Chaos Theory: A Message from the Universe

Thu 10/05/06 at 1:44 pm

Eight years ago, a woman who I know only as Mia’s Mother moved to a cattle ranch in Maxwell, New Mexico. She had four kids back then. Two are now in college and two are still in high school. Two years ago, she had Mia. Mia was a surprise. Mia weighed 2 pounds when she was born. Her mother told me she was going to name her “Gabriella,” but that was too big a name for such a tiny baby. Mia has hydrocephalus. This Sunday found her in the emergency room at Presbyterian Hospital because the shunt that had been inserted in her brain was causing problems. She had only been discharged from Presbyterian 2 days ago after having just spent 33 days in the pediatric unit.

This Sunday also found me in the ER where I had been transported by ambulance due to an exacerbatory episode from which I had been unable to recover without some extra help. If you’ve read any of my other blog entries, especially those that will be gathered together if you click on the COPD category link, then you know I suffer from emphysema.

Presbyterian’s ER consists of a series of draped cubicles. My cubicle was next to Mia’s. Sunday is not the greatest time to go to an ER if you are suffering from a condition that will require admittance to the hospital. Few patients go home on Sunday, so usually there are not a whole lot of beds available. I had been told to look forward to a long wait. Mia had to wait awhile, too. I was just lying there resting when Mia’s Mother started singing “Little Rabbit Foo Foo” to her. Long about the third verse, I joined in by singing out softly, “Little Rabbit Foo Foo.” Mia heard me and gasped in surprise. Her mother asked her, “Did that person hear us? Shall we say, Hello?” And so the cubicle curtain parted and there was the cutest little kid with her mother.

We exchanged pleasantries and diagnoses. I explained about the emphysema and told her I’d been cleared for a lung transplant. Turns out Mia’s Mother had also had emphysema and had undergone a bilateral sequential lung transplant 6 years ago at Barnes in St. Louis. I asked her how old her mother was, and she said, I think, 58. I asked if she’d been a smoker, and she said yes. I said I had too, but they figured my particular brand of COPD must have some as-yet-undiscovered hereditary component since it presented in my 40s instead of my 70s. She said her mother had been told the same thing.

Mia’s Mother went on to tell me that by the time her mother got the transplant her lung function had dropped to 8% and she was virtually bedridden on 4 liters of oxygen. Even so, she’d been out of bed the day after the surgery. I asked how her mother had been doing since the transplant. She told me that in the past six years her mother had gone through two bouts with rejection, but with an adjustment to her meds she had recovered nicely. Otherwise she had hardly been sick.

Before we had time for much more conversation, they came to take Mia to her room. We said our “nice meeting you, good to talk to you” farewells, and off they went.

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