Rough Patch

The last four months have been tough. Rhumba came down with a nasty infection that turned into an abscess, picked up collateral damage from “health” workers, was overly treated for the wrong problems and spent a miserable two months in the hospital and rehab. For much of that time she was in serious pain.

We are not convinced that most of it was necessary.  We are completely convinced that it was avoidable.  And can prove that it didn’t need to be anywhere near as  bad as it was.

She’s better. I’m better.  But for many weeks I would put in a full day’s work, come home for half an hour to feed the cat, and rush off to the hospital or rehab to help keep Rhumba’s head straight.  She hates modern medicine.  She has never been in a hospital before, or been seriously ill; and she fears illness.   At the many points when odd symptoms mysteriously appears and no one would pay attention, it took everything I had to keep her fears under control.  Even though I myself knew no truth except that panic is bad.

I had no strength left to write anything.  I just went on and on.  Stayed till 9 or 10 every night and drove home so bone tired that I had to narrate my route to myself aloud to stay awake.  Come home, sit in a stupor in front of the laptop for an hour or two, grab five hours, go to work and do it again.

The only thing that worked right, was work. I was too shaken to concentrate, so management switched me to easy tasks.  They gave me lots of time.  They told me to ignore the looming deadlines.  That place is anything but perfect, but the people are pretty decent. Thank God.

And things gradually got better, and Rhumba’s home now and even back at work.  But in about ten minutes I’ll put this down and go change her dressings for her.  The wound she went to the hospital for is pretty much cured; this is for the much more painful wound she picked up thanks to modern medical care.

I’ll snip off the rolled gauze and the old dressing, cleanse the wound, apply triple antibiotic, then translucent oil bandages, an ADB pad, a gauze wrap, and I’m done.  There’s an outer layer, too, an Ace-style bandage, but Rhumba handles that herself.  That’s the evening ritual, and will be for some time.

I learned how to do it while helping the rehab nurses change the dressing every night.  It was a half-hour, two-person job at first, and they rarely had enough staff.  That’s another reason I stayed late at night: to make sure that it was done right.  Otherwise, it might not be, and Rhumba’s fragile morale would go down the drain.

I’m less stressed now, and I’ve tried to write up everything that happened, but I can’t.  It’s too big.  I’m too close to it, still inside of it in fact.  Can’t come up with a witty, well-structured essay with a surprise conclusion at the end.  Too big.

Meanwhile I’m doing a few haiku, because those I can handle.  I still watch Rhumba like she’s a rare and fragile flower, which I do anyway but when you’ve been on high alert for three months, you don’t relax well.  I may get there.  Someday.

I’ll keep you posted.  Maybe even start writing about small things. Write if you’re out there.






13 thoughts on “Rough Patch

  1. forrest

    All of us wish both you and Rhumba well. Tough days now – but these days will pass in a short enough time and life will still be there to live and enjoy.

  2. lk

    Very glad to hear Rhumba is doing better. You’ve got to take care of yourself too. I’ve often wondered, now that Cheryl and I are taking care of her mom and dad, who will take care of us in the future. I am sorry I didn’t call you sooner although I realize you were too busy dealing with this emergency to have called me back. Please be well. I’ll call soon.

  3. Back Office Mortgage Risk Guy

    Still out here reading. Grateful that Rhumba is home safe. Glad that you’re out of the hospital grind.

    Hospitals! I’ve been both the patient and the one making sure the patient got the right care. Seen a number of well run ERs and ICUs. But good garden variety inpatient wards are tough to come by. Every place’s dysfunction is a little different, but the problems always seem to lead to straightforward tasks getting botched or neglected.

    I wish you all the restorative sleep you can wish for, and a little more for good measure.

    1. admin Post author

      Glad to hear from you, and glad you’re with me after all this time. Our local hospital is, sadly, grade C. They shipped her out to a rehab center that found she had much more wrong with her than the rehab center, or she, expected. Understaffed and definitely imperfect, the rehab staff still managed to sort out her issues and get her to the specialist she needed. And for that I’m grateful.

      Thanks for the kind words. The show’s not over yet, but it’s getting better and Rhumba’s back at work (I work in the same building, so I still hover nearby all day). And I’m sleeping better.

  4. Kevin

    Sorry you are both going through this. I thought hospitals were shining examples of modern civilization — well-run organizations, staffed with teams of caring professionals — until I actually had to spend time in one (or two, or three…). Boy, was I naive.
    Best wishes to you both.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks very much, Kevin. Sometimes the people are caring, but the system itself is inhuman. And “the system” — the policies the staff must follow — is in charge. And the highest aim of those policies is not primarily customer well-being.

  5. azurite

    I so sorry to read of what you & Rhumba have had to deal with for the past four months. I am very glad to hear that she is home again and improving. A sibling & in-law have chronic health issue so I am familiar w/the concerns re: do these people know what they’re doing and if not, what can I do about it? And not thrilled w/cuts in nursing staff by the so-called “non-profit” health care/hospital chain that dominates (almost a monopoly) in a tri-county region where I live.

    It’s good that you and Rhumba have each other to look out for and care about.

    How’s your cat handling it all? Some cats get pretty rattled by changes in the habits of their people, oth, others are great in providing a little extra purr if/when they realize you’re not feeling well.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks, Azure. As we age, those of us who haven’t gone through it personally certainly will, either themselves or through a loved one. And yes, “non-profit” is a joke. It is really no different than for-profit anymore in the health industry. What I was amazed with was how we never had the same nurses day to day, saw a doctor for maybe fifteen minutes cumulative over five days, and how uncoordinated the care was so that different parts actually worked against each other. I would have hated Rhumba to face this on her own.

      As for the cat; well, she saw me for maybe two waking hours a day for two months, though I let her sleep on the bed to make up for it. I also gave her coat a good brushing morning and evening, for quality time. I brushed her so often that she was going bald in spots! I was on auto and didn’t notice; Rhumba had to point it out when she came home. But the cat didn’t seem to mind. And now she’s a brush-a-holic, always asking for it.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for being here. I’ve got a couple of things to write and I may be about able to write them.

  6. Russell

    Dear Boomer,

    Sorry to hear about Rhumbas health issues and glad that things are on the improve. Very fortunate that she has you providing support.

    Brother has just been in hospital here in Australia – all went as well as it could – but its eye opening the stress hospitals operate under and the lack of staff.



    1. admin Post author


      Thanks very much for writing, and for your best wishes. Rhumba is indeed getting better, and I’m glad your brother has, as well. Even though medical care is not what it should be.


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