I. Love. My. Dahhhhhgs: Proof that I can hold two opposing ideas in my mind simultaneously.

Do I like the smell of pee? Do I enjoy picking up pieces of poo or scraping channels of packed poo out of my tennis shoe treads with a toothpick? Does it feel good when a “power chewer” clamps his jaws on the middle of my hand when I’m simply trying to break up a vicious 3 AM fight between two male puppies who both believe they are the Alpha? Does a bear shit in the master bathroom and wipe its ass with Charmin?

Negatory.

When I’m away from home, do I pine for six precious little puppy eyes? Do I adore doggie kisses even when they leave a schmear of shit-smell on my skin? Are MY dogs the cutest fur-babies in the entire known universe? Does a bear shit in the woods?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Update From the Heart of Hess 8

6/29/16 & 6/30/16
Update from the Heart of Hess:

All righty. Let’s see. Covering two days here, so get comfy on that toilet, Reader.

The home healthcare people did not come by on Wednesday as the rep said they would, so we were kind of in limbo, waiting to ask questions and whatnot. Then, a woman came this morning (Thursday) when I was fast asleep, so I have no idea what went down. She could’ve been a Jehovah’s Witness for all I know or someone selling magazine subscriptions to fund her “senior trip,” and I guess the upside is all the money I’ll save by not having to buy Christmas gifts anymore, or we might have some rockin’ new periodicals on the way.

(My sincere apologies to any Jehovah’s Witnesses I’ve offended, but what are you doing on FaceBook, anyway, since it’s the Devil! Run! Oh, my Gahhhhhddddd, Runnnnnnn!) But, the problem here is that I was asleep. Dead to the world. Visiting the Land of La-squared.

If I didn’t need to sleep, I could get almost everything accomplished especially Hess’s and my grades, which are so, so behind. It looks like we’ve worked out with our dean to have someone else cover Hess’s SNHU courses starting next week. And, let me tell you, that will be a BLESSinnnnnnnng. And a half.

It’s not JUST because there are two assignments per week times over 60 students (in three classes) times the two weeks I’m behind for a grand total of over 240 assignments glaring at me from the gradebook. 240. Assignments. To. Grade. PLUS the current week’s additional 42 assignments in my class to grade by Sunday. FML.

It’s mainly because there is also an endless supply of discussion board posts to answer every day and student emails that need responses and student problems that need to be corrected. AND, when there is ONE student who sucks up your time like a hooker named Hoover, well. You can imagine. (Not the hooker. Focus here.)

So, there is a student in one of poor Hess’s courses whose life philosophy is this: (super whiny and nasally voice) “It REALLY hurts when I stab myself in the guts with this Ginsu-sharp knife, and even though everyone’s told me that the pain will stop if I just quit stabbing myself, I just feel like if someone would DO something to make this not hurt anymore, everything would be all right.” The student sends a flurry of increasingly agitated emails and matching posts to the General Questions forum at the least hint of distress, so we’re met with a wall of whine every time we go to class or check the email.

I spent nearly two of my very precious hours trying to sort out her issues today. I finally, finally got her to contact Tech Support, and guess what??! Guesssssss! Tech Support lobbed it right back in my court probably because the IT guy couldn’t get her to stop stabbing herself either. I hate him and wish a painful pox on his loins.

But, the damned DAY before the heart cath, this crap started, and Hess was honestly beside himself with stress over the student’s bombardment. It felt almost good to send her a reply that might have possibly kind of suggested that I really appreciate how much STRESS she caused my husband, who was now being scheduled for an emergency quadruple bypass, which may or may not have been exacerbated by recent STRESS.

Yes, some of you may be thinking, “Well, Elane, you could be grading right now instead of writing long, long updates.” If you’re one of those folks, please kiss the fattest part of my ass on your way out. Not only is this the only way I maintain a shred of sanity, but I vomit these things out like whatever that was that Teddy puked allllll over the kitchen floor today.

In fact, it takes me less time to write an update than it took me to clean up allllllll that Teddy vomit, partly because I’ve run out of paper towels cleaning up various fluids over the last couple of days and can’t go to the store because “The patient must be attended 24/7 for the first 2 weeks.”

