best laid plans

My grandmother’s not well, but she’s getting better.

As of a couple of weeks ago, the plan was that Kate and I would spend Thanksgiving as we did last year , up in Brooksville, Maine. We were going to scoop up my grandma Marzi on the way up from Boston, rendesvous with my uncle and cousin, and have several days of fires in the fireplace, wood cutting, reading, and the usual melee of cooking in my family where everyone wants to cook and nobody wants to listen… much.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my grandmother had a near-collapse. She became very weak and confused, and we started getting highly concerned phone calls from her friends. No-one was quite sure what had caused it, and it wasn’t clear whether we all needed to drop everything and rush up there, or if it was just fatigue. Several times last weekend, my own plans to drive north changed, first to come up early and check things out with her, than not to come up early, since she was doing better and the doctors (and family) thought she was bouncing back quickly, then to come up, then to wait… the uncertainty of things got frustrating, especially as I had no real feel for how she was doing. Was I right to be anxious, or calm? Daily updates from my mom had me psyched one day, and concerned the next.

Eventually, I flew up for my bi-weekly work trip, as usual. I’d talked to Marzi on Saturday and she sounded great. Tired, but great. Getting IV fluids in the hospital had worked wonders. Thanksgiving was likely to be at her retirement community in NH, instead of north in Maine, but hey, we’d be spending it with her.

Then, over the course of this week, things have gotten worse again. The running theory is that some confluence of the diuretics she’s been on and the lithium she’d been accidentally taking twice a day (but no more) had stressed her kidneys out and gotten her dehydrated, thus explaining the disorientation, weakness, etc. My aunt Karen’s been here since Wednesday, my mom flew out Thursday, and after volunteering to stay or go home to Philly before coming back up for Thanks giving, my mom asked me to stay for the weekend, to help out.

I’m fine with helping, and I’m driving up later today, likely to spend some of the weekend being a chauffeur, and the other with my grandmother. The drag has been the flip-flops – I talked to my mom last night, and she sounded upbeat. My grandmother’s making great strides at recovery, and although she’ll likely need to be in some kind of rehab for several weeks, she’ll be out of the hospital early next week. That’s wonderful news, but when I got off the phone, I just felt … tired, like a garbage-bag-twistie that’s been flexed too often. Too many moments spent between profound concern and relief. (though don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful she’s doing better.)

I’m missing Kate (although I got video chat working last night and sat talking with her and Mike online for an hour) and missing what tenuous pieces of routine I’ve managed to form down in Philly so far. It’s looking pretty unlikely that I’ll be able to get back down to PHL before I’ll need to come back up for Thanksgiving, so it’ll be another 5 days of living with the same 3 pairs of underwear and 3 t-shirts, no girlfriend, no cats… these are small gripes made large by lack of sleep and stress, I know, but gripes nonetheless.

When it became clear on Thursday that I wouldn’t be flying back south, Glen asked me to come see Oteil and the Peacemakers at Johnny D’s, that night. I’m grateful for this, as the show was full of the exuberant, tight, spinning jam-funk that I find so good – not so much meandering down the far paths of the experimental as demonstrating, like Bela Fleck these many years ago, just what musicians who love their music and love playing with each other can do. The CD, sadly, doesn’t do them justice.