In 28 years of marriage, the only time my wonderful husband, A.J., and I ever had any problems was when we stopped communicating. We were fortunate that we realized the problem and corrected it eventually, and we’ve managed to have many more happy years together. The days since early February when we ”separated” and I returned to work and life at home leaving A.J. at the hospital with P.J. have been really testing our ability to keep the communication lines open. One of the hardest things about coming home for me (besides leaving P.J.) was knowing I would not have access to the doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., like I had while I was there at the hospital. I begged A.J. to call me and put me on speaker phone whenever he talked to anyone important about things, but it’s not always convenient for everyone involved as you can imagine.
When P.J. was still in intensive care, it was easy for A.J. to steal opportunities to call me because he could only see P.J. for twenty minutes every four hours and he spent the rest of the time in the waiting room, but once he got moved to a regular room in the burn unit, visiting hours extended from noon to 8:00 p.m. So then we talked only in the early morning and late evening. Now, A.J.’s staying in the room with P.J. 24/7 and so there’s no convenient time for him to call me. While P.J. is awake, A.J. gives him his full attention. While he’s sleeping, A.J. doesn’t like to call because his talking on the phone might wake P.J. up. Leaving the room is an option, but there’s not really a place to go to just sit and use the phone. As a result, my technology-challened husband has become quite savvy at texting and instant messaging on Facebook. Unfortunately, things get lost in the translation sometimes, so I’m having to learn to live with the fact that I don’t always know what’s going on. I’m thankful for the weekends when I can get the scoop on everything (that A.J. remembers to tell me… unfortunately, he is stressed and exhausted and doesn’t always remember everything… I think I will bring him a notebook next time so he can start writing things down).
Communication is not just important in family settings. The recent move for P.J. from the burn unit to the occupational therapy ward has been quite a challenge to say the least. We’ve had to rely upon the nurses and doctors in both units to communicate about where he has been with his journey and where he’s going and what works and what doesn’t. Poor A.J. gets caught in the middle and has to constantly correct their assumptions and insist that they talk to each other. While there are many things this hospital has done well and that have made us happy P.J. is there, this issue with communication has been a real challenge, and we plan to follow up about everything that has happened with the Patient Care Quality Management Department.
If you’re as old as dirt like me, you may remember the Jimmy Buffet song, “Incommunicado.” The chorus goes:
But now I’m incommunicado
Drivin’ by myself down the road with a hole in it
Songs with no vibrato
Takin’ the long way home
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Most of Jimmy Buffet’s songs confused me, too, and trust me, it wasn’t because I was listening to them while eating brownies with “special” ingredients. I may have been a teenager in the 70s, but I was a good girl. ; ) I was thinking about this one today, though. I feel just like this… incommunicado… and P.J.’s takin’ the long way home. BUT, the good news is that at least we know he’s coming home. His target release date is May 14th. It’s not written in stone, but we’re certainly trusting it’s a good date and looking forward to our family being together again as we continue P.J.’s journey! We’ll keep you posted.
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