Thursday, March 15, 2007


Jim's hospital bed is motion-sensitive. I'd never seen that before. Sloan-Kettering is definitely a more cutting-edge hospital than we're used to. I keep thinking, this had better be covered.

He's taking longer and longer naps and awakens disoriented. Tuesday, he called me at work and said "Are you home? Are you home?" Yesterday, when I came in after work and woke him, he wanted me to "plug in my two watches."

"Your watches? You've only got one watch here." And watches don't get plugged in.

"You heard me! You know what I mean! Here." He handed me his cell phone.

"You want me to recharge your cell phone."

"Yeah! What's wrong with you?"

Then he was looking for his squeeze ball. He doesn't have a squeeze ball. He's thinking of a previous hospitalization, when he had a brain tumor that affected his left hand and after the tumor was surgically removed, he had to build up strength in that hand. So he had me looking all over the room for the squeeze ball. Then he called in the nurse.

"It disappeared through one of the holes in the top of the drawers," he tells her. There are no holes in the top of the drawers. The nurse smiles at me understandingly.

He misplaced his cell phone somewhere on the bed Tuesday night, and can't move well enough to look for it. So I'm crawling around the bed in my suit from the office, and the motion-sensitive mattress is bucking and heaving under my hands and knees and threatening to throw my husband off the bed like a mechanical bull. I found the cell phone. He was laying on it.

After about fifteen minutes of disorientation, he's lucid again, but his speech is slurred. When people visit and I'm there, they lean in to listen to him and then they look at me, the Official Jim Translator. But I can't understand him half the time and then he gets mad. I left a message on his cell this morning and he left a voice mail when I went into a meeting. Listening to the outgoing announcement on his cell phone highlighted the extreme difference between the strong, carefully articulated voice on the announcement and the way his voice sounds now.

I stretched out next to him on the undulating mattress last night to watch TV (it's covered.) Then I went home to our mattress that's too large for one person. The cats and I fling ourselves around, having fun with the extra space. The mattress is new; we needed a new one a few months ago because the old one was shot and Jim was already in pain. It was a tough call, since we didn't know how much time he had left. Do I wait and get a smaller bed? But his comfort had to come first.

So now I'm thinking, "Will I keep this or get a smaller bed? This is a great mattress. Beds are expensive. But this is a small place and I would need the room. What if I bring guys up here and they say, 'Is that where...' 'Oh, no no no, that's a new mattress.' Fifteen men on a dead man's mattress. And where am I getting these men? This isn't the '70s and I'm 52 years old. What am I planning on doing, cruising Disco Fever Night at AARP?"

Meanwhile, I already have a husband, and he's wearing me out. And while being with him for 16 years has shown me that I can successfully form relationships with other humans, I think that I will need a long, long break.

That "What's wrong with you?", I recognize that. Some of the other stuff too.
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