January 10th, 2005



Today is the day we talk with the doctor, the main one, and with the social worker. If we can resolve some questions Cathy will likely keep her flight out tomorrow. If not, we'll stay.

There are too many questions so far unanswered, and we have been speculating on possibilities that may not be possibilities.

(no subject)

I haven't seen Michelle yet, or Mikey or James. Karol went over there again yesterday and bluntly told Michelle that the best thing she can do for her dad is to get a job. Michelle said that she would start looking tomorrow but it would take time. karol said the important thing is to get started. She also reiterated that Robbie and Reba need to be gone. They had some sad story about a car, said they can't leave yet, would leave tomorrow (today). karol said that she will be on top of that, will call again to make sure they are gone.

Most of us are wondering about what valuables Mike has left. Most have been stolen from him, but there may be some things still worth something.

Cathy asked Cat directly about Michelle's drug use, and Cat finally broke and said "you didn't hear it from me". Yes, she's using. Cat is feeling more protective about Michelle now.

Last night Cathy, Bitty, Susan, and I had dinner with Melanie and Ben, Susan's and Bitty's son and daughter-in-law (who is pregnant). Melanie is about Mary's age, as I recall. We had a lot of laughs and Cathy said some things that I think relieved the tension. She talked about taking advantage and shaving Mike's head. Then we could laugh about it when he is well again, if he ever is. Of course if he doesn't get well that would not look good. We talked about memories some of us had and others didn't. We seem to have highly selective memories, just grabbed a piece here and there, nothing really full. I have vague memories about certain incidents and Cathy and Bitty have vague memories about others. We have shared some of them now...

" I think we finally figured out about the knife now," said Cathy.

"What knife?" I asked.

"You know, Mike and Bitty and the knife. Mike was the one who went to the kitchen and grabbed the knife."

"He chased me with it," says Bitty.

I remember none of this.

Similarly, Cathy tells of her time in Disneyland when she was fifteen and I was nineteen. I was in college then but at home. It is as if we lived such separate lives that we were on alternate universes. I remember feeling no connection to her at the time. She cannot remember the main incident of all our lives, the night her father was forced out of the house for good. The rest of us have differing memories but at least they are consistent.

And the time Mike sat down on the yard shears and cut his butt open. I can vaguely remember something about garden shears but have no real memory, may just be imagining it. We called Mike accident-prone. He had one motorcycle accident after another, and we started counting stitches, looking for some kind of record.

It really is good to be having this time with the sisters. It is awful that it has to be for this reason.

The meeting

3:00 p.m. Monday

We met with the doctor and the social worker today. The doctor said Mike is a little better than when he last saw him but that he could change for the worse any minute. We did learn that it is possible that Mike will become stable enough to go home, but if so it will be some weeks from now. During which time he would move from floor to floor and possibly to a skilled nursing home for short term rehabilitation. There are several options available for the long term if he does survive this.

We broached the subject of what should happen if Mike takes a significant turn that requires heroic care. Ultimately Cat and Michelle said they would not want him to be in any more pain, that they should let him go peacefully. I felt a release myself, knowing they could face this possibility, even with such tears.

Michelle said she has been reinstated with Welfare and food stamps and is supposed to be receiving them today, in the mail. It isn't much, but it can keep food on the table. Mike's disability payment is also due soon, but we have not worked out how to pay bills that are not automatically withdrawn from his account. Cat is going to call to find out what bills have been paid and which have not.

We are in a waiting period. I now figure I will go home Wednesday, so I can make a little money and pay my bills, get my car back. If I need to return I should be able to do so in my own car next time.

Ah, but car troubles come when we least expect them. Just as we exited the freeway to get to the hospital this afternoon, Bitty's car made a rattling sound and then died. The temperature gauge indicated the car was hot and we could smell burning oil. It's a Subaru with just over 42,000 miles so this was certainly unexpected. We pushed the car off the offramp, with the help of another driver who stopped to help. We managed to get it onto a sidewalk, off the road. Because we had this meeting scheduled, we couldn't call the Auto Club and wait right then. Instead, we walked the few blocks to the hospital, had lunch in the cafeteria, and had the meeting. Bitty then called the Auto club and is now out waiting by her car to send it on its way to the dealer. While  I wait in Mike's room.

Mike has a gown on now and the sensors are gone from his chest. He is being transfused again. The doctor has not discovered the source of the bleeding but says these often go away on their own. Mike is not in good enough shape to undergo an operation to close up any holes, so we certainly hope it does go away.

For the time being we are not acting on Mikey's behalf. Cat will be at the house for a few more days and will oversee how things are going. Karol and Cat are both working to acquire the ATM card and make sure Mike's money goes where it needs to go, what money he may receive. Bitty made calls this morning and learned that the social services agencies are so overwhelmed here that they are not likely to take any action on their own. We have discussed possibilities but have made no decisions.
The doctor is gradually lowering the degree of sedative Mike is getting. So we might expect him to become gradually more aware, but very gradually.

4:15 p.m.

Back at Bitty's house. Bitty's car is in the shop, and she's on her way here. Susan picked us up from the hospital.

I do feel some relief, hearing that maybe Mike will survive this one, but also some sadness at what he faces at home and at what will become of Mikey if nothing is done for him soon. Cathy and Karol and I discussed Mike's alcoholism and they both said there is no way Mike will stop drinking on his own. That's an unsolved problem. I did not realize that he thought the dialysis was counteracting the effects of his drinking.

On our way here, I checked messages on my cell phone. My car will be ready tomorrow! I just need to fork over the deductible and it's mine again. One less thing to sweat about, thank heaven, and that does mean that I can return to San Jose more easily next time, if needed.

Did I mention I was named executor in Mike's 1979 will? I can refuse that job if it comes down to it, and I don't know that I won't.