Sunday, March 04, 2007

Not This Weekend

So there she was in Critical Care, a few hours after the biggest operation of her life. They made three incisions: two astonishingly small, and one bigger one, to get the tumour out.

The nursing is one-to-one in the Critical Care unit; they take people there after the Recovery Room, when they're not well enough to go back to the Ward. Some people never do go back, I guess.

Esme's blood pressure is up and her right eye won't open after both her eyes were taped down for the op. (God knows why they tape them down - it's an awfully long way from the bowel, to my way of thinking - but hey, it was keyhole surgery and I'm in awe here, not complaining).

A woman visiting the patient in the next bay calls over Dava, Esme's feisty, energetic Australian nurse. There's some urgent whispering. Dava returns to Esme; the woman knows she has seen Esme a thousand times on television, but can't remember Esme's name. Could Dava please find out and tell her? Dava politely declines on grounds of hospital confidentiality, but Esme decides Dava can tell the woman her stage name, as it is different from the name on her hospital records.

Moments later, the woman appears at the end of Esme's bed. She just wants to say how very much she has enjoyed Esme's performances - and what was it she last saw her in again?

Esme squints at the woman through her one good eye. Having had nothing to eat or drink for more than twenty-four hours her voice is little more than a whisper, but she manages to name her latest show. The woman goes back to the very sick person she's supposed to be visiting in the adjoining bay.

Dava is called away to do something, and next thing Esme knows the woman is back, holding a notebook and pen. There are tubes protruding from both of Esme's hands. She has two drips, a drainage line for the blood seeping from her wounds, a catheter and an oxygen tube in both nostrils. Her gummy eye is weeping. The good eye glares in disbelief.

The woman obviously doesn't quite catch it.

Can you write? the woman asks.

Yes, croaks Esme. A pause. The woman opens the book for an autograph.

But I'm not going to, Esme says.

A day later, back in the Ward, she tells the story again, to each of her increasing number of visitors. I am perched on the bed, listening silently, joyfully, for the second or third time. It's going to become one of those legendary family stories, I can tell, better with each telling. My mother at death's door, stalked by an autograph hunter in intensive care.

I don't mind. I'm aware only of an intense sense of relief. Regular rushes of gratitude sweep through me. She's alive. She's recovering. She's not going to die. Not this weekend.



Richard said...

I have just walked in from a life enhancing day trip The ski train from Denver goes to Winterpark ski village. It took me up to the Rockies by train, along canyons, and gorgeous mountain views. It was the most beautiful sunny day and I threw myself down the mountains several times, laughing and thrilled at the wind and the sun and the snow and immense grandeur of it all.
This is what life is for.

Through it all though I had your mother in my thoughts and on the journey back as the sun set over the plains, on our descent from the golden snowy mountains, my mind turned once more to your mother's operation this weekend. I am overjoyed then to read your posting and to find that life - as well as being worth fighting for and enjoying, is also at times un****ing believable and extremely funny! I send Esme a gentle kiss. And you... a huge hug my lovely friend.

Cathy said...

Yes, that will become a great story, to be embellished over the years!

I'm so glad your mother got through the surgery safely and with her sense of humour intact. I hope she enjoys Denville Hall when she gets there. I read an article on it recently and it sounds like a fab place...


twobuyfour said...

What a beautifully, tragically, maddening story. I hope E. is continuing to improve. She must have learned a long time ago how to deal with stupid people inorder to do it so well.

Rachel Whetzel said...

Oh Livvy.
I love you so much.
I don't even know you, and I'm sitting here just crying for you. I'm so glad that your mother went through surgery and came out with her spunk. I'm keeping you in my heart.

Sue said...

Really pleased to hear your mom has come out of the operation with such great presence of mind.

Mothers are such a precious commodity and I really feel for you at the moment.

With very best wishes to you, your mom and family.

Sue xx

Livvy U. said...

Dearest All
I hope you come back to read the comments so that you see this - my huge, heartfelt thanks for all the love and support you've been sending me and Esme. It's amazing to me that most of it is from people I have never met, and reaffirms, every time, my faith in human nature. I wasn't able to post this earlier because there has been a problem with Blogger and English servers, apparently, so i couldn't get to my comments section.
Anyway, so many thanks

JK said...

Wow. It's funny how words on acomputer screen can make you feel like you know someone, and I thought about you for a week, knowing i needed to "stop by" as if you were the neighbor and we hadn't chatted in a while. I feel blessed by you sharing your family and your writing, and I am inspired by you and your mother. Thank you.

JK said...

and hey, just saw my blog, the neglected dusty thing that it is, listed on yours... cool! I am honored.