Monday, February 18, 2013

Ward 4D

Yesterday I went to Rainbow and bought food that requires little or no preparation: pasta, pasta sauce, nuts, avocados, apples, olives, frozen berries, tea. When I was in the olive area, I remembered sharing the cracked green olives with C. on Friday night, and cried copiously: the olives I bought yesterday, I will eat alone, like the olives I will buy next week and every week after that. I felt utterly grief-stricken.

In the afternoon, I went to see C. in his new spot in ward 4D at SFGH. He had not yet had his MRI, and was asleep for the first part of my visit.

When he woke up, he asked, “As you look back on it, can you think of a way this could have been handled more judiciously?”

I said, “Well, having the MRI 24 hours ago would have been good. How about you?”

He said, “I haven’t handled it, so I don’t have any—trim.”

Then he mentioned over and over that he’d like to leave, were we going to go eat soon, what were we waiting for, and later, he wanted his keys and had to be told over and over, to no avail, that his keys were in his pants pocket and that he would receive both pants and keys upon being discharged. He asked, “What’s the last time we had an ice cream that finished off like this one has?”

I spent about three hours with him and then left the hospital in tears, off to try the nearby El Salvadorean restaurant, La Paz. I thought it would come in handy to know of a good restaurant in that area, but it wasn’t very good. I was about the only patron, and I was unbearably sad while I was there: eating alone instead of with C., and knowing he was just across the street with a brain tumor.

I felt like going back for the end of visiting hours, but knew it would be more sensible to go home and go to sleep. Then I had a brainstorm and called Charlie to see if he would pick me up in an hour, and he said he would. I went back and spent another hour with C., during which he mainly obsessed about his keys. Then I walked outside, and there was Charlie in his car. Knowing I had some sort of plan and someone meeting me made it possible to leave the hospital.

I received a voice mail from a friend of C.’s saying he had emailed his 100-person list to tell everyone to visit C. in the hospital! I was horrified—being flooded with zillions of visitors sounds like the last thing someone in a very serious medical condition needs, but the deed was done, and the friend is sure it was the right thing to do. I admittedly haven’t been C.’s girlfriend very long, but would still like to have been consulted before this notice went out. I can’t imagine emailing a hundred of my friends (if I had a hundred friends) and telling them to visit someone in the hospital without checking with the person’s partner.

On the other hand, if C. is really about to die, what other time will there be for people to see him and extend their love?
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