Saturday, September 25, 2004

When I drove up and walked onto the patio in Dallas, Patricia laid her head against me and cried. She felt ugly, violated and helpless.

First thing with her is to organize her thoughts. She goes round and round and finds herself overwhelmed. The lawn needed mowing. The lawnmower was in the garage. The automatic lifter for the garage door was broken. There were overdue bills to pay and no stamps. Her hair needed a trim (oh, vanity, thy name is woman).

We dispatched her daughter to find Ken, a neighbor two doors away. The Harley biker-organic gardener-Santa Claus model came right away, repaired the garage door by replacing a nut, and whipped through her lawn in just a few minutes. What a neighbor. He and his wife are moving to a new house this weekend.

Then we made lists of things to do and things to buy, and worked through it all as the week progressed. I lifted scissors to a woman's hair for the first time in 30 years - just a simple trim, which might have been better and easier if the scissors had been fit to cut something other than paper.

By Thursday, she felt good enough to blow her hair dry and apply makeup for a visit to the surgeon's office. He removed the sutures and told her she was doing great.

"If I'd known that, I would have felt better," she said.

He also told her that had she not been in such good general health that this episode could easily have killed her. He removed between two and four feet of intestine. She needn't worry about gaining weight in the future.

Bizarrely, my sister-in-law in Oregon called Thursday night to say that my oldest brother had emergency surgery for diverticulitis that day. Pretty much the same operation.

Where is my family's intestinal fortitude?

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