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Saturday, May 24, 2008


I flew to Burlington in the rain. I landed in the dark. I grabbed a taxi to my hotel and then tried to sleep quickly, since I had to be awake at 5am (2am, according to my exhausted body) to meet my mother, sister, and aunt at the hospital in the morning.

I slept restlessly, and felt abused when I woke. I slipped into some comfortable jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt from Wal-Mart that read "Massena New York", the town closest to my mother's house, far upstate.

I walked most of the way to Fletcher Allen Hospital in the morning haze while rain clouds moved in over Lake Champlain. My sister, awake since 4am and driving for two hours picked me up on the side of the road and drove me the rest of the way to the hospital. It was a nice, but brief, rest for my legs and racing heart.

We met my mother and her twin sister in the lobby, and then waited for the pre-surgery consultations. Eventually we were sent in to the prep room, where my mother readied herself by changing into hospital garments behind the curtain. Once we were all gathered inside, we waited: for a nurse; for the anesthesiologist; for the neurosurgeon who had already been inside my mother's head twice in the last ten months.

The easy rustling of an awakening hospital beyond the curtain seemed artificial and forced, as though the entire staff were doing their best to make the morning seem just like any other.

A head peered around the curtain. A blond nurse, who said "I'll be right in as soon as I find a thermometer."

Really? There are no thermometers to be found in this gigantic, sprawling center of learning and medicine?

"Anyone seen a thermometer?!" came the plea from beyond the curtains; our nurse, enlisting the help of the rest of the staff in elevating the mundane to the level of the important.

The same head appeared again, a few moments later, floating in the opening between the two curtains. "Have you seen a thermometer in here? No?" She disappeared once again.

My aunt looked around at us. "What is this, a comedy act?"

I replied, in my best (read: horrible) Groucho Marx/Fozzy Bear voice: "And so I says to her, 'Hey, anybody seen a thermometer? Wocka wocka wocka"

Nervous laughter turns into hysterical giggling, and we don't stop for almost a minute.

Finally, a thermometer was found. A nurse, an anesthesiologist, and a neurosurgeon walk into a prep room. Stop me if you've heard this one.

Finally, at 8:30am, my mother is wheeled into surgery.

At 10:30, a page to the waiting room, where the doctor informs us that they have discovered a new anti-body in her blood that makes it difficult to match. The anti-body was most likely introduced during her last surgery, since this same test prior to the last two revealed nothing of the sort. It's a harmless protein, and the universal blood type will still be effective, but not preferred for a surgery like this.

More waiting.

Another page at noon. Another consultation. They have only found one unit of the rare blood type my mother now has. Not nearly enough for surgery. Do we want to proceed anyway? The surgeon recommends not. My sister and aunt think my mother would want it over with.

While they debate in my absence (my pager had not gone off and I wandered up after the conversation was already over) the blood bank calls back: four more units have been found.

The surgery proceeds.

I have my laptop with me, and some Netflix movies. One movie, really, on two discs. Schindler's List, which I've never seen, and which seems to fit seamlessly into the allotted surgery time. I was in no mood for a comedy.

At 3:30pm the surgeon pages us again. The surgery went well, although a blood vessel had to be peeled away from the bulbous aneurysm before it could be clipped and the aneurysm popped. Peeled away like a sliver of orange rind.

More waiting until we can visit my mother in the ICU and verify with our own eyes that she is okay. She seems fine, talking a little, but very very tired.

I go back to the hotel at 5pm, hopefully to sleep until morning so I can be rejuvenated. After the last surgery my mother suffered a stroke in the middle of the night, and this fact prevents an easy slumber.

I wake, once again, at 5am, for no particular reason beyond the television still being on and too loud. I am encouraged by someone who was probably on "Road Rules" or somesuch to call quickly to receive both of the new "Girls Gone Wild" videos. I turn the television down and try to go back to sleep.

When I wake up again I feel a menacing presence. I look over at my laptop monitor and see a browser window open. And another. And another. I grab my computer and begin clicking the windows closed. But I can't keep up, and the windows are not responding fast enough. Websites I've never seen before begin popping open. Eventually, I flip the wireless switch to off, but the windows keep opening. I close the lid and unplug the computer, trying to keep the malicious invader out of my personal data that way.

I feel the malevolence on the other end of the connection, and I try to ignore it while I drift off, but I can also feel someone outside my window, plotting. I blackout in a Nyquil haze.

