get settled; and, although far down on the list, the threat of war with Iraq (not to mention the North Korea trouble) leaves me (if not Casey) with an underlying anxiety about our nation’s “homeland” security and American security abroad. I don’t know if it’s my mom’s illness that makes me feel vulnerable or the belated realization that there are so many greedy and immoral people in power, but lately I have been more aware of the fragility of our lives and lifestyle. All it takes to change your life forever is a simple fall down the stairs, or fiddling with the radio while driving, or eating in the wrong restaurant at the wrong time, or a crazy man with a bomb …I know that that idea was driven home for a lot of people with the September 11th tragedy, but it’s coming back for me in a more subtle way.
So, Casey and I will fly out to New Jersey sometime next week . We have begun to say our goodbyes and organize what little belongings we have here on the West Coast. We still plan to visit Thailand and Vietnam and a long list of other countries, but first we have to take care of our lives at home.