Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An unwelcomed trip to the Cleveland Clinic

A few weeks ago, a friend told me his grandfather was going for surgery in a few days.  He didn't really have the vacation time booked to travel the 500 or so miles to be there with family during surgery.  And, being a Midwestern family, he wasn't told until a few days before the surgery.  Sticking with the Midwesterner theme, he was also told not to worry about it and that he would be told if he needed to worry.

I was immediately thrown back to Gumpy's surgery to fix his heart valve that had developed a kink in it.  Surgeons at Sparrow Hospital felt surgery would be too risky, but a specialist a The Cleveland Clinic was certain the operation could be done successfully.  Preparations were made for a lengthy stay in Cleveland, as he needed plenty of time before and after the surgery to run every test imaginable and to ensure post-op success.

At the time, was going through the beginning stages of a divorce and had started a straight commission sales job a few months before, so cash and time were at a premium in my life.  While Gumpy eschewed the typical Midwestern behavior of not telling loved ones what was happening because he didn't want me to worry, I still couldn't be with him the day of his surgery.  And he told me not to take any time off work because he knew my financial situation.

It was a heartbreaking day but frankly, I don't know what I would have done at the hospital that day anyway.  Having appointments to focus on that day was the distraction I needed.  As it was, Ema is great at upholding the time honored Midwestern ethic of not telling anyone anything because you don't want to burden people, so I knew I wouldn't be getting many updates anyway.

When I was able to visit, my sister and I split the cost of gas, which was an incredibly helpful gesture at the time.  I was able to spend quality time with him, while he was awake and while I could do things to help him.  In the end, it worked out just fine, but it was an agonizing day nonetheless.