A nice turkey breast sits in our freezer, waiting to be cooked. I decided that I’d wait to do the honors once my son Doug was completely recovered from his illness. We have yet to celebrate the usual holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and even New Year’s Eve that we lost last year.
It’s has been a long hard road, one that still hasn’t come to an end; However, I think it’s about time to celebrate the fact that Doug has come a long way since that terrible Thanksgiving morning when I had to call 911. Trying to cook any kind of a meal then was out of the question. What followed was over a week of unadulterated pain for him and fear for me that we would lose him.
We almost did. After six weeks at two hospitals. my oldest son. Don. and I brought Doug home. While we had a lot of fine meals during those days, the turkey still sat in the freezer. Doug had severe blood poisoning and had lost 25 pounds, but he said on returning home that once he began to feel like a human being, he really enjoyed the hospital food. Excellent hospital food? Wow!
Looking back, I’m so very glad of this one good fact. For weeks Doug was hooked up to wires and needle “things” with no ability to even get out of bed without help. Recently, Doug and I were eating in a fast food restaurant and bumped into an acquaintance. He told Doug he didn’t want to hear him say anything except that he was glad to be alive. I thought this a little insensitive.
However, I did understand what he meant. But after what my son went through who could even imagine his feeling anything else but being grateful for each and every day? There was a time, during that first terrible week when Doug wasn’t getting the care he so desperately needed. He was in so much pain he couldn’t move. I understood, perfectly, because 25 years ago I was in the same position he was in now.
If you can imagine, just think how you’d feel if you were having terribly painful attacks every few hours and they put you in a Psychiatric Ward and tell you it’s “all in your head.” I had an undiagnosed ulcer and knew I was going to die, and I nearly did.
Saying they found nothing wrong, Doug allowed them to keep me on that 72 hour “thing” they do for mental cases.
Telling Doug it wouldn’t matter, I said “in 72 hours I’d be dead.” He went home. A few hours later they called Doug and told him to get back immediately to the hospital. The nurse stated that I was bleeding internally; they didn’t know what was wrong. They didn’t think I was going to make it. This old lady — I was 65 then — had passed out on the floor. You can imagine the rest I won’t go into details.
Remembering, in my conscience moments, that at last it’d all soon be over I’d just die and no longer be in extreme pain. My doctor’s stated “imaginary pain” turned out to be a peptic ulcer the size of a half a dollar. When Doug told me, during his illness’s first awful days that he couldn’t stand any more pain, I knew exactly what he meant. It was then I insisted he be transferred to Reno.
Later, Doug was told that when he got to Reno he was the second most seriously ill person in the hospital. The first few months he was home he needed a wheelchair, and then we went to a walker, and then a cane. He’s still having problem with his knee where they had to operate to take out severe infection. Twice a week he sees a physical therapist.
I’ve decided not to wait any longer for that big turkey dinner. The smell of turkey and stuffing will fill the house. The cranberry sauce will be chilling in the refrigerator, the potatoes will be sputtering on the stove close to a pan of peas. Just before the turkey comes out of the oven I’ll put in a pan of yeast rolls. On a kitchen counter will be a beautiful homemade pumpkin pie.
Yes, Doug is very grateful to be alive. It’s been a long, long haul. And he’s said it so many times as have I, “Thank you Lord Jesus.”
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org