Speaking of fluids, besides the copious amounts of pee I’ve swabbed this week, today, as I mentioned on FB, the skies opened up and rained on us like a cow peeing on a flat rock, and I totally forgot that there is a leak in our bedroom ceiling, which I didn’t recall until I picked up from the dresser top some slipper socks to shove on my freezing feet, and water poured out of them and onto the floor the same way a showerhead does when it’s on full blast and someone neglects to close the shower curtain all the way. Hess.

But that’s okay because I had one clean towel left that absorbed an astonishing amount of water from the bathroom floor, and I had to wash linens anyway since Teddy woke me up this morning by dragging his freshly diarrhea-y butt across my arm and the bed sheets. Really. It’s okay. Racing stripes are cool.
And, see? We’re back to where I started: Teddy had to wake me up because I was asleep.

I stayed up into the wee hours trying to finish grades – hahaha! And, at around 5 AM, Hess jolted me awake because he was distraught over the CPAP machine doing something or not doing something, and because I was going on about 2 hours of sleep, I handled the situation much like a crack whore on a bender. I fell back asleep, and at 10 AM, Hess jolted me awake because he needed his blood pressure assessed before morning meds. And although nearly five plus nearly two seems like it would add up to nearly seven hours of quality sleep, no. When that shit ain’t consecutive, forget it. I feel like I’m in a secret sleep deprivation study.

Meanwhile, Hess took the wrong damned meds, sent a few email responses to students that were either gibberish or maybe Farsi, and then let some woman in who probably thought I was a total bitch for sleeping while my frail, recovering husband was toddling around unattended. Man, I can’t wait until the reinforcements get here. Those are coming, aren’t they?

Update from the Heart of Hess 7

6/28/16
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Oh, my gosh. If everything could just slow down for a minute. A second, even.

Help.

Oh, wait. Warning: This post will contain fear, frustration, freaking out, fretting and at least one other “f” word multiple times. If you cannot handle the truth, stop reading right now. Go rent A FEW GOOD MEN or something. Seriously. I’m not going to make up shit just to sound positive. Go on, now. Go watch some kitten videos on YouTube. Go onnnnnnn. Gone? Okay.

Hess has been home less than two days (yay!), and he’s already had one episode of atrial fibrillation that required a call to the doctor’s emergency service in the middle of the night (not yay). The rehab fellow who came by today – Art, who is an angel – said that Hess’s heart is healing very slowly and that Hess has to slow himself down immediately so that he doesn’t damage his heart muscle, which would be irreversible. He showed us all kinds of things about the devices we’ve been given, which would’ve been good to know BEFORE we came home two days ago.

The doctors sent us home with a mound of instructions – some of which are contradictory – and a baker’s dozen of new meds, and I’ve yet even to find time to make sense of it all. There are specific things that must happen on a 24-hour schedule, and there is no rotation of nurses – good or bad – to share the responsibilities.

All of you who’ve been through anything like this will understand: A caregiver has a mountain of sand to move with a pair of tweezers.

And not the good kind that really grab either. The cheap ones that after fifteen minutes of trying to get a grip on that chin hair you can’t see unless the hand-mirror is angled just right finally snag the hair enough to make it hurt like a bitch but then only break it off at .0000000000001 mm above skin level.

And it doesn’t diminish the importance of focusing on Hess’s recovery for me to say that as the primary caregiver, I’m drowning. In fact, the most critical thing in my universe is Hess’s recovery, but, but, but. I’m the most ill-equipped candidate for this job.

First, my darling is a tad resistant to all these “silly” requirements, which forces me to turn up my shrewmometer even higher than normal. Who else is going to make him shower and clean each wound and then swab it with Betadine every single day?

(“Oh, yeahhh. Betadine? No. You’ll have to go buy that separately,” said the CVS pharmacist at midnight on our first day home.

“The patient must be attended 24/7 for the first 3 weeks,” said the yellow instruction sheet.

“He has to ride in the backseat,” said everyone involved in cardiac healthcare.

“Fuck you getting him in the backseat!” said our Mini-Cooper.

“He’s better off if you leave him at home unattended than if he gets in a car,” said the first home-health care person. “You’re not going to be gone an HOUR just to get Betadine.”

“You have to get a pill-splitter, a pill organizer, medical supplies, special food, a home blood-pressure monitor, a freaking 3V lithium battery for the bathroom scale because it decided to die TODAY, and so, so many other things, and the lines at Walmart are like registration on the first day of Zombie school,” said my spinning head.)

