Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

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Six weeks or so ago I was blogging about emergencies, real and fake, and how they were stressing out my life. Well, a real one happened, just after Dallas Comic-Con. And it was drama-filled. I won't go into the details, except to say the patient was my mother, and she's recovering. And when I say "drama-filled," I don't mean family members fighting over petty stuff, because none of that happened. It was medical-type drama.

Not going to go into personal stuff, but I will share a couple of quasi-humorous stories that certainly broke the tension. Her second day in the hospital was marked by a diagnostic test. It's a test she's had a million times, but not under those conditions. Prep took longer than expected. Finally, a couple of nurses showed up to take her to the bowels of the hospital, where the surgical suite has existed in one form or another since 1958. 

Just before the doors opened one of the nurses warned us: "We have to go through a part of the hospital they're using for bed storage. Pardon the mess." What we went through was the old prep and recovery areas. I was there in 1981 when I had my knee surgery, and it still had that late 1970's "look." We wound through this space, the lights on on a half brightness and all of the former ward spaces crammed full of beds. Finally, we went through a pair of doors and into a brightly lit, spanking new prep and recovery suite with private rooms. It was all very nice. I turned to my brother and mentioned that it felt as though we had just walked through the set of a horror movie. He nodded in agreement.

The next bit of fun took place about an hour later. We were in the waiting room, watching the coverage on one of the local TV stations of an approaching storm system. It was already marching through Ft. Worth and predictions called for our area to get hit in about ten minutes. A maintenance guy wandered by, looked at the blobs of red on the radar, and asked if we were scared. "Nope," I replied. "we're in the basement and our cars are in the garage." 

"Good answer."

Then the doctor who performed the test joined us. The news was good. Of course, the mind always goes to worst case scenarios in this sort of situation, so there were major sighs of relief. She would need a little monitoring for a few days, but in the long run, everything should be fine. Great news. Then we heard a voice over the PA system: "Code Red. Code Red." My brother and I looked at each other, and the doctor shrugged and glanced at the TV. Precautionary lockdown due to the storms. Hey, I was in the hospital once during a tornado warning. That was ... an experience.

Why yes, the plot bunnies were romping though my brain a bit.

Later that afternoon we were in ICU, and the nurse shooed us outside of the room while she adjusted the bedding and took care of some of mom's personal needs. The lights blinked twice. Then every monitor in the ICU started beeping a code. Whee! One of the nurses explained that IT had rebooted all of the computers after the power glitch, and all of the monitors reset. Perfectly normal. Nothing to see here. Still, standing there while every single alarm went off at once...

At this point the plot bunnies jumped around excitedly for a few minutes, then collapsed from exhaustion.

A couple of days later she was moved to a regular hospital room to await discharge. All was normal. And there was much rejoicing. I stopped by for a brief visit (I'd been taking my sister out to run some errands) and she told me that, when they started to move her, the fire alarm went off. The problem had apparently been in another wing of the hospital. They went Code Green while we were talking about it. I guess it was a minor thing. There were certainly no fire trucks that I could see when I pulled up to the hospital.

I have to say my mom took all this in stride. And I have to give a shout out to the nurses at Arlington Memorial Hospital, particularly the guy who cared for her the first day. John was very professional and had a wicked sense of humor. He was just the nurse my mom needed at the time. Why? She also has a wicked sense of humor, and even when she was all drugged up and enduring all of the poking and prodding, she was cracking jokes. I'd say John had her in stitches, but that would be wrong. 

And to top things off, it's time for the next round of fun with my eyes! Paul took me down to the Retina Center Thursday morning. The 20-minute drive took an hour. There's a reason I no longer commute. The good news is that my left retina is looking pretty good. The healing is still going as expected. They did some diagnostic imaging on both eyes and the doc is sending me back to the surgeon because the cataract in my other eye has grown a bit and it's affecting my vision some. Tomorrow we'll decide if surgery is necessary or if I can get by with some vision correction in the short term. I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, if I can get it out of the way fast, I'll be able to recover well before Worldcon. On the other, I wouldn't mind just waiting until September when the weather is cooler and I don't have the stresses I'm under right now. The latter option is winning out at this point. At any rate, the retina doctor says the retina in the right eye is in excellent shape and that he doesn't see any barriers to the surgery, whenever it takes place. That was good news indeed. In the meantime, I'm trying to experiment with different monitor placements because I'm spending a lot of time at the computer, and eyestrain is an issue.

Wow, this was long. I was going to post another entry today, but I need to go start some salsa. Gotta do something with the jalepenos I harvested today.

Tags: Life

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