My friend Lisa and I picked a lot of apples. We got together at her place to process some of hers into applesauce, to dry some, and to use the cores and scraps for vinegar. She has several chickens, and we weren't sure if the girls would like some apple scraps. They picked at them a little, but didn't seem all that excited about them.
I made a batch of applesauce and dried some pieces to use for snacks or with oatmeal. I planned on canning some for pies and toyed with the idea of drying some that could be reconstituted for pies. The nice thing about apples is that they can wait a bit for you.
And so it was, that I was thinking about what to do with the bounty this year when B, friends with Himself since they were young lads, suffered a stroke. He has never married, nor has he ever had anyone special so far as we know. He is one of the kindest, gentlest men one could ever meet. He and Himself have always stayed in touch, no matter whether they were in the same neighbourhood or miles apart.
I volunteered to go down to B's apartment and help out, if needed. I knew there were likely others who would do the same, and all lived closer than we did. B thanked us and declined our offer, exactly because others who were closer had also volunteered. But, they had to juggle work schedules, put in for vacation time, or consider their kids; whereas I had a more open schedule. So, last minute, B called and asked if I'd make the trip down. It was about an hour away from our last location. It wasn't part of our usual stomping grounds, although I had visited a friend there a few times, and had a fife and drum gig not far from there. B had moved there after I had moved to my current location. Himself hadn't yet arrived here, still back at our last location, and the two of them got together often.
At the end of August, we made a lightning fast trip down there for an in-person appointment and stayed at B's overnight. We were grateful for a place to stay, and whatever pandemic fear may have prevented others from offering, paled in the love of two childhood friends.
So six weeks after that quick trip, I was now driving back with no idea how long I'd need to stay. Some people are natural caregivers. I am not.B's brother picked him up from the hospital and brought him home. B told his brother to leave after a bit, insisting he was all right by himself for a few hours until I arrived.
I arrived about 10:00 p.m. Except for B's left eyelid being a little droopy, he looked no different from six weeks earlier. He was glad to be home, glad that I could come so quickly, as the hospital was not going to release him if he didn't have someone with him for a bit.
Fortunately the stroke did not affect his speech or motor coordination. The brain bleed left him with a headache and affected vision. They gave him meds for his head, a wait and see for the vision problem, and should his headache become unbearable to return to the emergency room.
I made up the couch with sheets and a blanket, talked a bit with B, and we bade goodnight around midnight.
A bit after 4:00 a.m., B let me know his headache had gotten much worse, and the meds didn't seem to be helping. I quickly dressed, and he wanted me to take his car to the ER. I used my phone's mapping app to get there, since I am not super familiar with the area. Between my last fife and drum gig a few towns over year ago and now, there'd been a lot of new construction, and a tornado touched down earlier in the spring. Some of the landmarks I knew were no more or altered. B said I didn't need the phone to get to the ER. He could direct me. B has a stellar sense of direction; I do not. I figured with his pounding headache, which might be simply they needed to tweak his med schedule or as serious as he was having another stroke, I wasn't taking any chances. He wouldn't hear of an ambulance taking him, so drive him I did. Yes, I took his car.
It's the newest car I've ever driven. I felt a tad funny, as I'm not familiar with it, and this felt like an emergency situation where a car I was used to would be welcome. But, I hadn't cleared off my front passenger seat from the long drive, and B's car is smaller than my truck, so it would be easier to park.
Thankfully there was little traffic. We got there without a problem. He had been gone from the hospital for about 12 hours. We remained in the ER all day. They decided to admit him to keep him for observation. Around 7:00 p.m., we were still in the ER, waiting for a room to be vacated. He told me I might as well go since there was nothing else I could do. I had had nothing to eat or drink all day and made my way back to B's apartment. That Thursday felt a million hours long.
I slept a deep sleep and awoke Friday to warm sunshine. B had been working a lot of hours, and like many places, his job was short on help, so he often worked six days to make up the short fall. He was in the process of going through things in his apartment to have a good clearout when the stroke hit, so there remained piles of things that were in mid organization. I couldn't make the decisions for him on what to keep toss, or how to reorganize it, but I decided I could clean the kitchen and bathroom. When I broke my leg and had to stay in the hospital, B had been visiting Himself and me. B stayed with Himself for moral support, and after he left, Himself cleaned the house. It gave him something to do while he worked and waited, and I could also be greeted by a clean place. It helped my spirits immensely, and I was surprised at how much boost it gave me. I could do the same for B.
