“I’m coming home home tomorrow,” Marilyn chirped as we arrived to visit her today at Beth Israel’s Cardiac Care Unit. Cherrie Welburn and I looked at each other, our winter pale brown skin seemingly turning white in the flash of that moment.
Talk about mixed feelings!! Cherrie and I were happy that Marilyn would be coming home after 9 days and 5 surgeries. Surgeries that included a bypass, a valve replacement, a pacemaker implant and inflation of collapsed lungs.
But was Marilyn strong enough? She had only one day of physical therapy and was still clearly weak, in a fair amount of pain and had difficulty just walking from her bed to the nearby bathroom.
Only the previous day, we were told Marilyn’s stay would be extended until she had more physical therapy, was stronger and able to move around with more confidence and less pain. Apparently, those plans were nullified by a surgeon this morning who looked at Marilyn’s incisions and declared her fit to be released. Cherrie and I tried to hide our disbelief and anxiety. Marilyn’s health insurance would not pay for physical therapy. What to do??
More problematic, we thought we had more time to make “The Kachingerosa” cleaner and more recovering patient friendly for Marilyn. We had more than one day’s work even at an accelerated pace!! “No problem,” Cherrie and I told Marilyn. I think our noses were growing longer by the second.
We bid Marilyn goodbye after a two and a half hour visit and drove home in rainy rush hour traffic, brain-storming our mission impossible. We decided to divvy up the work, doing what we could until fatigue ended our day which began at 6am. By the time we got home, Marilyn’s son, Owen had already finished a makeshift handicapped entrance to our front door. Kudos to Owen for his solo efforts, despite a bad back, getting it done in the pouring rain.
Cherrie and I were scoffing down our first meal of the day when Marilyn called just after 6pm. “I have news,” Marilyn declared. “I’m eating dinner,” I mumbled into the phone speaker. “I’ll call back,” Marilyn responded. “No, wait a minute, ” I shouted, almost choking on a mouth full of food. “I’m NOT coming home tomorrow,” Marilyn exclaimed. Cherrie and I stared at each other, our pale brown skin turning almost white again. Marilyn went on to explain the unbelievable. A last minute reprieve! Something you only see in movies and it always seems corny. As noted, Marilyn was only coming home tomorrow because her health insurance would NOT pay for badly needed physical therapy.
Our Deus Ex Machina appeared in the form of two old and dear friends, Ross and Mary Mitchell. We’ve known Ross since he was a baby faced teenager at our college radio station. Mary was Maid of Honor at our Wedding. Ross and Mary are now grandparents. They visited Marilyn this afternoon just after Cherrie and I left. Ross and Mary looked at Marilyn, quickly determined she wasn’t well enough to go home and declared they would pay for Marilyn’s physical therapy, covering ALL costs!!!!! THAT was Marilyn’s message. Cherrie and I were at a loss for words.
Half an hour later, we caught Ross and Mary by phone, just as they were going out to dinner. I tried — as did Cherrie — to find words beyond “thank you” and “we are so grateful” — but this multi-Emmy award winning reporter could not find the words. Cherrie was crying. Ross and Mary said that’s what friends are for, that they considered it an honor to help us. I couldn’t manage anything more than a choked up “thank you” as we wrapped up the conversation.
A short time later, Marilyn called again saying she would probably be staying at Beth Israel over the weekend until a suitable physical therapy facility is found.
As I picked at the remnants of dinner, Cherrie smiled saying, “Quite a day, what an unbelievable day!” I just looked at her and nodded, still not believing how this crazy day had ended.