Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I can speak the lingo. (Kinda?)

We're over forty-eight hours from your surgery, and I've got to tell you, Hud, I was ill-prepared for this whole experience. Emotionally, I don't think there's anything your Dad or I could have done to brace ourselves, but we're managing pretty well considering. Psychologically, I think we're both keeping it thoroughly together without repressing or avoiding anything; we're talking a lot, processing details together, and collectively working to stay positive and grounded in reality. Physically, I don't think anyone expected me to bounce back from childbirth as quickly or easily as I did, but neither your Dad nor I have had experience with the hospital waiting game. For spending the bulk of our days either sitting in one place in the cafeteria, walking down the same four hallways to and from your room, standing next to your little bed-thingy, or breastpumping (me, not your Dad), we end the day pretty thoroughly wiped out. Like, hit the couch, fuzz out of focus, and wake up a few hours later to drag our sorry asses to bed wiped out. The fact that we're looking at potentially another week of exactly this - you unconscious and being supported by drugs, people, and machines while your heart gets stronger - is just daunting. When you're at least awake, I feel like it will be easier to feel like being here has purpose for you, not just us. Of course, we've been assured (and reassured, and re-reassured) that our presence is good for you - and I know that it is - but we are spending a lot of time just chatting with medical staff and camping out in the cafeteria. We're both getting a LOT of reading and writing done.

Another thing I wasn't prepared for when we came in to the hospital was the sheer volume of medical jargon we'd be hearing all the time. I mean all the time. Constantly. I totally understand how and why so many people get overwhelmed, frustrated, and ultimately feel either helpless or furious with medical professionals in hospitals, because only the most compassionate nurses know how to (or bother to) translate the jibberish they spew into normal-person speak. We've now listened to rounds twice, and now I know that this is going to be like learning Finnish...or maybe Klingon...and Elven...or some obscure dialect that blends the two...Hudson, I'm not good with languages. This is a whole new sort of challenge.

Unfortunately, even second-hand recountings of my Dad's medical tribulations have given me a working understanding of the logistics of a lot of hospital procedures, many of the most common drugs given to post-op patients or those who need systemic support, the vocabulary doctors use to abbreviate and code data...erm...other stuff? Honestly, my percentage of having any clue what they're saying is currently grounded with action verbs. Words like "wean," "regulated," and "stabilized" are generally good. "Decrease" and "increase" can be good or bad depending on the circumstances, so those are a little tricky. "Failing" or "not tolerating" are clearly bad, but we haven't heard the latter in a while, and we've never heard the former (and never want to). I could list off a few of the medications you're on, and I think I could identify all the different tubes and lines and such that they've got going in or out of you, but I realized this morning that I don't even know the technical terms for everything that's wrong with your heart. I heard something new listed off during rounds and went "holy crap, he's got THAT too?!?" (Granted, your Dad assured me that had been identified right after you were born, so it wasn't new news, just something I'd missed in the onslaught.)

I don't want to be one of those people who just tells doctors to dumb it down and put it into layman's terms, especially knowing that we're going to go through this whole hellish process two more times, to say nothing of uncountable appointments and check-ins throughout the course of your life. I feel like this  whole experience is akin to moving to a foreign country. We've essentially taken up residence somewhere that has a large number of English speakers, so we could theoretically make do not learning the native tongue, but we'll be indefinitely handicapped if we don't. We can get our basic needs met, even engage in some conversations with locals, but to access any more nuanced information requires vocabulary and syntax we've yet to acquire. I won't be a tourist here, and while I don't anticipate fluency any time soon, I'll be damned if I smile blithely while the local authorities talk over my head (however well-intentioned they might be).

For now, I'm still relying on nurses to translate for me after I overhear doctors ramble at one another, but it's a baby step towards actual comprehension. I think your Dad is potentially absorbing more than I am, but he's starting with a little less background knowledge, so I imagine we're somewhere around the same level of understanding, overall. I really do hold to the adage "...and knowing is half the battle," so the more we actually know (not just flummox through kind of, sort of understanding), the better. I will always wish that this wasn't what we had to deal with, but Hudson, we do both love a challenge.

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