I stopped at the hospital to see him and see how he was doing. He looked
better, he felt better, and I met the most delightful hospital worker
named Myron. He delivered the meals, and is one of those people who
practically sings as he talks. Very upbeat and caring. He spread healing
everywhere he went. B had given me
a list of names, and I texted all of them to provide updates. B dozed off and on, and mentioned some food in the fridge that would need to be chucked
since it had been in there too long.He had bought it the day before his stroke, and it had been in there over a week. When his dozing turned into a good nap, I wanted to leave. B woke abruptly and told me I probably ought to go. I did, and stopped at a grocery store to get a few things to eat either by myself or with B depending on when they sprung him loose. When I got back to his apartment, I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, remembering to toss the old food in the fridge. I also
went to the leasing office to tell them who I was, in case they wondered
about the out-of-state truck that didn't move for a bit. After supper and washing up, I went to bed, wanting to rest up.
B was released on Saturday. They tweaked his med schedule a little, giving him an oral dose of the injection they had given him in hospital that seemed to help with the headache.The good news was no new brain bleeds. The headache would likely remain for six to eight weeks while the body reabsorbed the blood, but ideally, with the tweaked med schedule, it would remain manageable. The vision problem was likely in part due to the brain bleed. How much only time could tell.
I notified everyone via text that B was coming home again and went to pick him up. Myron didn't work Saturdays. The woman who brought in B's late lunch was quietly competent. I missed Myron. B wanted to stop a few places on the way home, so I drove where he told me. He had ordered something that would be available for pick up at the store. It seemed so banal, going to pick it up, but I also understood the strong desire to have things return to normal. That B had made a number of plans before his stroke, such as ordering this item that was now ready for pick up. It seemed so incongruent in light of this Big Event, and yet, to pick up where one left off was an act of getting on with things.
After three stops, because he had wanted to look at things two other places, we returned home. He was tired and wanted to shave. They hadn't given him a razor in the hospital and while I've never seen him without a mustache, he's never had any desire to grow a beard. His lunch had been late enough at the hospital, so he wanted something light for dinner. He had some soup, I had a salad, and he felt very much better after showering and shaving. Being able to sleep in one's own bed also helps with healing.
A day later, two friends visited him, wanting to see him for themselves. He was glad they visited. The tweaked med schedule worked well. His headache remained manageable. I drove him as needed a few places. We figured the next week would be followup visits. However, he had just one visit with his primary care physician. The other visits were scheduled a few weeks out, which surprised both of us. I would have thought them sooner, but perhaps the second hospital visit had given them the chance to see that some progress was being made and wait and see couldn't be hurried along. A few weeks out might tell more about how much vision would return.
We talked of his next steps. Waiting and seeing is hard when one is used to doing, to getting up and going, to driving one's self. He wanted to go to his workplace. They welcomed me warmly. He could take off as much time as he needed, and they'd be glad to have him return whenever he was ready. If he needed to be part time for a while, no problem. If he needed a ride there and back, no problem. They'd pick him up and drive him home. They were all glad to see him. If he needed anything, all he had to do was call them, and they'd help.
So it was, I was there a week when B said I didn't need to stay there any longer. He had enough food on hand, no appointments for a bit, and if he needed to get any place, he could have those who were closer drop by.
I knew he was right, but I still felt as if I were abandoning him. He assured me I was doing nothing of the kind. And so I packed my things and made the long trip home.
Himself was thrilled to have me back. I was glad to be home. Glad to sleep in my own bed, be back on the coast where I could feel the salt in my bones.
The apples were still waiting for me. I've canned another batch of applesauce, dried some for pies, and apple cinnamon leather is in the dehydrator now. The garden will need putting to bed, and I need to repot the plants that are in the window box if I want to keep them over winter. The mundane tasks of a quiet life don't make for great blog fodder, but I realized on the trip down to help a friend that I love my life with its quiet rhythms and keeping with the seasons.