Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valetine's Day Snapshots

The bipap machine pulled and pushed against her lips as her husband walked into the room bleary eyed from a night of stolen sleep in the ICU waiting room. He arched his back and his geriatric limbs cracked with the first movements of morning. He stood next to me and put his arm on his wife's shoulder.

The raspy air moved in and out of her lungs in fits and starts. She had been in the hospital for a few weeks. Her pneumonia was the final push that caused the boulder of chronic lung and heart disease to spiral towards the bottom of the hill.

This was her third stay in the ICU. Her husband and I discussed that she may not survive this hospitalization. He stoically excepted my pronouncements and yet remained gentle and upbeat.

When I turned to leave the room, I could hear him crouch over the embattled body of his wife. His whisper was barely audible.

Happy Valentine's day, love.


The demented woman in the wheel chair made herself at home at the nursing station. She watched the comings and goings of the extended care facility and was sure to add commentary to anyone who happened to pass by. She was particularly smitten with a young male CNA. Her inappropriate behavior was a byproduct of her loss of executive functioning. She eyed him as he turned the corner.

Hey good looking, you want to be my Valentine.

She licked her lips and the CNA quickly jumped away from her grabbing hands. I sunk down in my chair hoping she wouldn't see me. I watched as her head jerked in my direction. Her white strands of hair frazzled and her face hidden behind thick black glasses that were missing the lenses.

Doctor, doctor, my boobs hurt! You want to examine them?

My face became warm and my cheeks flushed. At first I tried to ignore her but the pleas became more fervent. Her breast exam the week before (prompted by the same complaint) had been normal.

OK, I'll get Nurse Radcliffe to accompany you back to your room and get things ready.

When she realized we would have company for the exam, she sighed deeply and spoke as she turned her wheel chair.

All the sudden I'm feeling better.


My son and daughter laugh as they run towards the car. Their faces are smeared with the remnants of a feast devoured in their classrooms earlier in the day. Bits of cookie dot my sons upper lip like a mustache. My daughter has chocolate colored smudge on both cheeks.

They carry folded pieces of paper with primitive lines of crayon dotting the front cover. They offer them up to me as I struggle out of the car carrying my computer and other byproducts of a day spent in the office.

Their faces beam with the innocence and joy of experiencing all of lifes wonders for the first time. They yell out in unison.

Happy Valentine's Day Daddy!

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