“Nice to be out for a couple of hours?” I asked Tracey as the kids and I drove her away from the hospital this morning.
I looked over, hoping to catch one of those smiles which only 2 months ago I was told I’d never see again.
She was crying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. A panic attack? Was she in pain? Was something leaking? Each of those would warrant some tears.
“It’s just so nice to out here,” she said, sweeping a hand from the passenger window to the front windscreen, and finally to me, “with you.”
I managed to drive us to our holiday home without serious incident but then I lost it a bit once we were inside. It’s so nice to have her in a house with us. She gets tired quickly and needed to rest during the four hours she was with us, but if she thought she was going to have a bed to herself she wasn’t thinking straight. No less than three family members were in bed with her at any one time. If this keeps up we may have to consider upgrading to a king size mattress at home.
Meanwhile, they’ve removed the PICC line from her arm and are no longer keeping her fed with bags of what looks like cornflour dissolved in water. It’s all up to her and her remaining 90cm of small bowel now. She’s enjoying the challenge, although she attacks her food a little differently nowadays. Yesterday we took her in a cheeseburger and she took such little bites I was reminded of a mouse. Historically she usually inhales them.
Rather wonderfully, this is all under doctors orders – lots of different foods, lots of fats, lots of junk. They want her to put on some weight.
“I’ve finally found a diet I can stick to,” she said as she took another rodent sized nibble of some classic McDonalds fare.
One of her doctors happened past her when she was pulling assorted packets of salt and sugar out of the vending machine.
“Good work,” he said. “Keep it up.”
“It’s like I’ve been in training for this my whole life,” Tracey grinned.
Today she tried a couple slices of ham at the house while I made her a steak burger. We went halves. She’s keen but there’s not much room in her stomach yet. The kids watched her with the sort of enthusiasm they’d normally reserve for opening Christmas presents. As an encore she gnawed gently on some watermelon and a nectarine. It was a great show, and one we’re all keen to see again and again.
There’s definitely going to be some adjustments over the next few weeks. We should probably stop applauding whenever she toots, for a start. Plus the kids and I will have to learn to stop staring and grinning at her so much, and maybe we should let her have half the bed to herself. Not crying at her would be a good thing too. But I think, given how things stood so recently, and where we’re at now, they’re the most wonderful problems to have.
And probably it’s time the kids had someone better at mothering than me. I’ve only been in charge here for less than three months but already I’m seeing a change to how things used to work.
For example, I overheard a conversation this evening between Master10 and Miss3.
“Oh my god!” Master10 exclaimed. “You put stickers all over Dad’s new book!”
“Don’t tell Daddy!” begged Miss3. “He will laugh at me!”
I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to work like that.
As we drove Tracey back to the hospital we came out of the Clem7 and the RBWH loomed in front of us. Beside me, Tracey was crying again.
“I feel safe in there,” she sobbed when I asked what she was thinking. “I’ve lived there for a quarter of the year so it’s sort of a home.”
I think it’s safe to say having the kids and I being here in Brisbane for a couple of weeks, close to Tracey, was a good decision. Not only does it mean we can see her every day, we’ll also be close to the hospital when she’s discharged – hopefully by the weekend.
So many good times to come. Gonna need more tissues.
UPDATE: I just got a call from Tracey and this morning her doctor informed her she’s being discharged TOMORROW!
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”