Sunday, July 11, 2021

Not Even Not Zen 221.34: Wake for Robert Gallagher, Part 34

Robert Gallagher, Wake

Driving Blind

Surgeons at the Shady Grove medical center performed my mother's emergency procedure. Their hospital wasn't part of the Kaiser plan, though, and that meant my mother's insurance company had to transfer her to Washington Hospital Center as soon as the doctors would allow. The location change meant a trip into Washington DC on each day that my father wanted to visit my mother, which was each and every day.

My mother's recovery proceeded slowly. She had to overcome a surgical infection, then resurgence of the infection. My father drove to visit her every morning for weeks.

One day he called me at work. He asked me to drop by my mother's hospital room in his place.

"Sure, I saw her last week." I had supplemented my father's visiting schedule and I'd crossed paths with him while there during a couple of my stopovers. It seemed odd of him not to go to her but I was pretty sure I could fulfill his request. My boss would let me off for an extra half hour during lunch if I asked. "It's twenty minutes away. I can do it."

"Good. You'll have to tell her that I can't drive down to her."

"Okay." I squinted as I thought about it. Finally, I started getting suspicious. "Why not?"

"I can't see. More blood vessels burst in my eye." The way he said it sounded strange. Of course, I knew about his problem because it had been going on for years. The capillaries in his eyes suffered regular consequences when he didn't take care of his diabetes. A moment later, I understood what had happened. As soon as my mother had gotten sick, he had stopped taking his medicines on schedule. His blindness had probably been inevitable.

"Yesterday?" I took a deep breath before making any promises. "Do you need me to take you to the doctor?"

"No. There's no point. It happened last week."

"That can't be right." He hadn't stopped driving until today. "You kept visiting mom. It can't be that bad, right?"

"It's difficult. I drove after it happened but I could only do it because I'd memorized the way to the hospital. Today, I couldn't get there even though I knew the roads. I made it to the DC line. People started honking at me. I couldn't see the traffic lights."

"You couldn't see them the whole time, then."

"That's about right. If I turned my head at an angle, I could see traffic lights. But only when they were straight ahead, like in Maryland. At the DC line, the type of signal changes. They put the traffic lights at the sides of the road by the curbs. I tried and tried. But I couldn't see them."

"Oh, holy crap."

"No matter what I did, I couldn't figure them out."

"You got there four days in a row with the same eye problem."

"Well, I waited for other cars to go. That's how I did it. When it's just me in the lane, like today, I can't see the lights to tell me when to go. It didn't matter what I did today. Nothing helped. Finally, I had to turn around."

"You are home now, right?"

"Yeah. I made it. It was hard. I had to stop and rest, twice. I'm going to go lie down. Tell your mother."

"Okay, dad."

No comments:

Post a Comment