I was told all systems were go. My sleep apnea surgery was a go. The Monday before Thanksgiving I would be operated on. My favorite minister and good friend in town told me when he heard “Oh wow that is one of the most horrible surgeries to have.’ I now knew why he was such a respected minister; his bedside manner.
I awoke from surgery in a daze. My wife was present and I was told I was in a different wing from the one I was told I would be in. That night I began to choke or so I thought. I politely push the nurse button. No one came. I could see the nurses’ station from my room; I began to scream but I could not. I decided to bang on the mobile tray. I terrified the nurses. Finally, my nurse came. But I knew the nurses at the station would be of no help the rest of the night. Thank god my nurse was there after that incident.
The next day I was feeling a little better but as I laid in my bed I suddenly could hear over the intercom system the hospital staff having a party. You could hear about their dating lives and occasionally talk about patients. I hit the nurses’ button to inform them they were on the intercom. I could hear the nurses talking about me and the call button. It’s probably nothing more than a mistake, do not worry about it. I pushed the call button again. Finally, a nun came. Is there something you need she asked me? I explained that you could hear the staff’s conversations on the intercom. She said if you do not have anything wrong do not hit the call button. The staff were making fun of another patient on the intercom. I waited for the nun to respond but she would not abandon the thin white line. I thought is she the chaplain? My nurse came into the room. I told her what was happening. The nun said he will not quit hitting the call button. My nurse who realized suddenly they were on the intercom looking chagrined started trying to turn off the intercom. After a few minutes she succeeded. I was ready to be at home.
When I arrived home, I asked the girls if they could prepare the bedroom for my needs. Maya (who loves these kind of chores) and Dorothy went at the chore full force. They vacuumed, washed linens, dusted, set up humidifiers, bought Kleenex, scrubbed walls, rearranged furniture, and anything and everything else that could possibly be done. Including two glasses of ice water one by the bed and one by the chair. It was the most love I had felt in a while.
On Thanksgiving Day for the first time in the history of our family my two daughters decided they would do all the cooking. Setting aside their mother in another room and turning the music up they began. And before I knew it they had finished. They had dragged my pain ridden body to the dinner table for the Thanksgiving feast. The spread was glorious sweet potato casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, broccoli casserole, rolls, and stuffed tempeh. It was all there for the taking except I was on a non-solid diet and my throat was in excruciating pain.
As I watched them load their plates with large helpings of a panoply of food I placed two spoonful’s of mashed potatoes, three spoonfuls of sweet potato (not casserole) they had set aside for me, and two microscopic broccoli spears which I mashed up with my fork. I ate slowly and with a baby spoon. Their mmms and how delicious were heard. They taunted me with their huge bites of food and the foods I could not eat. Thirty minutes later when we all had given our thanks for the gifts of last year and they had finished their food, I still ate slowly with my baby spoon.
I added another chapter to my legend as a card player. Drugged out and falling asleep mid-deal I played. They would have to wake me every hand saying Dad your turn to play. I became aware that I was even snoring and the occasionally drool was falling down my chin. About half way through the game in my sleep I became aware of a growing frustration among my fellow card players. They began to make faces and call me names. I was too sleepy to make them stop. I was only aware of my oldest and most competitive daughter throwing her cards down in disgust after each hand.
The problem for them was that although I was a drooling, snoring, mess I was wiping the floor with them, I was inexplicably winning. When this news reached into my semi-conscious state. I awoke enough between snores to ridicule them for letting someone asleep beat them. The tension grew in the room. They tried harder. My lead grew. Until at last I had won. I looked at them with a huge smile on my face rose up form the table and said, ”Pitiful!’. And with the youngest saying that is not nice, I crawled into bed and with a victor’s smile on my face fell asleep.
This Thanksgiving is now in the books. It is probably not the best I have ever had but it may be one of the most memorable.