I think Mel Brooks or the Zucker Brothers scripted Marilyn’s Monday at Beth Israel’s Cardiac Care ICU. Yesterday, Doctors told us confidently that Marilyn was SET for 11:30 am today — a pacemaker implant and inflation of a collapsed lung. So, they stopped feeding Marilyn Sunday evening. 11:30am today came and went.
Marilyn was bumped for a more pressing case. She watched midday newscasts that warned of another big snow storm and worried about me and how I would safely manage the daily trips from Uxbridge to Beth Israel.
I arrived around one, greeted by Cherrie Welburn who is doing a 24/7 watch with Marilyn at the hospital and my Wife who had a strange smile on her face. I thought it was the calm before the storm as the clock ticked slowly through the afternoon punctuated by apologetic visits by staffers telling Marilyn she had been bumped again and again. Marilyn was now looking at me as if I was the Chicken Parm plate that’s become her favorite at BI.
Finally, we got word that Marilyn would be going into surgery at 5pm. Cherrie and I gathered up the gear as we were told that Marilyn would be returning to her regular hospital room after surgery. Marilyn was wheeled on her bed by two staffers with Cherrie and me tromping behind on and off two elevators and down a long hallway.
As we approached the surgery area, we were almost bowled over by a nurse who was texting as she hurried down the hallway towards us and by. That should’ve been a sign!! The staffers wheeled Marilyn away from us and into surgery while Cherrie and I were escorted into a family waiting area.
A kindly woman on the reception desk asked if we wanted to watch TV. She called me “Mr. Armstrong” with a smile. We declined the offer. Cherrie set up her lap top and began to send out update notes about Marilyn finally going into surgery. I scarfed down a protein bar and hit my I-phone.
Halfway through my second update, we received word that Marilyn’s surgery had been postponed. Reason: they didn’t have the right anesthesia to allow Marilyn to lie on back for the two hour surgery. Cherrie and I looked at each other, trying to suppress laughter in what was clearly not a funny situation. We could only imagine what Marilyn was saying to the surgeons and their team. So, Cherrie and I were directed back to the ICU room that we had just vacated. Marilyn was already there.
She had the same smile on her face that she has when we are watching movies like “Blazing Saddles” or “Airplane!”. Marilyn was focused on one thing. Food!! She and Cherrie made it clear that Mrs A. wanted dinner and she wanted it fast!! I think the urgency of Marilyn’s situation was clear. And, the fact that she did it pleasantly made things go even faster. I was still dumbfounded by it all.
I spent a few moments “sucking face” with Marilyn while Cherrie made funny noises from the corner. Both ladies made me promise to drive home safely as I left them. Wait, it’s not over!! Two of the three elevators on the 7th floor were on “the fritz” as I tried to leave. I started mumbling profanities. I felt a tap on my shoulder and wheeled around to face a bright-eyed resident in scrubs. “Aren’t you Garry Armstrong”, she asked.
I forced my phony TV smile and just looked at her, waiting. “I grew up watching you on TV”, she gushed. The elevator door dinged open and I escaped. I drove home harmonizing with Nat Cole and playing our wedding song “For Sentimental Reasons” FIVE times. Nat and I never sounded better. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s update has good news about Marilyn. Garry