Thursday, February 9, 2012

Journal / December 10th / 11th

Baton Rouge General Hospital
Friday December 10, 1993

   Long night.
   Back on the Critical Care floor.
   Dee sleeps a couple of hours. I watch the oxygen and heart monitors. Heart rate 130+ at the highest. Oxygen saturation good throughout. Jen is having facial seizures and they give her 2mg of Valium in case it is the brain seizuring. Dr. Rogers is called to let him know what is going on. EEG scheduled. 12:30 PM and Debbie who is doing the EEG chases me out of the room for an hour. Eat gumbo and a small salad in the hospital cafeteria. Sitting down the hall from Jen's room, reading Social Security, a play we are considering doing at the theatre, I see Debbie leaving the room and follow her as she wheels the machine along the corridor.
   What did the EEG show, Debbie?
   Can't say until it's evaluated by the doctor.
   I'm her father, give me a hint.
   I'm really not allowed to do that.
   Make an exception.
   I'm sorry. Not allowed.
   Bill from Respiration is suctioning Jen when I get back to the room. Jen's face is still contorting. I ask Suzie to have a look and ask her if Debbie said anything about the EEG. She looks at me, says Debbie told her the test showed no seizure. Have to cry, the feelings of helplessness so overwhelming.

   Visitors today: Mom arrives with food; an old theatre friend, Daryl Wedwick, comes by; my brother, Bill, and sister-in-law, Marie; nephew Dennis and his wife, Christy, other sister-in-law, Peggy; Jen's friend, Dawn; friend Nathan and his daughter, Melissa.
   Dr. Rogers comes by during rounds, says there were no seizures and that Jen seems lighter in affect. We take any small gain.

Saturday December 11, 1993

   At the elevator, bump into Campo, the Internal Medicine doctor on BHU. Says he is disappointed Jen is not responsive. Like everyone, shakes his head, says there is no way to tell what will happen.
   Too many visitors yesterday. Even in a coma too much talk becomes chaos and upsets Jen.
   Dr. Campanella does rounds instead of Stewart. Says the same as all the others: no one knows . . . wait, time will tell. All recommend trying to loosen the junk in Jen's lungs, especially on the right side where there is pneumonia.
   Dee dry-shampoos Jen's hair. Jen keeps making faces.
   Dee and I have yet to talk about what the future may be for Jen, for all of us.
   Rita, a nurse from some agency, has to get the Charge Nurse to show her how to use the feeding tube. Doesn't inspire much confidence. The care is alternately very good--Maddie, Suzette, Karen, Suzie--and then spotty on weekends when nurses come in from agencies and other hospitals.
   Dr. Haas, doing rounds for Stewart, comes in and says, "I hear she had a seizure."

  8 PM. Jen has fever. Her face continues to contort, grimacing strangely. Stroke her forehead and talk softly to her. Dawn Knight, one of Jen's best friends who grew up three houses down the street, comes back and brings photographs for the wall, of her and Jen, Jen and Ashleigh and Molly. Great shots of Jen, so pretty and vibrant, and I can't look at them for long.
  May be coming down with something: sinus, upper respiratory infection, something. If so, I won't be able to stay with Jen.
   Please God. Just one minor Christmas miracle.


  1. There's a line somewhere in Spoon River Anthology when one of the characters despairs, crying out, "All is blackness!" —Three words that strike a chord.

  2. I see your blog reading list is growing; some interesting stuff there. Blog reading can become addictive, especially after midnight. We generally don't get valuable books at the library sale, but we did get a Jimmy Carter book still in its cellophane wrapper, and put it on eBay. The Carter museum bid $30 on it before giving up and letting a private bidder have it. A nice profit for us!
    Looking forward to your next installment --