Hello friends. I’m working on this post in a plane headed back to Seattle after a whirlwind trip to Colorado for my mom’s neurosurgery. I’m sad that I only got to spend a few days with my family, but incredibly relieved and encouraged by how quickly my mom seems to be recovering. There simply aren’t enough “thank you” notes on the planet to express my gratitude for the outpouring of positive thoughts, well wishes, and welcome distractions that we have received over the past few days. I wish I could call each and every one of you and thank you in person, but cellular telephones aren’t allowed on airplanes. Luckily there aren’t any rules against banana-phones.
This weekend has been an emotional roller-coaster. Hospitals are strange places: they are both INCREDIBLY STRESSFUL and dull as dishwater. The patient needs as much rest as possible to facilitate recovery. We spent no small amount of time watching my mom nap.
However, recovering patients require a lot of monitoring. A lot of monitoring and a lot of drugs. We were treated to a constant stream of nurses, doctors, residents, occupational therapists, nursing assistants, plumbers, cosmetologists, and televangelists entering and exiting to take away blood and urine in exchange for some schedule one narcotics and graham crackers.
All of the hustle and bustle and activity is critical to monitor the status of the patient and to see to their medical needs. But do hospitals sacrifice healing in the relentless pursuit of health? The surgery itself causes physical trauma and emotional distress. These are compounded by constant disruption and a million not-so-friendly microbes (unlike my buddy Bacillus) on every surface.
Modern medicine is miraculous, mostly due to the fact that healthcare workers are secret superheroes. I was continuously amazed by the staff at Colorado University’s Anschutz Hospital. The doctors and nurses working at that facility are paragons of professionalism, kindness, competence, and compassion.
The doctors and nurses not only provided excellent medical care, they made us feel comfortable, safe, and listened to. Everyone went the extra mile to accommodate my mom’s complex medical needs and our family’s bizarre behaviors.
My family is awesome because we are highly educated and we ask a lot of questions. My family is a GIANT pain-in-the-ass because we are highly educated and we ask a lot of questions. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to remove a spinal tap under the most ideal circumstances; I’m sure that the task is not made any easier by a bunch of hooligans pretending to call each other on pieces of fruit.
But the staff rose above and beyond the occasion. This morning a neurosurgeon took us on a guided tour of my mom’s cranium. He also treated us a chalk-talk on the vasculature of the brain.
My mom is only three-days post surgery. I wish I could have spent more time with her, but I am confident that she will be well cared for. I know that the road to recovery is long and bumpy; for now I’m glad to leave her in the capable hands of her master-of-the-universe doctors and the warm hearts of her amazing friends and family. Right now I am thankful to modern medicine for keeping my mom alive and for modern technology for facilitating instant connection and expressions of love.
I think I’ll end this blog post with a song from Rosanne Cash (who also happens to be a brain-surgery survivor). This is from her latest album “The River and the Thread,” and her words are perfectly suited to the present circumstances. Mom: recovery may be “a hard road, but it fits your shoes.” Luckily you’ve got “50,000 Watts of common prayer” behind you.