Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tips From My Mom #7

I have been sitting beside a hospital bed for the past 5 days and will probably find myself in this same position for many weeks to come. In these situations of stress and worry, with nothing to do but wait for healing to find its way to a loved one, the mind can wander.

As I watched my friend sleep I suddenly thought,

"I should give him something he can hold to comfort him."

Initially I envisioned a stuffed animal. But how crazy would it seem for a 47-year-old man to be found lying in ICU holding a stuffed Curious George (which by the way, I want if I am ever in a similar situation).

The reason for thinking I should give him something to hold felt so organic to me that I started to wonder why I thought of it in the first place. What inspired such a thought?

My mind swept back to my last hospital stay for the answer.

I was 6 years old and suffering through another endless little league baseball game that my 8-year-old brother Wally was playing in. Since I had no interest in this I headed off to explore the trees and paths that outlined the edges of the park.

I vividly remember singing to myself as I ran along the paths, stopping every so often to watch an anthill. In these wanderings I came across a little girl walking alone in the woods. She was a bit older than me, perhaps 10. I remember skipping past her on the narrow dirt path and waving to her as I went by. A few moments later I heard her yell something like "hey you". I swung around towards her and was hit in the left eye with a large stone.

I immediately put my hands to my face and blood flowed through my fingers. In stunned silence I watched the girl climb over the tall chain link fence without so much as an "I'm sorry". She was probably as shocked as I was because I do not believe he had meant to hurt me - she just had bad aim.

Seconds later I ran screaming back towards the ball field navigating the path using my one good eye. When everyone saw me they rushed over. I had succeeded in bringing the game to an end. The assistant coach, who was also a volunteer fireman, scooped me up in his arms and directed my mom to get in his car. He proceeded to speed through traffic with his siren blaring. As I lay on the front seat looking up I could see the traffic lights whizzing by on our way to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, New York.

The emergency staff told my mom that I would have to be admitted. My mom explained to me that this meant I would have to stay overnight in the hospital without her.

In the hospital WITHOUT MY MOMMY?!

When this sunk in I totally lost it. I felt betrayed by my mom when she said she agreed with the doctors who said that this would be the best place for me. I screamed and held out my hands while they dragged me down the hall.

"MOMMY!!!!!"

It turns out that I had to have both of my eyes covered with patches for a period of time which left me blind and with strangers. I was scared. To my relief my mom did come back and when she did I refused to let her leave again. When visiting hours were over and she began her good-bye I cried and held on tight.

One day she said to me "I'm leaving but I'll be right back. I'm just getting something to eat. I will leave my pocketbook with you. These are my keys (which she jangled and let me touch). You know I can't drive home without my keys."

So, I let her leave and clutched that handbag tightly until I fell asleep. When I woke up mommy was there again. All was right with the world. And so it went day after day.

It wasn't until I was much older that she told me that it was all a clever trick. That was not her pocketbook at all. It was an old one she no longer used into which she put some found keys, an empty wallet and some other carefully selected items.

But the trick worked. It served its purpose. I found the comfort I so desired and she got to go home to take care of my dad and 2 brothers.

I wish I were as clever as my mom - to be able to take away worry and fright with one well chosen object. But I am not. I am out of ideas. What would my mom do?

Get well soon Ed.
Get well soon Dad.

28 comments:

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm so sorry to hear that your friend and Dad are suffering. I don't think there's every anything wrong with a stuffy, especially when a person is in hospital - no matter the age.

Sending love and healing energy to you and yours.

tut-tut said...

It's so hard to be in the hospital at any age. I'm sure it's a great comfort for your friend that you are able to be there for him. I'd give him the Curious George, though . . .

mouse (aka kimy) said...

oh gary deep, deep hugs to you and lots of extra healing energy to 'ed' and 'dad'

your thoughts, presence and energy are doing much more good than any object could.

but speaking of objects, I don't think the sight of a 47yr old man holding a stuffed curious george figure would be crazy at all!

Betty said...

Sending good thoughts to you and to those you love.

Pauline said...

moms are like that...

If not a stuffed animal how about a talisman of some sort - something small that can be kept in the palm of the hand during stressful times? I am never without a small heart-shaped stone given to me by my granddaughter. No one can see me clutching it when I have to face something I'd rather not.

dennis said...

Dennis thinks your mom is an angel and a very smart loving mom too.

Dennis has a small plush Bert Doll that is his comfort.
Dennis would give your friend a very soft plush Teddy Bear or whatever is his favorite. It should be very soft and cuddly.

Dennis sends loving healing vibrations your way ... Dennis loves you.

Joy Keaton said...

Gary, if Ed woke up with a stuffed toy in his arms my guess is it would "heal" him miraculously. He would immediately jump out of the bed and tear out into the hallway in his hospital johnny yelling "GAAAA-RRRRYYYYY I'm gonna KILL YOU!!!!"

Or some such scenario.

But that's just my vision of it - I'm not a doctor. :)

Seriously: they're both going to be fine. As for you: I'd suggest you go take Nelly for a really long walk on the tow path (good for her, good for you!) xoxoxo

Aileen said...