When I come to this time I am fully clothed. My laptop is open on my chest and I am on lying on the submerged steps of the hotel's swimming pool. The pool is heated, so I'm not cold, and my laptop is out of the water, and dry. But what the hell am I doing in the pool in the early hours of the morning, why am I fully clothed again, and why is my laptop with me? I blackout again.

And wake up once again in my hotel room, with the maid knocking at the door. "Housekeeping. Would you like your room cleaned today?" She tries to get in, but I have the latch closed, and as it arrests her progress through the entry way she relents, and closes the door.

Was I dreaming? I look down at the floor, and the pile of sodden clothes there, puddles forming around my shoes, and I am disturbed. I continue to feel the dread I've felt ever since I woke at 5am for no good reason, and I look around, verifying that I am alone.

I am not. There are eyes outside of my window. The window I was certain that I covered with the blinds, but which now stands naked and transparent, inviting the world to see me in my now terrified state. Whomever this person is, they are clearly involved in my computer's strange behavior and my somnambulant submersion.

Another knock at the door. The maid again. I sit up out of bed and look over at the door. I see that the latch is not in fact closed. She begins to enter and I yell out "Occupied!"

My eyes dart over to the window, where the blinds are securely closed, just as I left them before crawling into bed the night before. I look at my clothes on the floor, dry as, well, as dry as clothes that have never been soaked in a hotel swimming pool.

My laptop sits open, inactive, wirelessly and innocently connected to the hotel's network.

And there is no malevolence. I realize, finally, that everything that has happened since I woke to find a reality television castoff urging me to spend money on videos featuring exhibitionist undergraduates has all been a weird, and terrifying, nightmare.

Note to self: Under no circumstances should you, while attending your mother's surgery, (1) watch any part of a movie like Schindler's List, or (2) read any part of a Dean Koontz book you picked up at JFK before boarding a plane to Burlington.

My mother is fine. Her surgery on Thursday went very successfully, and she had no trouble in the night. The only real heart-stopping moment I had came this morning, when, for the third day in a row I was awake at 5am, but this time because the hospital called me on my cell phone. I answered, dreading what the person on the other end of the line would tell me, at this time of the morning while my mother was still in the ICU.

"We've moved your mother out of the ICU into a room upstairs. That's all. She's fine."

Wow. I really could have waited on that urgent freaking news.

My heart stopped racing after a  couple of minutes and I was able to sleep, dreamlessly, until 10:30 this morning. Tomorrow I go back home, and hopefully my mother will be home early next week. I miss my wife, and my daughter (who is walking everywhere now, apparently), and I miss my bed.

There are no nightmares in my bed. And I never have to wake up at 5am.


Loralee Choate said...

I am really glad that your mom is doing well.


That dream sequence freaked me the hell out.

Samurai Beetle said...

I'm so glad to hear your mom is okay.

That dream also freaked me out! Hope you get back to the land of sunshine fast!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm glad she's doing well. Nightmares totally suck--it's like you never slept.

Carmen said...

That dream was CREEPY. Seriously strange.

Although, last night, I dreamt that I was driving in a car with John McCain as the driver, and I was looking through mybookbag for a different pair of shoes. And then, (euuw) we were in the shower, and thank GOD, I woke up.

But, I'm on narcotics at night, so I hope that is all that was. Please.

I hope your mom continues to improve!

Carmen -

Headless Mom said...

Blessings to your Mom as she recovers. And to you on your trip home.

Those dreams? Just wrong!

AEA said...

You get so many schmaltzy comments that I thought I'd leave one, just to balance it out.

You are very obviously psychotic. The dreams you were having are the dreams of a psychotic person.

My theory? You feel a deep emptiness because you are no longer fun. The solution? Very strong meds and a tall glass of warmed whiskey every night.

Jennifer said...

I'm glad to hear everything went well. And wow, the detail you remembered from that dream, very impressive! And freaky. *shivers*

caramama said...

I'm glad that the surgery went well. I hope that her recovery goes smoothly.

Whit said...

Glad your mom is okay. Seriously, what a crazy dream.

BTW, that's a great deal when you buy both of those Girls Gone Wild videos together.

Kelly said...

My prayers are with your mom and you after that freaky ass dream!

mommastantrum said...

Quit smoking the NyQuil and you won't have those dreams. Also you would probably be wise to invest in some Depends for when you are traveling.