Who else is going to make him weigh and take his blood pressure every morning before he takes his first round of meds? Who else is going to make the phone calls with her motherfucking deaf, betraying ears for all these mandatory doctors’ appointments (and that, alone, sends me into a tailspin)? Who else is going to fold him into the backseat gently, GENT-ly, Oh, my God, watch your head! so that we can go to the appointments? Who else is going to wash him and the sheets and the sheets and the sheets and the clothes and the clothes and the clothes when the meds make him incontinent, and it is totally NOT his fault, and he’s humiliated and doesn’t want to wear freaking adult diapers? The measure of true love is directly proportional to how willingly we wipe our partner’s ass. I. Fucking. Love. My. Husband.

And before anyone out there blasts me for making this negative or “about me” in ANY way, consider this: The bottom line is that I’m Hess’s ONLY advocate and caregiver. There is no one else to do the million things that must be done to help him heal properly, and I kind of suck at it. We have a combined total of five classes of students depending upon us, and I can’t keep up with it. And our house is in chaos because I was right smack in the middle of renovating EVERYTHING – and I do mean EVERYTHING – when this unexpected health crisis waylaid my co-pilot.

So, there is shit lying around all over, and the stream of home-health people who’ve come by since Monday (to tell us what to do, not to help us do it) have had to navigate the place like a minefield. Plus, we have a new puppy, so you can see how that might impact things, yes?

It isn’t like I thought on a whim, “Hey! I’ve got a great idea! Why don’t we get a house, and I’ll tear it all up and replace everything and run into all kinds of problems and delays so that the renovation bleeds into the time that all of our new classes start, but right BEFORE we get the house, let’s get a puppy who will just shit and piss EVERYWHERE because we are SURE that we’ll have plenty of time to train him now that we have a HOUSE with a yard, and then—I know, I know—this is the BEST part: Let’s do ALL of this, Honey, knowing full-well that you’re about to need to have your chest split open and your heart fixed and then require months of recovery and rehab! What do you think???” And then Hess just blithely went along with the plan.

It didn’t happen like that. But, now, here we are.

There are naturally good moments and not-so-good moments. Good: After Art gave Hess the directive to rest, slow down, take it easy, heallllll, a calm settled over the land of excrement.

Not-so-good: The CPAP lady who thinks she is being really efficient but who is really just a shell of humanity with no actual feelings came at 10 this morning and fitted Hess for his CPAP machine because sleep apnea – which was diagnosed shortly before the heart issues – has been robbing him of enough oxygen for years. He had to call her a few minutes after she left for clarification on how to fill the stinking reservoir, and we put the two head strap contraptions on all kinds of ways wrong before we figured it all out.

For just a moment, I was married to Hannibal Lecter, and it was so, so scary.

CPAP                                  CPAPs

But, once we got him looking more like a high school wrestler than a serial killer, he was able to drift into a peaceful, healing sleep in which he dreamed he was teaching in the coolest school where all the teachers walked together to have dinner in what turned out to be a library. As a token to get a tray, each teacher had to choose a book to discuss over the meal. He said, “Ohhhh, I’d love to teach in a place like that.” And, of course. Because my husband craves community more than anyone I’ve ever known. But, now, here we are.

We moved into a retirement community – for the community, get it?? – but because we are dumbasses, we got here right when everyone else left for six months. It is Florida. It is summer. Our neighborhood looks like the Apocalypse unless it IS the goddamned Apocalypse, which it probably is and we’ve been left behind because I use the Lord’s name in vain. Jesus Christ! Can I do nothing right?!

Well, okay. I did one thing that helped. I allowed myself a few moments of bleating and snotting this afternoon–I’m an ugly crier–until I felt better. Hess had a quiet, serene evening; good dinner; a little school work; warm shower; fresh Betadine; nighttime meds; CPAP on correctly; and he’s sleeping so well and beautifully as I type. The puppy is off somewhere humping his stuffed bear, which I know because I can feel a slight thumping in the floor. I’m filled with hope that Hess’s heart is healing, oxygen is rejuvenating his cells, slumber is restoring his precious body and soul. Thank you all for being there. For listening. Or reading. Good night, Darling Friends! More tomorrow.

Update from the Heart of Hess 2

6/21/16, 8:55 AM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Okay, FB peeps: Hess is going to be wheeled into the OR area shortly. Cardiologist just popped in all preppy in his pink buttondown, saying he’s “hoping for a good result,” and I think that dude might want to bone up on his pre-surgery pep-talk skills.

