Sunday, August 15, 2004

Family Reunion and First Aid

Well! It has taken me days to recover from the family reunion, and catch up on the events in J-Land. There are just too many great journals out there to keep up with!

The reunion turned out quite differently than I was anticipating, though the family patterns are alive and well and living wherevever we all live. We all got along quite well, and some of that was because Luke and Mary were being good citizens of this summer community by holding down the Encampment- a replica of an original 1904 campsite at the far end of the lake. They had 4 tents with wooden floors, a cook tent, an open fire to cook on, a bunch of antique lamps, utensils, cookpots, and a slit trench Luke dug, then built a outhouse around. They spent the week greeting and hosting people interested in the early life of the community. It was actually quite neat, and kept us from too much interaction.

I said I went to connect with Catherine, but at first it looked as if I might just get barely an hour with her-she was busy being sociable, catching up with friends, and sleeping at the Encampment, because she doesn't get to see Luke and Mary much, either. Meg and Amy, too, hung out with her the first evening, and then again at the Encampment. Rene is not able to walk too far in the woods, nor sit on logs or stones,and I am limited too, so such connection was out for us. I finally requested a couple of hours with her on Monday, and we set a time. Little did I know that the gods or goddesses were about to take over!

Monday morning at 7:30 the phone rang in the motel where we were sound asleep. It was Cathering, at the Encampment, whispering into her cell phone (forbidden at the Encampment- no cell phones available in 1904). She was talking about needing to go to a walk in clinic, but not the emergency room from yesterday, but her hand was swollen, and hurt a lot and could I come get her. Emergency room? Swollen hand? I hadn't a clue, but I knew she needed help, and within 10 minutes, I was on my way, leaving Rene still sleeping.

I found Catherine hiking along the dirt road which lead to the Encampment, left hand in a gauze bandage, looking not unlike the 5 year old I remember-plucky, not complaining, and not wanting too much comforting. Seems as if she had cut her first finger with an axe while alone in the Encampment, cutting kindling the day before. She had hiked herself out to the road, met up with a friend who took her to one of the local hospitals, where she had gotten 9 stitches. She had returned to the woods for the night, but now it was red and swollen, and infected.

She kept apologizing over and over for bothering me; I kept saying not to worry, that's what family's for, and realized how deeply ingrained the need to apologize over and over again is in the women of the family. I do it all the time- as if I have no right to ask for help when I need it, always feeling shame for not being on top of every siltuation.

 She did NOT want to go back to the same hospital, so we decided to walk into my mother's doctor's office and ask for help. We were lucky-we saw a P.A. immediately who looked at it, cleaned around the stitches, gave her a shot of antibiotic, a script for oral antibiotics and pain pills. By the time we had filled the scripts, stopped for food and returned to the Encampment, it was 1pm, and Catherine was so sleepy from the pain meds her eyes were crossing, but she was still apologizing for interrupting my vacation.

Eventually, I got back to the hotel for poor Rene( who was actually perfectly happy there) and back to my parents' cabin, to tell them what was going on. My mother was doing a bit of "I'm a bad mother because I couldn't be there" routine( another family pattern). By now I was hurting and feeling exhausted- I do not want to admit how handicapped I am even a year after my accident. I have no stamina, and struggle with the pain, and try to be plucky and not complain too much. See a pattern? That evening while I made supper, my father went to pick up Catherine at the Encampment, and when she walked in I knew she was worse. The hand was more swollen, angry red, and hot.

Not wanting to worry our parents, we ate dinner, waited for them to go back up to their cabin, then called a nurse friend for advice. She gave us anothe ER to go to. We dropped Rene off at the motel, and set out into the night for yet another unknown hospital, still discussing whether or not we were being alarmist because maybe the antibiotic hadn't kicked in yet, and if we just waited a while...

Damned good thing we went- she had a deep infection that might have gone on to infect her whole arm. In fact, said the doctor, she would need to be admitted, given IV antibiotics and pain meds for at least 2 or 3 days, and might need surgery in the morning. We merely gaped at him. I stayed with her until 1am, then drove back to the motel with the windows down and Meatloaf blaring to keep me awake. I got to sleep about 2:30 am.

to be continued...


1 comment:

blondepennierae said...

It's nice to have some words from you.  Very dramatic words indeed.  Hope by the next installment she is well on the way to recovery and you are heeding your bodies warning to relax more.   Pennie