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Life in a hospital for 7 days: not as glamorous as Grey’s Anatomy depicts

As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve been back from Mexico in Nebraska for the last week. Unfortunately it hasn’t just been all fun and games of monitoring crime in Omaha (though God knows it’s not for lack of news).

I’ve spent the several days at the University of Nebraska Medical Center here in Omaha, hanging out with my mom, Marcia. Marcia’s had a rough week, to say the least. After a couple months of having weird fevers/pneumonia/pains in her chest/zillions of tests, she came to UNMC for a biopsy to suss out what was going on with some suspicious lymph nodes in her chest. Just doing this biopsy involved collapsing one of her lungs, so it was no small task.

This lovely array of flowers & friendly animals certainly helped to speed Mom along the road to recovery!

To make a long story short, it turns out she has stage 3 squamous cell lung cancer. This was not the news we were hoping for, particularly since she has never smoked a cigarette in her life (p.s. God: not fair). But we are ready to wrestle it into submission!! And we are feeling optimistic– during the biopsy/surgery, they hacked out all of the evil cancery-bits that they observed. Of course, this included the two lower lobes of her right lung, some lymph nodes, and a little of the exterior of her esophagus… But like I have always said, two whole lungs are just taking up excess space that could better be used for storing things like jello. Or tapioca pudding (her current favorite item on the glamorous hospital food room service menu).

After a few days of silently wondering why everyone ignored my Dad's email with Mom's mailing address in the hospital, we received like 30 cards yesterday in one big lump. :) Looks like someone in the mailroom needs a stern talking-to....

The doctors indicated the final margins were all clear, meaning that all the visible cancerous areas are gone. The top remaining concern is whether there are any additional evil secret lymph nodes lurking around. So, the current thought process is some chemo/radiation action for around 3-4 months. Luckily Mom should be able to do this back in our hometown of Grand Island, which will be a lot more convenient than driving the 2.5 hours to Omaha on a regular basis. She’ll wait another 3-4 weeks to start, however, because they want her to be healed up & strengthened from the super-invasive surgery as much as possible. She’s making great progress– down to one chest drainage tube & no IVs as of today!

Needless to say, we’ve been looking for humor wherever we can while hanging around the hospital. Here are my personal favorites thus far:

I saw this sign the day I arrived. I don't know exactly what happens at this event, but I am ok with not being invited.

Given my previous post, I was relieved to see that guns are *not allowed* in the hospital.

I have also been excited about the chance to work on my medical Spanish. (I brought my Dad to the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit in Mexico City the other week, where only upon arriving did it strike me how I should have reviewed body part names in Spanish before attending...)

I brought a wee Frida Kahlo mirror as a gift for mom, largely because it was one of the few gift-like things I had lying around the house when I decided to fly back to Nebraska the next morning. :)

The Frida mirror has come in handy as a tool for Mom to visually stalk her telemetry monitor, which the nurses turned away to try & get her to stop obsessing over the stats. (typical math teacher)

We were quite jealous of Mom's elegant meal options. She simply *insists* on sparkling laxatives, never still.

We have been pleasantly surprised by the tasty ethnic dining options around UNMC in Omaha-- Mother India and Gerda's German Restaurant were both awesome. I saw this Aug-toberfest announcement @ Gerda's and had to laugh at the 6:45-7:15PM timeline for dinner shown on the flyer. 30 minutes for dinner?? That would *NEVER* fly in Mexico!! :)

Also falling into the "panicked last-minute gift" category was this ear-of-corn thong. The corn thong seemed like an appropriate solution for Nebraskans, and a good way to spice things up once Mom & Dad get back home. ;) My mother & I have been having an ongoing battle of me putting it on display & her hiding it from visiting surgeons each day.

I finally convinced my dad to model the corn thong, but he decided to go with a "Uni-corn" look... My mom had to hide her face in shame behind her new heart pillow. :)

Probably the scariest part of the week was when an elderly female clown stopped by. Luckily, Mom feigned sleep so the clown didn't stay to chat. She just dropped off this sticker instead. I felt like the clown might have missed the memo on which floor was pediatrics...

Marcia is hoping to escape the hospital this Saturday if she can get rid of this chest tube tomorrow.  If any readers are so inspired– any cards, witty commentary, and/or photos of cute dogs (Mom’s favorite) are welcomed & appreciated!! (Let me know if you need an address!) Mom will have a challenging few months ahead, but we have total confidence that she will get through it with the support of all our amazing friends & family.  Thanks to everyone for all thoughts & prayers sent our way. For more info or to leave a message for Marcia directly, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/marciacarmann.

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23 Comments on “Life in a hospital for 7 days: not as glamorous as Grey’s Anatomy depicts”

  1. #1 Chunk
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for at least a year and love it. I think this is the sevond time I’ve commented. I love your sense of humor…even with your mom in the hospital.

    If she has the same type of optimism that you have, she’ll be fine.

    By the way, I love the Midwest too. More specifically, Wisconsin.

    Go Marcia!

  2. #2 Elizabeth Davis
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Hi Jules,

    I’m really sorry to hear about your mom. If you have a moment, shoot her addy my way (I’m assuming she’ll be heading home soon); I’d like to send a card her way.

    I’ll be thinking of her and your family. Lots of positive thoughts….


  3. #3 Ty
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Yeah, What Chunk said x 2. I really enjoy your blog. My wife and I are moving to Mexico at the end of the year.
    Praying for your Mom and family and with your attitude, I know things will be ok.

  4. #4 Greg
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Weird, the corn appears uncircumcised…er…unhusked. Sorry to hear of the news. Hopefully Marcia recovers beautifully and painlessly. Take care of each other!

  5. #5 GW&Laura
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Best wishes for Marcia’s quick recovery!

    George and Laura

  6. #6 joy
    on Jul 29th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I can’t believe your Dad wore that thong thing AND allowed a photo. I think your family needs its own TV show already. :-)

    I will be sending all the good vibes I can to Nebraska. (And let me know if you need any cute dog photos. I have a few….thousand.)

  7. #7 Brendan
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 7:54 am

    All the best to you and your mom! We’ll be keeping you guys in our thoughts.

  8. #8 Megan Drayton
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about this news. Hope your mom continues to do well. Thinking of you all.

    (And love the thong)

  9. #9 Alice
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for the update — all the best to your mom!!

    Did you find that corn thong in the hospital gift shop? :)

  10. #10 Julie
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks to all for your comments and support!! Much appreciated!!! :)
    Alice– that thong came from Morelia in Michoacan during the Christmas-time underwear festival that seems to happen each year throughout Mexico. In addition to the lucky red & yellow undies, they had a wide assortment of these– bananas, elephants, snakes, giraffes, chickens, you name it. We bought like 15 to store up for bachelor/bachelorette party gifts. (or hospital gifts, obviously). :)

  11. #11 Carolina
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Que bueno tener noticias y ver que lo animos estan bien, eso es lo mas importante de todo. Ahora a seguir adelante que entre todos van a espantar cualquier enfermedad.
    Muchisimos carinos a tu mama y a todos por alla,

  12. #12 Cyndi
    on Jul 30th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Julie – I am so incredibly sorry to hear your mom is going through this. I am sending strong positive vibes your way and praying for you all!

  13. #13 Alice
    on Aug 2nd, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Underwear festival?!?! As for those 15 thongs, if Customs and Immigration goes through your belongings on the move back, they’re going to think you and John are the two raunchiest expats/Embassy workers they’ve ever encountered. :)

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