6/21/16, 11:19 AM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Hmmm. The hospital in FL is VERY different than in Indy where there was a big screen on every wall with surgery patient updates like airport flight boards. Here, there is, like, a 100-year-old town crier who gave me this update on Hess after the first hour in surgery: “She’s doing great.” So. Yeah.

6/21/16, 11:20 AM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

I haven’t chewed off my finger nails in decades, and now. Now, I have ten little bloody stumps.

6/21/16, 11:22 AM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Ohhh. There is a super chatty woman here in the cardiac unit waiting room who just found out that I’m deaf, and she somehow got the idea that I communicate by finger spelling. Which she is now doing. Verrrrrrry slowly. Annnnnnnnd, that’s NOT a “g.” Dear God.

6/21/16, 11:29 AM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

So, since I can only imagine what’s happening in the OR, I’m pretty sure that the vein-harvesting part is over. Hess is going to be so MAULED. Poor baby.

6/21/16, 12:43 PM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Here in the Waiting Room. #lazyplacenames

6/21/16, 8:57 PM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Okay, so at about 1:00 this afternoon when the big-toothed doctor explained that Hess did really well in surgery and that I could go see him soon in recovery, I think, first, that the doctor doesn’t have a clear handle on what “soon” means (which is NOT two hours, Toothy), and that he might have been comparing how much agony Hess would be in if he were thrown into a wood chipper v. the reality that is “after one’s chest has been split open.” He is in the Cardiac ICU where they strongly encourage family/friends “not to feel obligated” to take advantage of the visiting hours (although screw that; I went twice anyway.) And I’m glad that I did because large amounts of morphine are not—not—helping my sweetie. He kept trying to tell me something, but A) he has a tube shoved down his throat; B) I’m deaf and really, really need to be able to read his lips; and C) he has a lisp anyway, so combine that with A & B, and you can see the problem, can’t you?? I couldn’t figure out what the heck word started with “th,” and I thought he might be thirsty.

Finally, FINALLY, I semi-hollered, “Gah, I think he’s saying he’s ‘sick!’ Is that right, Darling? Are you nauseated??” Vigorous-ish head nodding ensued, followed by immediate IV anti-nausea medicine, followed by a much-too smug pat on my own back for my wicked lip-reading skills. But, the baby is SICK, dadgummit, and what if I hadn’t gone back down there?? That nurse with her “Now, we don’t want you to talk with the tube in your throat, Mr….Mr. Yulritch.” would never in a million years have noticed that he was feeling vomity!!! Is he supposed to do charades or something? Pictionary? They don’t even HAVE markers. I’m not allowed back in until 11:00 AM, but you can bet your sweet ass that I’ll have mine jiggling at the door at 10. Maybe 9.

6/21/16, 9:31 PM
Update from the Heart of Hess:

Lord, really? Really? It has been a DAY, and I do not think that now is the time for the puppy to hump his much, much larger stuffed animal with such…house-shaking passion. #myeyesmyeyes

Another Shitty Day in Pooville

How does she know? I realize my miniature poodle is more intelligent than most high school students and all rappers, but I still can’t figure it out. Only when I am in the mother of all hurries does my sweet little pookums work up an industrial-sized episode of explosive stool expulsion. On the carpet. Used to be beige. The spot she selected this morning is less than three inches from the kitchen tile where bowel spills would be easy-breezy to clean. But nooo. Unless her fecal fury can cause floor-covering cataclysm, she will save her detonations for the yard.

I made the mistake of gating her in the laundry room once while I had to work. To show her obvious indignation, she first made a substantial doody deposit and then spent the remaining four hours behind bars heinously bouncing up and down in the excrement until her little crap-covered paws had fused the shit to the linoleum with the heat of the manic jumping. I had to scrub the scene of the crime with metal because of the astonishing adhesive properties of her creation. That dog totally discovered a new element. Shitonium. It’s true. She’s going to win the Nobel in science this year.

Now on the other end of the sphincter spectrum, there’s me. Several nights ago, someone apparently sneaked in while I was sleeping and poured a bag of Sakrete up my ass. “Plugged” does not even scratch the surface of my condition. I considered my options and decided that a nuclear warhead would be my safest bet. Let me just say that the results were not pretty. I am absolutely positive that a Mac truck drove out of my lower intestine later that evening. The only good that came of the situation is that I totally reaccepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Several times.