Also, glad to hear that Mom is doing okay. Make it home safe okay?

Badass Geek said...

Hey man, hope everything continues to go well with you mother. My thoughts are with you and your family.

for a different kind of girl said...

Glad your mom came through the surgery and is doing well. Prayers for continued safe recovery when she returns home, as well as for a safe return home for you, too. I suggest you don't fall asleep on the plane. Having dreams like that, no one needs you waking up somewhere over the great Midwest, spying a creature on the wing and freaking out.

I'm glad I didn't see this post last night. I would have had proxy nightmares. All it needed was the addition of Bigfoot, and I'd have had to stay awake all night. Instead, I happily dreamt of flowers and bunnies.

Killer bunnies.

Mandy said...

Glad to hear that the surgery went well and your mom is doing well.

Freaky entry though. A little Stephen King in ya?

Aunt Becky said...

Sadly, your dreams sound like mine every night. No, I'm not kidding.

I'm so glad to hear that your mom is okay, that's the best news I've heard in I don't know how long.

Kat said...

So glad that your mom's surgery went well and she's ok. Scary dreams suck.

Backpacking Dad said...

loralee: me too.

samurai beetle: I'm on my way right now. Burlington Airport is very boring. But it has free wi-fi.

jenn: that's certainly how I felt.

Carmen: John McCain? Reaaaally...The things I learn about people out there on the internets.

Headless Mom: I haven't had a nightmare in a while, I think, so it was definitely off-putting.

AEA: Yer a schmaltzy comment. And? So's your face.

jennifer: it certainly made an impression. And that was just what was left over 4 hours later as I tried to write it down. There was a lot more going on. I think Nathan Fillion was there at some point.

caramama: thank you very much. She was released this morning and is on her way home now. So I can leave in good conscience.

whit: I know, right? Plus I think you get a free tote bag and a website membership. And a free registration as a sex offender.

kelly: thanks very much. No more Nyquil. Tylenol Cold and Flu only from now on.

mommastantrum: so that's what I was doing wrong. Next time I'm just gonna inject it into my eyeball and hope for the best. I hear that works.

badass geek: that was so un-badass of you. Thanks.

FADKOG: wif gweat big teef wike thif?

mandy: way too much. I read Eyes of the Dragon when I was 9 and I haven't been able to get him out of my head since.

aunt becky: this too shall pass. Like a kidney stone.

kat: yes. yes they do.

MereCat said...

Bless you. Bless you. What a stressful time for you. I'm glad your mom is okay.

mamatulip said...

Woah. I'm glad that was just a dream.

I hope your mum continues to do well.

kittenpie said...

That is some wicked stress dreaming, BP. But I'm glad to hear it was all for naught, and that everything went well.

(And you know? They may have called so you didn't get upset when you didn't find your mom where you left her if you came in, I think. Which is nice.)

mumma boo said...

Yikes! That was some nightmare. Flesh it out a little and you've got the makings of the next Wes Craven flick. Glad to hear that your mom is doing well. Best wishes for continued rapid recovery for her, and safe travels for you!

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I hope your Mom is doing well and that your bed does, indeed, bring you some peaceful sleep.

Danielle said...

So figuring this post was an update on your mom, and reading the title Nightmare, made me so nervous before I read it.

So, I'm glad the surgery went well and that your mom is fine. Yay!

Madame Queen said...

Dude, that dream was just weird. Freaky, even.

Glad your mom came through the surgery okay.

Must Be Motherhood said...

Wow. Freaky stuff. And yeah, I was thinking, "Schindler's List"??? What is this man THINKING? I get the no-comedy thing, but...

Glad your Mom is okay.

Gerbil said...

I'm glad to hear that your mother's surgery went well. I hope she continues to improve.

BabyShrink said...

I didn't realize this was happening. Sorry. I have been there, BPD...I've been there. Not easy. So glad it went well for your Mom. But the trauma of the situation; you'll never forget it.

I actually love the dream. It's so expressive of the situation. A malicious thing controlling the "brains" of your computer...wreaking havoc. Just what you were fearing, for your Mom. That something bad was going to happen in her brain, causing chaos.

Just my armchair interpretation. In any case, I'm glad you could be out there with your family for the surgery...and now that Erin is walking (and you can go back to the gym with impunity), things should be very busy, and lots of fun!