Wednesday the 11th
Yesterday evening after leaving the hospital I bought some socks and shorts for PQ and some summer tops for myself at an outrageously huge Walmart up the road from the hospital. Some part of me anticipated that we wouldn’t be going home tomorrow, and I had one outfit and no pajamas. Nevertheless, I hoped preparing for a longer stay would mean I was preparing for something that wouldn’t happen. In no way was I prepared when I drove south to Rio Rancho. That entire drive is now erased from memory. The Espanola hospital was going to send my husband to Santa Fe. I waited for the ambulance to arrive in a few minutes, as predicted. They even had his new room number. Time went by, and the ambulance never came. Finally, I drove home to feed the cat and get ready for a trip to Santa Fe the next morning.
Then I got word that the ambulance had been called to an emergency, the hospital room was now taken, and they were sending PQ to Presbyterian Rust hospital in Rio Rancho. My heart dropped. I couldn’t drive daily to Rio Rancho. Then I called our Friend Carol who lives in Albuquerque and asked if I could stay with her. Everything happened so fast, there was only reaction, not much thinking beyond finding the hospital in an unfamiliar city and then finding my friend Carol’s new home which I’d only visited once before.
I notice time is suspended. I’m not in the same world of two weeks ago, or is it only a week? When PQ was transported to Rio Rancho he was knocked out on morphine. The doctor in Espanola sent him to Presbyterian Rust because they had a specialist nephrologist. His kidneys were not filtering out the morphine and he had been psychedelically tripping for two days. Finally, he woke up in Rio Rancho, looked out the window and thought he might be on another planet. Everything was foreign. When I arrived at the hospital the next morning, both he and the staff were glad to see me. He was terrified and thought something very creepy was going on.
Thursday the 12th
This morning when I arrived, his face seemed a bit larger. Then I noticed the left side of his chest was abnormally swollen where the drainage tube had been. What’s happening? The nurse sent for the pulmonologist. She came in later and told us that PQ was experiencing Subcutaneous Emphysema. She wasn’t alarmed and said that when the delicate lung lining, and his is very vulnerable, is penetrated due to a heavy cough or some other pressure it creates a small hole where oxygen can escape into the body. The oxygen moves unrestricted into the tissue below the skin and causes the skin to swell like a balloon. She said that it’s better to monitor it and that when the hole in the lung tissue heals, the body will absorb the excess oxygen. Later in the day, the swelling increased until his eyes were closed.
He was scheduled to go home that day and was hugely disappointed. I was grateful it didn’t happen after we got him home. It would have terrified him, (me too) since we’d never heard of such a thing. I’ve since learned that it is not uncommon.
Friday the 14th
Third day in Rio Rancho: The swelling is beginning go down. If he tries hard, he can open his eyes. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Time has slowed down, perhaps because we are in a new lifetime. Yet there is a routine in this new life. I spend each day from 10:30 AM to 6-6:30 PM in his room. Because of COVID, the hospital only allows two visitors per day. The people at the hospital entrance know me and ask how Standing Deer is doing. They did some research on the internet and discovered he was in a couple of films and has his art on Facebook, now they think he is a star and treat me like an old friend when I come in the morning.
I still can’t find my way to and from my friend Carol’s house where I’m staying or the hospital without Seri’s help. Yesterday on my way to Carol’s house, I told Seri Montano instead of Montano Plaza Drive and had a scenic drive through sagebrush and cedar. Eventually, pulled off and tried again. Every road here has many snakelike winding curves—probably good Fung Shuai.
When I arrived at the hospital this morning, the nurse on duty informed me that they had talked to PQ about a Final Directive and he told them he wanted the full measures to maintain life. Although I don’t think he understands how brutal that can be, I didn’t bring the topic up today because I believe it indicates how much he wants to live. He has unfinished business, and not just the unfinished painting on our dining room table. That table has become his favorite workplace and his colored pens, pencils and measuring tools are waiting for him. He also needs to finish his life story. What will he carry to the other side? This should be the most important final directive. The shadowy veil between daily life and the truly mysterious world we live in has been torn for me as well.
It’s so easy to be hypnotized into semi consciousness by our everyday routines and earthly plans. We all know that life habits and routines we have become comfortable with are temporary and subject to sudden changes as much as the weather is, yet its always a shock when there is messenger from the other side at the door. Decisions must be made. Why am I here, what do I want to leave, what will I take with me. Can I finish the job I started.