Friday, June 19, marked a full week that Aaron had been in the hospital for low sodium and pneumonia. He was feeling better that morning. He still had a wicked cough, but his fever had been gone for over 36 hours and he was generally feeling much better. In fact, the better he felt the grouchier he became. As he felt better, he missed home more. He missed his life and his routine. He was more alert and aware of how abnormal this hospital life was for him. So the better that Aaron felt, the harder he made life for those who were caring for him. All he could talk about that morning was going home. He didn’t like anything that anyone tried to do for him, including me. He tolerated his chest X-Ray, his pills, and his other morning interruptions…..barely.
I saw his doctor in the hall and told her that she better put on her very thick skin when she came to see Aaron that morning. She just laughed, and I told her I wasn’t kidding. Aaron was grouchy, in all caps. GROUCHY!! And wanting one thing…..home! So later she came in with a huge smile, and of course Aaron told her immediately that he wanted to go home. She told him that she had good news for him, then, because home is where she said he could go. Then he smiled along with her, for the first time that morning, and life was good again.
Of course, when one of the aids came in a few minutes later, Aaron looked at her and said, “I don’t need you now!” And I made him apologize, even as she just laughed and knew that Aaron was very happy to be leaving. He just had a very blunt way of letting that fact be known. The Occupational Therapist came in to give Aaron a shower and try to give him some shower pointers, but he actually just showed her how he showered and didn’t really listen to much of what she said. Physical Therapy had Aaron walk up and down the stairs one time, which he willingly endured because it was just another block to check before he headed out the door.
Soon the wheelchair containing happy Aaron was on the elevator, along with our cart full of a week of accumulated “stuff”, and before long we were in the van, waving goodbye to the nurses and driving away. Going home at last! But a stop at McDonalds was first as Aaron asked for a burger and fries on the way home. We picked up lunch, and headed home to eat and to settle in to the life that Aaron had missed.
Aaron was very, very weak. He needed lots of help with walking, with stairs, and with the bathroom. He was home, but life wasn’t going to be normal for some time. He finally ate, and slowly we made it upstairs to his room. He was so happy to be there at last. He wanted to watch his new Tremors movie for real, on his DVD player instead of the portable player. So he sat down in his chair, and he got his things around him fixed just right. His clock next to his desk had to be positioned just so. The items that he keeps near him on his bed were placed just right, with his stack of books on the corner of the bed. On top of those was his notebook in which he kept his record of what movie chapter he was watching. His pen was placed precisely on top of the notebook. His back scratcher was set beside that pile of books. His Gecko from Glenda was settled in front of his clock. He looked around and checked to see that things were exactly as he wanted them as I stood behind him silently watching, and silently marveling at his precision with every item.
Then he saw a DVD that needed to be put on his shelf of DVDs. He asked if I would put it there, so I leaned over and placed it at the end of the row. He just stared at it, and I waited. Nope. It wasn’t right. So I repositioned it several times before finally finding that he wanted it leaning a little at the top, and he wanted his special large rock to be placed near it so it wouldn’t slide out of place. There! It was finally according to Aaron’s specifications, and I was free to leave while he watched his DVD, content that all his things were in their perfect place as they should be. At home. Where he should be, and where he was so happy that at last he was there.
Aaron spent much of that first weekend sleeping in his chair in the family room, his animal print blanket stretched over him. He coughed a lot, and he tried to walk by himself, but it was very slow going. He needed lots of help with everything. Coming home was wonderful, but it didn’t mean that Aaron was well and strong right away. For that reason, he was pretty disappointed. He loved being home, but he wanted his old body back as much as he wanted his old life back. Both would take awhile to return to normal, and despite our reminders and assurances, Aaron had some frustrations.
“I’m just so tired of myself!” he blurted out on Saturday, overcome with frustration at his weak body. That made us so sad, but we could only offer encouragement that every day would be better. And it was. He enjoyed visits from friends, including Rosa and her mother, Louise…..complete with pizza and balloons! He enjoyed his room and his family room chair, watching Wheel of Fortune, and being with Jackson, and just everything. And each day was better than the one before. Each outing found him getting a little stronger, his stamina increasing slowly but surely. After several days, he and I played Skip-Bo, with Aaron checking his watch to keep track of time, just like always.
Perhaps what he loved the very most, and what he had missed the very most while in the hospital, was his own comfy bed. The first night back at home, when it was time for bed, I was helping him get everything ready. Every blanket was perfectly placed, every wrinkle straightened out, the pillow put just in the right place, and then the sheets were pulled back so that he could place his snake and his skunk under the covers. But now he had decided to add a new member to the mix. He wanted to add the soft green frog that Andrea had sent him while he was still in the hospital. So he rearranged Mr. Snake and Skunk in order to make room for Mr. Frog, stood back to observe and to rearrange, and finally he was satisfied.
He climbed in his bed, after writing his “Time to Bed” in his log book, and I pulled his covers up around his face. Then he smiled the sweetest smile in the world as he moved his legs back and forth in his wonderful bed that wasn’t a hospital bed. He was the picture of utter contentment. He pulled his arms from under the covers and held them up to me, so I leaned down and gave him a goodnight hug.
“Good night, Aaron,” I said as I hugged him. I arranged the covers up around his face again, and there was that smile. He looked at me for a few seconds.
“Mom?” he asked. “Do you want to say good night twice?”
What a precious moment! Of course I said yes, and so out of the covers came his outstretched arms. I leaned down to hug him one more time, thankful that our Aaron was home in his own bed. The hospital stay was scary. His health was uncertain. The outcome was unknown for days. I had stretched my arms on this bed days earlier as I asked God to heal him. Now here Aaron lay, smiling and hugging, wanting to say good night twice. It was his way of telling me how very happy he was to be home. I understood and I agreed.
I left Aaron to his dreams. And I didn’t go to sleep until I thanked God that on this night, I got to say good night to Aaron in his own bed…..twice!