Sending good thoughts and energy your way...

And I love these stories about your mom! What an awesome connection the two of you have!

Barbara said...

So sorry that you have to be stretched between your dad and your friend.

Reya recently gave me a couple of crystals to help me through a bad time. Maybe they would each like to have a crystal to remind them of you when you can't be there?

Lynda said...

Hi Gary,

I just finished reading your blog. your Mom is so wise and wonderful!
Her compassionate & loving ways always know how to comfort you.

Both Ed & Dad have so many loving family & friends to support & comfort them.

Much love to Ed & Dad and their recovery!

lettuce said...

great comment from joy - that seems like a good reason to go with the Curious George option.

thinking of you and ed
and your dad
and your mum

xx

Mom said...

Gee, I didn't know I was so smart; I think you give me too much credit. It seems just like yesterday; that was quite a ride to the hospital; road blocks and all. I am sorry you are going such a stressful time. You had to get a double whammy! Well we go Daddy over the hump; now we have to get Ed there. You are such a wonderful son and my special friend. Love, Mom xxxooo

Florecita said...

Blessings prayers for Ed and your Dad, and for your wise mom too!

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Curious George would be totally comforting at any age, if you ask me! ;-) Hope your friend gets better.

d. chedwick said...

Thinking of you and how caring you are, take care of yourself as well.

WAT said...

I'm not ashamed to admit I got stuffed animals and still keep collecting them. They are very nurturing and help me feel safer when alone and represent my soulmate when that person is not always around.

I wish yer Dad and your bud speedy recoveries, and as someone who hates hospitals, I can totally understand how they and you must be feeling.

dennis said...

Please update Dennis. HOw are things?

Gary said...

Thanks everyone for your support and concern. As Dennis asked for an update here is the scoop as of this moment:

Dad's surgery was successful and he is on the mend.

Ed is scheduled for surgery tomorrow and after that the worst will be in the past. So lots of healing to come.

Sorry that I have been away from your blogs lately but I will catch up as soon as things settle down.

d. chedwick said...

Gary thanks for updating-- Ed has been in my thoughts so much lately, I feel like I know him somehow. Glad your dad is feeling better, soon Ed will be too.

Working mum said...

What a lovely story and a clever mum!

So sorry your friend and dad are ill. I think a comforting squashy is fine.

Betty said...

Hi Gary, that's good news about your Dad. Hoping for good news for Ed too.

Mona said...

May your dad & ed get well soon.
I can relate to the feeling of being abandoned by mom! It is frightening!

Sending positive energy to the sufferers!

Take care!

Pod said...

the folk in icu have seen it all, give him the toy.
sorry to hear your news. thoughts and hugs on their way. rose quartz is good for hearts, as is lots of hand holding, and i am sure your smile is too. remember to look after you too
x

Squirrel said...

Gary, hoping all is well, at some future date, I'd like to drive over to see you for the day, when things are back to normal somewhat.

I love rose quartz, I didn't know it was good for hearts, good to know.

Arielle said...

That is a very sweet story and again, your mother is a gem. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend and your dad. I hope they both get well quickly and without complications. I know it must be very hard on you.

I have to apologize for having been away from your delightful blog. Life has again caught up with me and I have been bogged down with commitments and such that have left my time in the blogging world at a minimum. I always love coming back to your blog--both to see how you are doing and to read your wonderful words of wisdom, interest, and joy.

Hope you have something to hold on to that can comfort you too.

Arielle

Mikey T said...

I remember very clearly my first (and only) overnight hospital experience, and I too remember the dread caused when my mom left for the first time. In those childhood moments, there is no rational concern with Mom having to take care of things in her life knowing that her baby is in good hands. But she left me with a walkman and bought me a cassette tape of Tina Turner live - and that is where I discovered the strength that I have gleaned from her for all these many years later. Maybe I should send your friend some Tina music? :) Hope he is ok, and your father too, and that you are dealing with all of this with the same positivity you usually to bring to the rest of your life. I'm thinking about you guys every day!!

Gary said...

The most recent update: Everyone is back home and doing as well as can be expected, just in time for me to get back to work :)

Squirrel - a visit would be great. Let's arrange that - you have my cell number right? Or at least my email?

Thanks again to all of you for leaving comments that were supportive and helpful. What an amazing community of bloggers!

Kellyann Brown said...

Ok, ok, I'll admmit it, at the high end of forty-something, I sleep with a stuffed animal. It's a Stitch and it can be quiet fierce when protecting my dreams. If anyone asks, I tell them he helps me get in a more comfortable position for sleep (like the big heart pillow they give for people with open heart surgery). Truth is, stroking the little tuft of hair on the top of his head is comforting.

When I spent the nights at the hospital when my dad had his bypass and he needed someone to make sure he didn't get out of bed and wander, I found that an ipod with headphones made the most difference, removing me from the hospital with Josh Groban's soaring voice.

:::sending healing thoughts your way for you and you friend:::

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