ARTICLES / General / The Nearest Doorknob /
Share This Article
The Nearest Doorknob
By Jane Hoppe
Wednesday’s red blouse and black
jacket hang from the bathroom door’s inside knob.
Thursday’s teal sweater and scarf hang from the bathroom
door’s outside knob. My lavender jacket never made it
into the front closet; it is still on that doorknob.
Wednesday’s beige canvas tote bag and Thursday’s Monet’s
Water Lilies tote bag remain suspended on my office
A quick scan of our house’s doorknobs hints that last
Wednesday and Thursday still haunt my mind and challenge
my energy level. My mother’s unexpected hospitalization
and my father’s nursing home care plan meeting made for
two emotionally and physically draining back-to-back
12-hour days that reverberate into this week. Today,
four days later, sheer determination to move on, to have
a life (what is it I do, again?) hangs my clothes
properly in closets or tosses them in the dirty clothes
basket. Deciding what to do with the contents of the two
tote bags will be more difficult.
In one bag, a skinny note pad
contains notes I scribbled in my mother’s internist’s
office, where we went last Wednesday so that he could
clear her for knee replacement surgery in two weeks.
There my mother reported to him that she’d had
heart-attack-type symptoms that very morning. With that
game changer, we were on our way to the hospital. But
not before the doctor had patiently explained cardiac
vs. coronary, leg swelling, and unstable angina. The
doctor’s and my mother’s pronunciation of the
cardiologist’s name left me wondering how to spell it,
so I got that and his phone number and wrote that down,
too—just in case.
Now what do I do with these notes? I’m thinking I need
to organize and update the file folder I began several
years ago with contact names and numbers for my
parents—and it may be time to keep this folder in my
car, not in my desk at home. The medical explanations
I’ll compose into an e-mail to my siblings, file the
e-mail in my Mom and Dad folder online, and pitch the
little scrap of paper. Okay, on to the next note pad...
A little wider note pad has my note to self to go to my
mother’s house and bring back a medication the
hospital’s pharmacy does not carry, her shawl, and her
dental floss; the cardiologist’s case for searching for
a blockage and time of Thursday morning’s angiogram; and
Mom’s questions I will need to ask nursing home staff at
Dad’s Alzheimer’s care plan meeting Thursday afternoon.
In this tote bag, I also find an extra photocopy the
nurse took of my mother’s list of medications.
Same basic decision on these notes:
Share the cardiologist’s info with sibs and keep the
meds list with me for future hospital visits when my
dear, brave mother might not be able to give this
information herself. I hope that day never comes, but
with recurring heart attack symptoms now in the
A full-sized sheet of paper holds Mom’s and my questions
for the nursing home staff—and their answers about Dad’s
condition. The back holds the hospital nurse’s detailed
discharge instructions for my mother. When she can
shower next, how often to vary positions, when to start
doubling one medication, what time of day to take
another … and if a hard, black bruise shows up, call the
cardiologist, but if she feels pain in her calf, call
the internist. It’s too much—even now, this list
overwhelms me. My mother is mentally sharp; I hope she
remembers all this advice, and from our phone
conversations since Thursday’s homecoming, she seems to
have. She probably conscientiously read all the papers
in the thick yellow discharge folder, just as she had
read all the knee-replacement-prep papers.
What’s the best destiny for this paper? In today’s phone
call to Mom, I’ll review the discharge advice, just in
case. And although I relayed the report on Dad to my
out-of-state siblings when I called them Thursday to
report on Mom’s angiogram, I think I’ll put it down in
an e-mail, too, and pitch the paper.